Reform Movement declares war on David Friedman

US Reform movement publicizes statement claiming Friedman has 'extreme views' on Israel and 'lacks qualifications' to be ambassador.

Uzi Baruch, JTA ,

David Friedman in Senate confirmation hearing
David Friedman in Senate confirmation hearing
Reuters

The Reform movement in the US publicized a statement on Friday stating that they oppose David Friedman's appointment as US Ambassador to Israel.

One day after the launch of Senate hearings to confirm Friedman, Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs released the statement saying Friedman is "the wrong person for this essential job at this critical time."

"There is no doubt that Friedman loves Israel and has a close relationship with US President Donald Trump, but these are not the necessary qualifications for a US ambassador to Israel. Friedman's background and temperament are liable to cause a rift instead of unity," they wrote.

The statement also says Friedman lacks the qualifications for the position, noting he has never been involved in professional foreign policy issues "other than as a zealous partisan and financial supporter of settlement activity."

"Mr. Friedman’s views on key issues suggest he will not be able to play a constructive role," said the URJ statement. "The U.S. Ambassador to Israel has the important responsibility of advising, shaping, and helping implement the President’s foreign policy goals.

"Indeed, it appears that Mr. Friedman’s extreme views on key issues related to the two-state solution, Israel’s borders, settlements, and the location of the U.S. Embassy are already reflected in the White House. Such positions are detrimental to peace and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship."

The statement also made note of Thursday's confirmation hearing, during which Friedman said there was “no excuse” for his past rhetoric targeting liberal Jews, and which was interrupted at least three times by leftist protesters.

"Just as we are critical of Mr. Friedman’s lack of diplomatic temperament, we wish to distance ourselves from the protesters who repeatedly interrupted his hearing," the URJ statement said.

Despite the URJ statement, Arutz Sheva learned that the Reform movement's sentiments are not shared by all Jews who identify with the movement.

Meretz MK Issawi Frej told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to reject David Friedman as US ambassador over his "connections" to "illegal building" in Beit El.

"If the Senate approves David Friedman's appointment, I will demand President Reuven Rivlin reject Friedman until he agrees to stop supporting illegal settlements build on Palestinian land," Frej said. "It cannot be that Israel will accept a foreign ambassador who was involved in illegal activities in Israel. This is a clear conflict of interests and we cannot allow it. Friedman must choose between supporting criminals and representing the friendship between the US and Israel."

Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer and long-time Trump confidant, has been noted for his staunch support of the State of Israel and the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria.

Friedman is the President of "Beit El Yeshiva Institutions" in America and has written op-eds for Arutz Sheva. He is a close friend of former National Union head MK Yaakov Katz.



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