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Jewish groups battle over Trump’s choice for Israel ambassador

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A big battle is shaping up in Washington this week over the confirmation of David Friedman as Donald Trump’s choice to be ambassador to Israel. The bankruptcy lawyer is a dedicated supporter of the Israeli settlement project, as well as an opponent of a Palestinian state. Liberal Zionists who want to save the two-state solution are organizing against him, even as rightwing Zionists are welcoming him.

Friedman will get a hearing from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, and the committee vote is potentially close. J Street today released a letter from more than 600 rabbis and cantors opposing Friedman as an extremist:

Mr. Friedman’s inflammatory comments about Jews, Palestinians and Muslims and the peace process itself are precisely the type of comments that can ignite further conflict and drive deeper wedges between parties.

As the rabbis indicate, the wedge that Friedman is driving shows the extent to which the Israel issue is becoming politicized at last in the US mainstream. (Not that anyone wants to give all that money back, mind you!) But Bernie Sanders’s open criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu in the Democratic primary last year and Donald Trump’s open arms for the rightwing Israeli leadership have created a public divide, and those “deeper wedges” are panicking fierce supporters of Israel, such as Aaron David Miller, who worry about the end of the era of reflexive bipartisan support for Israel.

Indeed, many Jewish groups are keeping a low profile on the battle, lest they contribute to the division. AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, could play the nomination one way or the other, Haaretz reports, depending on how the vote sorts out. If Friedman turns out to be a loser, AIPAC could oppose Friedman and reassert the need for a two-state solution, which is the lobby’s position. Or AIPAC might even give Democrats on the committee permission to vote against Friedman because Friedman called President Obama an “anti-Semite.” But if Friedman is going to win the job, AIPAC will surely keep its mouth shut so that no one in high position is unhappy with the group.

The Republican Jewish Coalition is leading the battle for Friedman:

The Republican Jewish Coalition firmly stands behind David Friedman and looks forward to working with him on pro-Israel policies that include: repairing our relationship with our greatest ally, Israel, moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [etc]…

J Street is doing everything they can to derail Friedman’s nomination and we need your help to fight back. Please call Senator Chuck Schumer at 1-844-567-9789 right now and demand that they confirm David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

Notice that the RJC is lobbying a Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer! That’s the world of the Israel lobby. There’s only one party in this town.

Schumer is not on Foreign Relations, but he can whip the committee’s Democrats, some of whom may want to support Friedman. Remember that Schumer also played hard-to-get during the Iran deal runup. He told a Jewish group that he had to support the US national interest and not the Jewish interest on that question; and in the end he voted against the deal.

As for the National Jewish Democratic Council, it offered two months ago that Friedman is not experienced enough to be US ambassador to Israel, but lately it is avoiding the issue at all costs.

J Street is also lobbying Chuck Schumer. Dylan Williams, vp of government affairs, says it’s all about the two-state solution:

David Friedman… is a man who called you — supporters of J Street — “worse than kapos.” He called President Obama an anti-Semite. And, in contrast with everyone who has held this position since 1967, he’s a major supporter of the Israeli settlement movement. In fact, he’s raised millions of dollars for one of the most extreme settlements in the West Bank.

We are confident at this point that a number of senators will vociferously oppose the nomination. But it will take 51 to block him.

Right now, we need you to call Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand and tell them to vote NO on David Friedman’s nomination.

… [E]very Senator needs to know that a vote to confirm Friedman is a vote against America’s commitment to Middle East peace.

Today is the day. Let’s flood the Senate with calls opposing Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel.

J Street put out the news that Holocaust scholars have written a letter saying that Friedman is unfit to be an ambassador because his smear of J Street as kapos — a reference to Jews who were compelled to serve the Nazis in the concentration camps– shows “a callous disregard for history and for the suffering of the victims of Nazism.” 

As scholars specializing in study of the Holocaust, we strongly object to the way President Donald Trump’s nominee to be US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has distorted and misused events during that tragic period in order to advance his own political goals…

The New Israel Fund is also waging the war against Friedman as a battle for the two-state solution. Daniel Sokatch, the group’s CEO, is confident that American Jews will be on his side against Friedman:

This is a nomination we have to fight. And I want you with us. Friedman opposes the two-state solution, has supported settlements as President of American Friends of Beit El, and has shown disdain for Israel’s Arab minority…

After you make your calls, pass this email along to your friends and family. We need as many people as possible to weigh and send the message that Mr. Friedman’s views are far from mainstream.

