NEW YORK - Israel's UN ambassador, who is also the outgoing ambassador to Washington, accused U.S. lawmakers who voted against funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system this week of being "either ignorant or antisemitic" as he spoke to Jewish community leaders on Monday.
Gilad Erdan referred to the 11 lawmakers who either voted against the funding or abstained as "the extended 'Squad,'" a group of progressive Democratic lawmakers.
"Do they really not understand that the Iron Dome saves both Israeli and Palestinian lives?" Erdan asked at the event organized by the Jewish Federations of North America. "If Israel didn’t have Iron Dome to protect our citizens from the thousands of rockets that Hamas fired, we may have needed to respond with a ground operation that would have inevitably resulted in many more lives lost."
Erdan was appointed as Israel's ambassador to both the U.S. and the UN by the previous Israeli government, which was led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett decided to replace him as ambassador Washington immediately after taking office in June, but kept him in place as envoy to the UN.
In the vote that took place in the House of Representatives last week, 420 Members voted in favor of providing a billion dollars to Israel for Iron Dome replenishment, nine members voted against it, and two effectively abstained by voting "present." The members who voted against the funding later explained what led them to that decision in social media posts and interviews.
The event Erdan spoke at included a briefing by Bennett, which came only after Erdan's speech. Bennett arrived in New York Sunday to deliver his first address to the UN General Assembly.