David Friedman faces Senate vote, as leading rabbi calls him a ‘bomb’ (and not in a good way)

US Politics
on 19 Comments

This morning the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of David Friedman to be ambassador to Israel in a largely party-line vote. The nomination now goes to the full Senate. Here is a range of the opposition to the appointment.

Yesterday, the ranking Democrat on Foreign Relations, Senator Ben Cardin came out against the appointment, saying in part:

I appreciate Mr. Friedman’s efforts before the Committee to express regret for his record of divisive, inflammatory, and offensive statements.  Unfortunately, I believe that the body of Mr. Friedman’s published work will compromise his effectiveness representing the United States –and all Americans – to the Government of Israel and all Israelis.

On Monday Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle calling Friedman’s views “extreme.” She added:

He has directly supported settlement activity. According to public records, Friedman is the president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva, an organization that raises funds for the Beit El settlement in the West Bank. As a benefactor of the settlement enterprise, it’s impossible to imagine Friedman will push to stop settlement expansion, though the White House recently called for holding off on settlements.

Last week at the J Street conference, Charles Gati, a Holocaust survivor, professor and former State Department adviser, dismissed Friedman’s apologies for his earlier outrageous comments:

I do not believe his turnaround just before the Senate would vote for his confirmation, he suddenly dismisses all his positions as well as the tone of his comments. In particular I am offended as a Holocaust survivor by his references to J Street as “worse than Kapos” and claiming the president of the United States [Obama] is an anti-semite. This man is an agitator and a bombthrower, not a diplomat

Also at that conference, Rabbi John Rosove described the “extreme discomfort” on the part of the Reform movement with David Friedman. The Association of Reform Zionists of America, which Rosove chairs, voted unanimously not to recommend Friedman to be ambassador. The Union for Reform Judaism voted by 4 to 1 not to approve the ambassador, the first time that the URJ has ever made a recommendation on such an appointment. Rosove used the Hebrew slang for a bomb:

This pzatza– he is a bomb waiting to go off and I have no expectation that he will be helpful to the Middle East at all…

I’m hopeful that someone on the Senate Foreign Relations committee say– though we expect otherwise– will say, you know what, I have to vote my conscience here, and this is not good for the American Israel relationship or the American Middle East positions.

J Street has come out against the appointment. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of the liberal Zionist group, said the organization had reached out to Friedman through an intermediary– members of the boards of rabbis from New Jersey and New York, who had met with Friedman and concluded that he was not a bad guy. Ben-Ami told the rabbis, “we would very much like to meet with him, talk to him, get a chance for him to understand who we are.” There was no response from Friedman or the rabbis.

Asked about Friedman’s apology for the use of the word “Kapos” retraction, Ben-Ami said it was unconvincing.

That was not sufficient. He did not even under duress do anything more than say he should not have used those words….He said he had actually called the ADL to apologize [for calling them morons]…. In the third go round of the committee, he used the apologize word. But he never used that in our context…

The thing with Friedman is, a, it’s his views which are so far out of the mainstream of bipartisan foreign policy, and b, his utter lack of experience professionally for this position, one of the most sensitive diplomatic missions in the world, and c, the temperament and disposition he’s displayed through his interactions over years, and not just his interactions but deliberate writings… That’s enough of a package in our view to vote against him.

Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli ambassador, said at the same gathering that while he understands opposition to Friedman, he does not think Friedman ultimately matters. “He is not going to drive policy, he will do what he is told,” Pinkas said, adding that an ambassador can get a reservation at a good restaurant and that’s about all the power he or she has.

Pinkas said that so far Friedman has been in confusion about his prospective duties: the Senate hearings are about whether he will be the American ambassador to Israel, “not the West Bank ambassador to Washington.” Pinkas said, “The sooner he realizes that he is going to be representing Bethesda and not Beit El, the better for him.”

Thanks to Allison Deger.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. Citizen
    March 9, 2017, 10:13 am

    Will be interesting to read about the vote, scheduled for today. Also, how it will be treated on mainstream media

  2. mijj
    March 9, 2017, 1:12 pm

    I wonder why we all fall into using the term “settler”. How could any sensible person, who hasn’t properly looked into the situation, be opposed to a “settler”? The word gives a sense of cool, calm, lawfulness to the invasive, thieving, murderous ativity.

    • Talkback
      March 11, 2017, 4:00 am

      “illegal settler” is the correct term, because not every settler is illegal.

  3. just
    March 9, 2017, 1:15 pm

    Here’s how it’s been “treated”, Citizen.

    I’ve tried all 3 cspan channels and the link to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was provided in this article.

    Nothing. Nada. Zip. I wouldn’t hold my breath for honest coverage of this shameful and disgraceful appointment. Instead, I expect a coronation with all of the normal fanfare and applause.

    • JWalters
      March 9, 2017, 8:25 pm

      Thanks for researching that. Just checked the NBZ, ABZ, and ZBS websites and found nothing. Israel will definitely be putting the pressure on the press and politicians to minimize coverage of this story, with its embedded damaging truths about Israel. Just like there was no discussion of Trump’s asking Netanyahu to stop building settlements, and no discussion of Trump’s “immediate crisis” warning to Israel regarding annexation of the West Bank. The Israeli puppeteers have all hands on the strings to keep American voters blind.

