"Israel is rooted deep in her heart" – who is Kelly Craft?

The top Israeli diplomat in Canada, where Craft currently serves as Ambassador, said that the would-be Ambassador is a strong supporter of Israel.

June 23, 2019 04:16
3 minute read.
Kelly Craft testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Kelly Craft testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Washington. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Nikki Haley was one of the biggest advocates for Israel to ever fill the position of ambassador to the UN. After her departure, Israeli diplomats were worried that whoever would be appointed as her successor would not be as pro-Israel as Haley.

Kelly Craft, the US Ambassador to Canada, was nominated in February by President Donald Trump as the ambassador to the UN. Craft, a major Republican donor and operative from Kentucky, started her own business advisory firm in Lexington in 2004. She is married to billionaire coal baron Joe Craft.

Israeli diplomats in Washington and New York told The Jerusalem Post that they are not aware of Craft’s record regarding Israel. However, the top Israeli diplomat in Canada, where Craft currently serves as ambassador, said that the would-be ambassador to the UN is a strong supporter of Israel.

“We created a deep friendship during her tenure as ambassador, and I even sent her a letter thanking her for her worldview on Israel,” Nimrod Barkan, Israeli Ambassador to Canada, told the Post.

In his letter, Barkan wrote Craft ahead of her confirmation hearing: “Ever since we met upon your arrival to Ottawa, I was deeply impressed with you, your wisdom and sharpness, and, naturally, your love and support for the State of Israel. Well beyond your diligent work with Canada, you showed great interest in Israel-related issues, and worked tirelessly to improve both US-Israel relations as well as Canada-Israel relations, as much as you could.”

He added that “while I am and will be sad to see you depart Ottawa, though we will still keep in touch, I know, from our many conversations, that you will continue to be a steadfast supporter and friend of the State of Israel in the United Nations, within US foreign policy, and everywhere else that you will be in the future.”

In her confirmation hearing, Craft vowed to follow the footsteps of her predecessor.

“If confirmed there will be no stronger ally than Kelly Craft for Israel on behalf of the United States,” Barkan said. “There is no room whatsoever for anti-Israel bias or antisemitism, and with the strength of this committee, I am certain that we can defeat any areas whether it’s a human rights council and bringing up anti-Israel bias every opportunity they have, or any place in the UN, there is no place for that.”

“Israel is rooted deep in her heart,” Barkan said. “The desire to stand by Israel plays a significant role in her life. It is truly personal for her. After I realize how important it is for her, we became close friends. I even spoke to her before the confirmation hearing. We cooperated in so many issues. Having her as ambassador to the UN is an asset for Israel.”

Barkan told the Post that Craft took her husband for a trip to Israel and that her daughter’s husband is Jewish.

“It really can’t get any better than that from Israel’s perspective,” he added. “She even invited me for dinner with the Canadian Ambassador to the US to help us strengthen the ties.”

The Israeli ambassador told the Post that over time, the friendship became stronger.

“We visited her house, and she visited ours,” he said. “This relationship is not your usual friendship between ambassadors. It became personal because she sees Israel as such an important issue. I speak with the Crafts all the time.”

He also said that Craft is viewed favorably by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and by Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. According to Barkan, Craft has already started to learn the different Israel-related issues that are relevant to her new position.

Asked about Craft’s skills, Barkan said that “she’s a pro. She knows how to find the right person to promote each issue. Craft played a significant role in crafting the new version of NAFTA and maintained close ties with the relevant people. Both she and her husband like basketball – her husband involved in basketball in Kentucky. They used to attend the Toronto Raptors games wearing a jersey of the local team. It helped her with scoring points in public opinion. At a time of complicated negotiations on NAFTA, her ability to bring people together made her overcome many obstacles.”

Speaking about the relations between Craft and the Jewish community, Barkan said that she attended many events.
“I invited her to candle lighting at the Canadian Parliament, and she was happy to come,” he said. “I introduced her to the leaders of the Jewish community.”

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