David Friedman Is Unfit to Be Ambassador to Israel

, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 31 Jan 2017

DavidFriedman

Donald Trump’s first ten days in office have resulted in a whirlwind of policies that have led to major protests, from blocking refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, to ordering a wall built on the US-Mexico border, to moving forward with the Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipelines, to name just a few.

Amid his flurry of Executive Orders, you may have missed the fact that on Inauguration Day, Trump formally submitted to the Senate his nomination of David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel.

In case you haven’t heard of Friedman, here’s what you need to know:

He personally identifies with Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian land and raises millions of dollars each year to fund an Israeli settlement.

He opposes Palestinian exercising sovereignty over any portion of their historic homeland and speaks approvingly of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

And he’s an ardent advocate of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s claims to sovereignty over the entire contested city.

These extremist views and actions contradict decades of stated bipartisan US policy. Our ambassador to Israel must uphold US opposition to Israeli settlements, not represent Israel’s settler movement.

Contact your Senators today to tell them that David Friedman is unfit to be Ambassador to Israel and urge them to vote against his nomination.

And after you do so, please spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Here are a few select quotes illustrating Friedman’s extremist views:

  • The idea of a Palestinian state is a “damaging anachronism. It is a discussion of an illusory solution in search of a non-existent problem.” Friedman conspiratorially holds that US support for Palestinian statehood is part of a “scam” designed to “access the wealth of the Persian Gulf.”
  • “As a general rule, we should expand a community in Judea and Samaria,” Friedman writes, using the Biblical terms for the West Bank, “just like in any other neighborhood anywhere in the world. Until that becomes the primary consideration for development, how can we expect to be taken seriously that this is our land?”
  • According to Friedman, President Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry were guilty of “engaging in ‘blatant anti-Semitism’” because, in his view, they did “little more than condemn the proverbial ‘cycle of violence.’”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of Friedman’s extremism. For additional reasons why Friedman should be disqualified from serving as US Ambassador to Israel, please check out our new policy memorandum.

Thank you for contacting your Senators to oppose David Friedman’s nomination to be Ambassador to Israel.

Sincerely,


JOSH RUEBNER
Policy Director

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A Dangerous Road to Education

Dear Friends,

It is absolutely bizarre to be watching Trump’s policies of hatred unfold from inside Palestine — here where ANY traveler or foreigner finds herself overwhelmed by kindness and hospitality. If we find ourselves at a loss to imagine resisting over the long haul we should take courage from these schoolchildren who for the past THIRTEEN YEARS have required a military escort in order to reach their school safely in the face of settler violence and intimidation. We have a long long road ahead!

Thank you so much for helping me to spend this time working here — and for all your efforts to stop the madness in the US!!!

Mary House of Hospitality

The second semester of school has just started for these children, and Operation Dove has compiled the following report of the challenges faced by the children during the first semester.

A DANGEROUS ROAD TO EDUCATION

Palestinian students under settler violence and military negligence
SUMMARY OF THE 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR – 1ST SEMESTER
Period: 2016/08/28 – 2017/01/10
Full report here: http://tuwaniresiste.operazionecolomba.it/a-dangerous-road…/

Children from the Palestinian villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed began the first semester of the 2016-17 school year with Israeali soldiers escorting them to their school in the nearby Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. This is the thirteenth continuous year that these children have needed a military escort in order to walk to school safely.

To get to school the children must walk along a road which once provided easy travel between the villages, but which now runs between the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. For the past thirteen years violent behavior by settlers from the outpost, the existence of which is illegal under both Israeli and International law, has made the road inaccessible to Palestinians. Even escorted by Israeli soldiers the schoolchildren continue to face the possibility of violence, harassment and intimidation as they walk to and from school.

During the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year an average of eight children between the ages of six and 16 walked with a military escort to and from school in the Palestinian village of At- Tuwani. Under Israeli Knesset Committee for Children’s Rights order, the military escort is responsible for protecting the children from settler violence and intimidation throughout their walk to school in the morning, and their return trip home in the afternoon.

