Prominent Israeli Minister Expresses Support for Bannon, Day After Jewish State’s US Envoy Says He Looks Forward To Working With Trump Adviser Who Has Faced Antisemitism Claims
A prominent Israeli government minister sent a supportive message on Friday to Stephen Bannon, whose appointment to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor has drawn controversy in recent days over allegations of antisemitism.
In a letter addressed to Bannon that was provided to The Algemeiner, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel — No. 2 in the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party — wrote, “I want to express my support and thanks for your friendship with Israel. While we do not know each other personally, dear friends of mine including Rabbi Shmuley Boteach have shared with me your strong opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement, which threatens Israel’s survival, your opposition to BDS and your opening of a Jerusalem bureau in Israel while head of Breitbart in order to promote Israeli point of view in the media.”
Ariel continued, “No doubt there are many areas of disagreement between us, but on this we agree: Israel, as the Middle East’s only democracy, must always have the strongest international support.”
This came a day after Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer met with Trump advisers in New York City on Thursday.
“Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel,” Dermer said in brief remarks to media members gathered at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “We have no doubt that Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is a true friend of Israel, he was one of Israel’s greatest friends in the Congress, one of the most pro-Israel governors in the country, and we look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”
On Sunday, as reported by The Algemeiner, Bannon will attend the Zionist Organization of America’s annual awards gala in New York City on Sunday. Other attendees will include the head of Ariel’s party — Education Minister Naftali Bennett — and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.
“Bannon is not an antisemite at all,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein told The Algemeiner in an interview on Tuesday. “He’s never said or written anything that is antisemitic. If he was an antisemite in any way, shape or form, I’d be screaming.”
Klein called the Anti-Defamation League’s condemnation of the Bannon appointment “disgraceful.”
“The ADL should be ashamed of themselves,” Klein said. “To assassinate the character of a man who is extremely pro-Israel and pro-Jewish and to promote an image that he’s antisemitic, that’s rubbish.”
In a statement released last Sunday, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said, “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right,’ a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.’ We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that makes our country great.”
Greenblatt was referring to Bannon’s role as executive chairman of the conservative Breitbart News website.
In an article published on its website on Thursday, the ADL reiterated its criticism of the appointment, but stated, “We are not aware of any antisemitic statements from Bannon.”