Israel is at war and the forces of terror are once again on the march in the Middle East. In this time of peril, America needs a reliable, honest, and forthright ambassador to Israel with a record of defending the Jewish State. President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, is none of these things.
While serving as then-President Barack Obama’s secretary of Treasury, Lew championed the Iran nuclear deal and was instrumental in its implementation. Lew called the agreement with Iran, which delivered over $100 billion in sanctions relief to Israel’s greatest enemy, a ‘strong deal’ and said that ‘it will make our country safer, it will make our allies safer, and it will make the world safer.’
Our allies in Israel disagreed. In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu called the agreement, ‘a very bad deal.’ An Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University poll found that 73% of Jewish Israelis believed that the deal posed an ‘existential threat’ to their nation. Attendees booed and jeered Lew when he spoke in defense of the agreement at the 2015 annual conference of the Jerusalem Post — one of Israel’s largest newspaper publications.
Netanyahu was so opposed to the Iran deal, which Lew championed, that he traveled to the United States and addressed a joint session of Congress to urge congressional opposition. Lew condemned Netanyahu’s speech as ‘beyond the pale’ and a ‘huge mistake.’
In his final days in office, Obama took his revenge on Netanyahu by refusing to veto a United Nations security resolution condemning Israel. Lew defended the decision, sneering that ‘I don’t think it’s a great thing for Israel to always have only the United States standing between it and condemnation.’
But Lew didn’t just advocate on behalf of the Iran deal or attack its Israeli critics; he lied to Congress to protect it. Lew told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Iran ‘will continue to be denied access to the [U.S.’s] financial and commercial market.’
He also stated that, ‘Iranian banks will not be able to clear U.S. dollars through New York, hold correspondent account relationships with U.S. financial institutions, or enter into financing arrangements with U.S. banks. Iran, in other words, will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market.’
Seven months later, Lew’s Treasury Department granted a license to convert Iranian assets worth billions of dollars into American currency using our financial system. His department even pressured two American banks to complete the transaction. He either lied during his testimony or made himself a liar when he broke his word. Both are contemptible — one is criminal.
In addition to lying, Lew neglected to tell Congress that his department was traveling the world to encourage foreign countries to do business with Iran. According to a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Treasury and State Department officials conducted over 200 ‘roadshows’ in foreign cities to encourage economic engagement with Tehran.
The committee found that ‘the roadshows amounted to the U.S. government telling the world that Iran was open for business, as long as the rest of the world left the United States out of it.’
The Senate should not confirm a man who has lied to it through both omission and overt dishonesty. The Senate should likewise refuse to confirm a man who has acted as the de facto banker and business agent of the ayatollahs to serve as America’s representative in Israel.
Both the United States and Israel need a U.S. ambassador in Jerusalem that is worthy of their confidence. Both nations deserve better than Lew. President Biden should withdraw Lew’s nomination and select an honest champion of the American-Israeli alliance in his place.