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J Street is heartened by the unprecedented level of opposition David Friedman faced in being narrowly confirmed as US Ambassador to Israel. Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them. The strong opposition to Friedman made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making.
Senators responded to the concerns of the former ambassadors to Israel, Holocaust survivors and scholars, hundreds of rabbis and tens of thousands of American Jews who rallied to oppose this nomination. They raised objections about Friedman’s opposition to the two-state solution, his close ties to the settlement movement and his history of offensive and intemperate attacks on those with whom he disagrees.
The important position of US Ambassador to Israel has previously been filled by well-respected public servants capable of garnering unanimous, bipartisan support. It is truly sad that it will now be taken up by such a divisive and aggressive figure, whose life has been dedicated to advancing a dangerous ideological agenda in Israel and the West Bank.
President Trump and some members of his administration continue to indicate that they seek to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is difficult to see how that intention can be squared with the views and actions of David Friedman, or how the new ambassador could play a productive role in facilitating diplomacy or compromise. Historic opposition in the Senate to Friedman’s confirmation should make clear whose views lawmakers want to prevail within the administration.
We hope, during his time in this role, the ambassador will live up to the promises of moderation that he made during his confirmation hearings, and that Congress and the administration will seek to hold him accountable to advancing longstanding bipartisan policy goals, including the two-state solution.
J Street will continue to make clear to policy makers that pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans, including the large majority of American Jews, oppose the views of David Friedman and other allies of the settlement movement. We remain deeply concerned about threats to Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, and committed to the active pursuit of a two-state solution to secure that future. We will stand up against any rhetoric or policies that undermine Israeli democracy and security and that make a peace agreement harder to achieve.