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A spokesperson for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) defended and clarified the Democratic leader’s controversial remarks that Republican Jews are “being exploited” by the GOP during an interview Saturday with the Washington Free Beacon.
Pelosi came under fire this weekend for telling Bloomberg’s Al Hunt that Republican Jewish voters are “being exploited” by Republican leaders who aim to turn U.S. support for Israel into a partisan election issue.
Pelosi maintained that Republican officials “are using Israel as an excuse” to galvanize voters when “what they really want are tax cuts for the wealthy.”
Nadeam Elshami, a Pelosi spokesperson, told the Free Beacon that the Democratic leader was attempting to highlight how Jewish voters of all stripes are “not getting the full facts” when it comes to the issue of President Obama’s relationship with Israel.
“What she was referring to here is simply, some of these voters, they are not getting the full facts or are hearing one side only of the story,” Elshami said. “I think that’s the best way to explain it.”
Pelosi was not attempting to downplay the importance of the U.S.-Israel alliance, or malign Jewish Republicans who are skeptical about the president, Elshami said.
“Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent voter, Jewish or not, you do care about the U.S. relationship with Israel and our continuing commitment to the Jewish state,” he said. “The point here is that it’s about simply just getting one side and not the other side [of the story on Israel], and that’s what [Pelosi] was pointing to.”
Jewish Republican leaders and organizations have expressed concerns about the Obama administration’s often chilly relationship with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They also have chided Obama for not visiting the Jewish state during his four years in office, and for failing to lead in the fight against Iran’s nuclear program.
The Free Beacon reported Wednesday that Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) was helping the Obama administration work behind the scenes to water down a tough new Iran sanctions in Congress.
White House press secretary Jay Carney also made news Thursday when he refused to name the capital Israel in a press briefing.
Jewish voters across the political spectrum are being misled about Obama’s views towards Israel, Elshami maintained.
“They’re only getting one side of the story, even though the president has a very strong record on this issue,” he said.
Despite her response to Bloomberg, according to Elshami, Pelosi was not implying Republican leaders are insincerely using support for Israel to sway Jewish voters.
“She’s not saying that members of Congress don’t care about Israel. What she was clearly saying here is that if you as a Republican are going to attack the president’s record while refusing to look at the facts, they’re ignoring what the president has done even in a bipartisan way on this issue,” Elshami said.
Republican leaders in Congress – not Jewish Republican voters in general – are the ones who are intentionally distorting Obama’s record on Israel, Elshami said
“What Leader Pelosi here was saying specifically is that [Congressional Republicans] have to really look at the president’s record. They can’t just glance over it and say, ‘He hasn’t done enough.’ ” Elshami said. “She was speaking specifically about the Republicans claiming the president’s record is not strong on Israel. She was not referring to Republican Jewish voters.”