President Trump has little room for niceties, either in the White House or in the real estate business. But according to reports, he always made an exception from his usual gruffness to accommodate the Sabbath observance of David Friedman, his new ambassador to Israel.
It’s that closeness that has conservatives hopeful that he will push the White House to the right on Israel, and liberals horrified at the same prospect.
“One of the things Israel has been so successful in cultivating over the years is a sense of bipartisanship … with respect to support both from within the political elites and also within the broader American community,” David Kurtzer, a former ambassador to israel under George W. Bush, told McClatchy.
“It would be horrendous for friends of Israel, who may not agree with some Israeli policies but still want to support Israel, to have it become a Republican-Democratic issue,” he said.
“David has had a long-standing, very legitimate relationship with the president. Not a professional ‘you’re my attorney, not my peer,’ but a mutually respectful relationship, which I think is probably pretty rare for the president,” an unnamed source close to the White House orbit told McClatchy.
Early in the administration, it is unclear how much this personal relationship will influence Trump, who has so far been erratic on issues like West Bank settlements and peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
But Dan Shapiro, former President Obama’s ambassador to Israel, claims that has not been the case at this point. “So far the approach on the question of Israelis and Palestinians, how others in the region can be involved in creating a productive regional atmosphere, has been much more cautious, much more responsible, much closer to historical norms of U.S. policy than on almost any other issue,” he said.