(JNS.org) The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) called on President-elect Donald Trump to not appoint Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, citing Mattis’s past comments conveying hostility to Israel and a lack of understanding of the threat radical Islam poses to the Jewish state.
Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general who served as U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander from 2010-2013, met with Trump Saturday and is widely considered the frontrunner to be the next secretary of defense. Following their meeting, Trump tweeted that Mattis was “very impressive” and a “true General’s General.”
Yet Mattis made controversial comments about Israel at a 2013 Aspen Institute conference, where he praised Secretary of State John Kerry’s “valiant” efforts to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also expressed concern over America’s “biased” support for Israel.
Mattis said at the time that he “paid a military-security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM, because the Americans are seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can't come out publicly in support of people who don't show respect for the Arab Palestinians.” Mattis also described Israel’s control over Judea and Samaria as “unsustainable” and warned that Jewish settlements would turn Israel into an “apartheid” state.
The ZOA said that Mattis’s past comments “revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel.” As such, ZOA President Morton Klein said he “urges that Mattis not be appointed” defense secretary.