President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice of David Friedman to be the ambassador of the USA to Israel is a spectacular one. The biased media and State Department have trashed him, citing his lack of political experience, his referring to J Street as “kapos”, and his friendship with Donald Trump. Perhaps the bankruptcy lawyer was insensitive in saying that liberal Jews are comparable to the Jews who, forced by the Nazis’ cruelty, collaborated with them. That being said, he brings up an important subject for debate by criticizing an organization that claims to be pro-Israel, yet pushed the nuclear deal with Iran while primarily condemning the building of “settlements” rather than terrorism. It’s not anti-Israel to support a two-state solution, but it is questionable about how supportive of the world’s only Jewish state this organization is when it backs a sketchy deal with a country that regularly talks about annihilating Israel.
Friedman’s appointment is encouraging. Earlier statements Trump made in his campaign about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict were somewhat concerning to the Jewish community and pro-Israel activists elsewhere. At various points throughout, he’d claimed that he’d be a “neutral guy” in negotiations, questioned whether or not Israel wants to make peace, refused to commit to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, said it would be good for Israel to repay the USA for foreign military aid acquired over the years, and surrounded himself with anti-Semites who fanned the flames of the world’s oldest hatred among the ranks of his supporters. Now, however, Trump’s closest campaign officials insist that the president-elect still intends on moving America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Friedman said, upon being chosen by Trump, that he looked forward to “working from the embassy in Jerusalem”, and the Trump team is reportedly already searching for places to move the embassy. Friedman, like Trump, has also donated to communities in Judea & Samaria. In fact, he’s the current president of the American Friends of Beit El Institutions. And as a strong supporter of the building and maintaining of so-called settlements, he has supported the annexations of parts of–or the entirety of–the “West Bank”, questioning the PLO’s population statistics and the need or effectiveness of a two-state solution.
Left-wing media articles and personalities, along with foreign policy “experts”, declare that the nomination should be rejected by the Senate because it poses a grave threat to US interests and “Middle East peace”. These arguments reek of hypocrisy. The previous few ambassadors and presidents have done nothing to achieve peace between Israel and Palestinians, and have just maintained the same status quo that they claim is harmful and needs immediate solving. They have chastised Israel far more for building houses than they have for Palestinian terror and racist indoctrination in their schools. As for the State Department, it’s little more than an Arabist institution that’s been brimming with anti-Semitism for decades. If you don’t believe me, just read Dennis Ross’ Doomed to Succeed: The US-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama. The State Department’s declaration that moving the embassy damages our reputation in the Arab/Islamic World and endangers both Israelis and Americans is fodder. Having our embassy in Tel Aviv did not prevent the 9/11 Attacks, the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, or the shooting last year in San Bernardino. Nor has it improved the view of America in the Islamic (and more specifically, Arab) World. If anything, the USA’s–and more broadly, the West’s–waffling between traditional support for Israel and taking a more pro-Palestinian stance has emboldened terrorists into thinking that they can continue their terrorist war on the civilized world without any real consequences, and that negotiations for peace are less effective than violence. For all of the unsavory things that Russia has done, their allies know that Moscow’s got their back. After the crossing of a “red line” in Syria, the nuclear deal with Iran, and pressuring the Kurds to capitulate to an Islamist Turkish tyrant, I highly doubt the West’s allies believe we are committed to them.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem and annexing many communities in Judea & Samaria is the right thing to do. If we are truly the City On a Hill, and the Leader of the Free World, why should we cower from our values and our friends just to appease barbarians? Israel will also benefit—it’s conceivable that after an American recognition of certain annexations and of Jerusalem, other countries will follow. Already, Israeli soft-power has been having a strong effect in former Non-Aligned and Third World countries that were once hostile to the Jewish State. More countries either vote against biased, anti-Semitic resolutions at the UN aimed at Israel, or abstain against them. By taking certain land in Judea & Samaria, Israel will also have the strategic high-ground necessary to protect the coastal plain from terrorist missiles or other forms of attacks. It can preserve the Jewish communities in the hilltops of our ancient homeland’s core, as well as our access to religious or historic sites that we didn’t have during the Jordanian occupation of the territory. But it would also signal to the Palestinians that time is not on their side. If they continue with their intransigence and violence, the world, led by Trump and other nationalist leaders, will move closer to Israel and further away from supporting their “cause”. It just might bring Palestinians to realize the error of their ways and seek peace with Jerusalem. As for Arab countries, would they truly seek the destruction of America and Israel if Jerusalem was recognized as its capital? No doubt there would be condemnations or protests, maybe even attempted acts of terror. But the Arab World is far too weak and divided to launch any kind of concerted attack on a powerful Israel. Moreover, many of these countries need America and even Israel to help them contain a rising Iran and the metastasizing Sunni jihadism spreading throughout the region. The bottom line is that Israel has a lot to offer a number of countries in the world (with the environment, agriculture, technology, and intelligence), whereas the Palestinians have nothing to offer. So it makes sense that no matter how emotional one may be about “the occupation”, a leader will ultimately do what is in the best interests of his or her country.
I am a bit concerned over David Friedman’s lack of experience, but at the end of the day, our foreign policy needs a radical revamp as it is. Perhaps an outsider like Friedman will be the one to accomplish it, do the right thing, stand by our friends, and strengthen the USA’s credibility worldwide.