Trump’s Ambassador to Israel on ADL: ‘They’re Morons’
President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has come under fire for comments he made during the presidential election about J Street, who he described as “worse than Kapos.”
Left-leaning Jewish organizations are now using the comments in an effort to disqualify Friedman from serving as America’s representative to Israel, vowing to lobby Senators to block his nomination.
Friedman’s comments about J Street are not the only ones he made about a particular Jewish organization during the election.
In an interview with Jewish Insider on the eve of the election, Friedman referred to leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “morons” for condemning Trump’s campaign rhetoric and commercials that were perceived as dog-whistles to his anti-Semitic supporters.
“People talk about dog-whistles and about Trump with dog-whistles,” Friedman said in a wide-ranging interview. “As soon as Jonathan Greenblatt accused Trump of somehow being anti-Semitic, what did we hear next? We heard this clown from Minnesota, [Senator] Al Franken, who should go back to his career as a comedian. (Franken called Trump’s closing argument advertisement “something of a German shepherd whistle” and likened it to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion)… Again, this is what happens when people take these insane arguments to their logical extension. They lose all credibility, and frankly, they sound like morons. That’s what these people are. They’re morons.”
“The Anti-Defamation League, which was founded on the notion of rooting out anti-Semitism, has completely destroyed and perverted their own mandate by going after this type of criticism,” he continued. “I don’t see how anybody can take the Anti-Defamation League seriously going forward.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, in Friedman’s eyes, is “somebody who I believe is far left, who was a well-known supporter of J Street.”
As of Monday, the ADL and AIPAC declined to issue public statements backing Friedman’s appointment.
Friedman indicated that while Trump would seek to develop a working relationship with AIPAC and mainstream Jewish American organizations, ADL would not be welcome at a Trump White House.
“I think that he has great respect for AIPAC,” Friedman said of Trump, who is now President-elect. “AIPAC does wonderful things, not just in terms of running the conference and in being an advocate for the interests of Israel, but also I think of the role it plays in educating people about Israel, I think in a very balanced way. He has great respect for AIPAC, and I think he will maintain a very good relationship with AIPAC. I think as well, AIPAC is a good example, but I think there are other Jewish organizations as well that he has great respect for.”
“I don’t think the ADL is one of them, but there are plenty of middle of the road, centrist Jewish organizations that he will be on very good terms with,” Friedman added.
When asked, the ADL did not make Greenblatt available to respond to Friedman’s comments.
UPDATE: In an email to Jewish Insider, ADL spokesman Todd Gutnick maintained that the organization “is not in the left-wing or right-wing of the Jewish community but proud to stand in the center where we have been for more than 100 years,” and that Greenblatt never worked for J Street nor donated money to the organization.
According to Gutnick, ADL never accused Trump of being anti-Semitic. “In fact, ADL defended Trump as a candidate when such charges were leveled during the campaign.” At the same time, ADL did speak out when the Trump campaign tweeted out images sourced from white supremacists or when Trump at first refused to disavow David Duke just as it called out Bernie Sanders when he overstated Palestinian civilian casualties in the 2014 war in Gaza.
“ADL hopes to engage optimistically with the incoming president we have done with previous presidents from both political parties since Woodrow Wilson,” ADL’s statement read. “At the same time, ADL will not relent on our issues – fighting anti-Semitism, battling bigotry and securing justice and fair treatment to all. We hope that we can find ways to work with the new Administration to pursue this mission together for the benefit of the Jewish community and all Americans.”