In a September interview with The Atlantic
reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro defended Israel and Jews and criticized Iran saying that “no one has been slandered more than the Jews” and that the Iranian President Ahmadinejad should stop denying the Holocaust.
Those words liked to the Israeli representatives. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his appreciation saying that “Castro has a deep understanding of the history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel”. The President of the Republic Shimon Peres appreciated Castro’s words with a letter.
But now, two months later, all these praises don’t count anymore, they expired. The Cuban-born US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen contacted several Israeli officials asking them to urge the prime minister to retract his comments. Netanyahu didn’t lose time and on his visit to the U.S. two weeks ago, took the phone and called Mrs Ros-Lehtinen to apologies for the having praised Fidel Castro.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was born in La Habana and arrived to Florida when she was a girl. Legislator since 1989, she is the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House and really influential in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She is known in Washington for her hard line against the Cuban regime as well as her unflinching support for Israel. Over the past few years she has sponsored several legislative measures against Cuban regime and has gone as far as to call for Castro's assassination.
During an interview for Politico
Mrs Ros-Lehtinen said: “I just said look, this guy has been an enemy of Israel, just because he said something that a normal person would say - after 50 years of anti-Israel incitement, it's one phrase from an old guy who doesn't even know where he's standing”.
But the Israeli Prime Minister's press office told Haaretz
- the most important Israeli newspaper in English - that: “Mr Netanyahu's remarks referred only to a specific article. The prime minister made clear he hasn't changed his position on a number of other things Castro said over the years, including over the past year, on the state of Israel".
As the majority of the leftist Latin American governments the Cuban leadership has often been critical of Israel's actions, but the words of Fidel Castro and the Israeli praises could had been seen as a potential for a diplomatic rapprochement between Tel Aviv and La Habana. Mrs Ros-Lehtinen’s actions and Netanyahu’s apologies ruined it.