David Friedman confirmed: Man who said liberal Jews worse than Nazi collaborators to be US ambassador to Israel

Democrats claim that he lacks the temperament for such an important diplomatic post

Richard Lardner
Thursday 23 March 2017 20:00
David Friedman has been a staunch defender of Israeli settlements
David Friedman has been a staunch defender of Israeli settlements

A fervent supporter of Jewish settlements and opponent of Palestinian statehood has been confirmed as the next American ambassador to Israel, by the Republican led US Senate.

David Friedman, Donald Trump's choice for the role, will now take up the role after senators voted largely along party lines, 52-46 to approve his nomination.

Democrats, who claimed that he lacked the temperament for such an important diplomatic post, were unable to block his appointment to the role.

The son of an Orthodox rabbi, Mr Friedman has been a fervent supporter of Israeli settlements and an opponent of Palestinian statehood. He has also staunchly defended Israel's government

A combative attorney who once worked as Mr Trump's bankruptcy lawyer, his nomination generated strident opposition from many Democrats. T

hey pointed to Friedman's past verbal attacks against people with opposing viewpoints on Israel and argued he lacked the temperament for such an important diplomatic post.

Sen. Al Franken said Mr Friedman's "past conduct demonstrates that he lacks the tools one needs to be a good diplomat."

Mr Friedman sought to use his confirmation hearing in February to apologise for using inflammatory language and pledged to be "respectful and measured" if confirmed.

During that hearing, he acknowledged he deserved criticism for incendiary comments that targeted former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, liberal Jewish advocacy groups and others.

Mr Friedman had called one group, J Street, "worse than kapos" — a reference to Jews who helped the Nazis imprison other Jews during the Holocaust. He also accused Mr Obama of "anti-Semitism."

Republicans said Mr Friedman's atonement satisfied them.

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Friedman an "impassioned advocate" for strengthening bonds between the United States and Israel.

Mr Corker said Mr Friedman "understands the complexity of the issues at stake for the US and the necessity to support a democratic ally in an important and unstable part of the world."

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