A leading Jewish Democratic political group threw its endorsement behind New York congressional candidate Antonio Delgado despite his recent comment claiming Israel is "not a Jewish democracy."
Delgado, who is running to defeat incumbent Rep. John Faso (R., N.Y.), came under fire this week after criticizing Israel during a debate.
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"Being pro-Israel and being pro-peace is critical, but I'm also pro-democracy, and as currently constructed, Israel is not a Jewish democracy. Those settlements make it so that it can't be," Delgado said, according to video of the debate.
Despite these comments, the Jewish Democratic Council of America, a group that claims to endorse pro-Israel Democrats across the country, gave Delgado a ringing endorsement on Thursday.
"JDCA is pleased to announce its endorsement of Antonio Delgado," Halie Soifer, the JDCA's executive director, said in comments posted on Delgado's campaign website Thursday. "We are confident that Antonio will be a strong voice for Jewish and Democratic values in the House when he wins his race in November, and we strongly support his candidacy."
The Republican Jewish Coalition quickly denounced Delgado's comments and questioned the JDCA's decision to endorse Delgado.
"Antonio Delgado's remarks are offensive and deeply troubling," former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher, an RJC board member, said in a statement. "Israel is America's best friend in the Middle East and it is a thriving democracy. Delgado's statement makes it clear that if he is elected, he will be an anti-Israel voice in the US Congress."
Pro-Israel political operatives tracking the race have raised questions about the JDCA's endorsement as well, expressing frustration that a group claiming to be pro-Israel would throw its support behind a candidate who harbors anti-Israel feelings.
"I thought the new Democratic Jewish outfit was going to fight for candidates ‘who share our positions and values'?" said one Jewish democratic operative tracking the race. "How can they still proud of their support for Antonio Delgado as a ‘a strong voice for Jewish and Democratic values' after he said Israel ‘is not a Jewish democracy'?"
"Same old, same old. Just an NJDC reboot," said the source, referring to the JDCA's predecessor, the National Jewish Democratic Council, which was forced to shutter its operations after running out of money and support.