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US Ambassador: Relations between Israel and US at risk, need to maintain bipartisan support

American envoy says ‘there are risks in both the right and the left’

Jack Lew, in Jerusalem on June 18, 2014 (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90).

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew recently warned that support for Israel in the United States could be at risk due to partisan politics. 

Speaking at Reichman University’s Aaron Institute for Economic Policy’s annual conference, Lew said that steps need to be taken to prevent an erosion of support for Israel. 

“There are risks – in both the right and the left – of erosion on the margins that only makes it more important for there to be bipartisan support,” Lew said on Tuesday night. 

While there still appears to be bipartisan support for Israel in American society, Lew said that could change in the future. 

“The question is, when you have generational change, will that be true 10 years, 20 years, 30 years from now,” Lew asked. 

He warned that Israeli and American leaders who support Israel shouldn’t let that support become a partisan issue. 

“In the context of an America which is increasingly polarized, it's harder to have bipartisan support,” Lew explained, adding that “It's critical that [Israel] not become a partisan issue in the United States.” 

The ambassador stated that since Israel's founding, support for the country has been broad.

“For the entirety of Israel's history,” Lew said, “there's been bipartisan support.” 

Lew argued that U.S.-Israel ties should be strengthened from the political center to maximize the amount of support. 

“You don't need either party to be 100% if you've got most of both. And that's where the support for Israel is. It's probably, still close to 70%,” he said. 

Referring to recent disagreements between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, Lew noted it would be wise not to exaggerate differences of opinion. 

“My view is you try to keep the daylight to a minimum, not look for things that exaggerate how much space there is.”

The ambassador also said Israel has “some work to do” to maintain existing support, both in how it interacts with both American political parties, and how it presents the war effort to the world. 

“I think it's important for the government of Israel to promote bipartisan support and not to allow it to become a polarizing issue,” he said. 

Referring to the declining support, particularly among the younger generation, Lew said: “The images in America are brutal. There are enemies of Israel that are actively telling the story in a very negative way.” 

He argued that the Biden administration has been trying to support Israel in this regard, saying: “We’ve been telling the story very clearly that Israel had a right and responsibility to defend itself.”

“We work day and night to make sure things like humanitarian assistance are provided. And Israel needs to tell the story that it is making sure that people are getting what they need for there not to be a famine.”

However, Lew admitted there is no famine in Gaza, saying: “It’s a really hard situation,” he stated, “but there is not a famine.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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