Posted by Arab American Institute on January 17, 2017 in Blog
David Friedman will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, February 16 at 10:05am ET.
David Friedman is an American Jewish bankruptcy lawyer from New York. Donald Trump was a client of Friedman’s during one of the President’s past bankruptcy proceedings, and Friedman became an advisor to Trump’s campaign and transition regarding Israeli policy. Prior to his experience on the Trump campaign, Friedman has been a financial backer of the Israeli settlement movement. Friedman served as the President of American Friends of Beit El, an organization that gives to an illegal Israeli settlement (Beit El) located miles east of the 1967 green line past the city of Ramallah. In the past, Friedman has rejected the notion of a two-state solution, accused President Obama and his State Department of anti-Semitism, accused liberal American Jewish groups of being “worse than kapos,” and has expressed his support for Israeli settlement activity. Upon his nomination, Friedman promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a move that is incendiary to the Palestinian cause and the broader Muslim world.
The U.S. Ambassador Israel represents the U.S. government and its policy interests to the Government of Israel. The Ambassador plays an important role in promoting good relations with the Israeli government as well as the broader Israeli public while at the same time remaining a diplomat who serves at the pleasure of the President. All U.S. Ambassadors manage large embassy and consulate staffs to monitor and address political issues, civil society functions, economic relations, and more. The Ambassador to Israel in particular has an important function in maintaining relations and negotiations with Israeli and Palestinian representatives.
AAI opposes the nomination of David Friedman. Given the importance of the posting, David Friedman’ far right wing views disqualify him for the post. Friedman’s longtime activism that contradicts U.S. interests in the region show the he is not capable of truthfully, justly, professionally, or strategically representing the interests of U.S. in Israel and with the Palestinian Authority. Friedman’s financial investments into settlement growth and past statements indicate that he is not just opposed to peace but actively working against it.
If the Senate Foreign Relations Committee takes up David Friedman’s nomination, we urge Senators to highlight just how unfit Friedman is by asking the following questions (many of which were first put forward by Haaretz columnist Judy Maltz):
- Do you believe that the U.S. has an interest in negotiating a just, lasting, and mutually agreed upon peace between Israel and the Palestinians?
- Do you believe that the Palestinian people deserve to live in peace, dignity, and freedom either in a state of their own or as full and equal citizens in the state of Israel?
- Do you believe that American citizens have a constitutional right to boycott Israel and/or Israeli settlements?
- What U.S. interest do you believe moving the Embassy to Jerusalem serves?
- Do you support the recent bill passed by the Knesset that makes it legal for Israel to annex privately held Palestinian land?
- Do you believe that the Gaza blockade is in the interest of peace, prosperity, humanity, and/or the United States?
- Do you believe that Israel should be condemned for human rights violations when and where they occur?
- Do you acknowledge the tragedy that happened to the Palestinian people in the 1948 Nakba?
- You serve as president of an organization that fundraises for the settlement of Beit El. How much of your own money have you donated over the years to Beit El and does your personal investment in the settlement movement explain your opposition to a two-state solution?
- It has been reported that you own at least one apartment in Jerusalem. Is that the only real estate you own in Israel, and if not, could you provide us with a list of all your properties in the country and tell us if you own any real estate over the Green Line?
- Do you have any children who live in Israel, and if so, have any of them served or intend to serve in the Israeli army? If the answer is yes, are you not in conflict of interest as a representative of the U.S. government?
- Have you ever contributed to the campaigns of Israeli political leaders or political parties? If so, could you specify which leaders and which parties and how much you gave them?
- Do you believe it is important for Israel to remain a Jewish and democratic state?
- Do you favor Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, and if so, do you believe that Israel can remain a Jewish and democratic state if that happens?
- As a real estate lawyer, how do you view the new Israeli law that legalizes the expropriation of Palestinian land in the West Bank?
- President Donald Trump has said that making peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a top priority for him and has even referred to this as “the ultimate deal.” What would be your basic principles for such a deal?
- Palestinians have voiced serious concerns that with your views, you cannot serve as an honest broker in any future peace talks. How do you hope to reassure them otherwise, if at all?
- Your use of terms like “kapos” and “morons” to berate respected Jewish organizations has raised serious questions about your suitability for a diplomatic role. Do you truly believe you are cut out to serve as an ambassador?
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