Daily Engagement: Oppose David Friedman for the Israeli Ambassador Position


Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.

Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist.

Yesterday, bankruptcy lawyer and potential-future-ambassador-to-Israel David Friedman had his Senate confirmation hearing — but no votes have not yet been cast by Senators. Friedman’s opinions have consistently been antithetical to what leftists, human rights activists, and every other generally Israel-supporting POTUS — whether Democrat or Republican — has seen as a road to peace between Israel and Palestine. This means that now would be a good time to call your Senators to oppose his appointment… that is, you believe that Israelis shouldn’t be further encroaching on and settling the land they’re occupying, but rather withdrawing from the police-state occupation; if you thereby believe a two-state solution is necessary (as most people, barring extreme right wing Zionists like Friedman, do); if you believe that making statements equating a Jewish liberal group to Nazi-enablers is a grossly un-ambassadorial statement; and if you believe that the fact that five former ambassadors to Israel have signed a letter urging Senate not to confirm him is evidence of his unfitness for the job.

Here’s the extent of the letter, tweeted by Haaretz journalist Amir Tibon:

Among the most objectionable aspects of Trump’s selection is the fact that Friedman has served as president of Beit El Institutions, which has raised massive amounts of money for the (illegal under national law) Jewish-only settlements in the Occupied West Bank. Per Democracy Now, he’s also made statements saying that he doesn’t think “it would be illegal for Israel to annex the entire Palestinian territory.” Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said on the radio news program that he’s “he’s to the right of Prime Minister Netanyahu” and continued, when prompted by host Amy Goodman, to warn:

He’s the president of something called the Friends of Beit El. Beit El is a very extreme settlement in the West Bank. He raises money specifically for this settlement. That, of course, goes in the face of decades of U.S. policy, or at least, you know, their supposed policy against settlements. Now, there is an argument to be made that this sort of rips the mask off of U.S. policy, because U.S. policy has been to condemn settlements while continually—continuing to financially support Israel. But I think the human cost is going to be extremely great, and we can expect that the Netanyahu government is going to try to take advantage of this appointment to really continue to push its policies of annexation and to continue to assault the rights of Palestinians.

It must be said that at the confirmation hearing, Friedman struck a different tone regarding the two-state solution. Per CNN, he said that it remains, he “believe[s], the best possibility for peace in the region.” He also today said that settlements “may not be helpful.” But these are still small equivocations on his extremism — and CNN points out that as recently as last year, he called the idea of a two-state solution a “scam” in an article for an Israeli newspaper. In yesterday’s hearing, he also replied affirmatively to a question from Marco Rubio about whether Palestinians are the ones making peace hard. As CNN also reports, many protesters attended the hearing, with a man in a kippah at one point shouting, “We will not be silent, you do not represent us and you will never represent us.” A Palestinian protester also got up and spoke about the exile of his grandfather:

Beyond Friedman’s extremist views, there’s the return to a fact that beleaguers many of the people surrounding Trump, and something Trump clearly idealizes: a total lack of experience. Friedman is also connected to Trump via his work as a bankruptcy lawyer — a fact that should only remind us of how many times Trump’s companies have declared bankruptcy.

We now live in a country where the disquieting news that nearly 50 Jewish centers have been receiving telephonic threats can coexist with news of the future ambassador to Israel having written that Jews who don’t support [insert euphemism for Palestinian oppression] aren’t really Jewish. Trump — and his cronies — continue to represent only dangerous extremes. If you find Friedman’s politics troubling, call your Senator to ask that they vote against his confirmation. 5 Calls has a helpful, scripted guideline option for doing so.