Nominee For US Ambassador to Israel Should Set Off Alarm Bells

by Mitchell Plitnick

With his nomination of attorney David Friedman as the new United States Ambassador to Israel, President-elect Donald Trump has sent a very clear message that he intends to shift U.S. policy away from its decades-long commitment to ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. That commitment represents not only a strong American political consensus, but an overwhelming international consensus as well.

Friedman’s views can only be described as radical. He is an avowed opponent of the two-state solution, which he has called “an illusion that serves the worst intentions of both the United States and the Palestinian Arabs.” He supports the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, which security experts have warned would be a needless provocation that could further inflame the region, and has described the State Department (which, should he be confirmed, he will be working for) as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. He has called supporters of the pro-Israel, pro-peace group J Street “worse than kapos” (these were Jews who served as middlemen for the Nazis in World War II), and heads fundraising for one of the most radical pro-settler organizations in the world.

Friedman’s approach to the issue of peace is clear enough: whatever Israel’s right-wing government wants, the United States should give, and Israel alone will decide what the Palestinians will get. According to Friedman, “the Israelis have done a magnificent job of balancing their internal needs for security, which no other nation in the world has, against their incredible track record of granting human rights to their entire population.” Friedman’s statement clearly contradicts every human rights organization in the world, including in the United States and Israel, as well as the State Department. It also suggests a troubling detachment from the reality of the conflict on the ground.

Friedman is the President of the American Friends of Beit El Institutions organization, a non-profit that raises some $2 million per year for the Beit El settlement. Significant portions of the money raised go to the yeshiva (Jewish religious school) in Beit El, headed by Rabbi Zalman Melamed. Rabbi Melamed has stated that evacuating settlements is a sin against Jewish law.  During the Israeli withdrawal of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, Melamed even went so far as to call on soldiers to disobey orders to evacuate settlers.

Friedman, then, is not just a supporter of settlement expansion, but of the most radical elements in the settler movement. If Friedman’s nomination is an indication of Trump administration policy on Israel-Palestine, the United States is going to deepen the conflict in which Israelis and Palestinians are embroiled. This risks seriously damaging US interests in the region, further violating Palestinians’ basic human rights, and compromising Israeli security.

Republished, with permission, from the Foundation for Middle East Peace blog.

Photo: PALESTINE, BI’LIN, Apr 4, 2008, Palestinian protesters along with international and Israeli peace activists condemn the Israeli Wall and illegal confiscation of the land of Bilíin, a village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. /Photo by Zack Baddorf/ZUMA Press/IPS

Mitchell Plitnick

Mitchell Plitnick is a political analyst and writer. His previous positions include vice president at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, director of the US Office of B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace. His writing has appeared in Ha’aretz, the New Republic, the Jordan Times, Middle East Report, the San Francisco Chronicle, +972 Magazine, Outlook, and other outlets. He was a columnist for Tikkun Magazine, Zeek Magazine and Souciant. He has spoken all over the country on Middle East politics, and has regularly offered commentary in a wide range of radio and television outlets including PBS News Hour, the O’Reilly Factor, i24 (Israel), Pacifica Radio, CNBC Asia and many other outlets, as well as at his own blog, Rethinking Foreign Policy, at You can find him on Twitter @MJPlitnick.



  1. Does one assume David Friedman anticipates that Israel will create “Bantustans” in the West Bank, in order to avoid giving Israeli citizenship to too many Muslims?

  2. Well, look on the bright side: the “US-mediated peace talks” were always nothing but a smokescreen for Israeli settlement expansion.


    Better that this policy be acknowledged as the farce that it is and was.

    The excuses for Israel’s behaviour will now be this: it does what it wants, and what it wants is…. everything.

    That at least has the virtue of honesty.

  3. What is the matter with the U.S.? Do our politicians really want to make us a province, a satrapy of Israel, the most brutal, lawless,, pernicious state in all of the Middle East? Are American congress persons so cowardly that they will willing to support the most egregious, violent behavior of Israel because they are afraid that the highly organized Jewish community will pour enough money into his opponent to ensure the loss of his seat in congress? Is any freaking American so greedy, so vain, do desirously of fame and the spotlight that they will commit any wrong to maintain their dishonored seat?
    I have little faith that America will survive as a country that “tries” to do right even if it is mistaken.

  4. The position of the extremist faction represented by Friedman should be understood more clearly, particularly as it is about to become the policy of the United States.

    And what is not understood is their position does not assume that Israel will become majority non-Jewish on the annexation of the West Bank.

    This is because their plan includes a solution for that problem.

    The deportation of the population of the West Bank and Gaza is an integral part of their plan for Israel.

    This is why such people stare blankly when you ask how they intend to deal with the issue of Jews being outnumbered inside their version of Israel. They don’t intend for that to happen. They have a fix for it. Palestinians will be “sent” to Jordan. “Back” to Jordan.

    The world has to come to terms with the fact that there is an end game, and there is an end point, and it does not involve either bantustans or apartheid. Friedman and his kind should be confronted and made to admit that this is the plan. They mean to export all the Palestinians, and make the world take care of the problem for them.

    And this is about to become the policy of the United States.

  5. One must assume most of the fanatical annexationists think Israel can avoid annexing areas of the West Bank with too many Muslims.

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