Letters from rabbis, Holocaust survivors decry Trump Israel envoy pick David Friedman
Feb 17 2017 by Desiree Burns
President Donald Trump's pick for USA ambassador to Israel piled on apology after apology at his confirmation hearing Thursday for firebrand remarks that Democrats say make him unfit for the job. In the letter, they quote Friedman explaining the two-state solution, [which President Trump has pushed aside] as being "an illusory solution" and that [he dares] to openly support "West Bank settlements".
"I don't think anyone would ever support [an outcome] where different classes of citizens would have different rights", Friedman said.
Friedman's confirmation hearing was dominated by questions over his derogatory and inflammatory comments about Jewish figures and organizations leveled over the course of the campaign, including incidents in which he called Jewish critics "morons" and "kapos". "There is no excuse". "If you want me to rationalize it or justify it, I can not. These were hurtful words and I deeply regret them, they were not reflective of my nature or my character". Friedman rejected that notion - but he didn't rule out entirely that the end result of the peace process might not be two states. "If Israel is to carry on as a democratic, Jewish nation, respected internationally, we see no alternative to a two-state solution", they wrote. Friedman's stated policy positions and world view suggest that he would depart from long-standing bipartisan support for the two-state solution.
Friedman's nomination has drawn strong opposition from more liberal American-Jewish organizations and groups, including J Street whose members and backers he called "worse than kapos" - a reference to Jewish collaborators with Nazis - for their support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an op-ed past year. He has also raised millions of dollars toward settlements, including one near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. "Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution- that would be an error".
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Trump took questions from reporters for more than an hour after announcing his new nominee for Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta. The president was verbally aggressive with several journalists, often ranting about how unfairly the media treats him.
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Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) acknowledged that Friedman has said things he did not agree with but said he backed the nominee as qualified, experienced and passionate. For example, he pointed out, Abbas "refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state". "I have profound differences of opinion with J Street".
"Based on the comments yesterday, we can't say for sure if the USA supports the two-state solution", Ben-Avi continued."The clean-up of that is all well and good but who knows what he's going to say tomorrow".
He still questions whether Palestinians are prepared to make the concessions necessary: Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state and "denounce terror", he said. Republicans mostly asked Friedman about policy, and he was introduced by South Carolina GOP Sen. "But there is also no denying that many American Jews - certainly in the Orthodox Union's constituency - and other pro-Israel Americans share Mr. Friedman's deep skepticism toward this decades-old approach which has been tried and tested and failed repeatedly to deliver security and peace to the people of Israel, the Palestinians, and the region".
Prior to the hearing, Friedman staked out views far outside the mainstream of American foreign policy, including support for Israeli settlements considered illegal by the worldwide community and the annexation of the West Bank, territory Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war.