Ohio Democrats attacked Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance's trip to Israel, where he pledged to be a strong advocate for the Jewish state.
Vance's Wednesday address at a gathering in Tel Aviv was met with mockery from Vance's Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan. Ryan's communications director Izzi Levy falsely stated that Vance campaigned in Israel before holding a single event in Ohio. Michael Beyer, the communications director for the Ohio Democratic Party, said Vance would rather be in Israel than his home state.
Both comments mirror the anti-Semitic trope that American politicians are more loyal to Israel than to the United States, and highlight how the Jewish state's security has transformed into a partisan issue. While Ryan previously said he supports Israel's right to self-defense, he voted in 2021 against funding for the Iron Dome and supported the Obama administration's Iran Deal.
In Israel, Vance pledged to be "as strong an advocate for the U.S.-Israel relationship as anyone." He called the Iran Deal "a disaster" and applauded former president Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Brad Kastan, chairman of JewishColumbus's Community Relations Council, said Democrats "should strongly encourage, not discourage, our leaders to visit the Jewish state."
"Israel is our strongest and most important ally in the Middle East. All Americans and particularly the citizens of Ohio benefit from the strong strategic and economic ties, not to mention shared values, we enjoy with Israel," Kastan said. "Ohio Democrats, or anyone who appreciates the role our U.S. senators must play in foreign policy, should strongly encourage, not discourage, our leaders to visit the Jewish state."
Ryan himself visited the Jewish state in 2016 during his House reelection campaign. It is unclear whether Ryan at the time would rather be overseas than in Ohio.
The attacks from Ryan's campaign and allies come as the race between the longtime House member and Vance heats up. Vance won May's Republican primary on the back of an endorsement by former president Donald Trump and is viewed as the favorite to win in November given the current political climate.