David Friedman, Trump's Pick for Israel Envoy: Liberal Jews Haven't Been pro-Israel Force in U.S.

In newly revealed video from November, Trump's choice for U.S. ambassador to Israel, boasts about his role in erasing two-state solution from Republican Party's platform.

David Friedman prepares to testify before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, February 16, 2017.
Yuri Gripas, Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee for the post of ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said on the eve of the 2016 election that liberal Jews in the United States have not been "a pro-Israel force in this country," and questioned whether Jews who "don't view the Torah as God-given legacy" had much in common with other Jews, who are more observant and supportive of Israel.

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Friedman made the comments in a gathering on November 7th, a day before Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. CNN released a video of his speech on Thursday, a week after his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during which he expressed regrets for other controversial comments he made during the elections. The video has since been deleted.

In the pre-election event, Friedman said that "the liberal Jewish community has not been a friend, not been a pro-Israel force in this country." He added that "when you don't support Israel, when you don't support traditional Jewish values, when you don't view the Torah as God-given legacy, no matter how religious you are, if you don't have those views, you know you don't really have much in common."

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Friedman also boasted in the meeting about his success last summer to erase any mention of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Republican Party's platform. "We put together a platform that frankly, by a wide margin, is the most pro-Israel of either party in the history of this country. There is no longer a reference to a two-state solution," he said. Friedman added, however, that the reason he believes the two-state solution to be out of reach, is that "there will never be a two-state solution until the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state and renounce violence."

In his appearance before the Foreign Relations Committee last week, Friedman expressed a somewhat similar position, stating that while he thought the two-state solution was the best theoretical solution to the conflict, it was impossible to reach at the current stage because of the positions of the Palestinian leadership. Friedman also said during the hearing that if, as ambassador, he will need to carry out U.S. policy to support the evacuation of settlements by Israel, he will do so as part of his job. 

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One past remark that had come to haunt Friedman was his reference to supporters of J Street, a left-leaning Jewish group, as "worse than Kappos" - Jews who assisted the Nazis during the Holocaust. Friedman said he regretted making that remark during his hearing last week. At the November event, he also talked about J Street, and said: ""J-Street is a great thorn in our side, everybody's side," he said. "They do tremendous damage because they purport to speak for the Jewish people, and they don't, and frankly their board is more than half Arab. They are a dangerous, dangerous organization."