Another Troubling Appointment…

Another troubling appointment has been made by President-elect Donald Trump. For U.S. ambassador to Israel, he has selected one David Friedman. Among other things: Friedman is the President of an organization (the American Friends of Beit El) which supports the continued building of Jewish settlements in the disputed, occupied territories most of the world believes belongs to the Palestinians; he opposes the two-state solution which would provide a homeland for the Palestinian people; and he supports moving the capital of Israel from Tev Aviv to Jerusalem (a position Trump himself has advocated).

Why are these bad ideas? Israeli settlements provide “facts on the ground” which makes is ever more difficult to negotiate land for peace in any eventual  peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. Giving up on the two-state solution which has been the constant position of the United States (and, additionally, by virtually all Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith communities) for nearly half a century. It is the only way forward for a just and secure peace in the region. Finally, moving Israel’s capital to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv risks further politicizing the Holy City of Jerusalem which many of us believe should always remain an international holy place, a city which the three Abrahamic faiths call sacred.

It is hard to fathom what kind of international outcry would result from these actions should they be taken or the depth of anguish sown in the hearts of Palestinians, Christian and Muslim alike. If frustration at the slow pace of justice and peace in the Land of the Holy One has led to violent outbreaks and multiple “intifadas” in the recent past, one can only view with apprehension the future under a President Trump and Ambassador Friedman.

As if these matters were not serious enough, like so many of Trump’s appointees thus far, Friedman is completely unqualified. A bankruptcy lawyer, he has absolutely no diplomatic experience and has long been identified with Israel’s far right and openly critical of pro peace, pro Israel organizations like J Street who he has likened to Jews who aided the Nazis in the Shoah (Holocaust)! This is an “ambassador?” I cannot imagine what Donald Trump was thinking when, out of an incredibly rich store of qualified candidates, he appointed this naive and deeply biased individual to represent the United States in this most volatile part of the world.

My fear is that he was not thinking. No one questions the fact that the President-elect is smart. But, if you refuse to receive adequate foreign policy briefings and to take advantage of the collective wisdom of Republican and Democratic administrations which go back at least to the Second World War, you cannot possibly make good decisions.

The appointment of David Friedman as ambassador to Israel will hardly make the headlines or catch the attention of most Americans. But it will speak volumes around the world to the dangerous path this country is about to take. Dear friends, never have we needed to pray together these words from Psalm 122, and to pray them with fervency:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:/May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls/ and quietness within your towers.

For my brethren and companions’ sake,/ I pray for your prosperity.

2 Responses to “Another Troubling Appointment…”

  1. Sandra HARRISON Says:

    Thank you for your continued thoughtful commentary. I wish your words would be read by all Americans. I fear for us.

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