US Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew. (AP/Jens Meyer) (AP/Jens Meyer)
Jack Lew

Attendees at the annual Jerusalem Post conference, held in New York this year, heckled Treasury Secretary Jack Lew when he defended the Obama administration’s policies on Iran. Israeli officials condemned the rude response.

Israeli ministers distanced themselves from the hostile response that US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew received from his audience on Sunday at a Jerusalem Post conference in New York, where he defended the Obama’s administration’s approach to the nuclear deal with Iran.

Lew, echoing President Barack Obama’s position, maintained that a diplomatic agreement with Iran remains the most effective method to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons, also stressing that Obama is a true friend of Israel’s. The crowd clearly disagreed, interrupted his speech several times and even heckled him.

Lew stated that “no administration has done more for Israel than the current one,” that “we do not at all assume that Iran intends to act with innocent intentions,” and that the US “strategically assists Israel daily, and we stand against those who question Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist.”

Lew responded to the disruptions by stating, “I understand that we do not agree on everything, but there is no doubt of the commitment of President Obama to the State of Israel.”

Lew – A Close Friend of Israel

Minister Steinitz. ( Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Minister Yuval Steinitz. ( Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz, who was next in line to address the conference, criticized the audience’s behavior.

Speaking later to IDF Radio, Steinitz insisted that Lew is a close friend of Israel, as is the Obama administration, despite disagreements on various issues, especially the nuclear deal with Iran. He also apologized to Lew personally, he said. “I hope I minimized some of the damage. I gave him a warm hug and we discussed the incident. Lew will remain a close friend of Israel despite this unpleasant event. We need friends.”

Member of Knesset (MK) Yair Lapid, who also spoke at the event, agreed with Steinitz, saying, “Jack Lew is a big supporter of Israel. It was an ugly and shameful spectacle.”