PEOTUS Trump’s nomination of David M. Friedman as his ambassador to Israel is a very bad choice. It will perpetuate Israel’s refusal to take the steps it needs to take to be a secure and prosperous member of its neighborhood and will further discredit the U.S.’s reputation and influence in the Middle East.
If you are not familiar with the basic details of what is now generally referred to as the Israeli Palestinian conflict I urge you to read my summary of it written 11 years ago: https://works.bepress.com/warren_coats/26/ and take a look (it has pictures) of my blog from Jerusalem exactly five years ago today. https://wcoats.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/the-invented-palestinians/
Israel drove Palestinians from their homes in several wars decades ago because they wanted to establish a homeland for Jews that was both democratic and Jewish. After the horrors of the Holocaust, most of the world was sympathetic. But to be democratic and Jewish, the new occupants of Palestine needed to drive out most of the existing residents (Palestinians) in order to insure a Jewish majority. Fast forward to recent decades, most of the world has settled on a two state solution by which the exiled Palestinians would be given the West Bank and Gaze to rule but the several details requiring agreement were never fully worked out. Under the Oslo Accords, which provided a step-by-step process for implementing a two state solution, I led the IMF teams that set up the Palestine Monetary Authority.
The UN, U.S. and most of the world designated Israeli settlements in the West Bank by those Israelis wanting to take still more land from the Palestinians as illegal and urged the Israeli government to stop supporting them. They continue to expand.
“Friedman has been outspoken in describing as ‘legal’ Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which every U.S. administration since 1967 has considered illegitimate.”
“Trump-picks-a-supporter-of-west-bank-settlements-for-ambassador-to-Israel”/2016/12/15/ Washington Post. Israel itself is strongly divided on the issue. Many support a two state solution and making peace with their neighbors (giving up land for peace). Others want to expand Israel’s borders to encompass all of Palestine, relying on America’s military protection for its security.
“J Street, the Washington-based [Jewish] organization that supports a two-state solution, said it was ‘vehemently opposed’ to the nomination. ‘As someone who has been a leading American friend of the settlement movement, who lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials . . . Friedman should be beyond the pale for Senators considering who should represent the United States in Israel,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.
“Calling the proposed nomination ‘reckless,’ Ben-Ami said it puts ‘America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk. Senators should know that the majority of Jewish Americans oppose the views and the values this nominee represents….’”
“In a column for the Jerusalem Post before the election, Friedman wrote that…under president Trump, Israel will feel no pressure to make self-defeating concessions, America and Israel will enjoy unprecedented military and strategic cooperation, and there will be no daylight between the two countries.” [All quotes are from the same Post article linked above.]
This is just the sad point. Our blanket guarantee of military support for any policy (including illegal settlements, bombing Iran, etc.) that Israel might pursue has removed the incentive for Israel to make genuine peace with its neighbors and do right by the Palestinians (peace for land). The U.S. Senate should reject the Friedman nomination.