Riverdale’s Jack Lew finds himself at the center of a possible breaking point in the history of modern Israel. That’s what being confirmed as the ambassador to the only democracy in the Middle East brings following a terrorist attack that has killed thousands of Israelis and Palestinians over the past month.
Lew, an Orthodox Jew, was confirmed on Oct. 31 by a 53-43 vote that was mostly along party lines. President Joe Biden nominated him to the post on Sept. 5. That was one month before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the start of the war.
New York city and state electeds in Congress are happy by Lew’s confirmation and impressed by his experience in and around Israel.
“Ambassador Lew is one of the finest public servants of our time,” U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres said on X. “Both Americans and Israelis will be well served by his wise and steady leadership in a time of turbulence.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who is from Brooklyn believes Lew’s ascension to the position will help President Joe Biden in this time of crisis in the Middle East.
“The Senate, I’m proud to say, has now taken an extremely important step in our support of Israel — we have approved, with bipartisan support, Jack Lew to serve as US Ambassador to Israel,” he said in a statement.
“With Israel defending itself against Hamas, this ambassadorship is as important and timely as any nomination that the Senate has confirmed in a long time. Mr. Lew is the right man for the job of Ambassador to Israel: he’s a capable public servant, a fierce ally to Israel, and commands a broad base of trust and respect. And he is a decent and humane man.”
According to Schumer, having an ambassador to Israel at this time will further open up lines of communication with the Israeli government.
“It means Israel’s messages will be conveyed appropriately to our government, but it also means our government’s messages will be sent appropriately to the Israeli government,” Schumer said.
The head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin of Maryland was quite pleased at Lew’s confirmation as the U.S. tries to have the Americans being held hostage by Hamas come home.
“The U.S. Mission Israel team is the best in the field, but there’s no substitute for a confirmed ambassador,” Cardin said in a statement. “Jacob Lew is eminently qualified to serve in this post. He has extensive experience. He has the political acumen that we need for our ambassador at this time. He has the respect of the Israeli officials.”
Before the confirmation vote, The Jerusalem Post said, “Jack Lew is a worthy nominee and a mensch.” Support for his nomination ranges from the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center to the Anti-Defamation League.
After the vote, UJA-Federation of New York congratulated Lew on his confirmation as ambassador to Israel.
“Jack’s extensive international and policy experience, and unwavering commitment to promoting Israel’s stability in the region have never been more crucial to Jews in Israel and around the world,” the organization wrote. “His legacy of distinguished leadership will no doubt strengthen the US/Israel relationship during this extremely challenging time.”
“There’s no greater mission than to be asked to strengthen the ties between the U.S. and Israel,” Lew said in his opening statement before the Democratic-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I will do my utmost to end the horrific attacks by Hamas and to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself, and I will spare no effort in working to help American citizens now captive to return home safely,” he said.
He made a point during his confirmation hearing to show how much the Biden administration backs Israel while fighting against antisemitism that has broke out following the Oct. 7 attack.
“If confirmed, I will continue to oppose all efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel internationally and support the global fight against antisemitism,” he said.
“I will advance the tireless work of this administration to firmly reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, while respecting the rights of all Americans to free speech.”