The Donald Nominates Right-Winger as US Ambassador to Israel. Also, Water Wet.

friedman

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, as his nominee for ambassador to Israel, elevating a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Mr. Friedman, whose outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel, did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach. In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, he said he looked forward to doing the job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Through decades of Republican and Democratic administrations, the embassy has been in Tel Aviv, as the State Department insists that the status of Jerusalem — which both Israel and the Palestinians see as their rightful capital — can be determined only through negotiations as part of an overall peace deal.

Mr. Friedman, who has no diplomatic experience, has said that he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex the occupied West Bank and he supports building new settlements there, which Washington has long condemned as illegitimate and an obstacle to peace.

NOTE: Everything that Trump does will be put under a microscope. I did not vote for Donald Trump. However, the president-elect will soon be our commander-in-chief and I evaluate his decisions through the only relevant lens left: what I believe to be best for this nation & the world at-large.

The Holy Land has been an ethno-religious hotbed for thousands of years. Seemingly eager to add to the tension, president-elect Trump has selected Mr. David M. Friedman to be the US Ambassador to the Israel. The nomination of Mr. Friedman, a very successful bankruptcy lawyer, has received both praise & criticism. Of particular note, there have been supporters of the nomination who deliberately present the following fallacious cause & effect: since Mr. Friedman is Jewish & lacks any diplomatic experience, misguided critics are vilifying his selection. These facts are not why this nomination is a poor choice, here is why:

Myth: A Jewish US Ambassador to Israel possesses an implicit conflict of interest

The fact that a US ambassador is a member of the same ethnic group as their selected post does not prevent them from properly prioritizing US interests. The United States is a nation of immigrants. The ability to leverage this characteristic in matters of global diplomacy is a huge advantage (also, one that I am tremendously proud of). Any professional, as the US ambassador to a crucial ally should be, would understand this and work for the best interest of the United States, regardless of their ethnic makeup.

Myth: An ambassador with no diplomatic/foreign policy/government experience will perform poorly

Diplomatic experience is not a prerequisite for a successful ambassadorial career. In fact, I strongly believe that a private sector perspective can be refreshing for a government post. New approaches to problem-solving can shed light on the more intransigent issues. Furthermore, this age of instant communication allows for the foreign service to be in constant contact with our government back home. The majority of issues on how to best act in the interest of the American people can be largely deliberated & decided with the click of a button. Therefore, a dearth of political savvy does not preclude the private sector from having a role in top diplomatic positions.

The fault with Mr. Friedman’s nomination lies with the fact that he is an outspoken supporter of right-wing Israeli policies. Some of Friedman’s highlights, effectively a mixtape of the Israeli far-right:

  • Called J Street, a left-leaning lobbying organization that has been critical of Israeli policies, worse than “kapos” (Jewish prisoners that were forced to aid the Nazis with body disposal during the Holocaust), direct quote:
    • “The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty,” he wrote. “But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas — it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”
  • Is in full support of the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, donating large sums of money to settlement advocacy groups & even calling for Israel to annex the West Bank entirely
    • These are settlements of Jewish Israeli citizens on land that Palestinians hope to one-day call their own nation. This would be difficult with hundreds of thousands of Israelis pocketed across their homeland.
      • 375,000+ settlers in East Jerusalem alone, another 390,000+ scattered throughout the West Bank (Wikipedia)
  • Has said that a two-state solution is impossible. Friedman has actually called the idea an “illusion”.
    • Slight issue, seeing as there are 2.8+ million Palestinians, many of whom are willing to die for a nation of their own
  • Insists that the US Embassy must be moved from Tel Aviv, where it has been since 1952, to Jerusalem
    • The United States agreed to move the embassy to Jerusalem, at some point, when Congress passed the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Agreement. However, the previous presidential administrations of Bush, Clinton, & Obama chose not to implement the move. All 3 presidents have claimed the presidential waiver that can delay the move due to national security interests (the executive branch does not like when the legislative branch infringes on its authority over foreign policy).

Unfortunately, it seems as if Mr. Friedman has read Exodus too many times. The nominated ambassador even said the following when asked if he stood by his tasteful comparison of J Street to “kapos”:

“They’re not Jewish, and they’re not pro-Israel”

Talk about a hot take…

Here’s the deal. I am pro-Israel. The foundation & success of the state has been a win for humanity, providing a home for one of the world’s most persecuted ethnic groups. I believe in firmly supporting Israel as it continues to fight for its existence. However, the Israeli people have a choice to make WARNING SATIRE AHEAD:

  1. Go full US of A and marginalize/kill off the indigenous inhabitants*
  2. Work towards a two-state solution

In terms of what reasonable human beings should work together to achieve, I suggest #2. As for Mr. Friedman: don’t forget where you’re from, bro. Acting as an extension of the Israeli right-wing is ill-advised. The US will suffer at home & abroad if you chose to take this hardball approach. Allies risk their reputations, resources, and the lives of their children for one another. These bonds help to keep the world balanced. However, an issue arises when the interests of one ally (and in this case, both) are threatened by supporting the reckless actions of another.**

*I believe that Native Americans would advise against this course of action.

**I know that America has made its fair share of foreign policy mistakes. The point of this post is that we should not make another costly one.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/15/us/politics/donald-trump-david-friedman-israel-ambassador.html?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/17/politics/david-friedman-ambassador-to-israel-nominee/


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