When J Street expresses outrage at your choice for ambassador to Israel, there’s very good reason to think you made a good pick. So it is with David Friedman, Donald Trump’s selection for that post.
Friedman, a bankruptcy attorney, is a long-time friend of the president-elect. He served on Trump’s Israel advisory committee during the campaign.
Friedman’s views on Israel are sound and will be a breath of fresh air. He does not believe Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace (they are an excuse) and he says that a “two-state solution” is not a priority for the U.S. (why should it be?).
Friedman predicts that, as ambassador to Israel, he will be working from Jerusalem. He calls that city “Israel’s eternal capital.”
Presidential candidates routinely speak in favor of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is, after all, Israel’s capital and therefore the seat of its government.
No president has moved the embassy. Donald Trump seems prepared to do so. His selection of Friedman reinforces this impression.
Here is a 16-point position paper that Friedman co-wrote for the Trump campaign. I can barely find an unsound sentence in it.
A Trump Administration will ensure that Israel receives maximum military, strategic and tactical cooperation from the United States, and the MOU will not limit the support that we give. Further, Congress will not be limited to give support greater than that provided by the MOU if it chooses to do so. Israel and the United States benefit tremendously from what each country brings to the table — the relationship is a two way street [note: and it ain’t J Street].
The U.S. should veto any United Nations votes that unfairly single out Israel and will work in international institutions and forums, including in our relations with the European Union, to oppose efforts to delegitimize Israel, impose discriminatory double standards against Israel, or to impose special labeling requirements on Israeli products or boycotts on Israeli goods.
The U.S. should cut off funds for the UN Human Rights Council, a body dominated by countries presently run by dictatorships that seems solely devoted to slandering the Jewish State. UNESCO’s attempt to disconnect the State of Israel from Jerusalem is a one-sided attempt to ignore Israel’s 3,000-year bond to its capital city, and is further evidence of the enormous anti-Israel bias of the United Nations.
The U.S. should view the effort to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) Israel as inherently anti-Semitic and take strong measures, both diplomatic and legislative, to thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israeli areas, in a discriminatory manner. The BDS movement is just another attempt by the Palestinians to avoid having to commit to a peaceful co-existence with Israel. The false notion that Israel is an occupier should be rejected.
There’s also this:
The Trump administration will ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts on college campuses to intimidate students who support Israel.
I’m not a fan of Justice Department investigations with political overtones, and “intimidation” is a loose concept. But you can tell that Friedman’s heart is in the right place.
When it comes to Palestinians and the “peace process,” Friedman is sympathetic but realistic:
A two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians appears impossible as long as the Palestinians are unwilling to renounce violence against Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Additionally, the Palestinians are divided between PA rule in the West Bank and Hamas rule in Gaza so there is not a united Palestinian people who could control a second state. Hamas is a US-designated terrorist organization that actively seeks Israel’s destruction. We will seek to assist the Israelis and the Palestinians in reaching a comprehensive and lasting peace, to be freely and fairly negotiated between those living in the region.
The Palestinian leadership, including the PA, has undermined any chance for peace with Israel by raising generations of Palestinian children on an educational program of hatred of Israel and Jews. The larger Palestinian society is regularly taught such hatred on Palestinian television, in the Palestinian press, in entertainment media, and in political and religious communications. The two major Palestinian political parties — Hamas and Fatah — regularly promote anti-Semitism and jihad.
The U.S. cannot support the creation of a new state where terrorism is financially incentivized, terrorists are celebrated by political parties and government institutions, and the corrupt diversion of foreign aid is rampant. The U.S. should not support the creation of a state that forbids the presence of Christian or Jewish citizens, or that discriminates against people on the basis of religion.
The U.S. should support direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions, and will oppose all Palestinian, European and other efforts to bypass direct negotiations between parties in favor of an imposed settlement. Any solutions imposed on Israel by outside parties including by the United Nations Security Council, should be opposed. We support Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself against terror attacks upon its people and against alternative forms of warfare being waged upon it legally, economically, culturally, and otherwise.
No wonder heads are exploding at J Street, about which Friedman has said “they are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas – it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”
Hyperpole, yes. But J Street’s response to Friedman’s nomination — “this nomination is reckless, putting America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk” — confirms that the nominee’s low opinion of that outfit is well-founded.
Supporting our allies to the hilt, especially in the context of a Middle East on fire, will help restore our reputation and credibility in the region and around the world.
Friends of Israel should be extremely pleased by the Friedman nomination. So should anyone who wants to see America behave like a confident and reliable world power.