WASHINGTON - The Jewish Democratic Council of America on Monday made a rare condemnation of the Israeli government, expressing its concern about members of Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right coalition.
"We stand with Israelis who are concerned about extremist members of the current Israeli government. Their bigoted statements, and the policies they espouse, run counter to our shared values," the organization, which defines itself as "the voice for Jewish Democrats and socially progressive, pro-Israel, and Jewish values," said in a statement.
"We urge the new Israeli coalition to remain true to these values, including the defense of democracy and minority rights," the JDCA noted, adding it "stands with the tens of thousands of Israelis protesting policies of the new government inconsistent with those values."
The organization tends to be reticent in criticizing Israel, with strong U.S.-Israel ties serving as a central tenet of its mission statement.
“JDCA remains committed to the goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel continues to face threats, and thus it is critical for the United States and Israel to stand firm in our mutual commitments," it noted, adding that it "strongly supports a continued close U.S.-Israel partnership and the vital security assistance the U.S. provides to Israel, we oppose any efforts to drive a partisan wedge in our relations with Israel, and are confident this strong bilateral relationship will continue."
JDCA CEO Halie Soifer has criticized Republican lawmakers for turning Israel into a wedge issue, as well as lawmakers and organizations that try to paint being "pro-Israel" with a wide brush. The organization, to that end, stressed in its statement that Americans should be able to criticize the Israeli government.
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"In the spirit of that close relationship and with recognition of Israel’s security concerns, it is entirely appropriate for any American, including lawmakers, to express concern about the policies, rhetoric, or actions of the new Israeli government with which they disagree, including those that run counter to our shared democratic values or jeopardize prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it added.
Her organization's statement comes shortly after Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, considered among Israel's most stalwart friends in Congress, expressed concerns in a Haaretz interview about the potential erosion of Democratic Party support for Israel given the current coalition's policies. Sherman's comments followed notable critical gestures from other pro-Israel Democrats like Sens. Robert Menendez and Jacky Rosen, as well as Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.