With or Without Apology, Friedman’s Record Makes Him Wrong Choice for Ambassador

February 15, 2017

Tomorrow’s Senate confirmation hearing for David Friedman, President Trump’s nominee to serve as US ambassador to Israel, will be an important moment for all those who care about the US-Israel relationship, US policy in the Middle East and securing Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

J Street’s strong objection to the nomination of Mr. Friedman to serve as US Ambassador to Israel does not rest on the insults and attacks that he has leveled against our organization and our supporters.

We object to his confirmation because his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two-state solution, and his deep and long-running personal and financial ties to the settlement movement, run directly counter to decades of bipartisan US policy and to US and Israeli interests.

We object because his consistent record of extreme and offensive attacks on senior US officials, on American diplomats and on liberal American Jews make clear that he lacks the temperament and responsibility required for such a sensitive diplomatic assignment. Mr. Friedman’s modus operandi is to publicly and aggressively lash out against those with whom he disagrees on politics or policy. This quality calls into serious question his ability to serve as an ambassador.

It has been reported that Mr. Friedman may apologize for hateful remarks that he has made about J Street. He certainly should apologize for the attacks he has made against us, though that would only address a sliver of the deep concerns about his fitness to serve. Many others – including President Obama, the US State Department, the Anti-Defamation League and sitting US Senators – also deserve an apology from Mr. Friedman.

But no apology at this stage in Mr. Friedman’s career will change the fact that his views, his actions and his temperament should disqualify him from serving as our country’s representative to Israel. We are eager to see how he will attempt to explain and defend this record at tomorrow’s hearing.

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