Why Trump’s nominee for envoy to Israel is Setting off Alarm Bells

By Mitchell Plitnick | Foreign Policy in Focus | Originally published in Lobelog | – –

David Friedman’s approach to the issue of peace is clear enough: Whatever Israel’s right-wing government wants, the United States should give.

With his nomination of attorney David Friedman as the new United States Ambassador to Israel, President-elect Donald Trump has sent a very clear message that he intends to shift U.S. policy away from its decades-long commitment to ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

That commitment represents not only a strong American political consensus, but an overwhelming international consensus as well.

Friedman’s views can only be described as radical.

He is an avowed opponent of the two-state solution, which he has called “an illusion that serves the worst intentions of both the United States and the Palestinian Arabs.” He supports the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, which security experts have warned would be a needless provocation that could further inflame the region, and has described the State Department (which, should he be confirmed, he will be working for) as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

He has even called supporters of the pro-Israel, pro-peace group J Street “worse than kapos” (these were Jews who served as middlemen for the Nazis in World War II), and heads fundraising for one of the most radical pro-settler organizations in the world.

Friedman’s approach to the issue of peace is clear enough: Whatever Israel’s right-wing government wants, the United States should give, and Israel alone will decide what the Palestinians will get. According to Friedman, “the Israelis have done a magnificent job of balancing their internal needs for security, which no other nation in the world has, against their incredible track record of granting human rights to their entire population.”

Friedman’s statement clearly contradicts every human rights organization in the world, including in the United States and Israel, as well as the State Department. It also suggests a troubling detachment from the reality of the conflict on the ground.

Friedman is the President of the American Friends of Beit El Institutions organization, a non-profit that raises some $2 million per year for the Beit El settlement. Significant portions of the money raised go to the yeshiva (Jewish religious school) in Beit El, headed by Rabbi Zalman Melamed. Rabbi Melamed has stated that evacuating settlements is a sin against Jewish law. During the Israeli withdrawal of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, Melamed even went so far as to call on soldiers to disobey orders to evacuate settlers.

Friedman, then, is not just a supporter of settlement expansion, but of the most radical elements in the settler movement. If Friedman’s nomination is an indication of Trump administration policy on Israel-Palestine, the United States is going to deepen the conflict in which Israelis and Palestinians are embroiled. This risks seriously damaging US interests in the region, further violating Palestinians’ basic human rights, and compromising Israeli security.

Mitchell Plitnick is vice president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Via Foreign Policy in Focus

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Democracy Now! “Ambassador for Apartheid: Trump’s Pick for Israel Post Slammed as Threat to Peace & Two-State Talks”

5 Responses

  1. “Be real careful what you wish for.”

    Israel has “won,” in that there will never be a Palestinian state, but what exactly have they “won?”

    Israel now effectively has all the land west of the Jordan River, BUT that land has millions of non-Jews that Israel can not export or kill – NOW WHAT?

    Initially under trump, Israel will have carte blanc to do whatever they want, but over time, Israeli actions are going to cause problems for every Muslim leader around the world, especially in the middle east and that trouble is going to blow-back on the USA.

    Trump supporters are clearly “America first,” which means eventually Israel is going to be thrown overboard when Americans feel that Israel is making their lives worse. Note that it appears that many trump folks base their decisions on “feelings” NOT FACTS, so once the feelings turn against Israel , Israel is going overboard because above all, trump NEEDS the adoration of millions.

    Right now trump is listening to the people with agendas, but over time, as his popularity decreases, possibly by large amounts, trump will shift position and follow the lead of his supporters because if he loses them, congress might turn in 2018 and he would be in worse shape than Obama has been over the last eight years. Trump does NOT want to lose in 2020, so he will follow his supporters not the people he has hired.

    Trump will make a LOT of very basic mistakes and will get whacked a bunch of times, looking so much like a loser that not even ferocious spinning on twitter can make him look good, but trump has shown willingness to pretend bad decisions were not his and to throw some people overboard to make himself look good. Israel can NOT count on trump being on their side if he starts “losing” because of Israel.

    Israel is on the top of the heap at the moment, but that could quickly change and leave them all alone on the earth. Israel’s future is NOT set from here on and it could find itself in deep trouble real quick.

  2. “BUT that land has millions of non-Jews that Israel can not export or kill – NOW WHAT?”

    At this point in history, I would not discount either possibility.

    The entire world seems to be rapidly spinning into a right-wing authoritarian nationalist mode; the echoes of 1932 are getting louder every day.

    Trump’s supporters are perfectly fine with an ‘exterminate the brutes’ policy, are perfectly willing to blame victims for their own problems, and clearly want loud tough guy in charge, especially if ‘the brutes’ are Muslim.

    It’s also unclear what pressure, if anything, could actually be brought to bear against the US for their support of Israel, or can be credibly blamed for making his supporters lives worse despite Trump’s tweets (after all, they fervently believe we are worse off than we were in 2009, despite all evidence provided by reality. )

    Trump’s true talents lie in deflecting blame to convenient scapegoats, and too many of his fundagelical supporters will demand that the US back Israel to the utter end to allow him to scapegoat Israel.

    His racist non-fundagelical supporters will be all too happy to support the persecution of Muslims.

    His plutocratic supporters see war and unrest as profit centers, so it’s truly unclear just how any of them could be turned against a US policy supporting ever tougher Israeli measures against non-Jews in their territories.

  3. Do you for a SECOND think that Trump’s selection of Friedman means any thought at all was given to policy? Friedman is an ally who got him out of a lot of bankruptcy jams. He knows Trump’s dirtiest business secrets. A highly observant Jew, Friedman wanted to be Ambassador for likely a lot of reasons that Trump could have cared less about. Friedman is his guy in business world terms, give him what he wants. I suspect his confirmation process will be difficult, however

  4. Chuck Schumer is certainly not going to lead the charge against this nominee.

    By the way, when will the so called liberal media inform our mostly uninformed Americans that all the other members of the Security Council voted Aye, including our closest ally, the Tory government of the United Kingdom?

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