David Friedman should become the next United States Ambassador to Israel. And five former holders of that post just disqualified themselves from discussing his qualifications. They did so by penning a screed that fails elementary fact-checking, and shows them not only rude, but also ignorant.
What did they say about David Friedman?
Five former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel sent a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Thomas Pickering, William Harrop, Edward Walker, Daniel Kurtzer and James Cunningham all have held that post. Ambassador Pickering normally triggers warm memories. He held the post when two Galilean youths, diving for ancient nails, found an equally ancient fishing boat! He then contacted a friend at Texas A&M University who knew how to recover ancient wooden boats from the water. That boat now rests at the Yigal Allon Center on the banks of the Sea of Galilee.
Where did Ambassador Pickering’s good judgment go? For this letter he and his colleagues sent, shows none of that good sense and good will he showed.
We believe the committee should satisfy itself that Mr. Friedman has the balance and the temperament required to represent the United States as ambassador to Israel.
What do they want in an ambassador?
And why wouldn’t he? Ambassador Pickering and colleagues seem to think Mr. Friedman lacks two capacities they think an ambassador should have. The ambassadors think an ambassador must:
- Preserve a fiction when the facts on the ground do not support it at all, and
- Avoid even hinting at what a consummate villain a presumptive “player” might act like.
The two-state non-solution
What fiction would they have an Ambassador Friedman preserve? The notion of a “two-state solution” to the “Palestinian problem.” His critics denounce him for suggesting Israel could annex Judea and Samaria (“The West Bank”). (And yes, he did say that. He mainly said Israel could do it and not lose a Jewish majority in the electorate.) In answer, they write:
The American ambassador must [dedicate himself] to advancing our country’s longstanding bipartisan goals in the region: strengthening the security of the United States and our ally Israel, and advancing the prospects for peace between Israel and its neighbors, in particular the Palestinians. If Israel is to carry on as a democratic, Jewish nation, respected internationally, we see no alternative to a two-state solution.
Oh, they don’t, do they? Friedman spoke to that point only today. A peaceful solution would “delight” him, he said. The problem: the so-called “Palestinians” do not want peace. They will not renounce terror, nor accept Israel as a Jewish state or a state of any kind. President Trump knows this. For that reason he said he would no longer insist on that “two-state solution.” (Trump did say he would prefer Israel “hold back” on settlement building in Judea and Samaria. What that will mean in practice, the world must wait and see.)
Who called it illusory?
Worse yet, the ambassadors said Friedman called a two-state solution “illusory.” Hold the phone. The search engines do not back this claim up. But someone else called the two-state solution “stale and illusory”: the heads of the American Orthodox Union. In their own letter, they remind the Senators sharply that Barack Obama tried for eight years for a “two-state solution.” He failed. And he failed because the Palestinians didn’t want it. They consistently deny any connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel. Anyone who travels to Israel can readily dismiss that denial as absurd on its face. (The Dead Sea Scrolls alone, which two Arab boys discovered while throwing rocks into some caves, show the connection.)
So who really pushes the hardest for that “two-state solution”? George Soros, that’s who. George Soros, an unrepentant Nazi collaborator, heavily funds a leftist Jewish group calling itself J Street. J Street call themselves a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization. They lie on both counts. Ask Isi Liebler at The Jerusalem Post. Ask Paul Miller at The Hill. Or Aiden Pink at The Tower. All three testify to the nasty reputation J Street have earned. (See also this choice description.)
The J Street canard
This brings up the second objection of Ambassador Pickering and his colleagues. Last summer, David Friedman laid it on the line about J Street. In a column in Arutz-7, Friedman denounced—again—the Obama administration for “blatant anti-Semitism.” He also suggested Israel should not bestow citizenship, including free tuition, on persons calling to overthrow the State of Israel. Finally he said the one thing that made J Street squeal like—excuse the expression—stuck pigs. He likened them to the kapos, or Jewish trusties, in the concentration and death camps of the Holocaust. In fact he called them worse than kapos:
The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one? But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction [speaking] from the comfort of their secure American sofas. It’s hard to imagine anyone worse.
Today Friedman apologized for using that particular analogy. It didn’t matter. This according to Ha’aretz (“The Land”), Israel’s most prominent left-wing organ. A person who refuses the apology of another, releases that other from any further obligation to apologize. Besides, Daniel Greenfield at Front Page shows conclusively: Friedman had J Street dead-to-rights.
Where’s the beef?
Where now lies Ambassador Pickering’s case? He and his colleagues repeated an allegation without checking it for accuracy. Furthermore they ignored evidence showing the justice of Friedman’s skepticism about “Palestinians” and invective against J Street. In so doing they destroyed their own reputations as “cool, considerate men.” They also made diplomacy even less respectable, by suggesting it requires avoidance, even contradiction, of the truth.
For these reasons, President Trump should ignore the advice of Ambassador Pickering and his colleagues. (Which advice Trump did not solicit, anyway.) The Senate, likewise, should confirm David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. He clearly will make a better ambassador than have at least five who have come before him.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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