CUFI calls for return to bipartisanship on Israel

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman spoke at the CUFI Washington Summit in July.

Just after the controversy involving Israel cancelling a visit “to Palestine” by U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, both of whom are Democrats and advocates for boycotting Israel, the leadership of Christians United for Israel released a statement on Aug. 18 calling on both parties to keep their “fringe elements in check,” stop attributing “the views of these outliers to the opposition” as a whole, and to bolster the historic bipartisan nature of U.S. support for Israel.

The largest pro-Israel group in the U.S., CUFI states it has 7 million members and is one of the largest grass-roots organizations in the world.

In the statement, CUFI leaders say they are “dismayed by the Congressional descent into partisanship on matters related to Israel and combating anti-Semitism. No one party is blameless, and we have not shied away from that fact. Enough is enough.”

CUFI is not taking a position on Israel’s use of its anti-BDS law to bar pro-BDS members of Congress, the statement said, because the organization has always “taken no position on Jerusalem’s internal, sovereign decisions.” Regarding the Omar/Tlaib ban, “we recognize that reasonable, pro-Israel, American patriots can disagree on Israel’s decision in this context.”

The statement mentions that some House Democrats are reacting to Israel’s decision with plans to issue a statement of no confidence in Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, and investigate the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. “This would be a slap in the face, not just to these two exemplary emissaries, but to every Democratic and Republican supporter of Israel who seeks bipartisanship on this issue,” CUFI said. “Targeting the ambassadors does nothing to heal the partisan rift, it creates a wider chasm.

“Democratic House leaders should immediately reject this unfair condemnation and Republican Congressional leadership should welcome such righteous action,” CUFI said.

The CUFI statement concluded that “allowing a handful of anti-Israel Members of Congress to hijack Congressional action on Israel has gone on long enough.”

Despite the heat and headlines generated by Reps. Omar and Tlaib, a recent House resolution opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement that seeks to eliminate Israel was passed by a vote of 398 to 17.

Also, despite pressure from anti-Israel groups to #SkipTheTrip and Tlaib’s announcement of an “alternative” trip, 72 House members visited Israel this month on a trip coordinated by the American Israeli Education Foundation. The trip, which is mainly for first-timers, attracted 41 Democrats and 31 Republicans, who visited with Israeli and Palestinian officials, and saw the border situations with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. The Democratic delegation met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, but Abbas snubbed the Republicans.