A disturbing new report by Politico has provided further evidence that David Friedman is using the office of US ambassador to Israel to advance his own right-wing ideological agenda, undercutting longstanding US policy and law. We call on the Senate to investigate the ambassador’s conduct and call him back to Washington to answer for his actions.
According to the report, Friedman refused to comply with the State Department Inspector General’s call to strengthen legally required human rights vetting of foreign militaries receiving US aid, saying it shouldn’t apply to Israel. By seeking to shield Israel from standards applied to all military aid recipient countries under the Leahy Law, Friedman is only undercutting the respect for democratic norms and the rule of law that have served as the basis for the special relationship between our countries for decades.
This obstruction of an important State Department initiative is just the latest of many occasions in which Friedman has used his position to promote his own personal agenda over the interests and policies of the United States.
Among other alarming actions and statements, the ambassador has: reportedly requested that the State Department cease using the terms “occupation” and “Israeli-occupied territories” to refer to Israeli rule in the West Bank; falsely told press that “settlements are part of Israel” and that Israel is “only occupying 2 percent of the West Bank;” maligned Americans who describe themselves as pro-Israel and pro-peace; attacked “Democrats” as insufficiently pro-Israel; and invited anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim pastor Robert Jeffress to speak at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem — while failing to invite any Democratic lawmakers.
During his confirmation process, Friedman was met with an unprecedented level of opposition for a US ambassador nominee — with 46 Senators voting against him. To secure a slim majority of votes, he was forced to renounce almost his entire record. Yet his actions since then show that Friedman has clearly broken his promises to senators to behave diplomatically and prudently in his new post and to put aside his own personal agenda.
As long as Friedman is allowed to shape US policy based on his own whims and goals, our national interests and the US-Israel relationship will continue to suffer unacceptable damage. Congress must hold him to account.