WASHINGTON (JTA) — The only Jewish Republican in Congress said President Obama does not seem to be a "true friend" of Israel.
In an interview with Politico, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he was opposed to Obama’s "disproportionate focus" on a settlement freeze instead of dealing with the "existential threat" to Israel from Iran.
"If you look at the policy that this White House has followed, it certainly does not seem as if we are dealing with a true friend" of Israel, Cantor said in the interview.
Politico reported that White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to respond to Cantor’s remarks, but said that achieving a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is "how you can be a true friend to Israel."
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) called on Cantor to apologize.
"The last time Mr. Cantor criticized the Administration’s Middle East policies, he did it from foreign soil — in Israel," said Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee. "This time he did it the very day President Obama hosted a trilateral meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, an important step on the road to peace negotiations. These criticisms appear to be timed deliberately to weaken the administration’s ability to lay the foundations for peace negotiations."
Ira Forman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said Cantor was wrong and engaging in the "cheapest kind of partisan politics."
"What makes him think it’s productive to be judging who is pro-Israel and not pro-Israel," said Forman, "particularly when his views" on Obama and Israel "among his House Jewish Democratic colleagues would be a minority of one?"