October 20, 2019

GOP Senate Candidate Accused Party of ‘Dual Loyalties’ to Israel

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A Republican senate candidate running in Minnesota accused the party of having “dual loyalty” to Israel in 2013, CNN reports.

The Sept. 20 CNN report focuses on comments Jason Lewis made during his radio show in Feb. 2013, defending then Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel after he came under fire for using the term “Jewish lobby” in 2006.

“A blind loyalty towards Israel is the linchpin of being a good Republican,” Lewis said. “And when you get those sort of dual loyalties, what happens if it’s not in America’s best interest?”

He later added, “I don’t think the Jewish lobby, the Israeli lobby controls America because there are plenty of opponents. I do believe, as I said, they are controlling the Republican Party.”

Lewis also accused various members of the Bush administration of having dual citizenship to the United States and Israel, including John Bolton, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006.

“In any other country that might be seen as a problem, but it’s not here because of that special relationship,” Lewis said.

Lewis told CNN that he viewed his role as a radio host as “asking rhetorical questions, challenging audiences, playing devil’s advocate and seeing both sides of every issue.” He also told CNN his voting record when he served in the House of Representatives from 2016 to 2018 showed he’s a staunch supporter of Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League tweeted, “Former Congressman Jason Lewis has a disturbing history of making charges of dual loyalty, an #antiSemitic trope that’s been used to ostracize Jews for centuries. Rather than apologize, he used the Jewish people to deflect. He should apologize immediately.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal, “Lewis confuses shared values with ‘dual loyalty.’ Must be something toxic in the political waters of Minnesota. Jews getting anti-Semitic tropes from [both] Democrats and Republicans. Absurd. Demeaning. False.

Cooper added that Republican leaders need to condemn Lewis’ remarks.

“One thing is clear: Anti-Semitism continues to insinuate itself into the mainstream of American political culture,” Cooper said. The goal is to silence support for Israel. Our response to make our support for stronger U.S.-Israel ties heard even louder.”

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Matt Brooks tweeted that while Lewis’ comments were made as part of “shock jock” radio, “it is unacceptable and indefensible and even if meant to be provocative to his listeners, it has no place in our discourse.”

Brooks noted that Lewis did have “an outstanding record of support for Israel and always stood with the Jewish community” during his one term in Congress. “He deserves credit for his support and rebuke for his shock jock comments,” Brooks tweeted.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) came under fire in February when she said she wanted to discuss “political influence in this country that says it is ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Lewis said at the time, “I don’t think the Jewish community is happy with Ilhan Omar at all. They’ve got every reason to be upset.”