February 24, 2020

Ted Lieu Apologizes for Tweet Accusing US Ambassador to Israel of Having Allegiance ‘to a Foreign Power’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) deleted and apologized for an Aug. 15 tweet accusing United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman of having allegiance “to a foreign power.”

Lieu was responding to a statement from Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, earlier in the day defending Israel’s decision to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from the country. “You are an American,” Lieu wrote in the since-deleted tweet. “Your allegiance should be America, not to a foreign power. You should be defending the right of Americans to travel to other countries. If you don’t understand that, you need to resign.”

The California congressman made similar comments on CNN the same day.

Lieu tweeted later in the day, “It has been brought to my attention that my prior tweet to @USAmbIsrael raises dual loyalty allegations that have historically caused harm to the Jewish community. That is a legitimate concern. I am therefore deleting the tweet.”

After the Zionist Organization of America asked him for an apology, Lieu replied, “You are correct, I wrote the initial tweet. I should have been aware at the time I wrote the tweet that, as applied to Amb Friedman, it raised dual loyalty issues that have historically harmed the Jewish community. I’m sorry for writing it. That’s why I deleted it.”

Lieu also tweeted that Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.), neither of whom are Jewish, need to have allegiance to America first; those tweets are still up.

The Anti-Defamation League tweeted, “We appreciate @Tedlieu’s swift apology for the comments he made and it is important that he recognized the meaning of his words. It is critical for all leaders to understand the #antiSemitic trope of dual-loyalty.”

Friedman tweeted, “Congress recently passed a resolution condemning BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions]. Last night I was condemned by a US Congressman for ‘dual loyalty’ — classic anti-Semitic charge — simply because I followed US policy by supporting Israel’s right to oppose BDS. My head is spinning from the hypocrisy.”

Lieu has expressed opposition to the BDS movement and condemned Omar’s February tweet that “it’s all about the Benjamins baby.”