Posted by Kristin McCarthy on December 16, 2016 in Blog
Trump is masterful at distracting from bad news with even worse news, and he did it again this week at the expense of the pro-peace community across the world. Last night, President-elect Trump’s transition team announced that David Friedman is their pick for U.S. Ambassador to Israel, a position which Friedman said he “looks forward to to doing from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” Make no mistake, the terrible, terrible promises that the U.S. Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem must not be overshadowed completely by the nomination of an anti-peace, pro-settler hardliner. Both issues must be fought because much is at stake: regional stability, U.S. security interests and international standing, Palestinians’ freedoms, Israeli security and democracy, and much more. Friedman’s record is a clear indication, should he be confirmed by the Senate, his views and policy positions are not based on his understanding of American interests or international global order, but instead informed solely by the whims of the Israeli hard line right. Friedman is unfit to be a diplomat, much less an Ambassador to Israel.
Friedman, a bankruptcy attorney who served Mr. Trump as an advisor during his presidential campaign, has a long history of pushing for Israeli annexation of the West Bank. Friedman has also absurdly denigrated American Jewish advocates who are opposed to Israeli settlement growth in occupied territories, called President Barack Obama and “anti-Semite” because of his policies towards Israel, and Friedman himself has personally financed the expansion of the settlement enterprise. If Friedman is confirmed by the Senate, he will radically change the U.S. policy, diplomacy, and international leadership role by reversing decades of action holding settlements as an obstacle to peace and against U.S. interests. Through barbs and fictions, Friedman has advocated for the end of a “two-state narrative,” arguing that Palestinians are either terrorists or hoping to integrate into Israeli society (Friedman hopes the majority of Palestinians are the later). Donald Trump has indicated his support for a two-state solution in the past, but in an interview earlier this year Friedman made it clear he is trying to persuade Trump away from it, saying “His position is that he's observed the obvious, which is that a two-state solution over the past generation has been attempted over and over again and has been a failure. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result—and he's not insane. To blindly embrace a two-state solution because it's been an American policy for the past 25 years is not something he's going to do.”
Friedman is no stranger to inflammatory remarks. At one point he passively suggested that Israeli Muslims critical of the Israeli government can be imprisoned, and then there was the time Friedman appeared on Israeli news in his role as a Trump campaign advisor to defend and agree with Netanyahu remarks equating Palestinian opposition to settlement growth to “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from their ancestral homeland. Friedman has carved out a far right niche in American political space that makes AIPAC seem reasonable. His promise to move the Embassy to Jerusalem, his one-state vision of a Jewish majority state, and his deep misunderstanding of U.S. interests in the region make him a mind boggling choice for a President-elect hoping to strike the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians. Friedman;s policies up until this point, should alarm and mobilize Senators who will be responsible for confirming him to the post. If there is any constituency in Congress for peace, this is the time to act.