Governor Cuomo did a lightning visit to Israel last weekend and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but had no report on the meeting other than this short video.
Netanyahu: Thanks for your constant support for Israel.
Cuomo: My pleasure. We wouldn’t do it any other way.
But Israeli consul-general Dani Dayan accompanied Cuomo on the trip, and he offered this report on the Brian Lehrer show Tuesday:
[Cuomo] said that the Democratic Party was traditionally the most pro-Israeli of the two American parties and he doesn’t understand why in the fringes of the Democratic Party there is a different attitude towards Israel. As a progressive, he believes Israel should be a Democratic cause. I believe he will use his influence inside the Democratic Party to make sure it happens. The Prime Minister said that we see bipartisanship, bipartisan support of Israel, to prevent Israel from becoming a wedge issue in American politics –as a vital interest of the state of Israel.
Asked by Lehrer to elaborate, Dayan said, “You cannot unfortunately miss the fact that in the fringe left of the Democratic Party there are some elements that are blatantly anti-Israel, some even support BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). I think that’s what he referred to.”
Cuomo signed an executive order against BDS last year, barring state business with people who have the wrong position on Israel. For his part, Brian Lehrer makes sure that BDS is “fringe” by never having supporters of BDS on his show to argue for it. But polling shows that liberal Democrats now sympathize with Palestinians over Israelis by three-to-two. Driving the change are the young, women, and blacks and Hispanics, the progressive base of the party.
Lehrer’s exchange with Dayan is amusing because Dayan repeatedly refused to criticize Donald Trump. Some of those gymnastics:
Lehrer: There was a lot of frustration on the part of American Jewish groups that Trump didn’t come out more quickly and forcefully [on anti-semitism]… He had to be boxed in.”
Dayan: No Brian, that’s not my impression. We are talking about a new administration… an administration that is barely a month in office… We feel now that the administration takes very seriously the issue and it will be confronted the way it should be confronted…
Lehrer: What’s your response to the new version of the travel ban?
Dayan: It’s a domestic American matter on which we have no comment to give….
Lehrer: Our allies around the world are freaked out by how erratic President Trump is… Are you also back on your heels in Israel, not knowing what to expect from one day to the next?
Dayan: No, I think that following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, which was a very successful one, we know exactly where we stand. The American administration knows exactly where we stand.
Lehrer: He’s been more erratic than most, back and forth…
Dayan: No no no, I don’t think so. Now this administration knows exactly what our positions are. We know what the position of the administrations are. I don’t find anything erratic in the relationship with Israel. Maybe the most important thing in which President Trump is anything but erratic is the way he approaches the Iranian file, the nuclear file. He says exactly what we said…. It was a very bad deal for America, a very bad deal for Israel…
Lehrer: Let me ask you about another change in the Trump position, about moving the embassy to Jerusalem… With reversals like that, how do you know what’s coming next and that you can trust things Trump says?
Dayan: He never said he would do it first day of his administration. We believe it will be done… The commitment to move the American embassy to Jerusalem was not given to Israel, it was given to the American electorate. So we are not in a position to demand it.