Even with a military escort the walk between home and school remains difficult for the children of Tuba and Maghyir al Abeed. During the first semester of the 2016-17 school year the escort arrived late 23 times (in the morning) out of a total of 88 monitored school days. As a result the children missed a total of 7 hours of school (441 minutes).

Operation Dove volunteers reported an even greater incidence of late arrival by the escort in the afternoon, forcing the children to arrive home late and to lose their free time waiting. On 33 out of 88 school days (37%) the children were forced to wait in At- Tuwani after school for the arrival of the escort. During the first semester they waited for a total of more than 27 hours (1630 minutes).

The meeting points with the military escort, for both the morning and the afternoon walk, are very close to the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on, and as a result, when the escort is late, the children must wait where they are vulnerable to settler violence and harassment. During the first semester of the 2016-17 school year the children waited for the escort at these dangerous meeting points for a total of 35 hours.

During the first semester the military escort failed to arrive on four occasions, once in the morning and three times in the afternoon. These incidents constitute extremely serious failures on the part of the escort to adequately protect the children. The children cannot use the road without the presence of the soldiers, due to the danger of settler attacks. In previous years, when the escort has failed to arrive, the children used an alternative footpath which runs around the outside of the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. However settlers from the illegal outpost have now built a new structure near the path, some distance from the outpost, making this path nearly impassable. The presence of this structure and an increased level of settler violence and intimidation of Palestinians using this path has made it too dangerous for the children, and as a result they must now take a much longer route between school and home if the soldiers fail to arrive. This longer path takes between 45 minutes and one hour, and is extremely difficult, especially for the youngest children. Even on this longer path the children are vulnerable to violence and harassment from settlers. During the first semester the children used this longer route on three of the four occasions on which the escort failed to meet them.

In one case the escort failed to meet the children after school because the soldiers did not know the location of the meeting point, which has been unchanged for thirteen years. The schoolchildren began to take the longer route, even though it is also dangerous for them if they are unaccompanied. They found the soldiers on the path and reached the village of Tuba safely, escorted by Israeli soldiers under strong pressure of Operation Dove volunteers.

In all four of these cases the Israeli soldiers gave no reasonable explanation for their failure to meet the children, either to Operation Dove volunteers or to the children themselves.

MILITARY ESCORT MISCONDUCTS

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Violence: the language of a Jewish state

Jonathan Cook Blog, January 19, 2017

(copyright: Keren Manor)

Here is another image that conveys the situation of Palestinians – these ones Palestinian citizens of Israel – more completely than any words. The man on the ground is Ayman Odeh, a member of the Israeli parliament, the head of the Joint List, the third largest party in the parliament, and the highest-ranking Palestinian politician in Israel.

Israeli police have just shot him with rubber-tipped bullets, not once but twice – including to the face. Odeh is one of the least confrontational politicians among Israel’s large Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population. His message is consistently one of peace and amity between all Israeli citizens, whether Jews or Palestinians. That does not seem to have protected him from the shoot-first, ask-questions-later approach of Israel’s security forces towards Palestinians.

This image should be as shocking as seeing a bloodied Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn crawling in the dirt, watched impassively by US or UK police.

Context is important too. Odeh had joined the 1,000 inhabitants of Umm al-Hiran – all Palestinian citizens of Israel – early this morning in a demonstration to stop demolition crews destroying the 150 homes of their village in the Negev. Israel allowed these families to move to the area of Umm al-Hiran in the 1950s after it had driven them from their original, and much more substantial, lands during the Nakba. The pretext then for expelling them was that Israel needed their ancestral lands for an exclusively Jewish kibbutz.

That all occurred during a military government that ruled over Israel’s Palestinians for nearly two decades. More than 60 years later, exactly the same thing is happening again, but this time in front of the cameras. Umm al-Hiran is being destroyed so that an exclusively Jewish community, with the same name of Hiran, can be built over these families’ homes. Israel never issued Umm al-Hiran with a master plan, so now it can be declared illegal and its inhabitants called “squatters” and “trespassers”. The families are being ethnically cleansed a second time – not during hostilities or in a time of war, but by their own state in a time of peace.

They are far from alone. Thousands of other families, and their villages, face the same fate.

