WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s U.S. ambassador, heading into a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump, named Steve Bannon as someone his country was ready to work with.
Ron Dermer made his remarks about the newly appointed chief strategist, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Thursday in the Trump Tower lobby in New York.
“Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel, we have no doubt that Vice President-elect Mike Pence is a true friend of Israel, he was one of Israel’s greatest friends in the Congress, one of the most pro-Israel governors in the country, and we look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, in making the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger than ever,” Dermer said.
Dermer did not name Trump’s appointee for White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman known for close ties to pro-Israel Republicans.
Trump’s naming of Bannon for a major White House post has stirred considerable unease among many American Jewish groups. Bannon is the former CEO of Breitbart News, a conservative site that has been a clearinghouse for the alt-right, a loose collection that includes elements with anti-Semitic and racist views.
The site is sympathetic to Israel – Bannon established a Breitbart bureau in Jerusalem a year ago to counteract what he said was media bias against the country — and has covered anti-Semitic attacks on Jews as a matter of outrage. It has also used “Jew” or “Jewish” in ways that critics said seemed pejorative at least twice.
Bannon also reportedly shaped an Oct. 13 speech by Trump that peddled conspiracy theories involving international bankers seeking global control through secret meetings – themes familiar from anti-Semitic literature. The speech was condensed into a TV ad on the eve of the election that featured images of three prominent Jews.