Fetterman reaffirms support for Israel: ‘Hamas is anathema to peace’
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., encouraged Israel to eliminate ‘every last’ Hamas terrorist during a event hosted by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center. (Courtesy: The Orthodox Union Advocacy Center.)
In an unlikely transformation since he took office more than a year ago, Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., is receiving praise from some conservatives and criticism from those within his own party for his position on a variety of issues that have dominated news headlines.
Fetterman, whose 2022 campaign to serve as a senator for the Keystone State rattled a majority of conservatives, appears to be making inroads with those of different political beliefs around the country by bucking a handful of the ideas espoused by his colleagues who sit on the same side of the aisle.
His opposition to some efforts pushed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which has become increasingly visible since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists, has led some conservatives to question how he went from a candidate they despised to a senator they can relate to.
On Israel, for instance, the senator has made his position very clear amid the war-torn country’s battle with Hamas terrorists. He will support Israel at all costs, even when other members of his party won’t.
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Fetterman’s opposition to some efforts pushed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has become increasingly visible ever since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists. (Getty Images)
Fetterman has also made heads spin within his own party when it comes to the issue of immigration and his criticism of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who faces federal charges for allegedly acting as a foreign agent and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes to benefit the Egyptian government through his power and influence as a senator.
The senator’s position on Israel differs greatly from that of several progressive Democrats in the House and Senate and was reaffirmed earlier this week when Fetterman spoke at a leadership luncheon hosted by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C.
He questioned why those who targeted Israel through demonstrations around the United States and the world are not “protesting Hamas.”
“They’re blocking tunnels, they’re blocking roads,” Fetterman said. “Why? Why aren’t they protesting, ‘When will we get the hostages back home?’ Why aren’t they protesting Hamas? Why aren’t they protesting systemic rape and torture of Israeli women and children?
“I don’t get it.”
An anti-Israel sign with the phrase “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” at a protest near Tulane University in New Orleans. The phrase has been criticized as calling for the destruction of Israel. (Credit: Ryan Zamos)
The senator also criticized South Africa for bringing a genocide case against Israel in the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, saying the African nation should focus on quelling unrest on its own continent and “sit this one out.”
Fetterman’s position on the war differs greatly from that of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who urged his colleagues this month to reject the more than $10 billion in military funding for Israel that is being considered amid what he considers to be Israeli forces’ “grossly disproportionate” and “immoral” response to Hamas terrorists.
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John Fetterman speaks during a luncheon hosted by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center Jan. 10, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Orthodox Union Advocacy Center )
“Sen. Fetterman’s comments reflect that he recognizes that some in his party seek to cloak their anti-Israel sentiment in progressive clothes, but he’s not buying it. He understands that supporting Israel’s security is supporting U.S. security in this very turbulent region, a position long advocated by Congress on both sides of the political aisle,” Toby Dershowitz, the managing director of FDD Action, told Fox News Digital.
Referring to the rapes and atrocities committed against Israel, Fetterman said Wednesday, “I have a 12-year-old daughter. If someone did that to my daughter, would you want me to sit down at a table and negotiate with them? Never. I would never ask for Israel to do that as well.”
Taking his support for Israel further, Fetterman said the country has the right to fully take on Hamas and noted that every Hamas terrorist that is killed is “one more step” toward peace.
Recognizing the “blowback” he has received from some members of his party for his support for Israel, Fetterman said, “Great. I welcome the smoke then.”
Sen. John Fetterman’s base has been criticizing him for his strong support for Israel in recent weeks. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP via Getty Images)
“The mainstream Jewish community is grateful to Sen. Fetterman for his unwavering support for the state of Israel,” Nathan Diament, the executive director of public policy for the Orthodox Union, told Fox News Digital. “We appreciate his willingness to go against the anti-Israel progressives in his own party despite facing criticism.
“This is a challenging time for the Jewish community, and we value anyone who has the moral clarity to stand with Israel and her right to defend itself and eradicate Hamas.”
