February 15, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA Urges Senate to Confirm David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel

Friedman Represents American (Including Jewish-American) Views and Values
Photo Credit: cc Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP

Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

ZOA urges the U.S. Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s outstanding nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.  Mr. Friedman has sterling qualifications, is one of America’s most eminent attorneys, speaks fluent Hebrew, is extraordinarily knowledgeable about the Middle East, and is the ideal nominee to restore and strengthen the vital U.S.-Israel alliance and the cause of real peace.  In addition, Mr. Friedman’s views reflect widely-held views of the American public at large, the Jewish-American public, Congress and our major American political parties.  In sum, Mr. Friedman will be a great credit to America and an upstanding representative of the American people.

The fact that radical extremist groups, some of whom are hostile to Israel, are trying to derail Mr. Friedman’s well-deserved nomination is another reason why Mr. Friedman should be confirmed.  The same radical, extremist groups (J Street, Partners for Progressive Israel, New Israel Fund, etc.) that supported anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and openly or in practice support, promote, and/or fund full or partial anti-Semitic anti-Israel boycotts are now smearing Mr. Friedman.  These extreme groups have even stooped to promoting a fraudulent letter defaming Mr. Friedman signed by 29 radical supposed “Holocaust survivors” (most of whom were hidden by gentiles or left Europe before or near the outset of the war, and never spent a single day in a concentration camp, according to their own statements to the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the media).  The six million real concentration camp and murder victims are turning over in their graves that their memories are being abused to defame Mr. Friedman – a pro-Israel, extraordinarily well-qualified Jew. 

Here are Mr. Friedman’s positions – which are widely shared by the American people, the Jewish communities in America and Israel:

The fact that radical extremist groups, some of whom are hostile to Israel, are trying to derail Mr. Friedman’s well-deserved nomination is another reason why Mr. Friedman should be confirmed.  

Mr. Friedman’s Support for Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem is Overwhelmingly Shared By the American People As Well As Israeli Jews: 

Upon the announcement of his intended nomination ​in December, Mr. Friedman stated that he looked forward to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship and working for the cause of real peace “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”   (“Trump’s Ambassador To Israel References ‘Embassy In Israel’s Eternal Capital, Jerusalem,” by Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 16, 2016.)   Israel is the only country in the world in which the U.S. embassy is not located in the country’s designated capital.  J Street’s opposition to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is a fringe view. 

Like Mr. Friedman, Americans and Israelis overwhelmingly support moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.   For instance:

  • The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, Public Law 104-45 (Nov. 8, 1995) recognized that Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since 1950, reaffirmed that Jerusalem must remain undivided, and required the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem.  Congress passed this bipartisan law almost unanimously (95 to 3 in the Senate, and 374 to 37 in the House).
  • Americans overwhelmingly support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.  In the 2014 McLaughlin & Associates poll, to the question, “Do you believe that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel?” a clear majority of 55% of Americans replied that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel, as opposed to a mere 13% who believe it should not (over a 4 to 1 ratio).
  • Congressional bills to remove the President’s waiver authority and to require the President to finally implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, such as the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2015, and similar bills in 2013 and 2011, have received large bi-partisan co-sponsorship.

Mr. Friedman’s Realism and Flexible Approach to Achieving Peace, and Opposition to Imposing Solutions, Is Shared By Americans Including American-Jews and the Israeli Public:

Ambassador-nominee David Friedman’s realistic and flexible approach to achieving peace, his view that there are a variety of potential approaches, and his view that the U.S. should not impose solutions on the parties, is widely shared.   Effective negotiations, true diplomacy, real peace and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship require the open-minded, flexible approach of Ambassador-nominee Friedman.  Americans are not wedded to the idea that creating a Palestinian-Arab state is the only solution.  For instance:

