President Trump’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, last week issued an official diplomatic statement supporting Israel’s unprecedented decision to ban two United States congresswomen — Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — from entry into Israel. Friedman also questioned the Members’ motives for seeking entry into the country. In response, J Street issued the following statement:
It is outrageous and unprecedented for an American ambassador to use his position to cheer an allied nation’s ban of two elected members of Congress. Since his appointment, David Friedman has repeatedly violated his commitment to act in a non-partisan manner and to uphold bipartisan US policy precedent. We urge Congress to take action to review this latest corrosive conduct and to hold Ambassador Friedman to account.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision, and Ambassador Friedman’s support for it, not only deeply damages Israel’s relationship with Congress, but it erodes the bipartisan foundations of the US-Israel relationship and the democratic values we share. This is understood by members of Congress, Jewish institutions and Jewish Americans across the country who have loudly denounced the decision and called for Netanyahu to reverse course.
Ambassador Friedman’s vocal support for the ban is unprecedented, but not surprising. Before his appointment as Ambassador, David Friedman had a decades-long record of highly partisan attacks against US officials, material support for Israel’s settlement movement and ideological alignment with the far-right. From the moment David Friedman was nominated, J Street made it clear that he was an unqualified, inappropriate nominee who would be unable to separate his personal ideology from the national interest and the long-term US-Israel relationship.
Since becoming ambassador, Friedman has repeatedly reinforced the wisdom of the 46 senators who voted against his confirmation. From endorsing annexation of the West Bank to making official appearances at settler events; from flouting internal human rights guidelines to denying the existence of the occupation; the ambassador’s extreme positions have consistently undermined long-held, bipartisan foreign policy positions, undercut the prospects for a future peace agreement and advanced his own ideological interests at the expense of the shared interests of Israel and the United States.
The time has come for Congress to hold David Friedman accountable for failing to abide by the most basic standards of conduct for a sitting US ambassador.