Israel’s ambassador to the United States said Thursday that his country was looking forward to working with the Trump administration, specifically bringing up Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior adviser who has been accused of anti-Semitism.
“Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel,” Ron Dermer said to the President-elect’s transition pool reporters gathered at Trump Tower, according to a pool report.
“We look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever,” he continued.
Asked why he mentioned Bannon by name, Dermer did not respond, and was then led to the Trump Bar by Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, according to the pool report.
As executive chairman of Breitbart News, Bannon oversaw the site’s transformation into the “platform for the alt-right,” referring to the loosely affiliated anti-establishment movement that relies on white nationalist, anti-Semitic and misogynist tropes.
On Wednesday, 169 congressional Democrats sent a letter to Trump asking him to fire Bannon, citing his role “repeatedly and aggressively push[ing] stories that promote anti-Semitism.”
One Breitbart column during the Republican primaries called “Never Trump” conservative Bill Kristol a “Renegade Jew” for his refusal to support Trump’s campaign.
During divorce proceedings in the late ’90s, Bannon’s ex-wife alleged he didn’t want to send their children to a school with a large Jewish population (a spokesperson for Bannon said that was untrue).
Dermer is expected to accept an award next month from the Center for Security Policy, an anti-Islam think tank. Frank Gaffney, who founded and currently leads that group, on Wednesday denied reports that he had advised Trump’s transition team following an outcry against his record of Islamophobic conspiracy theories.