Friedman’s views don’t represent the views of the majority of American Jews. We do. And we need to stand strong for our values.

Jewish Voice for Peace, the leading non-Zionist group, is also against Friedman. And is joining the battle too: flyer says Friedman is Islamophobic

Haaretz has an honest report on the politics of the decision, focused on Israel lobby gifts to Senators. “Ties to and donations from pro-Israel groups may affect senators’ decisions,” is the headline. If one Republican votes against–Rand Paul, who opposed rightwinger Elliott Abrams for the State Department, successfully– and all ten Democrats do too, then Friedman will be knocked out, Amir Tibon reports:

So far, Paul has not released any statement regarding Friedman… The more interesting votes to watch on the Democratic side will be those of senators considered to be close to AIPAC. It’s not clear what the lobby group will be doing behind the scenes, if anything, with regards to the nomination, if it becomes clear that it has been secured by the Republican members of the committee… The Democrats on the senate panel who are seen as close to AIPAC are ranking member Ben Cardin (Md.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Chris Coons (Del.) – all of whom have yet to comment publicly on Friedman.

Tibon follows the money, a most shocking thing to do in American journalism, that is when it involves the Israel lobby:

of the 11 Republican senators on the foreign relations panel, Paul is the only one who has not received substantial donations over the last six years from political organizations or private donors considered to be pro-Israel.

As far as contributions to the Democrats on the committee are concerned, Senator Tim Kaine (Va.), the former Democratic vice presidential nominee, received more than $100,000 for his 2012 Senate campaign from a PAC affiliated with J Street. Kaine will also be a keynote speaker at J Street’s annual conference later this year. Three other Democrats – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (Or.) – are, according to the J Street PAC website, “off-cycle endorsees” (i.e., senators whose views on Israel are supported by that organization). It will thus be surprising if any of them votes in favor of Friedman’s nomination, considering his opposition to a two-state solution and his past remarks.

Tibon handicaps AIPAC too:

The more interesting votes to watch on the Democratic side will be those of [committee] senators considered to be close to AIPAC… ranking member Ben Cardin (Md.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Chris Coons (Del.) – all of whom have yet to comment publicly on Friedman.

To be continued.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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38 Responses

  1. Citizen on February 14, 2017, 4:55 pm

    Hope we get a followup name count on the vote regarding Trump’s pick. Will be a minor bellweather ringing of the trend.

  2. JLewisDickerson on February 14, 2017, 5:47 pm

    Let’s get down and dirty:


    ● A high-functioning sociopath/psychopath will not make a good ambassador – especially not to Israel!
    (Nor will one make a good U.S. President.)
    No telling what kind of dirt Fatso Friedman has on Donald Trump.

    SEE: “Beware the Charming Psychopath” | Posted on August 17, 2016 by Myron Beard, PhD |

    [■ IMAGE: high functioning sociopath/psychopath ]

    [EXCERPT] Once again, Bob told our manager that he would be willing to take on the largest and highest-profile project in the business. Pleased with the eagerness of our coworker to volunteer, our manager smiled and gave him a thumbs-up at his initiative. But the rest of us on Bob’s team shuddered inside. When our coworker committed to the project, he was essentially committing the rest of us, because he was not about to lift a finger to get the project to completion. We knew that working with Bob meant we would be cajoled, conned, manipulated, shamed, and otherwise maneuvered into doing tasks none of us had signed up for. We also knew that, upon successful completion of the project, Bob would take all the credit.

    At first glance, an outsider would wonder why we did not have the chutzpah to stand up to Bob, walk away, tell our manager, or choose to take any number of other actions that would circumvent the inevitable problems ahead. In hindsight, we would have those same thoughts. How is it that a coworker, and an equal on the organizational chart, can get away with doing so little work and still get so much credit?

    Psychopaths in the Workplace

    Employees with personality traits like Bob’s are known as “high-functioning psychopaths.” Although Bob’s behavior is characterized by traits of psychopathy, they are not to the degree of individuals who are institutionalized perpetrators of crime and punishment. Instead, high-functioning psychopaths are driven individuals whose success is often at the expense of others and who display the following types of behaviors:

    • Consistent and persistent manipulation of others, especially those who get in their way.
    • Masterful deception (exaggerating or outright lying) to get their way.
    • Crafty deflections (distractions or half-truths) when confronted about their behavior.

