U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman poses problems for the Israeli-Palestine conflict

Friedman's tough stance on settlements and hateful language toward J Street worsens Israeli-Palestinian conflict

There are many political issues that strike controversy at ASU, and the Israeli-Palestine conflict is no exception. 

David Friedman was confirmed to be the ambassador to Israel last week, which makes solving the Israeli-Palestine conflict much more difficult than it already is. 

J Street is one group on campus that aims to find common ground among the conflicting sides of this issue. With Friedman as the ambassador to Israel, tackling this issue as political activists on campus and on a global scale would be very difficult.

The Israeli-Palestine conflict has been a decade old conflict that has aroused much controversy and is still happening to this day. 

Some say that Israel commits heinous war crimes against its neighbors and that it committed ethnic cleansing against the native population in 1948. The same people who say this often claim that Israel has no right to expand, and that its settlement building is a violation of UN resolutions.

Others argue that Israel does what it has to do to defend itself and that we in the U.S. and around the world give the country too much criticism for its actions. These people also claim that Israel has every right to build settlements on the West Bank and Gaza as it is their native homeland from centuries ago.

David Friedman is one who falls in the latter group. He is an active supporter of settlement building and does not believe in a two-state solution. He does not believe that the Palestinians should have a state of their own and believes in annexing whatever remains of the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinians should be able to have a state of their own, and the Israeli settlement expansion of the West Bank and Gaza is a violation of international law. 

This view is shared by many influential activists such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein.

“Israel cannot be Jewish and a democracy if it wants all of the land ... if they have all the land, they would no longer be a Jewish state because within a few years there would be an Arab majority or they would no longer be a democracy because they would have to systematically disenfranchise people,” Emma Hobbs, justice studies sophomore and J Street chapter president said. 

“David Friedman is pretty terrifying," she said. "He has actively donated to settlement expansion which is a huge imposition to a two-state solution.”

She also said that it is important for her for Israel to be a Jewish state as she is Jewish herself. She supports Palestinian statehood and is very sympathetic to the cause.

J Street's chapter at ASU and other chapters around the country have strongly advocated against Friedman’s nomination and managed to gather 40,000 signatures to keep him from being selected as the ambassador.

Friedman once wrote in a column that J Street supporters are “far worse than kapos.” Kapos are Jews who worked with Nazis.

Hobbs stated that her pro-Israel beliefs and solutions are not the same as those on the right, who also claim to be pro-Israel, such as Friedman.

“When people like David Friedman represent our connection to Israel, it makes it harder for progressive students who are pro-Israel but anti-occupation to actually take that position of advocacy,” Hobbs said. 

“If I want to advocate on campus for pro-Israel things, it makes it really hard for me to partner with leftist organizations who think my pro-Israel is equivalent to David Friedman’s pro-Israel.” 

Friedman’s nomination has aroused much controversy, and his hearing before the committee was met with hecklers. Many American Jews spoke out against his nomination. One said at the committee hearing, “American Jews stand against this man, and we stand for freedom and dignity for all.”

Political commentator Glenn Greenwald described Friedman as a “hard core pro-settlement lunatic” and he even stated that “five former ambassadors to Israel of both parties came out and opposed him on the grounds that he’s essentially insane,” in an interview on Democracy Now!

Friedman as an ambassador is very dangerous to solving this issue worldwide as well as on college campuses across the nation. 

Reach the reporter at vpappuse@asu.edu or follow @vpappuse on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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