Jewish activists are lining up their troops for the battle over confirming David Friedman as America’s next ambassador to Israel.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on Friedman Thursday and even though he is likely to win the confirmation, liberal groups are launching a full court press to try and block the pro-settlement, anti-two-state solution bankruptcy lawyer from becoming Trump’s top diplomat in Israel.
J Street, which Friedman had compared to “kapos,” Jews who collaborated with the Nazis, is working with a coalition of Jewish liberal organizations to convince senators to vote against Friedman’s confirmation. The coalition includes Americans for Peace Now, T’ruah. Ameinu, the New Israel Fund, National Council of Jewish Women and Partners for Progressive Israel. On Tuesday, the coalition is holding a national call-in day, urging their activists to call the offices of their senators and speak out against Friedman’s confirmation.
Groups opposing Friedman are also collecting signatures on a petition and are targeting Democrats who may be on the fence and some Republicans that could be swayed to vote against the party line.
On Monday, a group of over 600 rabbis and cantors signed a letter asking President Trump to withdraw Friedman’s nomination. “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 stated. “He is the wrong choice to serve as our nation’s Ambassador to Israel.”
Pushing back in favor of Friedman’s confirmation is the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has urged its members to take action and contribute funds for countering liberal Jewish efforts. “We cannot allow these radical liberals to drag David’s name through the mud, simply for disagreeing with J Street’s dangerous policies,” RJC wrote its members last week. The Zionist Organization of America is also mobilizing its supporters in favor of Friedman. “David Friedman is the right choice!” ZOA [wrote(http://zoa.org/2017/01/10349087-zoa-and-pjtn-action-alert-please-call-your-senator-to-support-trumps-pro-israel-nominee-for-u-s-ambassador-to-israel-david-friedman-and-moving-the-u-s-embassy-to-jerusalem/) to its members.
Most senators have yet to speak out about Friedman’s confirmation. But an analysis published in Haaretz Monday points to the conclusion many Jewish advocates have been stressing for weeks - it will be difficult, if not impossible, to derail Friedman’s confirmation. Republicans are, for most, strongly supportive of his nomination and it is even not clear whether all Democrats will vote against his confirmation.
AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby, has not taken any official position regarding Friedman’s choice as ambassador to Israel.
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman