Editor’s note: This article was updated with comment from Lance at 1:45 p.m.
Tom Malinowski doesn’t want Rep. Leonard Lance to turn Israel into a campaign issue.
The former assistant secretary of state, facing attacks from Lance over positions he took on the Middle East nation during his time as Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Thursday that turning Israel into a campaign issue could damage relations between it and the U.S.
“Israel’s alliance is with the United States, not with the Republican Party — to suggest that Democrats can’t be pro-Israel will alienate tens of millions of Americans, especially younger people, without whose support our alliance with Israel will not survive,” Malinowski said. “Fueling polarization on this issue is particularly dangerous at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States and globally.”
Last week, Lance’s campaign hit Malinowski on a number of positions he lobbied for during his time with HRW, including opposition to supplying the country with cluster munitions and calling for Israel to stop construction of settlements in West Bank and Gaza to continue receiving U.S. military aid.
Lance wasn’t willing to let the issue go on Friday.
“Tough, Malinowski needs to be held in account by voters for his terrible anti-Israel record as a lobbyist,” Lance said in a statement to the Globe. “I have been a leader in Congress in support of Israel and Tom Malinowski has too often been on the other side.”
Israel continued to be a sticking point for Lance’s camp for much of last week, and Jim Hilk, Lance’s campaign manager, still has a tweet by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer on the matter pinned on his account.
Fleischer quoted Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, when the latter said the Democratic part’s direction would prevent the U.S. keeping up its relations with Israel.
“A party cannot be the party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Keith Ellison, Tom Malinowski, Leslie Cockburn, Linda Sarsour, and dozens of other prominent, anti-Israel voices and still maintain the commitment to a strong US-Israel relationship,” Brooks is quoted as saying.
How much of an issue Israel will play in the district’s election remains to be seen, but Republicans have held the district for just over half a century, so it’s a fair bet that it likely won’t hurt Lance much, if at all.