US envoy Lew says public daylight between Jerusalem, DC should be kept ‘to a minimum’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew speaks during a Reichman University conference on July 9, 2024. (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew speaks during a Reichman University conference on July 9, 2024. (Screenshot)

US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew hints strongly that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should change his approach to Jerusalem’s disagreements with Washington over the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.

“My view is you try to keep the daylight to a minimum, not look for things that exaggerate how much space there is,” says Lew, without mentioning Netanyahu by name.

Israel “does have some work to do” in restoring bipartisan support in the US, says Lew, but the country “has to do it without questioning the motives of people asking questions. Especially your best friends.”

Speaking at Reichman University’s Aaron Institute for Economic Policy’s annual conference, the envoy adds that US-Israel ties are “not in a bad place substantively, but the image that has been created is not a great one.”

Israel needs to do a better job telling its side of the war in Gaza to the US and to the world, he argues.

“The images in America are brutal. There are enemies of Israel that are actively telling the story in a very negative way,” he says.

Lew blames domestic political considerations for Israel’s middling performance in public diplomacy: “Part of the reason the world hasn’t seen everything Israel has done is because it was done in an environment where it would be great for the story to be told outside of the country, but not so much interest in advertising it inside the country.”

The Biden administration has been working hard to help get Israel’s side across, he argues.

“We’ve been telling the story very clearly that Israel had a right and responsibility to defend itself,” says Lew. “We work day and night to make sure things like humanitarian assistance are provided. And Israel needs to tell the story that it is making sure that people are getting what they need for there not to be a famine.”

Lew underscores that there is no famine in Gaza: “It’s a really hard situation, but there is not a famine.”

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