Dr. Ben Chouake with Senator Menendez - courtesy of NORPAC
WASHINGTON – Caroline Glick penned an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post on February 20 blasting Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) for his questioning during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Glick accused the New Jersey legislator of “anti-Semitic” questions. Menendez asked: “I get a sense that your love for the state of Israel overwhelms your language, which was not necessarily tempered at the end of the day so the question is — We cannot have an Ambassador who ultimately will be moved as much as they may be passionate about the country they are being sent to or by the Prime Minister of that country as much as we may have the greatest of relationships. That will not bend their will to that but will bend their will to what is in the national interest and the security of the United States. Can you tell the members of this committee that is in fact where your loyalty and commitment is?”
Ben Chouake — NORPAC’s National President– a nonpartisan Political Action Committee (PAC) to support pro-Israel candidates rebuked Glick for her stinging criticism. “It’s horrible and inappropriate because Senator Menendez is the exact opposite of anti-Semitic,” Chouake told Jewish Insider. The guy took a bullet for us on Iran” he added.
In addition to Glick, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also offered its own criticism. “.@Senator Menendez implying Friedman’s love of Israel calls into question loyalty to US is inappropriate.” However, the ADL quickly deleted the Twitter post. In response to a Jewish Insider inquiry about the message, the ADL Media Relations Department noted: “The comment was tweeted in error and immediately removed.”
Among Democrats, Menendez is one of the most full-throated supporters of the Jewish state. The New Jersey lawmaker was the second Democratic Senator to oppose the Iranian nuclear deal, disappointing the Obama Administration. He joined in January with Republicans to oppose an amendment to Senate Resolution 6 criticizing settlements.
Commenting on Menendez’s strong pro-Israel record in Congress: “How do you treat someone like that? You treat him like gold. You don’t treat him like dirt. You don’t accuse of horrible things when the exact opposite is true. It is shameful what she wrote,” Chouake asserted.
Read the full transcript below:
Jewish Insider: What was your response to Caroline Glick’s op-ed in the Jerusalem Post calling Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) question to David Friedman “anti-Semitic”?
Chouake: “Out of all the Democratic Senators, by far, Senator Menendez posed the most generous and friendly questions to Mr. Friedman. He was trying to help Mr. Friedman explain himself and give him a lay-up so that he could bat it out of the park. The intention of Senator Menendez was to get reassurance from Mr. Friedman that he could do his job given his passion.”
“It’s horrible and inappropriate because Senator Menendez is the exact opposite of anti-Semitic. I am working with this guy for 20 years. He is the go to person in the Senate. He is the person who spends day and night fighting for us. How do you accuse someone like that of anti-Semitism? The guy took a bullet for us on Iran. Is there another Justice Department case like the one against him? You think that case came out of thin air? It is a political case. It came because he fought for us. How do you treat someone like that? You treat him like gold. You don’t treat him like dirt. You don’t accuse of horrible things when the exact opposite is true. It is shameful what she wrote.”
Q: But, didn’t the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also issue a statement criticizing Menendez before eventually deleting the remark?
Chouake: “Why did they delete it unless they thought they were wrong. You don’t delete stuff that you think is right. The guy asked a question. I don’t know if it was perfectly posed or not. His questioning to Mr. Friedman was very friendly. By far the most friendly Democrat on the panel. I think he was trying to help him. You have to look at everything in the context of what it is and the person who was asking. If I asked the same question, would you call me an anti-Semite? So, why are you calling him an anti-Semite?”
Q: Do you back Friedman’s candidacy as US Ambassador to Israel?
Chouake: “Yes, I worked very hard to promote his (Friedman) candidacy with members of the Foreign Relations Committee. I support him because he is committed to the issue and do a good job. He is also a member of NORPAC. The problem was that he speaks awfully harshly about certain things. He apologized for it and that’s good. His heart is great. I like him and know the guy. I have been in his house. He hosted a Member of the Senate for us: Senator Harry Reid.”
Q: Do you support a specific political party?
Chouake: “No. I am an issue person. One week I had Tom Delay in my house the next week I had Richard Gephardt in my house. An example of polar opposites on every issue in the world except Israel. I like Caroline Glick. I read a lot of her stuff. I respect her. On this one, she was really wrong. Terrible. It’s just wrong.”