During his last official visit to the U.S., the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to apologize to a Republican congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for having praised Fidel Castro, after the Cuban leader stressed the suffering of the Jews throughout history.In September, The Atlantic Monthly newspaper published an interview with Fidel Castro, in which the Cuban political leader defended for the first time Israel against the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments, who had declared that the Holocaust was ‘a myth’.
‘The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust,’ Castro claimed at that time.
The Cuban leader received praise from Netanyahu and a friendly letter from President Shimon Peres after this statement.
However, Ros-Lehtinen, of Cuban origins, urged for Netanyahu’s retraction and apology, which came during the prime minister’s visit to the U.S two weeks ago, during a private conversation.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu’s bureau explained that the praise referred to is with regards to a specific comment, and that the prime minister maintains its clear position against the Cuban regime.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a lawmaker and a republican congresswoman of the state of Florida. She was born in Havana, but she abandoned the country with her family, because of the political opposition of the Communist regime, and settled in Miami, where she became an anti-Castro activist and joined several campaigns to support Cuban expatriates.
In her political career Ros-Lehtinen has sponsored several legislative measures against the island’s regime and in 2006 she even asked for Castro’s assassination, through her participation in a British documentary.
In addition, she is known in Washington for her strong support to Israel. As a top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she has often criticized the Obama administration for criticizing the settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and for entering into dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.