Over 600 Rabbis and Cantors Sign Petition Opposing David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Friedman's confirmation hearings are due to begin on Thursday.

David Friedman arrives at a private fundraiser for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Manhattan borough of New York City, June 21, 2016.
David Friedman arrives at a private fundraiser for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Manhattan borough of New York City, June 21, 2016. MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

More than 600 American rabbis and cantors have signed a letter expressing their opposition to the appointment of David Friedman as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to begin confirmation hearings on Friedman’s appointment Thursday morning.

In their letter, the rabbis and cantors ask that either President Donald Trump withdraw the nomination, or alternatively, that the Senate reject it. The letter expresses concern about Friedman’s “denigration of American Jews who believe differently from him and his policy positions that we believe run contrary to the interests of the United States and Israel.”

The signatures were collected by a coalition of progressive organizations deeply opposed to Friedman’s appointment, including J Street, T'ruah, New Israel Fund, Ameinu, NCJW, Partners for Progressive Israel and Americans for Peace Now.

The letter is signed by rabbis representing all the Jewish movements, among them well-known social activists.

The letter mentions Friedman’s description of members of J Street, a pro-Israel anti-occupation group, as “worse than kapos” – a reference to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. It also notes his support for the West Bank settlement movement and his opposition to a two-state solution, which “are in conflict with our views and the majority of American Jews.”

“Mr. Friedman’s apparent inability to speak respectfully about and to people with whom he disagrees, and his advocacy of extreme policies which threaten the future of Israel and run contrary to American interests are both sufficient reasons to disqualify Mr. Friedman's nomination,” the letter states. “He is the wrong choice to serve as our nation’s Ambassador to Israel.”

J Street is launching a separate campaign, urging opponents of Friedman to write their senators and demand that they reject his nomination. Never before has the appointment of an American ambassador to Israel been the subject of so much controversy.