President-elect Donald Trump has announced that bankruptcy lawyer David M. Friedman will be his ambassador to Israel.
Friedman is notorious among the left for comparing progressive American Jews to the Jews who helped the Nazis during the Holocaust, as The New York Times reported on Thursday.
“The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty,” Friedman wrote in a June editorial for the website Aruz Sheva. “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.”
J Street is a nonprofit advocacy group led by Jewish Americans who criticize Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.
Friedman is also being criticized for his questioning of a two-state solution, which has been a staple of American foreign policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, and for his lack of diplomatic experience.
“The two nations have enjoyed a special relationship based on mutual respect and a dedication to freedom and democracy,” said the Trump transition team in a statement. “With Mr. Friedman’s nomination, President-elect Trump expressed his commitment to further enhancing the U.S.-Israel relationship and ensuring there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries.”
Friedman wants to break with decades of American foreign policy when it comes to Israel's settlements in the West Bank, according to The Washington Post. The U.S. has considered them illegitimate since 1967, but Friedman has always been in favor of Israel building them.
Given Friedman's far-right views on the Arab-Israeli conflict, reactions on Twitter were predictable — concerned among journalists, dismayed among liberals, and jubilant among conservatives.
Congratulations to David M. Friedman on his nomination as US amb. to #Israel. He & I talked a week ago & I am impressed by his dedication
— Daniel Pipes (@DanielPipes) December 16, 2016
David Friedman to Israel=Ben Carson to HUD. Totally unqualified but looks the part. Too bad Pat Morita isn't available for Amb to Japan
— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) December 16, 2016
David Friedman,Trump pick for Amb to Israel says he looks forward to working "from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” pic.twitter.com/txqIvxBFHk — Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 15, 2016
I know and greatly respect David Friedman. His relationships and counsel will help build a much closer and stronger US/Israel relationship. — Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) December 16, 2016
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) December 16, 2016