Home | Conventions 2012 | News

Israel ambassador denies he said GOP policies were harmful to his nation

The Israeli ambassador to the United States openly stepped into the U.S. presidential race on Tuesday by publicly contradicting Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Michael Oren “categorically” denied ever having told the Florida congresswoman that Republican accusations that President Obama is a weak ally of Israel were “dangerous” for his country. Wasserman Schultz made comments to that effect Monday during a training session for Jewish Democrats in Charlotte, N.C., according to the Washington Examiner.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel,” Oren said in a statement. “Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”

On Monday at the event on the margins of the Democratic National Convention, Wasserman Schultz reportedly said: “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.”

The scuffle comes as both parties are battling for Jewish votes ahead of the November election. Republicans launched a new line of attack Tuesday after Democrats unveiled a party platform that the GOP says is not as supportive of Israel as the one four years ago.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), the National co-chairman of the Romney Jewish Coalition, proclaimed himself “alarmed” by the changes in a statement put out by the Romney campaign.

“Anyone familiar with the way in which these documents are drafted understands the care that is taken with every word,” he said. “By failing to mention Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, by no longer insisting that Palestinian refugees be settled inside a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel, and by failing to condemn Hamas — all new positions from four years ago — the Democratic Party is signaling a radical shift in its orientation, away from Israel.”

Democrats counter that the Obama administration has the most pro-Israel record in the nation's history, from record military aid to leading the global coalition against Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. And they say the status of Jerusalem will be settled in negotiations with the Palestinians, which has long been the stance of both parties.

“As the Democratic Convention gets underway here in Charlotte, Republicans will do everything they can to shift the conversation away from talk of choice, Medicare, marriage equality, and the laundry list of issues on which American Jews overwhelmingly line up with the Democratic Party,” National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David Harris said in a statement. “But it won't work."