    With regard to accountability, charming psychopaths can be so slippery that pinning them down is like “nailing jello to a wall.” You often sense that something is wrong, but you just can’t put your finger on what it is. The truth is that employees like Bob can be extremely charming and personable at the same time they are being ruthless and vindictive. Charming psychopaths are particularly good at managing up, and those higher in the ranks of the organization somehow (LOL* – J.L.D.) miss seeing the underlying—and undermining—behaviors.

    Psychopathic Behavior

    Unlike many personality disorders that are rooted in anxiety, the psychopath has difficulty feeling at all. They crave power and control over people. The hallmark of the psychopath is an inability to experience remorse or empathy. Often, they themselves have no feelings at all. In this regard, the only relationships the psychopath is able to sustain are those that narcissistically serve his/her own interests. These relationships involve a truly sadomasochistic dynamic, in which the recipient of the psychopath’s behavior tolerates the abuse and manipulation that the psychopath dishes out. However, even these relationships tend to be short-lived.

    In contrast to the anxiety normal humans feel under pressure, psychopaths become fearless and more focused on their target or goal. The psychopath has an uncanny ability to read people and exploit their vulnerabilities. Hence, in the workplace, the psychopath is able to identify the most vulnerable of coworkers and exploit them to his/her end. They are guiltless, callous, self-centered, and can be superficially charming. Because of their unbridled confidence, they can be very attractive, initially, with their charm and stories of success. They can have the very characteristics that can appeal to executives in management, who can confuse their superficial charm as charismatic leadership. In fact, it is not unusual to see high-functioning psychopaths in the highest levels of an organization [*Duh! – J.L.D.]. Their focus and ability to get things done, even nefariously, can serve them well.

    ● How Corporate Psychopaths Work

    In our example of Bob volunteering himself and, by default, his coworkers to take on a very important, high-profile project, we see Bob’s craft at work at a high level. . .


    • JLewisDickerson on February 14, 2017, 6:35 pm

      RE: J Street put out the news that Holocaust scholars have written a letter saying that Friedman is unfit to be an ambassador because his smear of J Street as kapos — a reference to Jews who were compelled to serve the Nazis in the concentration camps– shows “a callous disregard for history and for the suffering of the victims of Nazism.” ~ Weiss

      SEE “Beware the Charming Psychopath”, above.

  3. Atlantaiconoclast on February 14, 2017, 6:26 pm

    Rand Paul lost the respect of a lot of libertarians and non interventionists when he kissed Israel’s ass and was still derided by the Lobby.

    • JWalters on February 14, 2017, 7:58 pm

      Ruthless killers will do that.

      • Keith on February 15, 2017, 10:56 am

        MOOSER- “Ah, good old Rand Paul on Mike Flynn and the Russians:”

        The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! Maybe Flynn heard that Russia has single payer healthcare for all and wanted pointers for replacing Obamacare? And why do we have Obamacare instead of single payer? Huh? Huh?

      • RoHa on February 15, 2017, 12:19 pm

        Don’t play innocent with us, Keith. You know perfectly well that, as soon as you introduce a standard issue national health service, the whole country is taken over by Communists. Within minutes commissars are rounding up dissidents and sending them off to the re-education camps where they will learn to appreciate Facebook Marxism-Leninism.

        This has happened in every country that has introduced a proper healthcare system, and you want to hand over the USA to the Reds.

      • Mooser on February 15, 2017, 12:57 pm

        “Huh? Huh?”

        “Keith” if you wish to avail yourself of the superior, all-paid-for Russian health care system (just look at the life-span figures!) you go right ahead.

      • Mooser on February 15, 2017, 3:44 pm

        Gee, as far as I know, there’s hardly a more oligarchic kleptocracy on the right-wing model, than Russia today. No wonder the alt-right guys love Russia.

      • Keith on February 15, 2017, 6:30 pm

        MOOSER- ““Keith” if you wish to avail yourself of the superior, all-paid-for Russian health care system (just look at the life-span figures!) you go right ahead.”

        Your idea of single payer health care is exclusively the Russian health care system? What about Canada’s? What about Medicare for all which Bernie Sanders championed? Are we all Putin’s puppets to you? Why this excessive loyalty to these New Democrats and the insurance industry’s Obamacare? Surely you are aware that our system is both more expensive and inferior to the health care in most of Europe? Inferior even to Cuba?

        As for Russia, after Clinton unleashed Harvard and Jeffrey Sachs on Yeltsin’s Russia to administer a little “shock therapy,” the life expectancy of adult Russians went into free fall. It is now finally recovering under Putin, something which you conveniently ignore. Russia was intentionally weakened and almost destroyed under Clinton.

