I never met Dan Shapiro, the current ambassador of the US to Israel. But he lives in my Israel hometown, Herzliya, and he’s known as a good neighbor, and a good friend to Israel. He makes me proud to be an American and a Jew……. and an Israeli. Kol ha kavod lo.
Dan Shapiro is no typical US State Department lackey. I honestly don’t know how he got this job but I do know he’s a perfect fit. He speaks fluent Hebrew and brought his family to Israel where they became part of a shul community; the kids attend school and they all integrated themselves into the population. He even is seen donating blood to MADA twice a year. And, he’s not dashing back to Washington anytime soon either. Clearly a guy we can trust, admire, respect and understand. And who understands his job.
Especially because, as a diplomat, he’s diplomatic! One might think that should be a given for the job. Shapiro understands that he is not the decision maker for the future of Israel. He understands as well that the United States is also not the decision maker for Israel. Shapiro’s job is to represent the present administration and share its views and policies with the Israeli public and government. He is not the prime minister of Israel or a member of the Knesset. As ambassador his own opinions have no weight. Zero. He’s a transmitter, albeit one we can rely on and trust to relay opinions fairly and honestly.
I’m of the mindset that American Jews who want to vote in Israel (which, by the way, has no absentee ballots) need to become citizens. Voting with feet on the ground is where the vote counts. Otherwise it’s just rhetoric. So, if any American Jew is critical of Israeli actions, vote it out. Don’t shout it out. Right wing or left wing or centrist, keep your critique to yourself. American Jews need to be cheerleaders for Israel not whiners, suggesters, recommenders or worse.
So, enter David Friedman, someone who appears to be not at all diplomatic and who seems to regard his own opinions as the opinions of the United States AND the people of Israel.
Of course he’s a Trump appointee and, as with all of Trump’s other appointees, has few obvious qualifications for the job. But, naturally, he could learn. On the job training is really often a satisfactory method of mastering a new position unless you’re a brain surgeon or pilot.
But let’s say you’re appointed ambassador to Israel and the first words out of your mouth are antagonizing to a big portion of the Israeli population. And let’s say you’re not even representing the government of the US when you spout those words. And let’s say you’re casually promising to move an embassy without thinking about ramifications, ramifications that could provide danger to Israeli citizens, police and military, which includes my own family. And let’s say your name is David Friedman.
David Friedman has a long history of support for settler activities. Before his feet were on the ground he supported elements of Israeli society that vast numbers of Israelis do not support. He antagonized liberal American groups with vicious attacks that send a signal to the world that we Jews are a fractured people. He seems to think that he is the sole determinant of the future of the nation of Israel. Not the Israeli government.
And he is leading a force of one. He is not speaking for the United States.
So where do we go from here? If you share my thinking then you need to speak up and let your representatives in Congress know.
David Friedman must not become US Ambassador to Israel.