  • A new Gallup poll (taken February 1-5, 2017) found that only a minority of Americans (45%) favor establishing a Palestinian-Arab state.  The poll also found that 62% of Americans say they sympathize more with the Israelis versus 19% with the Palestinian-Arabs.  (“Americans Tepid on Palestinian Statehood,” by Lydia Saad,Gallup, Feb. 13, 2017.) 
  • American Jews widely acknowledge that the real Arab goal is Israel’s destruction – not a peaceful Palestinian-Arab state.  The 2015 AJC (American Jewish Committee) Survey of American Jewish Opinion (random national sample of 1,002 Americans who are Jewish or identify themselves as Jews) found that an overwhelming majority, of approximately three-quarters of American Jews agree with the statement:  “The goal of the Arabs is not a peaceful two-state agreement with Israel, but rather the destruction of Israel.”  (73.1% agreed; 25.1% disagreed.)  
  • Americans widely acknowledge that a Palestinian-Arab state would support terrorism, would be hostile to Israel, and would not be peaceful.   A 2014 McLaughlin & Associates poll found that “by a ratio of 3.5 to 1 (58% to 17%), Americans believe any future Palestinian Arab state would be hostile to Israel and support terrorism.”   (“To the question, ‘Do you think that if a Palestinian Arab state were established, it would live peacefully with Israel or would it be hostile to Israel and support terrorism?’ 58% of Americans reply that a future Palestinian state would be hostile and support terrorism, whereas only 17% think it would live in peace with Israel.”)
  • The Israeli people overwhelmingly oppose a Palestinian-Arab state. An October 2014 poll by the highly respected Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs found that 75% of Israeli Jews oppose the creation of a Palestinian state (versus only 18% in favor; in other words, more than 4 to 1 oppose a Palestinian state).  And that was before the recent wave of terror in which Palestinian-Arab terrorists murdered 40 innocent Israelis (and Americans) and wounded over 500 innocent Israelis – a grisly reminder of the dangerous consequences of creating a Palestinian /Hamas/Iran/ISIS terrorist state.
  • The overwhelming majority of Israeli cabinet members oppose a Palestinian-Arab state; Likud stated that “any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremist and terror organisations supported by Iran.”    (See “The Two-State Solution is Dead; Just Ask Israel’s Own Ministers,” Al Jazeera, May 27, 2015; also see statements of Israeli officials “In Their Own Words.”)   As ZOA has repeatedly pointed out, a Palestinian-Arab state would be an Iran/Hamas/ISIS terrorist state that endangers Israel’s existence.   Arab polls show that Hamas would win Palestinian Arab elections.  (“Poll: Hamas will win the Palestinian Elections,” Israel Nat’l News, Aug. 28, 2016.)  A Palestinian Arab state in Judea/Samaria would be another Gaza; rockets would rain down on all of Israel.

The unanimously adopted 2016 GOP platform on Israel states: “The United States seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region. We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms…”

Only three prior GOP platforms supported a “vision” of a Palestinian Arab state; however this support was conditional, and the Palestinian Arabs never met the stated conditions. The 2004 GOP platform stated that “for such a vision to become a reality, Palestinians need a new leadership, not compromised by terror” and required the Palestinian-Arabs to “embrace democracy and the rule of law, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror” before the U.S. would support a state.   The 2008 GOP platform and 2012 GOP platform contain similar conditions.  The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to honor terrorists as martyrs, pay terrorists reward blood money, incite deadly stabbing and car ramming attacks against innocent Jewish civilians, and includes designated terrorist groups in its government.  Thus, these platforms did not support a Palestinian State under the current circumstances.  These platforms also did not call for imposing a Palestinian Arab state. 

Mr. Friedman’s Support for Jewish Communities in Judea/Samaria Promotes Israel’s Security and is Widely Shared:

  • Americans Overwhelmingly Support the Right of Jews to Live in Judea/Samaria a/k/a the West Bank:  In the 2014 McLaughlin & Associates poll, to the question, “Do you believe that Israeli Jews should have the right to live in settlements in the West Bank, in part to self-defend Israel’s borders, or should only Palestinian Arabs have the right to live there?” 47% of Americans stated that Israeli Jews should have the right to live there, whereas only 14% of Americans believe only Palestinian Arabs should have the right to live there (over a 3 to 1 ratio).
  • Even for a Permanent Settlement, Only a Tiny Percentage of American Jews Believe that All Settlements Should be Dismantled:  In the 2015 AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion, only 14% of American Jewish respondents stated that as part of a permanent settlement with the Palestinian Arabs, Israel should Israel be willing to dismantle all of the Jewish settlements in the “West Bank.”   (And this was only 12% in the 2013 AJC survey.)  Over 39% in 2015 and 43% in 2013 (over 3 times as many) stated that Israel should not dismantle any Jewish settlements in the “West Bank” as part of a permanent settlement. 
  • Moreover, the phrase “Jewish settlements in the West Bank” is a “loaded” term that de-Judaizes these areas and implies that Jewish homes and communities and cities there lack permanence.   If the AJC survey had used the accurate phrase “Jewish cities and communities in Judea and Samaria” – or “Jewish cities and communities in Judea and Samaria, areas that Jews have the right to live under international law,” it seems likely that even more American Jews would have stated that no Jews should be uprooted and evicted from these areas of the Jewish homeland.
  • State Anti-BDS Laws Support Jewish Businesses in Judea/Samaria:  Recently-passed U.S. states’ anti-boycott laws, which received overwhelming support, recognize that Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria should not be discriminated against.   For instance, the Illinois anti-BDS law defines “Boycott Israel” to mean “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”
  • The Federal Trade Law Supports Jewish Businesses in Judea/Samaria:  Congress has also recognized that Jewish businesses in Judea/Samaria should not be discriminated against.  The bipartisan federal Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 – which the House and Senate passed overwhelmingly seeks to prevent discrimination by the EU against Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria by so conditioning a trade agreement with the EU.   Similar to the Illinois anti-BDS bill, the federal Act defines “Boycott of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel” to mean “actions by states, nonmember states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel.”

In sum, Mr. Friedman’s positions reflect those of the American people, American-Jews, Congress and common sense.   The Soros-funded anti-Israel group J Street’s attempt to paint Mr. Friedman’s views as “outside the pale” is false and simply another Orwellian J Street smear campaign designed to advance J Street’s dangerous anti-Israel agenda.