JLC Statement on Friedman Appointment for Ambassador to the State of Israel

Jewish Labor Committee Opposes the Nomination of David M. Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the State of Israel

December 21, 2016, New York, NY

The Jewish Labor Committee opposes the nomination of David M. Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the State of Israel, as proposed by President-elect Donald Trump.  His many statements and actions over the years make it clear that he will not help, but rather impede, any meaningful progress towards a fair and just negotiated resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The Jewish Labor Committee opposes Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, whether the establishment of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements. We support the consensus desire of most Israelis and Palestinians (long confirmed by polling data) for a reasonably negotiated, fair and secure two-state solution for Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. It is essential that any U.S.ambassador to Israel be supportive of a two-state solution.

The nomination of David M. Friedman, President-elect Donald Trump’s bankruptcy attorney, to the sensitive post of United States Ambassador to the State of Israel is a serious mistake for several reasons.  First and foremost, because Friedman is an active supporter of the West Bank settlement movement and has stated in very clear terms that he does not believe in a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinian people, we believe he is not an appropriate nominee for this crucial post.

Mr. Friedman has no experience in foreign policy or in diplomacy, and he doesn’t even seem to believe in diplomacy.  This is best exemplified by his condemnation of the liberal pro-Israel organization J Street as “worse than Kapos” (Jews who were forced to collaborate with the Nazis in concentration camps) within the context of his refusal in advance to meet with J Street or other groups that believe in a two-state solution.  This alone is a departure for American ambassadors to Israel, who traditionally are open to meeting with a wide spectrum of the American Jewish community.

We are deeply concerned that the incoming U.S. Administration apparently wants to go on record as endorsing the views of a supporter of the settlement enterprise who opposes a two-state solution This will communicate to Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world and the entire international community that the US is no longer interested in using its good offices to promote a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we cannot see how the status quo will move forward without at least the supportive involvement of the United States.

Friedman’s attitudes and positions are contrary to what have been the bi-partisan policies of the United States for decades. Rejecting a two-state solution would doom Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

If the incoming United States Senate effectively repudiates a peaceful two-state solution by confirming Mr. Friedman’s unwise appointment, this would dangerously and unnecessarily inflame extremist passions against both the United States and Israel.  We would not want to see the incoming administration get off to such a bad start, in one fell swoop endangering our national security and that of the State of Israel, and undermining efforts toward Mideast stability.

For all of these reasons, we oppose the nomination of David M. Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the State of Israel, and ask the United States Senate to reject this nomination when it is asked to deliberate on it early in 2017.

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