US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday defended recent comments he made that Republicans are better friends of Israel, saying he continues to work toward fostering bipartisan support for the Jewish State.
“Observing overwhelming Republican support for Israel is not a ‘partisan shot’ as some have described,” Friedman tweeted Friday.
“I firmly believe that American support for Israel needs to be bipartisan and I will continue to welcome any Democratic legislators who wish to visit Israel — and I hope they do!” he said.
His remarks come after a group of Jewish Democrats on Thursday slammed him for a “politically divisive” and “damaging” interview with The Times of Israel, in which he said Republicans are better friends of Israel.
Observing overwhelming Republican support for Israel is not a “partisan shot” as some have described. I firmly believe that American support for Israel needs to be bipartisan and I will continue to welcome any Democratic legislators who wish to visit Israel – and I hope they do!
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) June 1, 2018
“It is truly unprecedented for a sitting US Ambassador to Israel to engage in explicitly partisan rhetoric and behavior. Ambassador Friedman must remember that he is not the head of the Republican National Committee or the Republican Jewish Coalition political organization,” said former Congressman Ron Klein (D-FL), who chairs the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Klein, who represented Florida’s 22th District between 2006 and 2010, added that Friedman represents all Americans, not only those of one party or those who share his political views.
“Ambassador Friedman should spend more time cultivating the historically bipartisan nature of the US-Israel partnership, as opposed to being politically divisive in his words and actions, including his refusal to invite Democratic members of Congress to the Jerusalem embassy opening,” Klein continued. “This type of partisan behavior is damaging to our national interests and must stop immediately.”
Speaking to The Times of Israel Wednesday in his brand new office at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Friedman stressed that maintaining bipartisan support for Israel was very important to him, and vowed to continue working with politicians from both sides of the aisle on strengthening bilateral ties.
However, he then went on to argue that the GOP is undeniably better disposed toward the Jewish state than the Democrats.
“The argument that I hear from some Democrats that Republicans are seizing the pro-Israel mantle is true, to a certain extent. There’s no question Republicans support Israel more than Democrats,” Friedman said.
“What the Democrats are not doing is looking at themselves critically and acknowledging the fact that they have not been able to create support within their constituency for Israel at the same levels that the Republicans have,” he went on.
Friedman argued that Democrats may claim to be pro-Israel, but merely saying so doesn’t make it true. Indeed, “there is a large Democratic constituency right now that is not pro-Israel,” the US envoy said. “They have to acknowledge it, and they have to fix it, or try to fix it.”
The Jewish Democratic Council of America, whose national board counts about 30 members, seeks to “help elect Democrats supportive of the Jewish community’s domestic policy interests, and support the State of Israel,” Klein told The Times of Israel earlier this year during a visit in Jerusalem.
The organization, which replaced the now-defunct National Jewish Democratic Council, serves “as the voice for Jewish Democrats and the socially liberal, pro-Israel values that Jewish voters hold dear,” according to Thursday’s press release.