Retired Marine General James Mattis, who President-elect Donald Trump has unofficially announced will be appointed to serve as America’s next secretary of defense, is a “true friend” of the Jewish state, a pro-Israel advocacy group said on Thursday.
Mattis, the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) tweeted, “embodies the meaning of ‘tikkun olam.’ He’ll be a terrific Sec Def.”
In a statement published on Friday, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) called Trump’s choice of Mattis “smart and important.”
“Throughout his career, General Mattis has made the protection of the United States, our assets, and our allies around the world, his top priority,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said. “General Mattis believes in a strong US military posture and understands the threats we face, like a newly aggressive Iran. He has the type of worldview the leader of our Defense Department needs.”
Last month, as reported in The Algemeiner, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) called on Trump not to pick Mattis due to comments made by the general at a 2013 Aspen Security Forum that the ZOA said “revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel.”
In the remarks in question, Mattis said he “paid a military-security price every day as the commander of CENTCOM (US Central Command) because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel.”
Mattis — who headed CENTCOM from 2010-13 — also stated there was a pressing need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and warned of the potential future consequences of Israel’s settlement policies.
“If I’m in Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid,” he said. “That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country.”
In a statement published last Sunday, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America said attempts to portray Mattis as anti-Israel were “ill-founded and unfair.”
“JINSA’s experiences with General Mattis have been very positive, including many private discussions in the last few years on the Middle East,” the statement said. “We recently consulted several notable Israelis and Americans in the civic and military spheres who also have interacted with him and they share our confidence in his support for a strong US-Israel relationship.”
Furthermore, JINSA noted, regarding “the larger US military and strategic issues related to the Middle East, which a secretary of defense will have to address early on, General Mattis has notably and indisputably distinguished himself in advocating for a more robust US military posture to counter, contain and deter Iran, even at the peril of his military career, and its importance to American security and the restoration of America’s position in the Middle East…Along similar lines, he has stressed the need to stand by our longstanding regional friends. General Mattis’ outlook on these issues aligns perfectly with Israel’s.”
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal