Israeli officials on Wednesday offered a muted response to remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump who said American Jews who vote for the Democratic Party were ‘disloyal.’
Referring to Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who were denied entry to Israel last week, the president told reporters on Tuesday at the Oval Office, “Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel. And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
The Israeli government, which has particularly close ties with the Trump administration, appeared to hold back.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office declined to comment. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a longtime ally of the PM, when asked about Trump’s statement, told Reshet Bet Radio, “We must not intervene in the political disagreements in the United States. We keep good relations with both the Democrats and Republicans and we must continue to do so.”
“We have supporters and friends in both parties, among the Democrats and Republicans, Jews and non-Jews and we embrace them all,” he said.
The Israeli left was less restrained, however. Democratic Union MK Tamar Zandberg and Joint List MK Ofer Cassif condemned Trump’s comments, and criticized Netanyahu
for not doing so as well.
“Casting doubt on the loyalties of minorities has been directed against the Jewish people for generations, and today unites the anti-liberal alliance of Netanyahu, Trump, and other leaders,” Zandberg was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post.
“Netanyahu should have been the first to demand an apology, on the other hand he was the first to say that the left has forgotten to be Jewish.”
Cassif asserted that “in a normal world, a president who spoke like that about the Jews of his country would receive severe condemnation from the prime minister of Israel, but not in the case of Netanyahu.”
President Reuven Rivlin spoke on Wednesday evening with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. The two discussed the recent sequence of events and the importance of the strong relationship between the State of Israel and the United States of America.”
The President emphasized that the bilateral relationship is “not dependent on the relationship with one particular party. In this regard, the President quoted President Kennedy, saying, “Friendship with Israel is not a partisan matter. It is a national commitment.”&
The president added, “We must keep the State of Israel above political disputes and make every effort to ensure that support for Israel does not become a political issue. The elections we hold give voice to the will of our citizens. We agree with the opinions of some, we speak out against the opinions of others, but we respect the wishes of each of our peoples,” he said, according to a statement released by the General Press Office.
Updated Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 2:34 pm Rivlin comment