Donald Trump's Israel ambassador said Jews who back two-state solution are worse than Nazi collaborators

David Friedman also wants to move embassy to Jerusalem and has accused Barack Obama of anti-semitism

Jon Sharman
Friday 16 December 2016 10:41 GMT
US President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event in Wisconsin
US President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event in Wisconsin (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Donald Trump's pick as ambassador to Israel has described Jewish Americans who advocate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as "far worse" than those who policed their fellow Jews in Nazi concentration camps.

Bankruptcy lawyer David Freidman made the comments in a column in which he also accused President Barack Obama of "blatant anti-semitism" for allegedly failing to condemn what he said were stabbing murders of Jews by Islamic radicals.

Mr Trump's team named Mr Friedman as ambassador on Thursday evening. In a statement the President-elect said he was "long-time friend and trusted advisor" who would be "be a tremendous asset to our country".

In his column, published on earlier this year, Mr Friedman attacked the moderate Jewish lobby group J Street.

He wrote: "Are J Street supporters really as bad as kapos? The answer, actually, is no.

"They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps.

Donald Trump's controversial cabinet

"The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one?

"But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas – it’s hard to imagine anyone worse."

J Street's president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, tweeted: "Trump's pick of Friedman for Israel Amb is anathema to values that underlie US-Israel relationship. We'll fight this with all we've got."

The organisation said: "This nomination is reckless, putting America's reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk."

Following his appointment Mr Friedman said: "I am deeply honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by President-elect Trump.

"I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem."

The US embassy is in Tel Aviv because of diplomatic reasons relating to Jerusalem's significance in all three major Abrahamic faiths, though there is a consular office in the city.

Mr Trump said: "His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East.

"Nothing is more critical than protecting the security of our citizens at home and abroad."

Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations, said Friedman's nomination "was designed to send a signal that there will be significant break in tone, style and perhaps substance from the Obama administration" in its handling of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Presidential candidates have in the past promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and then reneged, deciding ultimately that the city's status should first be resolved by parties to the conflict.

In early December, Mr Obama renewed the presidential waiver, signed by every US president for the past two decades, against moving America's embassy to Jerusalem for another six months. It effectively means any action by Mr Trump would be delayed until at least June.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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