With Only Two Democrats Voting in Favor, Senate Confirms David Friedman as Next US Ambassador to Israel
Attorney David Friedman was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday to be the next US ambassador to Israel.
President Donald Trump’s nomination of Friedman was approved by a 52-46 vote. Only two Democratic senators – Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Joe Manchin of West Virginia supported the confirmation.
“We strongly applaud the Senate in approving David Friedman as our next ambassador to Israel,” the Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement. “As someone deeply versed in the issues affecting the region, as well as being a long time confidant of President Trump, Mr. Friedman will be an effective and important voice representing the United States. With Mr. Friedman as our new ambassador, there is no question that the relationship between the US and Israel will grow stronger.”
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) also hailed the Senate vote, with Pastor John Hagee — CUFI’s founder and chairman — saying that Friedman was “the right man for this extremely challenging post.”
“We look forward to working with Amb. Friedman and the entire Trump team to advance our shared goal of strengthening the US-Israel relationship,” Hagee went on to say.
Zionist Organization of America National President Morton A. Klein said, “This is a great day for America, Israel, the Jewish people, and Amb. David Friedman. He will be the most pro-Israel pro-America ambassador to Israel in history. He is the first US ambassador to Israel that has a realistic, rational view of the issues affecting all the parties there.”
Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer tweeted, “Congratulations to David Friedman! Looking forward to working closely with you to make the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”
Congratulations to David Friedman!
Looking forward to working closely with you to make the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.
— Amb. Ron Dermer (@AmbDermer) March 23, 2017
Liberal J Street, which lobbied vehemently against Friedman during the confirmation process, stated it was “heartened by the unprecedented level of opposition David Friedman faced in being narrowly confirmed as US ambassador to Israel. Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them. The strong opposition to Friedman made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making.”
Earlier this month, as reported by The Algemeiner, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Trump’s nomination of Friedman by a 12-9 margin. In that vote, Menendez was the sole Democrat who backed Friedman.
Many left-wing Jewish groups came out against the Friedman appointment, in part due to past controversial comments and positions, including his slurring last year of J Street supporters as “far worse than kapos” — Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.
For the first time ever, the Union for Reform Judaism last month publicly expressed opposition to an ambassador appointment.
At his mid-February confirmation hearing, Friedman said he regretted his use of “inflammatory language” during the presidential campaign. He also clarified his position on the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it the “best possibility for peace.”