(photo credit: REUTERS)
US Ambassador David Friedman is disappointed with the reactions of some American Jews to what President Donald Trump is doing vis-à-vis Israel.
Friedman has found such reactions “frustrating, disappointing and hurtful,” but at the same time is unwilling to give up on American Jews. “Some are misguided but they mean well,” he said on Monday at the annual fall luncheon of the Na’avah Tehilla Emunah chapter in Jerusalem.
Rather than guess what some wanted to hear, Friedman opted not to make a speech, but rather to answer questions from the crowd.
Asked whether the US would support Israel if Israel is ever attacked, Friedman replied that Israel never asked America to send in ground troops, and doubted that Israel ever would. But this goes without saying that there is a US military drill, code-named Juniper Cobra
, which is a five-day combined military program between the US and Israel in which exercises are run that include simulated missile attacks. The US provides missile defense assistance to Israel in case of attack by Iran, Hezbollah or Hamas.
In response to a question about how the US can prevent money being sent to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Friedman said that America has given more money to the Palestinians than any other country. He added that now aid is down to essentially zero, other than matters affecting security which are carried out together with Israel.
“We don’t give money to the Palestinians any more, and we won’t until there is change,” he said. “We can’t control what the Palestinians do with their money, but we can control what we do with our money – and we won’t give money to [support] terrorism.”
Asked about the relationship of the US Embassy with Israel’s Arab population, Friedman said: “You have to make significant efforts to make sure that people are not disenfranchised.” He referred to a high-tech conference that will take place on Tuesday in Nazareth
, which he called “the Arab Start-Up capital of the State of Israel.” The conference is being run under the auspices of the US Embassy and the Ministry for Social Equality. Representatives of thirty of the most promising Arab start-up companies have been invited. Friedman has made several calls to heads of Israeli high tech companies in Herzliya Pituah and persuaded them to also attend.
“It is an Israeli and American imperative to be committed to economic advancement for all,” he said, and included the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.
On a more personal level, Friedman was asked about the challenges of being an Orthodox Jew while serving as US Ambassador.
He explained that he has to act in what is in the best interests of the US, but underscored that the beauty is that he works for a president and an administration that believes that the US and Israel have aligned interests.
“Many Americans believe that America will be blessed if it supports Israel. There is no conflict between the US and Israel, and support of Israel is in America’s best interests.”
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