      • Mooser on February 15, 2017, 8:01 pm

        “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming”

        “Russian government officials say President Trump is the target of an information war and a purge of pro-Russian officials on a part with the Great Terror of the 1930s when Stalin purged vast numbers of party officials and military officer. No, I’m not kidding.”

        And I guess they ought to know.

      • Sibiriak on February 16, 2017, 3:46 am

        Mooser: Gee, as far as I know…

        I’m saddened that you are so deeply ignorant about Russia.

      • Keith on February 16, 2017, 1:01 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “I’m saddened that you are so deeply ignorant about Russia.”

        Willful ignorance or just normal ignorance? Hard to tell. But what a wonderful opportunity to again link to the most excellent interview Abby Martin did with Mark Ames, an American journalist who spent a decade reporting from Yeltsin’ and Putin’s Russia and witnessed the country’s transformation from an American “colony” to it’s “number one threat.” I might add that it was during the Yeltsin period that an immensely wealthy criminal oligarchy came into being. I don’t know if you saw it, but others will hopefully be interested in this HIGHLY recommended 27 min video. I am under the impression that your background and situation may provide an interesting perspective on the information provided. Some brief feedback would be appreciated.

      • Mooser on February 16, 2017, 4:55 pm

        “Keith” you are in good company! With Eli Lake and Jon Podhertz!!!

        Now, tell me how great today’s Russia is. Love to know. Or are you guys pining for the Soviet regime?

      • Keith on February 16, 2017, 8:38 pm

        MOOSER- “Now, tell me how great today’s Russia is. Love to know. Or are you guys pining for the Soviet regime?”

        Russia under Putin is far better than Russia under Yeltsin, when the US almost completely destroyed it for geostrategic reasons. But that was done under a Democratic administration so, party loyalist that you are, you automatically approve. Your flippant attitude towards that great crime says volumes about who and what you are. Also, your failure to acknowledge what the empire has done when no longer constrained by the USSR. You think that the Clinton/Obama crimes are a joke? And you have the gall to lecture Zionists?

        By the way, what happened at Jews Sans Frontieres that you should deign to return to Mondoweiss?

      • Sibiriak on February 16, 2017, 8:58 pm

        Keith: some brief feedback would be appreciated

        Okay…. it might be a day or two.

      • Sibiriak on February 16, 2017, 9:10 pm

        Keith: Willful ignorance or just normal ignorance


        I suspect a bit of both. On top of the completely understandable normal ignorance (given the state of disinformation in the U.S.), there is the equally understandable desire to use the Trump/Russia thing to attack Trump.

        Then there is the kind of very deep-seated, personal, anti-Russian bias that Yonah Fredman has displayed here. He wrote recently:

        I am biased against Russian dictatorship, whether czar leninist or putin

        A very revealing statement.

        David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine since 1998, would be a perfect example of that mentality.

      • wondering jew on February 16, 2017, 10:15 pm

        Sibiriak- I will let Remnick speak for himself. I am opposed to dictatorship and specifically Russian dictatorship. When Zbigniew brzezinski opposed the Soviet Union I felt, but of course, the history of Poland and Russia did not begin in 1945, but is much deeper than that. Thus I accept my own biases as well and watch others run the world and/or achieve certainty of their own objectivity. I support Ukraine vs russia because my people come from Ukraine and the mainstream Jewish reaction is: fuck the ukrainians, those nazi collaborators. I resist that tendency and purely emotionally try to empathize with ukraine. In my superficial knowledge russia is one sick mother, economically, and I view the failure of democracy in Russia as probably inevitable. There is an ebb and flow to history, one should not concede defeat to the nationalistic rightist movements, but one can try to assess the currents of history.

        ( since this is an anti israel site, let me add: Regarding zionism people of my age, that is yehudim of my age, view israel through the prism of the past. 1881- 1945. They also have sincere doubts regarding the immediate future of the middle east, where lebanon is the beacon of hope.

        (The settlement enterprise and conqueror’s attitude towards the west bank was (and is and will be) disastrous morally and politically precisely as y. Leibowitz expressed so caustically.)

      • Philemon on February 16, 2017, 11:52 pm

        Mooser wrote:

        “‘Keith’ if you wish to avail yourself of the superior, all-paid-for Russian health care system (just look at the life-span figures!) you go right ahead.”

        Mooser, the Russian health care system has had problems since well before Perestroika.

        Then again, I’ve heard horror stories from all of them. I’m not sure what Keith has heard.