The truth is nothing has changed from the 1950s. Israel still behaves as if it is ruling militarily over its Palestinian citizens. It is still a Jewish state, one that privileges the rights of Jewish citizens over Palestinian “citizens”. It still treats all non-Jews as a threat, as an enemy.

Israel is not a normal kind of state. It is an ethnocracy, and one driven by an ideological variation of the ethnic nationalisms that tore apart Europe a century ago.

Odeh is a leader who campaigns for peace and equality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. Today, he got his answer. His place is bruised, bloodied and bowed, crawling through the dirt. This is the language of a Jewish state.

Israel as the Lights Go Out

In America there is always a domestic political reason for not doing the right thing on Israel-Palestine. It’s ugly, but then ugliness is having its day.

ROGER COHEN, The New York Times, January 17, 2017

Elon Moreh, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, seen from the Palestinian village of Azmout, last week. (Credit: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The bizarre burst of diplomatic activity on IsraelPalestine in the waning days of the Obama administration has been tantamount to an admission that, on this subject, things only get said too late and when they no longer mean anything. The rest of the time political cowardice in the form of silence prevails.

In a matter of weeks we have had a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel to “immediately cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory;” a long speech by Secretary of State John Kerry setting out the Obama administration’s parameters for a two-state peace agreement and defending the American abstention that allowed the U.N. resolution to pass; and a Paris peace conference that urged Israelis and Palestinians, neither of them present, to take concrete steps to get the two-state idea off life support.

None of this piety will change anything on the ground, where settlements continue to grow, the daily humiliations that constitute Palestinian life continue to accumulate, and the occupation that will mark its 50th anniversary this year continues to entrench itself. The only possible change will come with President-elect Donald Trump, whose dalliance with moving the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem amounts to pyromania, and whose choice of ambassador, his sometime lawyer David Friedman, suggests hard-line American support for Israeli settlements.

Trump’s thirst for the “ultimate deal” in the Holy Land could not be more far-fetched, however much his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, hones his skills with Henry Kissinger. There’s nobody and nothing to work with after a half-century of moral corrosion and progressive estrangement.

Speaking of Kushner, I was told he refused to meet with a senior French diplomat after a demand from Trump Tower that the Paris conference be canceled was ignored. Get used to my-way-or-the-highway diplomacy with team Trump.

U.N. resolution 2334 infuriated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who called it “shameful.” He seemed surprised that ignoring Obama’s veto of an earlier settlements resolution in 2011 would have consequences. Obama ran out of patience because, despite his forbearance, Israel went right on planning housing for tens of thousands more settlers while absorbing “more than one half of our entire global foreign military financing,” in Kerry’s words. Gratitude is not Netanyahu’s forte.

There was little new in the resolution, given America’s consistent opposition to settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, over several decades. In fact, the twinning of criticism of Israel with condemnation under international law of “incitement” — a reference to persistent Palestinian practice — was among the fresher elements. Still, the language was sharp. The resolution called on states to distinguish “in their relevant dealings” between Israel and “the territories occupied since 1967”; and it declared that “The cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-state solution.”

I doubt that solution remains viable. But let’s be clear on the settlements. They may or may not constitute a primary cause of the conflict, but they do demonstrate Israel’s decades-long commitment to building in a way that makes a viable Palestinian state impossible. You cannot be a Palestinian in the West Bank watching the steady growth of Israeli settlements, outposts and barriers without concluding that Israel’s occasional murmurings about a two-state peace are mere camouflage for a project whose objective is to control all the land in perpetuity without annexing it. Annexation would be awkward; some 2.75 million Palestinians would demand the vote. Better to play games and let millions of strangers squirm.

Kerry’s speech was almost three years in the making. He should have made it in April 2014, when his diplomacy collapsed. Obama said no. There were the midterms, then there was the Iran deal to negotiate, so better not to anger Israel further, and finally there was the U.S. election in November. In America there is always a domestic political reason for not doing the right thing on Israel-Palestine.

It’s ugly, but then ugliness is having its day.

