(May 14, 2018 / JNS) Republican senators who came to Israel for the official opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem seemed troubled by the lack of Democratic representation at the May 14 event.
“I don’t know why the Democrats will not be here, chose not to come. Every member of Congress had the option before them to come and be here. There was no way on earth we could have inaugurated this embassy without my being here to celebrate it. It’s too important,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Monday from Jerusalem.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said he had invited several Democrats to join his congressional delegation, but none decided to do so. Graham also lamented that only a “handful” of Republicans had joined him as well.
“I would just assume that the Republicans who didn’t come had [scheduling] conflicts,” Graham said at a press conference in Jerusalem. “But I am disappointed that not one Democrat came. What does that say? It’s not for me to tell you what that says. It hurts me. Because I work across the aisle on a regular basis. I think it was a mistake because there’s too much going on in this region.”
Both Cruz and Graham, both former presidential candidates, have been outspoken in their support for Israel through the years. The senators noted that the embassy opening was a signal that the U.S. era of “appeasement” was over.
“By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital during the campaign, it is a signal to everyone, including the North Koreans, that there is a new sheriff in town,” said Graham.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) were also in Jerusalem for the festivities. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) led a delegation of 10 Republican House representatives to Jerusalem for the embassy opening.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Wilson and the congressional delegation, which also included Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running this year for a senate seat.
“Today is an historic day that constitutes a milestone in the history of our people, our state and the alliance between us,” Netanyahu said during the meeting.
Israel’s Makor Rishon’s Ariel Kahane said every member of Congress was invited to attend Wilson’s delegation, but that Democrats were blocked by their leadership.
“People involved in the process blame the democratic leadership of congress blocked its members,” Kahane wrote on Twitter.
Notably, former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, Dan Shapiro, who now lives in Israel, said that he did not receive an invitation to the embassy ceremony.
Nevertheless, he told Israel’s Army Radio: “I’m celebrating” the embassy move. “I’m in favor … I would have participated.”