A Third Intifada? David Friedman Sounds Like a Jewish Donald Trump - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Third Intifada? David Friedman Sounds Like a Jewish Donald Trump

I knew my good friend David Friedman from high school; we see each other at periodic high school reunions. Two years after high school, I met another David Friedman and soon his father, my hero — the legendary Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. As editor of The New Guard, YAF’s magazine, I enlisted  David to write a regular libertarian column.

Now there is a third David Friedman, designated by President-elect Donald Trump to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel. I feel like I know him. He is plain spoken, no-nonsense, thus obviously unqualified.

Within an hour of the announcement, Jeremy Ben Ami, head of J Street and President Obama’s favorite Chanukah Party guest, opposed Friedman’s nomination. Confused? K Street is where the lobbyists are, whose swamp Trump intends to drain. J Street is an organization of Jewish surnames; their Judaism certified by deli attendance, unless they are vegetarians. J Street is, it claims, “pro-Israel”; it is also pro-Keith Ellison for DNC Chair; oxymoronic.

Have you seen the movie Son of Saul?

“The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one,” Friedman wrote six months ago. “But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas.”

This guy sounds like a Jewish Trump. No wonder they get along.

Trump accepts Friedman’s position that there can be no progress on a Palestinian state “until the Palestinians renounce violence and accept Israel as a Jewish state.” This is a harder line than Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu who would come to the table “without any preconditions.”

“The two-state solution might be one answer, but I don’t think it’s the only answer anymore,” Friedman wrote two months before Trump’s nomination. More recently the politically incorrect lawyer termed “the two state solution an illusion… a narrative that now needs to end.”

To understand Friedman, you have to read The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East by Caroline Glick, a Chicago-born, Columbia University-educated Israeli journalist. She says Arabs can buy land in Israel; why can’t Jews buy land in the West Bank?

“It makes no sense for Judea and Samaria to be Judenrein [void of Jews],” Friedman said six weeks ago, “any more than it makes sense for Israel to be Arabrein [void of Arabs]. It’s not fair.”

Almost all of the U.S. ambassadors to Israel have been career foreign service officers (FSO). Ronald Reagan agreed that two thirds of all his ambassadors should be FSO, one-third political; worse, he let the Foreign Service Association select the two-thirds. If I were advising President-elect Trump, I would advise him to clean house at the Department of State and the CIA, both status quo, anti-Trump bastions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is no shrinking violet. And CIA-designee Mike Pompeo may be the smartest of Trump appointees.

As for Israel, the ambassador-careerists have not done so well. Trump is, as they say, a disruptor. But he should not select just rich men and women; his political nominees must be willing to challenge the State Department’s Ruling Class.

David Friedman’s family is no stranger to Republican politics. His father, Rabbi Morris Friedman, hosted President Ronald Reagan, the first visit to a synagogue by a sitting president since George Washington. Friedman represented Trump, when his three Atlantic City casinos went bankrupt, and the two later became friends.

What is significant about Trump’s appointment of Friedman?

  1. It’s an earlier appointment than usual, and symbolic. As president, Obama’s first trip was his apology tour to Arab nations. As President-elect, Trump’s first ambassador appointment is to Israel. But expect a confirmation battle led by the Jewish Left to include a long line of retired State Department Arabists. Mainstream media will oppose Friedman as a diplomatic disaster. Pat Buchanan will denounce the nomination as Trump’s first major blunder that could trigger a new war, an aim of “neo-conservatives who did not even back Trump and want wars with Iran and Russia.”
  2. The relationship between Trump and Friedman will be closer than between any prior President and U.S. Ambassador to Israel. In contrast, Trump just met Rex Tillerson. Given Trump’s penchant for avoiding the chain of command and Friedman’s access, friend and foe alike in the region will know that Friedman speaks for Trump. The State Department careerists will try to undermine Friedman; this is not like bankruptcy law.
  3. Friedman had his Bar Mitzvah at the holy Western Wall in Jerusalem, speaks fluent Hebrew, has a second home in the city and is well-connected. But the Israeli Left will oppose his nomination as a “setback to the peace process.” Secular Jews will feel threatened that he is an orthodox Jew. Arabs in the Knesset will boycott him.
  4. The nomination is linked to moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Friedman terms “Israel’s eternal capital.” Israel alone among nations does not have its capital recognized. Trump can quickly replace the consulate sign in Jerusalem with an embassy sign. He built an ice rink in Central Park in four months; a U.S. Embassy may take longer, but a site already has been selected.
  5. Friedman said he wants to “advance the cause of peace within the region.” These code words put Iran above “the Palestinian issue.” The only good that came of the Iran deal is that 11 Arab nations are allied against Iran and most of them are working at least indirectly and quietly with the Israelis. Having been to Saudi Arabia 35 years ago, I am stunned at the Israeli-Saudi connection that is plausibly denied by all concerned.
  6. Appointing Friedman is provocative, but it’s the embassy move to Jerusalem that could spawn (a) a new Intifada; I was in Ramallah/West Bank years ago — the spontaneity is orchestrated; (b) rocket attacks from Hezbollah could be ordered to open up a second front; (c) terrorism on soft American targets, including some obvious ones (that should be divested) in the U.S. and elsewhere. With Obama and Kerry gone, Israel can respond with closure and ignore the U.N. Trump is not a gradualist who will insist on a ceasefire so the besieged bad guys can regroup. Finally, several Arab nations have lost patience with Palestinian intransigence.

It’s time for something new. Nearly a half-century of the “peace process” has failed. Give back Gaza, and you get infiltration tunnels and rocket attacks. Stop settlements, and it makes no difference. The Palestinians still teach school children hatred and violence. Their leaders diverted economic aid to Swiss bank accounts or making rockets and building infiltration tunnels. The Islamists don’t care about real estate; they want to kill the Jews, all of them.

What’s in Trump’s head? He sees Israel as an ally that Obama undercut. He believes peace is more probable if the U.S. supports Israel. He is sending a message, with this ambassador and with moving the embassy, that the proverbial train is leaving the station. Time is running out for the Palestinians to come to the table. He and his Ambassador start with a hardline position then incentivize negotiation. In the meantime, beef up intelligence capability in the region. When that embassy opens up in Jerusalem, all hell may break lose. Have contingency plans ready.

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