  4. Citizen
    March 9, 2017, 2:44 pm

    Committee voted 12-9 to approve President Donald Trump’s nomination of attorney Friedman as the next US ambassador to Israel.

    All Republican members of the committee voted in favor of the nomination. They were joined by Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey, while the body’s nine other Democrats voted against Friedman.

    The nomination will now be sent to the full Senate for a vote, which has yet to be scheduled. Given the majority held by the Republicans in the Senate, it is expected the nomination will be approved there as well.

  5. Citizen
    March 9, 2017, 2:59 pm

    Did J Street Just Win By Losing David Friedman Confirmation Vote? (Not really, I think) http://jd.fo/QPsF via @jdforward

    So, Friedman will represent America’s face directly to Israel, indirectly, to the world–a bankruptcy lawyer, Trump’s career saver, a guy who took the time and thought to write for public consumption that any Jewish American who didn’t think like he did about Israel’s policies and conduct is tantamount to a kapo, which was a man who lent his services to Nazi concentration camp agenda, so that he might live on another day. I imagine he thinks the Quakers are SS knockoffs.

  6. Yup, he’s a bomb and a terrible human being. So what? Would the Democrats have put someone up better? That’s a more interesting question. Feinstein of California, said this in her letter, not reported here.

    “The fact of the matter is that Israeli Jews are already a minority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. We simply cannot wish away Israel’s demographic challenge, which will only worsen with time.”

    So in other words the problem is the very existence of Palestinian babies, which is a disease that is worsening with time like a cancer. This is written by one of the “Objectors”. When people are born a threat or polite fascist speak, a demographic challenge, nothing more needs to be said. With a friend like that who needs enemies. Most democrats especially those who have voted for Feinstein see no hypocrisy between their votes for her and whatever horrible (and true) things they say about the present situation. Hypocrisy and the rise of ethno-nationalism is not just a republican challenge.

  7. JWalters
    March 9, 2017, 8:22 pm

    Why not appoint Netanyahu as America’s ambassador to Israel? As a dual citizen he would understand both perspectives. As Israel’s PM he would be even better than Dennis Ross. And after his stint as an American ambassador, after dealing with America’s biggest foreign policy problem area, AIPAC could install him as America’s next president.

  8. Maghlawatan
    March 10, 2017, 3:48 am

    Most of Trump’s appointees are useless. Pruitt at the EPA denies carbon is a problem. Mnunchin at Treasury is ex Goldman as is Cohn. None will address the structural issues crippling the US. Infrastructure is third rate. Economy is headed for a crash. Inequality is off the charts. Healthcare and prisons are out of control.

    • Elizabeth Block
      March 10, 2017, 9:07 am

      If only they were useless. Unfortunately they are far worse than useless, they are destructive.
      And the havoc they wreak will far outlast them. I think the worst thing about bad governments is that when they are finally thrown out of office, their successors carry right on with their horrible policies. “They got away with it, why wouldn’t we?”

    • catalan
      March 10, 2017, 11:27 am

      None will address the structural issues crippling the US. Infrastructure is third rate. – Mag
      Mag, I am reading about the French revolution. When the idealists that wanted equality and no religion took power, it got really scary. First they killed off enemies – i.e. the aristocrats, merchants, the sceptics, the remaining “philosophes”, etc. Then they started killing off each other, and Danton and Desmolins lost their heads. Then finally the populace cheered and laughed when Robespierre also lost his head.
      The point is, we have seen time and again what happens when the guys that shout equality take power – in France, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Vietnam, and heck, everywhere else you look. Things are not so terrible here.

      • Qualtrough
        March 11, 2017, 3:32 am

        I for one am glad that the monarchy in France was abolished and equality codified in law, that Cuba was able to kick out the thuggish Batista regime and his mafia allies and improve the lives of ordinary Cubans, and that Vietnam was able to get out from under their French oppressors and force the American invaders out of the country. Three out of five ain’t bad, and it might even be four, but I don’t know enough about Venezuela to make a judgment call.

  9. JLewisDickerson
    March 10, 2017, 6:27 am

    RE: “David Friedman thinks he’s been named settlers’ ambassador to US, not US ambassador to Israel” ~ original title

    MY COMMENT: That is exactly the way would-be world dictators Sheldon Adelson and Mort Klein want it!

    RE: “David Friedman faces Senate vote, as leading rabbi calls him a ‘bomb’ (and not in a good way)” ~ current title

    MY COMMENT: A bomb is exactly what would-be world dictators Sheldon Adelson and Mort Klein want, and the bigger the better. Thermonuclear if possible!

  10. Kay24
    March 10, 2017, 8:45 pm

    This is the bomb all right. This man has written articles criticizing those who are against Israel’s policies, even calling left wing Jews collaborators of Nazis (Kapos). His father’s name is on various illegal settlement buildings, he has contributed generously to various schools in the illegal settlement areas, and fully vested there. Despite all that the senate has given Israel an additional bonus to that generous aid package amounting to billions that Obama happily gave Israel, an ambassador who will not be an honest broker in this conflict, and who will be supporting any illegal moves by Israel to steal more lands, annex more lands, and give the Palestinians that final blow. Shame on the senate.
    Yet another fox to guard the hen house, Trump’s signature tune.

  11. Talkback
    March 11, 2017, 3:59 am

    David Friedman is going to serve Israel even better than Netanyahu! LOL.

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