Kerry finally set out the terms of a two-state peace: secure borders based on the 1967 lines with agreed land swaps; a state for the Jewish people and a state for the Palestinian people where the rights of all citizens (Arabs in Israel, Jews in an eventual Palestine) are upheld; a just solution for Palestinian refugees including compensation and acknowledgment of suffering but without changing “the fundamental character of Israel” — so only very limited return to Israel proper; Jerusalem as “the capital of the two states;” a demilitarized Palestinian state, a full end to the occupation after an agreed transition, and elaborate Israeli security guarantees; an end to the conflict and all outstanding claims along with broader peace for Israel with all its Arab neighbors and a regional security partnership.

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TAKE ACTION: Congress to Vote on Pro-Settlement Resolution!

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 04 January 2017

By now you’ve probably heard that President Obama—after waiting eight years and watching Israel’s settler population increase by more than 100,000—finally did something about Israel’s unrelenting colonization of Palestinian land.

On December 23, the United States abstained on UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which reiterated that Israeli settlement activity “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” This abstention allowed the resolution to pass, 14-0.

The resolution is consistent with fifty years of stated bipartisan US opposition to Israeli settlements and recapitulates the international community’s longstanding consensus on this issue. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that the resolution “does not break new ground.

Nevertheless, some Members of Congress are indignant that the Obama administration allowed the resolution to pass, even though it doesn’t even threaten to sanction Israel if it refuses to comply.

Tomorrow, as one of its very first acts of business in the new 115th Congress, the House of Representatives will vote on H.Res.11 objecting to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and the Obama administration’s abstention.

And from what we’re hearing, the Senate will soon be voting on its own version of a similar resolution.

Call your Members of Congress right now and urge them to oppose these Congressional resolutions, which are designed to protect and promote Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian land.

    Rep. Pocan Madison: 608-258-9800
    Rep. Pocan DC: 202-225-2906
    Sen. Baldwin Madison: (608) 264-5338
    Sen. Baldwin DC: (202) 224-5653
    Sen. Johnson DC: (202) 224-5323

We may not be able to stop these resolutions from passing, but Members of Congress who oppose Israeli settlements need to hear from their constituents to give them the political backing they’ll need to speak and vote against them.

Click here for talking points that you can use in your phone calls and for text of the House resolution (the Senate version isn’t publicly available yet).

After the UN vote, Secretary Kerry explained: “If we had vetoed this resolution just the other day, the United States would have been giving license to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose.”

These Congressional resolutions are designed to provide Israel the license it seeks to continue its illegal colonization of Palestinian land.

Thanks for taking action today to prevent that from happening.

Sincerely,

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Diana Buttu & Gideon Levy on Israeli Settlements, Kerry, Military Aid & End of Two-State Solution

Democracy Now! December 30, 2016

Guests
Diana Buttu — attorney based in Palestine. She has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel. She was previously an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Gideon Levy — Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. His new article is titled "UN Resolution is a Breath of Hope in Sea of Darkness and Despair." Levy is also the author of The Punishment of Gaza.

Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted Israel’s government, saying in a major address on Wednesday that the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threatens Israel’s democracy and has all but ended the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians. "If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic; it cannot be both," Kerry said. "And it won’t ever really be at peace." Kerry’s speech followed intense Israeli criticism of the U.S. for refusing to veto a Security Council resolution last week. The measure condemns Israel’s expansion of settlements as a flagrant violation of international law. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote. The U.S. abstained. We speak to Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu and Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a Haaretz columnist.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted Israel’s government, saying in a major address Wednesday that the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threatens Israel’s democracy and has all but ended the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. The truth is that trends on the ground—violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation—they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary Kerry’s speech followed intense Israeli criticism of the U.S. for refusing to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution last week. The measure condemns Israel’s expansion of settlements, a flagrant violation of international law. The resolution passed in a 14-to-0 vote. The U.S. abstained. Kerry insisted the U.S. had not abandoned its longtime ally, but said Israeli democracy would not survive under a single state.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: But here is a fundamental reality: If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic; it cannot be both. And it won’t ever really be at peace.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was willing to resume peace talks in exchange for a halt to settlement construction. This is chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

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Kerry harshly condemns Israeli settler activity as an obstacle to peace

Secretary of State John F. Kerry speaks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the U.S. decision to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settler activity in the West Bank. (Andrew Harnik-Associated Press)

Carol Morello, The Washington Post, December 28, 2016

Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Wednesday offered a harsh and detailed assessment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying their growth threatens to destroy the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the United States was obliged to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning the activity in order to preserve the possibility of peace.

Kerry noted that the number of Israelis living in settlements has grown significantly and that their outposts are extending farther into the West Bank — “in the middle of what by any reasonable definition would be the future Palestinian state.”

“No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of the threat settlements pose to peace,” he said.

Kerry, in the hour-long speech delivered at the State Department, also condemned Palestinian incitement to violence as a barrier to direct negotiations. But his focus was on defending the Obama administration’s policies and highlighting Israel’s actions at a moment of high tension between the two governments, following the passage of the U.N. resolution.

U.S. Department of State

“Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles — even after urging again and again that the policy must change,” he said. “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.”

He said the vote at the United Nations was about “Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve, for our sake and for theirs.”

Although he did not mention Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by name, he addressed head-on the Israeli leader’s assertions that the United States had “colluded” and “orchestrated” last week’s U.N. resolution affirming that settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution.”

Kerry denied that the United States drafted or promoted the resolution, and took a swipe at the rhetoric coming from Israeli leaders.

“It will be up to the Israeli people to decide whether the unusually heated attacks that Israeli officials have directed toward this administration best serve Israel’s national interests and its relationship with an ally that has been steadfast in its support,” he said. “Those attacks, alongside allegations of a U.S.-led conspiracy and other manufactured claims, distract and divert attention from what the substance of this vote really was about.”

Kerry acknowledged that his vision is not shared and is unlikely to be followed by President-elect Donald Trump.

“President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path, and even suggested breaking from long-standing U.S. policies on settlements, Jerusalem — and possibly the two-state solution,” Kerry said. “That is for them to decide — that’s how we work. But we cannot, in good conscience, do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away. This is a time to stand up for what is right.”

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Israel rejects ‘shameful’ UN resolution amid criticism of Netanyahu

“Resolution 2334 shatters the [Israeli] government-induced illusion that the settlement project has been normalised, that it passed the point of no return, that it is now a fait accompli that will remain unchallenged”

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, 24 December 2016


Israel’s ambassador to UN rejects ‘shameful’ resolution to halt Israeli settlements

Jerusalem — Israel has responded furiously to a UN security council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, recalling two of its ambassadors to countries that voted for the motion and threatening to cut aid.

The security council adopted the landmark resolution demanding Israel halt all settlement building and expansion in the occupied territories after Barack Obama’s administration refused to veto the resolution on Friday.

A White House official said Obama had taken the decision to abstain in the absence of any meaningful peace process. The resolution, which passed by a 14-0 vote, was met with loud applause in the packed chamber after the US ambassador, Samantha Power, abstained.

The move was immediately condemned as “shameful” by the office of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. A spokesman pointedly referred to Israel’s expectation of working more closely with the US president-elect, Donald Trump.

On Saturday Netanyahu said Israel would reassess its ties with the UN and had ordered a review of the funding of UN institutions and the presence of UN representatives in Israel.

“I have already instructed to stop about 30m shekels (£6.3m) in funding to five UN bodies that are especially hostile to Israel … and there is more to come,” he said, without giving any further details.

The security council last adopted a resolution critical of settlements in 1979, with the US abstaining then too. The US vetoed a similar resolution in 2011, which was the sole veto cast by the Obama administration at the security council.

US abstains from UN vote to end Israeli settlement building

Amid emerging criticism of the handling of the vote by Netanyahu, whose manoeuvres were seen as an attempt to sideline Obama and his administration, Israel ordered action against a number of countries.

The response included the recall of the Israeli ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal, who voted for the resolution, the cancellation of a planned visit by the Senegalese foreign minister to Israel in three weeks’ time, and the cancellation of all aid programmes to Senegal.

New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully, said his country’s vote should have been no surprise to Israel. “We have been very open about our view that the [security council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long-established policy on the Palestinian question,” he said.

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