Senator Robert Menendez — true friend of Israel, Jewish community

A recent op-ed by Carolyn Glick in the Jerusalem Post levied erroneous accusations of anti-Semitism against Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of David Friedman. These accusatory remarks, based on a question of Friedman’s adherence to his prospective duties as ambassador, are gross distortions of Senator Menendez’s stance on Israel and his relationship with his Jewish constituency.

The senator was questioning whether Mr. Friedman, who is personally passionate about a particular issue — Israel — would be able to make the transition from private citizen-advocate to an official representative of the United States government. In policy making and diplomacy for any issue, personal passions must often be put aside.

Senator Menendez has a long history as one of the staunchest supporters of the Jewish community and the state of Israel. He was among the first members of his party to publicly denounce the 2015 Iran deal, a deal that Ms. Glick also lambasted, and he has been either the author or a leading sponsor on almost all bipartisan pro-Israel legislation. He has regularly fought to promote the safety and security of Israel, even at times against his own party leadership, which entailed significant personal risk and cost. The largest Jewish newspaper in Bergen County appropriately labeled Senator Menendez the “Father of the Iron Dome.” In battles large and small, he has fought for Israel as the “one true democracy in a sea of autocracy,” to use a phrase he often favors.

Senator Menendez speaks out, constantly and consistently, in public and privately with foreign and domestic leaders, against discrimination aimed at Jews and in favor of support for our ally Israel. He’s been a fierce critic of BDS and of anti-Semitism in Europe, the Middle East, and on college campuses right here at home.

In my personal capacity as the national president of Norpac, and as a board member of many major Jewish organizations, I have found no stronger and consistent advocate on our issues than Senator Robert Menendez.

We must take care about against whom, and when, we level accusations of anti-Semitism. This accusation is careless, improper, and hurtful against someone who has been a champion on U.S.-Israel relations. In a different generation, someone like Robert Menendez certainly would merit a place among the “Righteous Among the Nations” at Yad Vashem.

I respect Carolyn Glick. We met when I chaired a dinner at the ZOA when she was honored. While she is usually on target, on this matter she was incorrect and owes the senator and her readers an apology.

Ben Chouake, M.D.
National president, Norpac

(Norpac is America’s largest pro-Israel political action committee.)

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