After exciting disruptions, David Friedman hearing is a walk in the park

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A repentant David Friedman, Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Israel, got an easy ride at the Senate Foreign Relations committee this morning. He said that his apologies to Senator Al Franken and to the head of the Anti Defamation League, for calling them “morons“, were accepted by them; while former Senator Joe Lieberman said he had slept at Friedman’s house and he’s a great guy.

All the senators on the panel agreed that Israel policy should never become politicized, even though it has been; and they seemed determined not to aggravate the divide. Sen. Cory Booker seemed on the verge of tears when quoting Friedman’s use of the word “kapos” to describe critics; Friedman said he would “atone” and “make amends.” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said that a relative of a Holocaust survivor in New Hampshire wants his apology. Give her my number, Friedman said solemnly.

Despite a chorus of voices saying he is too extremist to be ambassador, including from five former ambassadors to Israel who served Republicans and Democrats, Friedman appears to be a lock to be approved, especially given the warm reception he got from Senator Rand Paul, the one Republican who might have broken ranks in the vote, and the strong identification that Democratic Senator Ben Cardin expressed with Friedman, as Zionists.

Palestinian protester disrupts Friedman nomination hearing. (Screenshot: CSPAN)

The most exciting part of the hearing were the first few minutes, as Friedman’s opening statement was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who were pulled out of the hearing room.

Here was the first disruption by a Palestinian man holding up a Palestinian flag and describing the fate of Palestinian refugees, including his grandfather, forced off his land.

A second Palestinian man also held up a flag and was escorted out, then a shofar sounded, and several young Jews from IfNotNow disrupted the hearing, speaking as American Jews against the occupation. “David Friedman, you promote racism… you do not represent us and you will never represent us.” IfNotNow says three members were arrested. Here is a one-minute video:

As for the exchanges with senators… Friedman said he was for the two-state solution, if only the Palestinians would finally accept the existence of Israel, which they don’t want to do; but that he was convinced there had to be some young Palestinians out there who want what everyone else in the world wants, a chance to get ahead. He said that President Obama wasn’t really an anti-semite, even if he had accused him of being one for saying that Democratic donors were undermining the Iran deal; he said that people can express anti-semitic ideas without actually meaning any harm to Jews. He promised Ohio’s Rob Portman that he would do his utmost to fight BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign that Portman said seeks Israel’s delegitimization. He said that he would sell his interests in Israeli businesses, without saying what those were. Senator Marco Rubio took Friedman’s side, vociferously, and attacked J Street, saying it smears its opponents and invited Saeb Erekat to its conference.

In an exchange with Sen. Shaheen of New Hampshire (who said she is married to a Lebanese-American), Friedman promised that he would take seriously allegations of mistreatment by Arab-Americans at Israeli ports. He said he knew Israel had reasons but he expected it to investigate such cases. Hmmm.

David Friedman’s zealotry/temperament were repeatedly questioned by the Democratic members; but he appeared phlegmatic and unruffled. He said he had been to Israel 50 times and this job would be the capstone of his life. Senators repeatedly congratulated Friedman on his love for Israel; and many of Friedman’s comments suggested that his primary concern was binding up and representing a divided American Jewish community, with very little mention of non-Jewish Americans. He said that American Jews are devoted to Israel, even if they disagree; and he said his late rabbi father Morris was his hero, and that in the 70s his father had many times locked himself to the gates of the Soviet embassy demanding freedom for Soviet Jews.

Haaretz has reported that Friedman’s claim that he only used inflammatory “kapos” rhetoric to describe opponents in the heat of the election campaign is inaccurate; he kept at it after the election was over.

Responding to the hearing, human rights attorney Noura Erakat said, “Despite his disciplined performance before the Senate confirmation panel, David Friedman has made abundantly clear his agenda regarding Israel and Palestine. In his capacity as ambassador, he will serve the interests of Israel’s right-wing government and settler movement to consolidate a vision of Greater Israel that includes sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem as well as the largest settlement blocs sprawling across the occupied West Bank.”

 

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… Friedman said he was for the two-state solution, if only the Palestinians would finally accept the existence of Israel, which they don’t want to do … Zionists like Friedman don’t want Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel – they want Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel as a colonialist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” absolved of its obligations under international law (incl. RoR) and of accountability for its past and on-going (war) crimes.… Read more »

Congress is considering this nomination of a hardcore pro-settlement lunatic to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Five ambassadors, former ambassadors to Israel, of both parties, came out and opposed him on the grounds that he’s essentially insane. Softball questions from them all, no mention of the Occupation, illegal settler terrorism, apartheid or human rights. All the 20th century rhetoric came to the fore, Israel is the victim, Palestinians bad, Jews good. It was shameful,… Read more »

Zionists are pathological liars. What else is new?

David Friedman will make an excellent ambassador to a fascist state.

I wonder how long he will last before Trump fires him.

The most conspicuous interruptions during the hearing were by Jewish groups. Yet this is how the NYT described those interruptions — ‘It was not the only time Mr. Friedman would be interrupted during his brief opening statement. As he and senators sat quietly, police officers removed the protesters, and some other spectators seemed agitated by the interruptions, admonishing the protesters to “sit down” and “show respect.”’ If you know how Jewish the NYT is, and… Read more »