US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew presents his credentials to Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, Nov. 5, 2023. Photo by Amos Ben Gershon/GPO.
The surprise Hamas assault on Israel was a “stain on humanity” but it has proven that the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew said on Sunday.
“This past month has tested Israel and it has also proven that the bond between our nations is unshakable,” Lew said after presenting his credentials to President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem.
“As two great democracies, we share values that underlie how we make decisions and explain why we remain so close,” Lew said.
The rare Sunday event with the newly installed ambassador, whose U.S. Senate confirmation was fast-tracked due to the war between Israel and Hamas, came nearly one month after the most lethal one-day attack on Jews since the Holocaust.
In his remarks, Lew noted that he met earlier in the day with the families of some of the approximately 240 hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including Americans.
“There are no words to explain the pain they feel and we share.” He said working to secure their release will be a “top priority.”
“The United States stands with you, we will work together and our resolve remains strong,” Lew said.
Friends in need.
“A crisis is always when you’re reminded who you’re friends are,” Herzog told the new ambassador. “This is true of people and true of countries. I am speaking for all Israelis when I say that never has American friendship been more evident or more valued than it is today.
“We are grateful for everything that the United States of America has done for us and is doing as we speak. We will never forget it,” Herzog added.
The president said that Lew was taking up his ambassadorial post at “a tipping point for Israel and the region, maybe for the world,” after the massacre “that changed this country forever.”
“This war is about much more than Israel and Hamas,” Herzog said. “It is about whether the world will accept the violation of our basic values as human beings.”
The U.S. Senate confirmed Lew’s nomination last week by a vote of 53-43, with several Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky voting with Democrats to approve President Joe Biden’s nominee.
Lew, a 68-year-old Orthodox Jew, was White House chief of staff under President Barack Obama and directed the Office of Management and Budget under Obama and President Bill Clinton.
A managing partner of a private equity firm who trained as a lawyer, Lew is also a visiting international and public affairs professor at Columbia University. He also served as treasury secretary under Obama and was part of the National Security Council in two former administrations.