For California Jewish Democrat Brad Sherman, a staunch supporter of Israel in Congress, it’s more about what David Friedman believes in than about where he will sit as ambassador to Israel.
In an interview with the Forward on Wednesday, Sherman made clear that while he supports the call by Friedman and by president-elect Donald Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the ambassador-designate’s rejection of a two-state solution should alarm senators when they debate his confirmation for the post.
“The policy of trying to box in Netanyahu and force him out of the two-state solution, which is the official policy of his government, is not something that the Senate is going to want to see,” Sherman said. “What we don’t need is someone playing a foreigner’s role in Israeli politics, trying to egg on Israeli into a belief that somehow they can announce to the world that they are permanently going to govern millions of Palestinians but somehow not let them vote.” Sherman compared the idea of abandoning the two-state solution to similar notions raised in the past by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The next ambassador to Israel, Sherman added, should be someone who acts as “an honest, low key, diplomatic source of communication” between the two countries.
Sherman is the sixth Jewish Democratic member of Congress to speak out against Friedman’s appointment as ambassador to Israel. On Wednesday, California’s Alan Lowenthal said that Trump’s choice of Friedman “does damage to our credibility and makes peace more difficult.”
Sherman, however, found one key point of agreement with Trump and Friedman - relocating the embassy to Jerusalem. “It makes sense,” he said, noting that the site of the future embassy is clearly in West Jerusalem in an area that had always been under Israeli control. “People will get over it and realize the silliness of this controversy once the embassy is moved,” Sherman predicted.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz 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.