Special interview:
David Friedman: We left the world a better place

Trump's Amb. speaks with Arutz Sheva about his term. "We aligned ourselves clearly with Israel, sovereignty was delayed not canceled"

Yoni Kempinski ,

Former Ambassador David Friedman
Former Ambassador David Friedman
Arutz Sheva

History will be “kind” to the Trump administration, former United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Arutz Sheva, despite the administration’s “tumultuous end”.

In a special interview with Arutz Sheva released on Tuesday, Friedman lauded the Trump administration, while expressing concerns about the first foreign policy steps taken by the Biden administration.

“I think it was a tumultuous end to the administration, and people are focusing on the last few weeks. But ultimately, with time, things will settle down and people will look at the Trump administration for what it accomplished over the past four years.”

“I really believe history will be kind to our policies. We left the world a better place. We left America in a stronger place. I think the American economy was left in a good place, and we left America in a position where it could defend against the coronavirus.”

“Right now it is a raw period in American politics, but with the passage of time, history will be kind to the Trump administration.”

How much were these four years different in terms of bipartisan support for Israel?

“They were completely different than anything we’ve seen in the past. Our view was fundamentally different.”

“Rather than this notion of evenhandedness, which essentially kept everything stuck in the mud, we would align ourselves clearly, unapologetically, with our closest ally in the region, the State of Israel, and build on that to build alliances with as many peace-loving parties as we could. Just as an approach that was completely different.”

“The results speak for themselves. We made peace deals with five Muslim nations in the period of just a few months at the end of the term.”

Should we be worried about the next four years?

“We should be a little concerned. I’m not going to attack the Biden administration based on who they are. I wish we would have been given that courtesy when we came in because we were attacked from day one on the basis of who we were rather than what we did. I’m going to wait and see what they do to criticize.”

“We should be concerned because this is very much a reenactment of the Obama foreign policy team. That is of concern if they replicate the Obama foreign policy.

What about the decision to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council?

“That’s a bad policy. There’s no sugar coating that. Who are the leaders right now of the UN Human Rights Commission? China, which puts its Muslim population, the Uyghurs, in concentration camps; Russia which has just jailed Navalny; Cuba, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world.”

“Who are some of the past leaders of the UNHRC? Syria, Iran. This is a terrible idea. What is the only single permanent country on the agenda? Israel.”

“It is broken, it is a farce, the height of hypocrisy, and it is unfixable.”

What should Israel do at this point? Keep a low profile or go head to head with the new administration?

“America is a critical ally of Israel. Americans in general and most people in the administration recognize the importance of Israel as an ally – it’s not just a one-way street, that America is important to Israel. Israel is very important as well to America, to our security, to our safety, even our prosperity.”

“It is not that our two nations have major differences in strategy, it is more a difference of tactics.”

“I’m going to be optimistic that things are going to work out.”

Why didn’t sovereignty happen after the Deal of the Century plan?

“Probably in those early hours there was a disconnect on timing, not on substance, but on timing.”

“You remember the president spoke about the importance of a mapping committee to complete its work. It is not simple going from a conceptual map included in the papers to a yard-by-yard map of how the sovereignty would be recognized. It did take some time and there were some differences on the timing, but I think everyone was on the same page.”

“Why didn’t it happen? It didn’t happen because the opportunity to normalize with the Emirates was perceived by the United States, and I hope by most of the people in Israel as well, to be a paramount opportunity. We can see now that it was not only a great opportunity, but it led to so much more.”

Sovereignty was delayed or cancelled?

“No. We were clear on that from day one. It was delayed. The actual word we used was ‘suspended’. Look it up in a dictionary. It is pretty clear that it was temporal.”

Are the Abraham Accords over for now?

“No, I think this is something which is dynamic and needs to be continue to be nurtured and advanced.”

“Not only do we want to strengthen the alliances that have been created, we want to scale those alliances to other countries and to deeper relations with countries that have normalized.”

“To some extent that can be done outside of government.”

At some official events you were spotted without your kippah [headcovering]. Why?

“I’ve always tried to keep my religious observance – not to deny it, but also not to advertise it when I was acting in a representative capacity.”

You said you’re writing a book. What is a major take away from what you’re writing?

“Understanding where the Trump administration’s support for Israel came from.”

“Obviously it is in America’s best interests in terms of its security and prosperity. But it also comes deeply from the Judeo-Christian values that formed our nation.”

“We as Americans have a deep recognition of the role of Israel, and in particular of Jerusalem and the prophets who walked the roads thousands of years ago” played in creating the values at the heart of the American ethos.

“That’s a message that we tried to deliver, and now that I’m out of government, I can be more candid about it.”



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