President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was anything but routine.
It turned into an all out circus as Friedman tried to answer tough questioning from lawmakers while he kept getting disturbed by heckling from protesters at his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
One activist blew into a shofar and was heard saying before being escorted out of the room, the Times of Israel reported. Earlier, a protester held up Palestinian flags and chanted, “We were there, we are there, and we will always be in Palestine.”
In his remarks, Friedman apologized for some of the inflammatory statements he has made in the past, including accusing former President Barack Obama of anti-Semitism and calling supporters of the liberal Jewish lobby J Street “kapos,” the term for Jews who cooperated with Nazis during the Holocaust.
“Some of the language that I used during the highly charged presidential campaign that ended last November has come in for criticism and rightfully so,” Friedman said. “While I maintain profound differences of opinion with some of my critics, I regret the use of such language.”
Friedman said he would welcome an Israeli-Palestinian agreement “through direct negotiations along parameters agreeable to them…I would be delighted to see peace come to this region where people have suffered on both sides for so long.”
“I have expressed my skepticism solely on the basis of my perception of the Palestinians’ failure to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state,” Friedman added.
Friedman also said that the Palestinians have failed to end their incitement against Israel, which was a key requirement of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
“We haven’t made progress since then. In the aftermath of Oslo, terrorism has increased four-fold,” he said.
Not all Senators were opposed. Friedman received some very powerful testimony from both middle of the road Senator Lindsey Graham and former Senator Joe Lieberman as well as Senator Marco Rubio. Graham said that while he has some policy differences with Friedman, Trump’s nominee “is the right guy at the right time. He’ll be Trump’s voice. Trump won the election.”
Former senator Joe Lieberman introduced David Friedman as a good friend and said that he spent many Shabbosim with the Friedman family as the Friedman’s hosted them in their guest suite every time they would come to visit their daughter who lived in a tiny one bedroom Woodmere apartment with 2 young children which was not conducive to Lieberman and his wife staying over.
Lieberman said that Friedman is “a patriotic, proud” American who “knows a lot about Israel and cares deeply about its relationship with the United States,” .
Lieberman also addresses Friedman’s past comments on left-wing Jewish groups, whom he has called “kapos.”
“Has David ever said or written anything that he now wishes he could rephrase or hadn’t said at all? I think he has. Who hasn’t?” Lieberman said.
He asks committee member to consider Friedman’s candidacy “in the larger context of his life, his character, his capability and his deep desire to serve his country.”
Senator Marco Rubio, defended Friedman and dismissed the notion that Friedman needed to distance himself from his passionately held beliefs. Rubio argued the U.S. should be unashamedly pro-Israel.
(JNS.org contributed to this article)