Trump has decided the New York-based attorney David Friedman Thursday to represent the United States in Israel. Friedman, who maintains a residence in Jerusalem, is known for hard-line views that depart from decades of established American policy and in some cases are to the right of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Trump team is arguing that this choice will help shore up the US-Israel relationship, which has been strained by differences between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. Israel has sought international recognition of Jerusalem as its capital for decades, and the issue is one of the most emotionally resonant with Israeli citizens and many Jews worldwide.
Jason Greenblatt, who, with Friedman, was a co-chair of Trump’s Israel Advisory Committee, said Friedman “is a wonderful choice to serve as the United States ambassador to Israel.” He added that Friedman “has tremendous passion for and devotion to Israel. David’s appointment is proof positive that President-elect Trump will be a true friend to Israel.”
Friedman’s appointment and a rightward shift in policy could also deepen rifts within the American Jewish community, Malka said, because he “is associated so closely with pro-settlement and rightwing causes in Israel, which is ideals which are at odds with the majority of the American Jewish community.”
Friedman has been openly contemptuous of the liberal Jewish organization J Street, which openly favors a two-state solution, calling them “worse than kapos,” a reference to Jews who worked with the Nazis during World War II to guard prison camps.
But there are also many American Jews — increasing Orthodox and right-leaning politically even as the vast majority remains Democrats — who welcome the appointment of someone they see as an unabashed supporter of the Jewish state.
“The selection of Mr. David Friedman to serve as United States Ambassador to Israel sends a powerful signal to the Jewish community and the State of Israel that President-elect Trump’s administration will strengthen the bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region,” the Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement.