Ambassador spoils shul audience with US debate


The American ambassador to Britain has attempted to soothe the Jewish community's fears about his country's relationship with Israel and the upcoming presidential election.

Speaking at St John's Wood United Synagogue in north London, ambassador Matthew Barzun also condemned Iran as "an incredibly disruptive force in Lebanon and Syria, and a state-sponsor of terror" and said proudly: "I love Israel."

Audience members at Monday's event raised concerns about the United States's perceived decline in support for Israel and fears that American Jews were becoming too assimilated.

Mr Barzun, who worked on both of President Barack Obama's election campaigns, said that in terms of American support for Israel, "some people say it's not strong enough, but look at Iron Dome. We do a lot."

Without mentioning Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, the ambassador then assured the crowd that ahead of the presidential election in November, candidates would need wider appeal.

"In all the Democratic and Republican primaries so far," he pointed out, "maybe 12 or 15 per cent of the electorate has participated. You can win a nomination appealing to small groups of people. When the presidential election comes around, you have to appeal to the whole country."

Asked to vote on whether the US was doing enough to solve the world's problems, 59 per cent of the audience said it was not. Around one quarter said the country was "too involved".

Mr Barzun had previously run the poll at more than 100 sessions nationwide. "If you add them all up, answers from all over Britain, two-thirds think we're too involved around the world - but it flips here with this group."

More than half the audience said Middle East peace was more important than concerns over Daesh, Britain's role in Europe, and climate change.

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