Another US Ambassador Who Financed a West Bank Settlement
JNS.org – Israel’s critics are all abuzz over the news that David Friedman, the US ambassador-designate to Israel, is connected to a handful of apartments in a Jewish settlement.
Yet many of those same critics are fully aware that a previous US ambassador apparently was directly involved in giving money to a settlement. Yet nobody said a word about the previous ambassador’s actions — either at the time, or since.
Why the double standard?
The supposed “revelation” concerning ambassador-designate Friedman is that a grand total of 20 apartments in the town of Beit El will be built with the assistance of American Friends of Beit El (AFBE); Friedman is the group’s chairman. (Full disclosure: I have financially contributed in a very small way to AFBE.)
Friedman’s support for Beit El is hardly a secret. He has been completely open and transparent about his backing for Beit El. In fact, his name is on several buildings in Beit El that he helped fund.
In other words, there’s no reason for anyone to be surprised that the American Friends group is helping with the construction of apartments in the town. There’s nothing illegal, inappropriate or in any way newsworthy about these 20 apartments, or Friedman’s connection to their construction.
I question the motives of those who are now criticizing Friedman, because none of them said a word when the aforementioned previous American ambassador to Israel had a settlement connection of his own.
I’m going to spare that diplomat the public embarrassment of stating his name. But it was widely known that one of his children was living and studying for the year in a prominent settlement. Consequently, the ambassador periodically visited that settlement.
It’s also reasonable to assume that the ambassador made tuition payments to the settlement. I suppose it’s conceivable that his child received a full scholarship, but that seems rather unlikely — and could have been clarified if even one journalist had bothered to ask him. As far as I can tell, nobody ever did.
Why? Because there was one very big difference between that ambassador and ambassador-designate Friedman. The earlier ambassador was a vocal proponent of Israeli territorial surrender. He criticized and pressured the Israeli government to make more one-sided concessions to the Palestinians.
I don’t know if the specific concessions he demanded included Israel ultimately surrendering the settlement where his child was living and studying. If so, I guess that would have been rather hypocritical, but we may never know the full story about that.
Friedman, by contrast, is known for opposing Israeli concessions. That makes him the enemy in the eyes of most of the news media. That’s why he is being smeared and demonized. They want Jews evicted from the territories en masse. They want the Palestinian Authority to have control over at least some of Jerusalem. And Friedman doesn’t.
Of course, editors and reporters have every right to hold opinions. They have a right to sympathize with the Palestinians, and to hate Friedman as much as they loved the previous ambassador. But they have no right to pretend to be neutral observers. They have no right to claim that they are not partisan. And they have no right to assert that Friedman’s connection to a settlement is news, when they themselves covered up a previous ambassador’s connection to a different settlement.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.