David Friedman's nomination for United States Ambassador to Israel, which is to be voted on in the Senate on March 1, has provided many headlines – not least of which is Senator Marco Rubio's speech of support for Israel and against the two-state solution.
Friedman was grilled by several Senators on Feb. 16, and was called on in particular to defend remarks that he has made in the past.
One Senator, however – former Presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) – took the opportunity not only to ridicule the need to do this, but to explain concisely why the U.S. should support Israel whole-heartedly and why a Palestinian state is not currently a realistic option.
Senator Rubio began his remarks by telling Friedman he finds it "unreal" that the latter is being put through this "ordeal" of having to account for isolated remarks he has made in the past.
"In particular, given some of the groups that are ratcheting all this up - for instance, J Street, which a few years ago invited Saeb Erekat to address their conference – a person who has justified the [terrorist] murder of Jews as self-defense. This is a group that has routinely attacked people who hold my views, with content that I, frankly, find to be a smear and mischaracterization of our positions…"
Rubio also told Friedman that the many in the State Department are misguided regarding the United States' role in the Middle East.
He said that Friedman is confronting what "I believe is this orthodoxy among many of the people in the State Department and among the so-called 'smart people' in American foreign policy, [who believe] that somehow the U.S. needs to be a fair and balanced arbiter in the Middle East. I don't understand that view, I really don't. First of all, my view is that Israel is our strongest ally in the region, and in addition to the moral obligation that we have to protect the right of the Jewish People to a homeland, especially one founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust, they also happen to be the only pro-American, free-enterprise democracy in the region. That alone is reason enough to be strongly aligned with them."
Rubio added that he finds it "startling" that he very rarely hears "all these so-called professionals in the State Department and the foreign policy elite… stand up and speak vociferously about the sorts of activities that are being conducted by some in the Palestinian leadership – yet they are never, never reluctant to lead the efforts to condemn Israel time and again. And this is what you're going to confront when you are confirmed, in terms of some in the State Department."
Senator Rubio took the opportunity to explain why a Palestinian state is not a viable option at this time.
"There's also this misconception that continues to be spread around that you somehow have issued a wholesale rejection of the so-called two-state solution. I think you've already testified today that in a perfect and ideal world, you would have two independent states – a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, living peacefully side by side. The problem is that there are significant impediments to that – perhaps the least of which is the existence of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. For example, I would say that one of the biggest obstacles to [this solution] was the efforts by the previous administration to pressure Israel and to impose on it a settlement outside the bounds of what the Jewish people in Israel support and what is in their interests. I would further say that a bigger impediment is the unwillingness of the PA leadership to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state –and that is the key phrase; not just Israel's right to exist, but to exist as the homeland for the Jewish People. That is a big impediment to a deal, because how can you negotiate a peaceful existence with a neighbor who does not recognize your right to exist? What are you negotiating – the terms of your destruction? I think that's a much bigger impediment.
"Or how about the wholesale systematic indoctrination of young Palestinians to hatred? The justification of the murdering of Jews begins sadly, tragically, outrageously, at a very young age. I think that's a pretty big impediment. And you know what's another impediment? The international efforts to impose on Israel a negotiated solution along the terms that other countries think are appropriate. That's a big impediment… And another one is the incitement to violence by PA leaders; this is not widely-reported, because it doesn't make it into their English-language press releases. But when they go around justifying these [terrorist] attacks, when they dedicate monuments to so-called martyrs who are actually nothing but terrorists, when they spread ridiculous rumors about what the Israeli government is going to do on the Temple Mount or the Dome of the Rock - these things incite violence; I view these things as bigger impediments than all the others. "
Rubio concluded by saying that he believes Friedman is actually not absolutely opposed to a two-state solution, but "that at this moment, given the circumstances in the world and in that region, it is not likely to have the [desirable] outcome… and the worst thing we can do is to impose on our most important ally a deal that is bad for their security and their future."