Friedman says criticism of recent Palestinian death toll in the Strip is aimed mainly at “my friends in the United States and one Israeli newspaper I’ve been known to criticize here” — a seeming reference to Haaretz.
“I find it curious that an ambassador who repeatedly refuses requests to speak to the media is now criticizing the media. The international media is not a monolithic entity, and for him to generalize like this is simplistic, inaccurate and misinformed.”
— Joe Federman, chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Israel
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Monday accused the media of major bias against Israel in its coverage of the recent violence on the Gaza border, telling reporters to “keep your mouths shut until you figure it out.”
Speaking in Jerusalem, Friedman said his criticism was aimed mainly at “my friends in the United States and one Israeli newspaper I’ve been known to criticize here” –—seemingly a reference to Haaretz, which the ambassador slammed in February after Gideon Levy published a piece criticizing him and his donation of an ambulance to a West Bank settlement.
Friedman claimed that most journalists covering the clashes in recent weeks had never bothered investigating whether Israel had other viable alternatives for defending its border besides using live fire. . . .
“You didn’t take Jerusalem off the table. You took the table altogether.”
Husam Zomlot is the Palestinian front man in Washington. Born in a Gaza refugee camp, he has a doctorate in economics from the University of London and was a research fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center. Now in his mid-forties, he represents a new generation of Palestinian politicians.
Last spring, he arrived in the United States on a wave of optimism that President Trump would reinvigorate peace negotiations, led by his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Zomlot had unusual diplomatic access to Kushner and others in the White House.
But relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority plummeted to their lowest point in a quarter century — since the historic Oslo Accord, in 1993 — after Trump’s decision, on December 6th, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there.
The announcement enraged the octogenarian Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who declared that Washington was no longer an honest broker of peace. Abbas is refusing to see Vice-President Mike Pence during his visit to Israel on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
On the eve of Pence’s trip, Zomlot reflected on the state of diplomacy. The interview has been edited and condensed for length.
“There was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank; and I think that’s exactly what Israel has done. I mean, they’re only occupying two percent of the West Bank.”
— David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel
[Ed note: Both US policy and international law recognize Israel as the occupying power in 100% of the West Bank.]
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Thursday that West Bank settlements “are part of Israel” and that the two-state solution “is not a helpful term” and “has largely lost its meaning,” drawing an angry response from the Palestinians.
Speaking in an interview broadcast on the Walla news website, Friedman was asked for his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to speculate on the Trump administration’s plans moving forward on the issue. Some of his answers largely contradicted long-held US positions.
By appointing a leader of the Israeli settlement project to be his ambassador to Israel, Trump signals a retreat from America’s role as “honest broker” in the region. It’s not hard to see who stands to benefit.
Ironically, the appointment of one of the leaders of the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank (ruled illegal by the International Criminal Court and opposed by every American administration since Nixon), and an extreme Jewish nationalist may, in the end, be a catastrophe for Israel.
David Friedman, Donald Trump’s close confidante and ambassador-designate to Israel, is not a right-winger. To be on the right wing implies that one is on a continuum from liberal to conservative. But Friedman — together with around 15% of the Israeli Jewish population — inhabits a different world entirely. His appointment would represent a total realignment of American policy in the Middle East, with the biggest winner being (surprise) Vladimir Putin.
The normal continuum runs as follows. The consensus of the international community, the Israeli government, and every American government for a generation is that that there must be a state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. Of course, within that consensus, there are hawks and doves, right-wingers and left. Some are willing to take more risks for peace, some are more mistrustful of the people they call “the Arabs” and want any peace process to be slow and gradual. But all agree that it’s not feasible to create an apartheid regime in which 7 million Jews rule over 10 million non-Jews.
But in the world of Friedman, the Zionist Organization of America, the settler wing of the Israeli Right, and some parts of the American Jewish community, the path forward is one state — Israel — led by Jews, favoring Jews legally, and running from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It is an apartheid state, meaning a state wherein one population has civil rights that another does not; where one has freedom of movement and another does not; where one has the entire apparatus of the state in its control, and the other either cannot vote or is guaranteed a permanent minority. Continue reading “Friedman Isn’t a Hawk or a Dove — He’s an Ostrich”
One does not have to be a J Street member or even a fan to think that comparing them to “Kapos” is grotesque and marginalizing, and should be (what’s the word I’m looking for? Help me out, ADL) disqualifying for any administration post — much less one deeply symbolic for America’s Jewish population.
Early in the Trump transition phase, it looked as if Mike Huckabee would be appointed ambassador to Israel. Huckabee had recently accused Jews of plotting false flag hate crime hoaxes to frame Donald Trump supporters; he also has a bit of a history of tossing out casual Holocaust comparisons and then getting really angry when Jews cry foul.
