Saturday, December 17, 2016

Trump Continues To Find The Worst Possible Nominees For Everything. Next Up: Ambassador To Israel


The Vladimir Putin cheering squad

What if Trump nominated... let's say... Pam Geller to be ambassador to Israel? Who would stop Miss McConnell from ramming her through the confirmation process? Don't ask me why Trump passed over Geller, but he seems to have found some just as loathsome, No, not Ann Coulter. We don;'t know what Trump has in mind for her. But some crony of his, David Friedman, a lawyer who counseled him on how to cheat stakeholders in his myiad bankruptcy cases was just named ambassador to Israel. I'm sure Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are wagging their tails.

Right after the election, the Jerusalem Post reported that Hillary Clinton had won a landslide victory-- among American Jews. "With 68% of Jews voting Clinton and 28% voting Trump, the results were comparable to those four years ago, when 68% voted for President Barack Obama against 31% for Mitt Romney." When I was growing up in Brooklyn, everyone was Jewish in my neighborhood and everyone was a Democrat. There were rumors that there were some rich Jews not far away who were Republicans and who supported the U.S. War against Vietnam. I never met any. Apparently The Donald did. He's nominating an unhinged Jewish crackpot and far right fanatic, David Friedman, to be the American ambassador to Israel. He's further right than Netanyahu and some say-- though not I-- that he might have some trouble being confirmed by the Senate.

Matthew Rosenberg, writing for the NY Times yesterday described the odious Friedman as "a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust." Friedman, who has no diplomatic experience, has instead a first goal-- moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem instead of Tel Aviv.

The Guardian was even harsher-- and more realistic-- towards Friedman, who they reminded their readers is all for more settlements on Palestinian land and fervent in his opposition to a two-state solution and who called President Obama an anti-Semite. I wonder how many Senate Democrats are going to vote to confirm this bloodthirsty warmonger. If the Adelsons were asked tp create their ideal ambassador in a lab they probably wouldn't have come up with someone as extreme as Friedman!
He said he was looking forward to taking up his post in “the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” indicating Trump’s determination to overturn years of US policy and move the embassy from Tel Aviv. The change would be a potentially explosive gesture in the Middle East, as the status of Jerusalem is one of the issues in the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Also controversial is Friedman’s presidency of the American Friends of Bet El Institutions, an organisation that supports a large illegal West Bank settlement just outside Ramallah.

His links with Bet El, along with recent revelations that the family charity of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, gave money to one of the West Bank’s most hard-line ideological settlements, suggests the settler movement will have an unprecedented number of advocates in the heart of Washington.

Announcing the appointment in a statement, Trump said: “[Friedman] has been a long-time friend and trusted adviser to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East.”

The announcement appears to have caught Israeli analysts by surprise. The Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev said Friedman made Israel’s rightwing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, “seem like a leftwing defeatist.”

“From where Friedman stands,” he said, “most Israelis, never mind most American Jews, are more or less traitors.”

Friedman disagrees with the general international consensus that the settlements are illegal and he opposes a ban on settlement construction on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

He wrote in the Jerusalem Post during the US election campaign that Israel would feel “no pressure” under a Trump administration. “America and Israel will enjoy unprecedented military and strategic cooperation, and there will be no daylight between the two countries,” he said.

In a column for the Israel National News website, he compared the liberal Jewish US lobby group J Street to concentration camp prisoner-guards and described its supporters as “smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas-- it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”

He went further at the Saban forum earlier this month, saying J Street’s supporters were “not Jewish, and they’re not pro-Israel.”

The J Street president, Jeremy Ben Ami, said in a statement on Thursday: “J Street is vehemently opposed to the nomination of David Friedman. This nomination is reckless, putting America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council tweeted: “Trump must stand for a strong US-Israel relationship and take it seriously. [There] hasn’t ever been a less experienced pick for US ambassador to Israel.”

Lara Friedman, of Americans for Peace Now, tweeted: “I don’t know about the Palestinians, but I know Jews who truly care about Israel’s security, democracy & place in the world are outraged.”

Like Trump, Friedman is an admirer of Vladimir Putin, and has portrayed the Russian president as fighting Islamic State in Syria despite little of the Russian war effort being focused on Isis.

“Vladimir Putin gets it,” Friedman wrote in November last year. “He may be a ‘thug,’ as he was recently described by Senator [Marco] Rubio, but he knows how to identify a national objective, execute a military plan, and ultimately prevail.”

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