US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 Policy Conference.
(photo credit: SAUL LOEB / AFP)
NEW YORK – The left-wing Jewish advocacy group J Street said on Friday it is “vehemently opposed” to President- elect Donald Trump’s appointment of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel, due to his being “a leading American friend and funder of the settlement movement.”
J Street said in a statement that Friedman, who was Trump’s lawyer before becoming Israel adviser during the campaign, “lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials and has attacked fellow Jews and public figures with hateful accusations that are disqualifying for representing our country in any capacity.”
Friedman, who serves as president of the American Friends of Bet El Institutions, which supports settlements, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview this past summer that, in his view, annexation of the settlements would be a legitimate way for Israel to move forward.
He added that a one-state solution is also a viable option for ending the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
David Friedman speaking to Israeli settler delegation.
J Street said this “puts Friedman in conflict with the official position of not just the United States, but the Israeli and Palestinian governments as well.
“Friedman has consistently aligned himself with some of the most irresponsible charges and conspiracy theories of the far Right,” J street said.
It referred to incidents such as when Friedman publicly declared that Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abbedine, has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“His nomination is reckless, putting America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk.”
J Street says Trump’s nomination of Friedman shows “breathtaking disdain for the vast majority of American Jews who support the two-state solution, progress toward peace with the Palestinians and common decency in public discourse.”
J Street added that it trusts that other leaders of the American Jewish community will stand with the organization in “making clear that Friedman’s rhetoric and vicious attacks are completely disqualifying and unacceptable” and that his track record shows that “he has the exact opposite of the diplomatic disposition needed to represent the United States in one of the most sensitive and complex postings in the world.”
But as on many subjects relating to Donald Trump’s new administration, Jewish organizations are divided on Friedman’s appointment.
Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein expressed his contentment with the appointment of Friedman, who he considers a friend, and said he “has the potential to be the greatest US ambassador to Israel ever. He thoroughly understands the detailed tragic reality of the Arab/ Islamic war against Israel. He has a powerful grasp of Israel’s defense needs, the dangers they face, and the danger now of a Hamas/PA State.
“No previous ambassador appreciates the political, historic, legal, and religious rights of the Jews to Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem like David,” Klein continued. “Yet he respects and understands the beliefs and hopes and dreams of the political left in Israel and America.”
Klein also said that Friedman’s “heartfelt love of Israel and all its people, makes him uniquely qualified for this position.”
The American Jewish Committee’s CEO David Harris expressed a more neutral position as he congratulated the new ambassador on his appointment and said he is looking forward to “getting to know him.” But he also noted that Friedman will ultimately “have to reflect the administration he serves.
“In that spirit, we shall be eager to understand Trump administration policy regarding the special US-Israel bilateral link, as well as the quest for a twostate Israeli-Palestinian accord – which AJC continues to believe is the only tenable solution to the conflict – and, of course, the larger regional context in which Israel lives.”