An interview with David Friedman

Following up on Paul’s post regarding the president-elect’s designated United States ambassador to Israel, I want to draw attention to Eric Cortellessa’s Times of Israel profile of David Friedman. The profile derives from Cortellessa’s interview of Friedman last month. Headline: “Trump’s envoy: The new administration ‘won’t tell Israel what policies to adopt.’” Subhead: “David Friedman says the incoming president doesn’t view Israel as ‘a client state you issue directives to’ but as a ‘key partner’ in war against Islamic terrorism, ‘so he wants Israel to be as strong and secure as possible.’”

The profile opens this way:

Sitting in a conference room together 13 years ago, David Friedman told his friend Donald Trump that he just purchased an apartment in Jerusalem.

Trump, the real estate tycoon, was immediately curious to know the particulars. “How big was it? How much did it cost?” Friedman recalled him asking, describing the conversation during an interview last month with The Times of Israel. When Friedman cited the price, Trump was surprised.

“That’s really a lot of money,” he responded, according to Friedman’s recollection. “For that kind of money, why wouldn’t you buy a place in East Hampton? Why do you have to go all the way to Israel for a second home?”

The Long Island native’s answer was probably one that the man soon to be president was not expecting. “The world has been fighting over every inch of Jerusalem for the past 3,000 years,” Friedman told Trump. “There’s nobody fighting over East Hampton.”

Trump’s eyes then “opened up,” Friedman said, “and that initiated a decade-plus conversation about Israel.”

Now, in 2016, that exchange seems to have been more fateful than it initially seemed to Friedman, who was announced on Thursday as President-elect Trump’s nominee to be the next US ambassador to Israel.

And the first move Friedman made in that official capacity was to indicate that Trump plans to follow through on his campaign pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, breaking decades of precedent under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and underlining an apparent inclination to do what other presidential candidates have promised but declined to deliver once they took office: recognize the holy city as Israel’s capital.

You will want to read the whole thing.

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