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?
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.