Pro-Israel Groups J Street and AIPAC Split on Steve Bannon Appointment
Pro-Israel groups were split on their approach to the incoming Donald Trump administration, with AIPAC resisting pressure to criticize the appointment of far right wing firebrand Stave Bannon to a top White House position.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee declined to weigh in on Bannon, perhaps in hopes of keeping open a pipeline of influence over the incoming administration’s Middle East policies, Politico reported.
“AIPAC has a long-standing policy of not taking positions on presidential appointments,” the group’s spokesman, Marshall Wittmann, said.
Whitman denied reports that the group was privately “apoplectic” about Bannon’s appointment.
But the dovish J Street slammed Bannon as a hate-monger who would be bad for the Jews — and Israel.
“He and his website have a history of aggressively targeting individuals and organizations, including J Street, with vicious attacks that show no regard for basic decency and tolerance, or for the truth,” it said.
J Street accused Trump of “fanning the flames of hatred” by appointing Bannon.
The ADL and other anti-hate groups have blasted Bannon’s appointment, but analyst say pro-Israel groups are by definition more concerned about foreign policy not his views, which critics call racist and anti-Semitic.
The right wing Zionist Organization of America praised Bannon effusively.
“We wish Mr. Bannon every success in his new position,” said ZOA chief Mort Klein.
Israel itself has stayed out of the fray.
Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Dermer, his ambassador to Washington, have offered only warm words about Trump.
The day after last week’s election, Dermer congratulated Trump with a tweet calling him “a great friend of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”