David Friedman’s Jewish antagonists
David Friedman, US President elect Donald Trump’s choice to serve as the next US ambassador to Israel has his work cut out for him.
Right after Trump announced his appointment, the nameless bureaucrats at the State Department mounted a rebellion. Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, the permanent members of the State Department’s Israel policy shop let it be known that Friedman is not to their liking.
“These are the people,” the Post’s Washington reporter Michael Wilner wrote, “behind the carefully worded reactions to breaking news developments in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.”
They operate on the basis of their shared catechism. Euphemistically stated, that writ of faith is that the US’s “influence… is only as strong as the legitimacy they maintain…as a fair and balanced arbiter.”
In plain English that means that the permanent bureaucracy believes the US must be hostile to Israel.
And now its members are worried. They “now fear that [their] influence may diminish under…Trump, after his announcement on Thursday night that…Friedman would be Washington’s ambassador to Israel.”
The holy grail of the State Department on Israel is fairly straightforward. It doesn’t matter that the Palestinians siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars from their US-funded budget each year to pay terrorists and incite terrorism.
It doesn’t matter that the US-funded Palestinian Authority indoctrinates the Palestinians in a Nazi-like, exterminationist view of Jews.
The Palestinians’ actions and intentions are either completely irrelevant or justified in the State Department’s intellectual universe because like the Palestinians, the State Department’s permanent staff believes that the Jews are responsible for the absence of peace.
Specifically, the State Department believes that there is no peace because of the Israeli Right and the Israeli government’s annoying habit of respecting Jewish civil and property rights in Judea and Samaria.
And now, here comes Friedman, who sees no point in going along with this anti-Israel nonsense. Friedman not only doesn’t view Israel’s refusal to deny civil and property rights to its citizens in Judea and Samaria as a reason to oppose Israel. He supports these rights. He even supports Israel’s legal rights to govern Judea and Samaria.
Friedman also sees no reason to continue the 68 year old US policy of refusing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Like Trump, Friedman supports respecting the federal law that requires the US government to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Given his stalwart rejection of the State Department’s organizational belief structure in relation to Israel, it makes sense for the permanent Israel-bashing policy establishment to oppose him.
What makes less sense is for American Jewish organizations and lawmakers to oppose his appointment. According to years of survey data of US Jewry, the vast majority of American Jews support Israel. They support moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. They support respecting the legal rights of Israeli citizens. And they support Israeli democracy.
But since Trump announced that Friedman is his choice to serve as US ambassador to Israel, opposition to his appointment has not been led by Muslim anti-Israel activists. It has been led by leftist Jewish activists.
Part of the opposition is a function of thin skin.
Friedman is an outspoken critic of the anti-Israel pressure group J Street. J Street clearly doesn’t like being called out for its consistent animosity towards Israel. Among other things, Friedman maintained that J Street is neither a Jewish organization nor a pro-Israel organization.
This is an inconvenient truth that J Street would like to obscure. But it is the truth.
In 2009 Lenny Ben David exposed that J Street’s political action committee was lavishly funded by Arab American and Iranian American lobbyists and activists. The head of J Street’s campus outfit, J Street U is a Muslim.
J Street’s executive director Jeremy Ben Ami worked as senior vice president for Fenton Communications before he received seed money from George Soros to found J Street as a means to weaken Jewish American support for Israel.
Fenton Communications was hired by a Qatari foundation to lead an 18-month long anti-Israel campaign in the US with a special focus on US campuses.
J Street, of course doesn’t like being called out. So it has waged a no-holds barred campaign to demonize Friedman. Over the weekend, two Congressmen who are supported by J Street, Jerome Nadler and John Yarmuth voiced their opposition to Friedman’s appointment.
The main problem J Street and its comrades at Americans for Peace Now and the New Israel Fund have with Friedman is not personal. It is existential.
Once he is installed as ambassador, it will become much more difficult for them to mask their animosity towards Israel.
The vast majority of Israelis do not ascribe to the State Department’s anti-Israel catechism. The vast majority of Americans also reject it. But so long as the official policy of the US government has been to view Israel as responsible for the absence of peace, and to support the Palestinians despite their opposition to peace and their support for terrorism, Israel’s antagonists on the Jewish American far Left have been able to maintain their conceit that they are pro-Israel.
With an ambassador on the ground implementing a policy that rejects these absurdities, they will lose their patriotic cover. They won’t be able to say that the Israeli government is acting in opposition to the US government by defending Jewish civil rights. They won’t be able to claim that Israel will endanger its relationship with the US, and so undermine the American Jewish community if it rejects the irrational two-state policy that dictates the only acceptable Israeli policy is one that promotes the establishment of a terrorist run, anti-Semitic Arab state west of the Jordan River.
J Street was Soros’s brainchild. In 2007, the far left financier wrote an article in the New York Review of Books calling for the establishment of a leftwing group that could undermine the Jewish community’s support for Israel by insisting that AIPAC did not speak for the American Left in its championing of a strong US-Israel alliance. Since its inception in 2007, J Street has been instrumental in breaking the American Jewish consensus on communal support for Israel. In so doing, J Street has played a major role in facilitating the far Left’s takeover of the Democratic Party.
With Rep. Keith Ellison’s sudden emergence as the frontrunner to win next month’s election to serve as the next Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the far left’s takeover of the Democratic Party is essentially complete. As a former member of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, and a major supporter and beneficiary of the Muslim Brotherhood aligned leadership of the American Muslim community, Ellison’s rise means that the Democratic Party can no longer be viewed as a pro-Israel party.
As a consequence, American Jews are now being required to choose between their support for the party and their support for Israel.
Since the election, Jewish groups have taken steps that indicate their choices. The decision by the Jewish Federations of North America, Hadassah, the Anti-Defamation League, the Conservative and Reform movements and other more minor groups to boycott the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization’s Chanukah party last week was one major signal. The party, co-hosted by the Embassy of Azerbaijan, took place during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Azerbaijan. The groups’ chose to boycott the party because it was held at the Trump Hotel in Washington.
Then there is Hillel International’s scandlous decision, announced at its annual conference earlier this month, to have Hillel organizations on campuses in the US champion Muslim rights on campuses. In other words, the premier Jewish organization on college campuses intends to champion the rights of the very students who stand at the forefront of the campus war against Jewish students.
A week after the election, the American Jewish Committee announced that it has joined forces with the Islamic Society of North America to form a Jewish-Muslim Advisory Council to lobby the Trump administration. ISNA is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Its members have been indicted for funding Hamas terrorists. The Muslim Brotherhood is committed to the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people.
With his close, personal ties to Trump, Friedman will be uniquely positioned to implement the next administration’s policies towards Israel. Given the Republican majority in the Senate, it is clear that his nomination will sail through the approval process in the Senate.
What is not at all clear is how the American Jewish community will fare in the coming years. If its members decide that they are okay with their organizational leadership’s decision to abandon Israel on behalf of the far Left, which has swallowed the Democratic Party, in all likelihood, they will not fare very well at all.