David Friedman arrives at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination of to be US ambassador to Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
President Donald Trump’s nomination of David Friedman for the position of US ambassador to Israel comes at a critical time. The Middle East is in turmoil, but together with the erosion of stability, there are new opportunities.
Iranian expansionism has created the potential for a strategic realignment of the traditional regional allies of the United States into a unified bulwark against their common enemy, Iran. The US is in a position to orchestrate this realignment in which Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates join together and present a united front to stymie Iran.
Israel and its Arab neighbors sitting on the same side of the table to address common strategic concerns may well also create a more positive environment for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.
This realignment would have been unthinkable during the Obama administration, which adopted the misguided policy of ignoring the US’s traditional allies and courting Iran. But in order for Israel to participate, it will need to perceive a sense of genuine friendship and backing from Washington, a sense that was sorely lacking during the Obama administration.
David Friedman is uniquely qualified to provide this sense of friendship and backing, and would be an excellent choice as ambassador to Israel. Not only does he possess extraordinary intelligence, he also is intimately familiar with the region, speaks Hebrew fluently, is at home with Israeli culture, and is sensitive to Israel’s concerns. While some of his past pronouncements were decidedly intemperate, for which he himself has expressed genuine regret, they do not define him as a person, and they should not disqualify him from ably serving as ambassador.
The appointment of Friedman would be a giant step in the direction of capitalizing, for the benefit of both the US and Israel, on the new opportunities for dramatic change presented by the current situation in the Middle East.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of Orthodox Union Kosher, is the author of
Letters to President Clinton: Biblical Lessons on Faith and Leadership.