The Conspiracy

Give Ambassador David Friedman a Chance

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump nominated campaign adviser and bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel. The appointment was understandably controversial in the Jewish community; Friedman’s stances on pertinent Israel issues are abhorrent to the Jewish left and increasingly left-leaning Jewish youth. Regardless, he must be given a chance to succeed.

David Friedman, Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, dances on Chanukah. | By Chabad Lubavitch [CC BY 2.0], via Creative Commons

First, Friedman is opposed to the two-state solution. “There has never been a ‘two-state solution’ – only a ‘two-state narrative,’” he said. “The narrative needs to end because it is preventing the opportunity for real progress that has the potential to improve the lives of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis alike.” (Considering Israelis have offered the Palestinians their state on numerous occasions only to be rejected each time, a two-state solution does not look imminent.)

Friedman also insists that the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since the Truman administration, the U.S. has taken a neutral stance on who owns Jerusalem. Friedman said he intends to strengthen “the unbreakable bond” between Israel and the U.S. “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

And let’s not forget his defense of settlements in the West Bank. Friedman described them as perfectly legal, not a barrier to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Friedman is correct. Peace negotiations ultimately need to be dealt with internally between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Unsurprisingly, Friedman’s nomination has caused the left to throw a fit. In a statement, the left-wing group J Street cried foul over Trump’s pick. “He has labeled ‘liberal Jews’ as ‘worse than kapos,’ referring to Jews who collaborated with Nazis during the Holocaust, thereby hideously twisting the legacy of the Holocaust for use as a political weapon,” the statement reads. “His nomination is reckless, putting America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk.”

The organization IfNotNow also condemned Friedman’s appointment as “the clearest sign yet that the Trump Administration intends on pursuing policies that will further entrench the occupation,” the group posted on Facebook. The statement presses the Jewish community to “take moral leadership and reject this appointment.”

Friedman, whether you agree with his right-wing views or not, brings baggage to the U.S.-Israel relationship. Last year, he did in fact compare J Street to Kapos, a move even Commentary Editor-in-Chief John Podhoretz said was in bad taste. He wrote that Friedman would “probably do himself some good if he said he’d gone too far in that case – which would, by the way, give him a second shot at explaining why J Street is egregious in front of a far larger audience.”

What kind of ambassador would Friedman be? It’s too early to say – and too early to let his future work be overshadowed by some unsavory remarks toward J Street. But one thing is clear. If the Senate confirms Friedman’s appointment, the relationship between American Jews on the right and left will only worsen. Nonetheless, just as American Jews (along with the rest of the country) should give Trump a chance to govern, they should let Friedman have the opportunity to represent the U.S. in Israel.

Jackson Richman is a senior studying political science at George Washington University. He has interned at The Weekly Standard and The Daily Caller. He’s a frequent contributor for Red Alert Politics and American Action News. You can follow him on Twitter: @jacksonrichman.

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