Opponents of David Friedman’s candidacy to be President Trump’s envoy to Israel cite his support for Jewish “settlements” in Yehudah and Shomron, his harsh utterances against leftist groups such as J Street, his lack of diplomatic experience and the fact that he owns a home in Yerushalayim.
Supporters of David Friedman’s candidacy to be President Trump’s envoy to Israel cite his support for Jewish “settlements” in Yehudah and Shomron, his harsh utterances against leftist groups such as J Street, his lack of diplomatic experience and the fact that he owns a home in Yerushalayim.
Yes, that’s where things are holding. Friedman, an Orthodox Jewish attorney with children living and learning in Israel, is a principled man with a penchant for speaking his mind. It is why he is equally loved and hated for the same reasons.
It is also precisely why the Orthodox community, which has traditionally not involved itself in national matters, must break with tradition and make it known that we are 100 percent in favor of Friedman’s candidacy to represent the United States in the Holy Land.
For several reasons.
Young children playing in the concrete-and-mortar filled inner cities of Brooklyn and Lakewood have developed their own methods of keeping themselves entertained, such as with games like punchball, dodgeball and soccer.
One of the most fearsome rules self-prescribed for these games is “own teammate!” — or the fact that a member of one of the teams has admitted that a teammate was in the wrong. For best results, the procedure should be done while screaming in unison, fingers pointed outward in some gesture of awesome culpability on the other side.
The universally respected schoolyard rule has, in recent years, been picked up by the big boys. Bear us out:
America’s pro-Israel community has traditionally run the gamut from the far right to the center left. With former President Obama’s ascension to the White House in 2009, a new dimension was added to the mix — that of the far left “pro-Israel” crowd, such as J Street. With a gobbledygook rulebook of platitudes, they converted what had always been an anti-Israel position into some sort of “pro-Israel, pro-peace” stance.
This strange new character, however, has yet to find an issue on which they support “Israel” over “peace.” Up and down the list, from the Iran nuclear deal to the anti-Israel U.N. resolution, J Street and their conjoined twins check the boxes on the left.
But all their only use is for a leftist administration to be able to stab Israel in the back and yell, schoolyard style, “Own teammate!” See? Even the Jews agree.
As many have noted, an ambassador does not make policy, he’s merely the point man in smoothing out the rough edges. So, do the positions behind the position count? Does the mix of historical knowledge, raw talent and principled views behind David Friedman’s nomination mean anything?
Yes, they do. For one, it shows where President Trump’s heart is. Secondly, an Ambassador Friedman would give the Israeli government a pair of ears very close to the president. And finally, by going over the fierce opposition of the so-called “pro-Israel, pro-peace” community, Mr. Trump makes it clear that there is not such thing.
Here’s another tidbit for thought: When former presidents Bush and Obama appointed leftist envoys to Israel, there was no outcry from the left that they were out of the mainstream. It is understood that a president is entitled to the team he wants. Let the left and right trade places every few years.
Well, a few years have passed and then some. It’s the right’s turn for a seat at the table. Are not the tens of millions of Americans who believe passionately in Israel’s historic right to Yehudah and Shomron not authorized a power play for once?
This should not be a difficult choice. After all, we have a self-described “Schumer Yisrael” in the Senate. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, repeated at this year’s Satmar dinner that he would live up to his nom de guerre in the Trump administration. A good way to start is by leaving politics out of the U.S.-Israel relationship and working to confirm — not throw obstructions at — David Friedman. And his constituents should remind him of the basic requisites of being a shomer Yisrael.
An even more important reason is, it allows the Orthodox community a say in who talks for us. For too long, spokesboards and spokesprompters have been the ones cited as our voice. By vocally defending and pushing for David Friedman it shows the senators who are expected to confirm him on Thursday that the opinion of Orthodox Jewry may not be the loudest kid on the block, but it’s there and worth listening to.