WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats joined numerous American Jewish groups in publicly opposing President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of David Friedman as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel over the weekend.
“I am deeply concerned that David Friedman has focused on supporting settlements and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, rather than building bridges that could allow people to live harmoniously,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) told Jewish Insider. “These incredibly decisive issues make violence more likely, rather than achieving a lasting peace,” he noted.
Adding her disapproval, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) blasted Friedman’s “unconscionable and frighteningly casual use of Holocaust imagery to vilify progressive American Jews.”
Moore was referring to the bankruptcy lawyer’s remarks calling President Barack Obama an “anti-Semite,” and blasting J-Street as “worse than Kapos.”
President of the American friends of Bet El Institutions —a pro-settlement organization —Friedman also helped construct a $42 million village for Jewish and Beduin disabled children in the Negev desert.
Representing the largest Jewish population in the nation, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) slammed the pick in a statement on Friday. “This is an appointment with dangerous consequences for both the United States and Israel,” he warned. “Mr. Friedman’s extreme views and use of such hateful language is an insult to the majority of American Jews.”
Reps. Gene Connolly (D-VI) and John Yarmuth (D-KY) also joined in the outrage with the Kentucky lawmaker calling the Trump’s appointee “totally out of step with longstanding, bipartisan US foreign policy.”
On the conservative side of the aisle, Friedman’s appointment was met with joy. Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks emphasized the appointment “sends a powerful signal… that President-elect Trump’s administration will strengthen the bond between our two countries.”
Israeli right-wing politicians viewed the appointment as an indication that Trump will overhaul longstanding U.S. policy and adopt their stance on the conflict. Naftali Bennett, Education Minister and chairman of the hawkish Bayit Yehudi Party, tweeted a joint photograph wishing Friedman good luck and touting him as a “great friend of Israel.” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) welcomed the selection noting Friedman’s proposal to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
As with any Ambassador posting, Friedman will require Senate confirmation before beginning his duties. J-Street has launched a campaign to block the bankruptcy lawyer from becoming the next US envoy to the Jewish state.
Both the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and AIPAC have declined to issue public statements backing Trump’s appointment.