      • Mooser on February 17, 2017, 12:00 pm

        . “I’m not sure what Keith has heard.”

        I think I’m beginning to piece it together.
        Since the US collapsed (New Deal, Civil Rights laws, some health care help, EPA, some financial regulations, boom, we lost our freedoms!) and has become a mess, I guess an oligarchic country with rampant capitalism, no environmental protection and few civil rights is the alt-right paradise, a model for the US.

        Of course, the other option is that they are all pining so hard for the Soviet worker’s paradise, they just can’t accept that Communism fell.

      • Sibiriak on March 11, 2017, 11:37 am

        Sibiriak: Keith: some brief feedback would be appreciated
        Okay…. it might be a day or two.


        I got distracted.

  4. JWalters on February 14, 2017, 7:39 pm

    This conflict is between the true Zionists, who have always been intolerant Jewish supremacists, e.g. “Legalizing the theft of Palestinian land has been Israeli policy since Day 1”

    and liberals who were duped into supporting the Jewish supremacists, e.g. “It’s time for American Jews to recognize they have been duped”

    Israel’s reputation in the U.S. is based entirely on a lie, a fictional story based on cover-ups and fabrications, e.g. “A history of silencing Israeli army whistleblowers – from 1948 until today”

    The actual, full set of historical facts make this obvious when they are known. A good source is If America Knew

    Continued appeasement of Israel will not bring peace – it will continue to bring more war. The radical Jewish terrorists (aka “settlers”) control Israeli politics because the financial powers behind Israel want them to, e.g. “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

    Americans need to wake up and boycott the wars “Made in Israel”, along with their manufactured tactics of Islamaphobia and now Russiaphobia e.g. “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis”

    The supplementary articles are suggested for new readers who may not have seen them.

  5. AddictionMyth on February 15, 2017, 9:13 am

    The purpose of the wave of bomb threats against JCCs in this country is to frighten Jews to emigrate to Israel. However Flynn’s saber rattling against Iran instigated them to threaten to nuke Jerusalem. This was a huge tactical blunder, because who wants to emigrate now? It’s all very funny. Friedman will lose, but it doesn’t really matter. Israel is hurtling towards one-state with equal rights for all.

    • echinococcus on February 15, 2017, 9:19 am

      Oh, yeah. And who’s going to bring equal rights for all in a big basket? Santa Claus? The Tooth Fairy? The ghost of Jabotinsky?

    • MHughes976 on February 15, 2017, 9:25 am

      Where do we find the Flynn-provoked Iranian nuclear threat against Jerusalem, Myth?

    • Keith on February 15, 2017, 10:44 am

      ADDICTIONMYTH- “However Flynn’s saber rattling against Iran instigated them to threaten to nuke Jerusalem.”

      Threatened to nuke Jerusalem? I have difficulty believing that you actually believe what you just wrote.

      • echinococcus on February 15, 2017, 11:08 am

        That’s what happens when you become a myth addict.

      • Mooser on February 15, 2017, 12:48 pm

        “That’s what happens when you become a myth addict.”

        Ah, you must have checked out “The Addiction Myth” blog.

    • RoHa on February 15, 2017, 12:09 pm

      With what nuke?

      • gamal on February 15, 2017, 1:56 pm

        “With what nuke?”

        the one they bought from Saddam Hussein

      • RoHa on February 16, 2017, 4:51 am

        Of course! That one.

  6. genesto on February 15, 2017, 7:13 pm

    OK, so Friedman is a major schmuck. That’s clear. But, if the two-state solution is nothing but a bad joke at this point, what would be wrong with annexation of some, or all, of the West Bank, thus creating a single state? Isn’t that essentially what we already have and what many of us are striving for as a long-term solution? Then, as Israel’s president, Rivlin, has stated, Israel would be forced to give citizenship and equal rights to all of the Palestinians taken into this new, expanded Israeli democracy or publicly acknowledge itself as an apartheid state. There’s no way anyone could argue his, or her, way around it. Sure, under these circumstances, we would expect Jews to remain privileged and non Jews to continue to live as second, and third, class citizens. But, over time, there at least would be a chance of Palestinians, and other non Jews, enjoying the advantages of living in a diverse and tolerant country. It’s far better than the world they live now.

    • Mooser on February 15, 2017, 10:49 pm

      I guess “genesto” is convinced of the overwhelming strength and permanence of Zionism. And the insignificance and and disposability of the Palestinians.

      I wonder why?

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