Frank defends Israeli diplomat

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A top Jewish congressman defended an Israeli diplomat who was carpeted for a memo criticizing his government’s handling of relations with Washington.

Nadav Tamir, the consul general in Boston, apologized last week after he was reprimanded by Jerusalem for a memo in which he said Israel’s dealings with the Obama administration on differences over settlements were eroding U.S. support.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) defended Tamir in a letter sent Aug. 13 to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"I was sorry to learn that he is being criticized because of his accurate reporting of significant sentiment in the United States, including among many of us who have been and will continue to be firm supporters of an American policy that recognizes the right of Israel to be a strong, free, Jewish democratic state," said Frank, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Finance Committee. "I think it is important that the government of Israel have a full understanding of the sentiments that may erode that support.

"If the people who work for me did not give me the kind of straightforward, thoughtful analysis that the consul is providing, even if it wasn’t the most welcome news, that failure — not the information — would cause me unhappiness."

Tamir was reprimanded not for the memo’s contents but for distributing it widely in the ministry, which apparently led to it being leaked to media.

Jewish groups in Boston broadly backed him during the recent controversy.

Frank said Tamir was particularly helpful in helping the Finance Committee understand how best to advance legislation that would sanction Iran for its suspected nuclear weapons program.

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