The announcement of David Friedman as United States Ambassador-designate to Israel has been received with much discussion and diverse reactions within our community.
Many within the organized Jewish community find cause to be hopeful that the coming administration presents an opportunity to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Not least of the reasons for this optimism are President-Elect Trump’s repeated declarations of concern for Israel’s security and his valuing of Israel as a close ally of the United States. Additionally, President-Elect Trump has, on several occasions, talked of his desire to help negotiate a resolution to the conflict for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
JCRC believes that it is the prerogative of any President to appoint qualified cabinet members and ambassadors who will advance his or her priorities and agenda. Still, the expressed views and activities on a range of matters by David Friedman raise serious questions about whether he can and will effectively advance the United States’ long held commitment to a two-state resolution.
For over two decades it has been the bipartisan policy of the United States government, of the government of Israel – including the current Prime Minister – and of JCRC and our organized Jewish community to work for a two-state solution. Whether President-Elect Trump supports a two-state solution, or believes that an ambassador who does not share his commitment to same can still carry out U.S. policy, is a matter of vital concern. We urge the Senate to clarify this issue during Mr. Friedman’s confirmation hearings.
We take this opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the organized Jewish community of Boston to achieving a two-state solution - to be achieved through direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians - as the only viable approach that will ensure Israel's security and future as a Jewish and democratic state. The realization of this goal may take time but it is dependent on keeping this option viable. JCRC will continue to devote our own efforts to expanding the potential for achieving it. JCRC will therefore oppose any change in U.S. policy that moves our nation away from support for achieving a two-state resolution.
Additionally, JCRC believes that it is intolerable that any representative of the United States - particularly one who would represent our nation to the Jewish state - could and does refer to members of our Jewish community as “worse than Kapos” or “not Jewish.” Further, we know that the Middle East is a tinderbox which can burst into flames at the slightest provocation. What is needed now is a strong, judicious ambassador who knows how to facilitate conciliation; not someone who will fuel polarization and heighten conflict. Mr. Friedman has the right to his opinions, but his injudicious readiness to express them and his stubborn refusal to step back from them and issue a clear, public and unqualified apology, suggests a danger that he will pose to U.S. interests in the region if his nomination is approved. We urge our Senators to address this matter during the confirmation process.
Jeremy Burton Adam Suttin Beth Badik
Executive Director President Chair, Israel and Global Jewry Committee