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Engel Blasts State Department for "Editing Out" Israel

May 8, 2017
Press Release
State Dept. Announces Trump Visit to Saudi Arabia, Removing Mention of Israel

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today assailed the State Department decision to remove mentions of Israel from the video posted by the American embassy in Saudi Arabia announcing President Trump’s visit to the region.  A State Department video included details about the President’s trip, including all the stops: the Vatican, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The version posted on the Embassy Riyadh website and the embassy’s Arabic-language Twitter account, @USAinKSA, was edited to remove references to Israel.

Ranking Member Engel wrote, “At a time when the United States should be encouraging the governments of the region—and their people—to promote tolerance, respect, and mutual recognition this video implies that the US accepts Saudi Arabia's public rejectionist position toward Israel. Fifty nine years ago this week, the United States recognized the State of Israel, and throughout Israel’s history, the United States has supported efforts toward normalization and peace in the region.  The United States has actively fought the Arab boycott and efforts by countries in the region to delegitimize the State of Israel.  This video plays into a rejectionist narrative and thus has no place in any social media—or any other form of communication—associated with the United States government.”

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

May 8, 2017

The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I write with strong concern about a video that the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia recently posted.  The homepage of the embassy and the Arabic-language handle affiliated with the US embassy in Riyadh, @USAinKSA, included a video of President Trump’s announcement of his upcoming travel to the Kingdom, but edited out the portion about his travel to Israel. 

I am appalled that the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia disingenuously posted this incomplete and misleading video. At a time when the United States should be encouraging the governments of the region—and their people—to promote tolerance, respect, and mutual recognition this video implies that the US accepts Saudi Arabia's public rejectionist position toward Israel. Fifty nine years ago this week, the United States recognized the State of Israel, and throughout Israel’s history, the United States has supported efforts toward normalization and peace in the region.  The United States has actively fought the Arab boycott and efforts by countries in the region to delegitimize the State of Israel.  This video plays into a rejectionist narrative and thus has no place in any social media—or any other form of communication—associated with the United States government.

I urge you to immediately instruct the embassy to replace the video with the unedited version that includes the announcement of the President's planned visit to Israel.  This will help restore the U.S. commitment toward peace and the acceptance of the Jewish State throughout the region and the world.  We must continue to be true to our values and interests. 

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL
Ranking Member
House Foreign Affairs Committee

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