But Huckabee will not be our ambassador. Instead, Trump has tapped close adviser David Friedman for the role. Friedman has called Barack Obama an “anti-Semite” and contended that J Streeters are “far worse than Kapos.” He also asserted, in the course of advocating “allegiance” standards for Israel’s Muslim citizens, that “In the United States, advocating to overthrow the government by force or violence can get you life in prison” (No, it can’t). And of course, he’s an opponent of the two-state solution.
“Everything an ambassador says and does has an impact on policy. The president hasn’t been sworn in yet, the Secretary of State hasn’t spoken about this, and he’s already talking about the policy he is going to change. This is unheard of.” —Daniel Kurtzer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel
President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel is brewing into a Jewish battle royale for supporters and detractors of the two-state solution.
For the Jewish left, Friedman appointment has quickly emerged as a banner for rallying troops already concerned with the impact the Trump presidency will have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the right, Trump’s choice of a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer as chief envoy to Israel is seen as ushering in a new era of settlement expansion and changing the fundamentals of American policy toward the conflict. Continue reading “Jewish Storm Builds Over Friedman’s Appointment as Ambassador”
This means the United States will no longer be able to claim that it is an honest broker. It never was one, but now the mask is off. In those terms, Friedman’s appointment is right and good. The Palestinians, Europeans and the rest of the world should know: America is for the occupation. No more pretense.
President-elect Donald Trump has decided to appoint an anti-Israeli and racist lawyer as ambassador to Israel. That is, of course, his prerogative. With David Friedman’s appointment last Thursday, the United States has finally come out of the closet. From now on, it officially supports the establishment of an Israeli apartheid state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Friedman is not the first Jewish ambassador to Israel — a matter that has always sparked questions of dual loyalty — but he is the first declared friend of the settlements in this position. His predecessor, Dan Shapiro, was also a friend of the settlements, like all the ambassadors before him — representatives of governments that could have stopped the settlement project but did not raise a finger to do so, and even financed it.
If the settlers had a state of their own in the West Bank, he might be suitable to serve as ambassador there, and maybe not even that, because his basic identification must be with overall American interests. He must also understand the security and diplomatic interests of Israel in general, not just the settler tail that wags the dog.
Donald Trump’s transition team announced Thursday that the president-elect intends to appoint his close associate David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Friedman, a lawyer specializing in bankruptcy cases, was one of Trump’s key campaign advisers.
More than anything, Friedman is an extreme right-winger and an avid supporter of the settlements and annexation to Israel of West Bank territories. He called members of the moderate organization J Street, whose positions many Israelis support, “worse than kapos [privileged prisoners in Nazi concentration camps],” an expression that could incite violence against them. His worldview is simplistic and befits a propagandist and a preacher, not a diplomat. Continue reading “Trump’s Envoy Should Be Persona Non Grata”
“He has made clear that he will appeal to a small minority of Israeli — and American — extremists, ignoring the majority of Israelis who continue to seek peace. Friedman’s appointment as ambassador runs directly contrary to Mr. Trump’s professed desire to make the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israelis and Palestinians.”
He is president of the American fund-raising arm for a yeshiva in a settlement deep in the West Bank headed by a militant rabbi who has called for Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate settlers.
He writes a column for a right-wing Israeli news site in which he has accused President Obama of “blatant anti-Semitism,” dismissed the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, likened a liberal American-Jewish group to “kapos” who cooperated with the Nazis, and said American Jewish leaders “failed” Israel on the Iran nuclear deal.
Now, David M. Friedman, an Orthodox Jewish bankruptcy lawyer from Long Island, is Donald J. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, despite his lack of diplomatic experience and frequent statements that flout decades of bipartisan American policy. Continue reading “Friedman Is Hostile to Two-State Solution”
“The time when one side can afford to deny the presence of the other is long gone. The stark truth is that there are two peoples living on the same land and dividing it between them is the only way to bury this long conflict once and for all.”
For decades, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the larger Arab-Israeli conflict have cast a dark shadow over the Middle East. This conflict has cost human lives and drained vital resources. It has denied millions of people in the region the opportunity to prosper and grow away from the threat of confrontation, occupation and violence.
We know how this can and must end: a two-state solution ensuring that two states, Israel and Palestine, can live in peace and security, with both sides accepting and recognizing the national and legitimate rights of the other. This is not a zero-sum game — the fates of both peoples are permanently intertwined, and neither can truly flourish while the other suffers. [Continue reading here . . . ]