Reacting to some of the comments Fetterman made at the luncheon, Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of former President Donald Trump, wrote on X, “How is it possible that John Fetterman in the last few months has seemingly become more based than half of the senate GOP???”
FETTERMAN DEMANDS SEN. MENENDEZ TO BE EXPELLED FROM SENATE ON ‘THE VIEW’: ‘SENATOR FOR EGYPT NOT NEW JERSEY’
Migrants climb out of a dump truck. (Texas DPS)
During an interview with NBC News last month, Fetterman said, “I’m not a progressive. I just think I’m a Democrat that is very committed to choice and other things. But with Israel, I’m going to be on the right side of that. And immigration is something near and dear to me, and I think we do have to effectively address it as well.”
Though he’s pro-immigration, Fetterman has recently distanced himself from those within his party who oppose policies — like reforms on asylum — that would significantly reduce the increasing number of migrants arriving at the southern border each day.
“It’s a reasonable conversation — until somebody can say there’s an explanation on what we can do when 270,000 people are being encountered on the border, not including the ones, of course, that we don’t know about,” Fetterman told the outlet. “To put that in reference, that is essentially the size of Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in Pennsylvania.”
In a recent interview with Politico, Fetterman said he hoped Democrats “can understand that it isn’t xenophobic to be concerned about the border” as he urged his party to come to the table for a “reasonable conversation.”
Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden was taken hostage with his wife Shiri and two children, Kfir, 10 months, and Ariel, 4, holds with her friend Tal Ulus pictures of them during an interview with Reuters as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2023. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo)
During an early December appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Fetterman addressed the expulsion of George Santos, R-N.Y., and noted that if Santos deserves to be kicked out of Congress, then Menendez does, too, after being federally charged for participating in a bribery scheme.
Santos, who was expelled by Congress in a 311-114 vote on the House floor Dec. 1, has been indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, falsification of records, credit card fraud and other charges. He’s been accused of using campaign funds on a number of luxury goods and treatments, such as Botox, but has pleaded not guilty.
Quickly shifting the topic away from Santos, Fetterman told the show’s hosts, “But to me, I think the more important picture is that we have a colleague in the Senate that has actually did more sinister and serious kinds of things. Senator Menendez. He needs to go.”
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife Nadine Menendez depart a Manhattan court after they were arraigned on federal bribery charges in New York Sept. 27, 2023. (Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
“And if you are going to expel Santos, how can you allow somebody like Menendez to remain in the Senate?”
“And, you know, Santos’ lies were almost funny, and like he, you know, landed on the moon. That kinda stuff,” Fetterman added. “Whereas, you know, Menendez, I think, is really a senator for Egypt, not New Jersey.”
According to charges brought by federal prosecutors, since 2018, three businessmen have collectively paid hundreds of thousands of dollars IN bribes — including cash, gold, a Mercedes-Benz and other things of value — in exchange for Menendez agreeing to use his power and influence to protect and enrich them and to benefit the government of Egypt.
Larry Ceisler, a public affairs consultant and Pennsylvania political observer, told the Philadelphia Inquirer he believed the senator’s comments show he isn’t totally dedicated to every idea pushed by the Democratic Party.
“John’s always had this quality to him that people see in him what they want to see,” Ceisler told the newspaper. “I think that was his strength, but for some of those people who assumed, ‘He is fully in our club,’ obviously he’s not.
“And I gotta believe that the anger he is evoking, it’s making him dig in even more,” Ceisler added. “That’s just his personality.”
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Despite the support some conservatives have given Fetterman for his recent remarks, others believe the senator is putting on an act in an effort to help President Biden’s re-election bid.
“Fetterman is running an angle on talking like average Pennsylvanians so that he can undercut Trump later this year when he campaigns with Biden across Pennsylvania,” conservative commentator Jack Posobiec wrote in a post to X. “This is clearly an op and there’s a lot of people falling for it.”
Fox News’ Gabriel Hays, Andrew Mark Miller, and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.
Kyle Morris covers politics for Fox News. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @RealKyleMorris.