David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador designate to Israel, is expected to face some tough questioning during the Senate confirmation hearings on his appointment. While those hearings have yet to be scheduled, they are expected to take place within the next few weeks.
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Friedman’s views on the Middle East represent a sharp departure from longstanding U.S. State Department policy. He is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel’s settlement movement and rejects the notion of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although the new administration has yet to spell out its position on the issue, the White House said in a statement last week that settlement expansion, while not an impediment to peace, “may not be helpful” to achieving that goal.
Friedman serves as president of a fundraising organization that pumps a few million dollars a year into the radical West Bank settlement of Beit El. A bankruptcy lawyer, he has no experience in foreign diplomacy.
Opposition to his appointment within liberal circles appears to be as much related to matters of style as of substance. Friedman has called members of J Street, the pro-Israel and anti-occupation group, “worse than kapos” (a reference to Jews who collaborated with Nazis) and described the Anti-Defamation League, one of the most prominent Jewish organizations in the United States, as “a bunch of morons.”
Progressive Jewish organization and activists have been lobbying against his appointment, though the chances it will be blocked are small: It could only happen if all the Democrats, as well as at least three Senate Republicans, vote against him.
To facilitate the confirmation process, Haaretz has prepared a list of 10 questions those participating in the confirmation hearings might consider asking Friedman: