College Dems host Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) to discuss his views on Israel
Last night, Barney Frank (D- Mass.), America’s most prominent gay Jewish politician, spoke on the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the initial event of “Israel Issue Week”, hosted by the Georgetown University College Democrats and J Street U.
Meandering from Israel’s treatment of homosexuals to his opinion of the new Clint Eastwood flick J. Edgar to the national allegiance of the many Portuguese-Americans in his Massachusetts district, Frank entertained his audience with a variety of anecdotes, jokes, and pragmatic assessments of the Arab-Israeli conflict and America’s relationship with Israel.
Throughout his speech and the question and answer session that followed, the Massachusetts congressman expressed both criticism for the policies and attitudes of Israel that he considers extreme, such as expanded settlement activity in the West Bank, and general support for the strong relationship between Israel and the United States. Reflecting on this nuanced position, Frank said that “the notion that when you’re friends, you don’t normally express criticism, is simply wrong.”
On current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Frank said that “If I was an Israeli, I would not be voting for Prime Minister Netanyahu.” But he also applauded Netanyahu for defending gay rights, harkening back to the Israeli leader’s speech to a joint session of Congress in May during which he said that “in a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out.”
Although he was making a serious point about the treatment of homosexuals in Arab Muslim countries, Frank nonetheless quipped a little bit. “In America gays are also stoned, but he meant with rocks,” he joked.
Frank’s appearance, co-sponsored by the Georgetown Israel Alliance, GU Pride, and the LGBTQ Center, was the first event in a series about Israel organized by College Democrats and Georgetown’s new chapter of J Street U, the campus organizing wing of J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy organization dedicated to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict peacefully.
Photo: Kirill Makarenko