David M Friedman

PEOTUS Trump’s nomination of David M. Friedman as his ambassador to Israel is a very bad choice. It will perpetuate Israel’s refusal to take the steps it needs to take to be a secure and prosperous member of its neighborhood and will further discredit the U.S.’s reputation and influence in the Middle East.

If you are not familiar with the basic details of what is now generally referred to as the Israeli Palestinian conflict I urge you to read my summary of it written 11 years ago: https://works.bepress.com/warren_coats/26/ and take a look (it has pictures) of my blog from Jerusalem exactly five years ago today. https://wcoats.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/the-invented-palestinians/

Israel drove Palestinians from their homes in several wars decades ago because they wanted to establish a homeland for Jews that was both democratic and Jewish. After the horrors of the Holocaust, most of the world was sympathetic. But to be democratic and Jewish, the new occupants of Palestine needed to drive out most of the existing residents (Palestinians) in order to insure a Jewish majority. Fast forward to recent decades, most of the world has settled on a two state solution by which the exiled Palestinians would be given the West Bank and Gaze to rule but the several details requiring agreement were never fully worked out. Under the Oslo Accords, which provided a step-by-step process for implementing a two state solution, I led the IMF teams that set up the Palestine Monetary Authority.

The UN, U.S. and most of the world designated Israeli settlements in the West Bank by those Israelis wanting to take still more land from the Palestinians as illegal and urged the Israeli government to stop supporting them. They continue to expand.

“Friedman has been outspoken in describing as ‘legal’ Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which every U.S. administration since 1967 has considered illegitimate.”

“Trump-picks-a-supporter-of-west-bank-settlements-for-ambassador-to-Israel”/2016/12/15/ Washington Post. Israel itself is strongly divided on the issue. Many support a two state solution and making peace with their neighbors (giving up land for peace). Others want to expand Israel’s borders to encompass all of Palestine, relying on America’s military protection for its security.

“J Street, the Washington-based [Jewish] organization that supports a two-state solution, said it was ‘vehemently opposed’ to the nomination. ‘As someone who has been a leading American friend of the settlement movement, who lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials . . . Friedman should be beyond the pale for Senators considering who should represent the United States in Israel,’ J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.

“Calling the proposed nomination ‘reckless,’ Ben-Ami said it puts ‘America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk. Senators should know that the majority of Jewish Americans oppose the views and the values this nominee represents….’”

“In a column for the Jerusalem Post before the election, Friedman wrote that…under president Trump, Israel will feel no pressure to make self-defeating concessions, America and Israel will enjoy unprecedented military and strategic cooperation, and there will be no daylight between the two countries.” [All quotes are from the same Post article linked above.]

This is just the sad point. Our blanket guarantee of military support for any policy (including illegal settlements, bombing Iran, etc.) that Israel might pursue has removed the incentive for Israel to make genuine peace with its neighbors and do right by the Palestinians (peace for land). The U.S. Senate should reject the Friedman nomination.

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About wcoats

Dr. Warren L. Coats specializes in advising central banks on monetary policy, and in the development of their capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy. He is retired from the International Monetary Fund, where, as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department, he led missions to over twenty countries. Before then, he served as Visiting Economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and to the World Bank, and was Assistant Prof of Economics at the Univ. of Virginia from 1970-75. Most recently he was Senior Monetary Policy Advisor to the Central Bank of Iraq; an IMF consultant to the central banks of Afghanistan, Kenya and Zimbabwe; and a Deloitte/USAID advisor to the Government of South Sudan. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Cayman Financial Review and until the end of 2013 was a member of the IMF program team for Afghanistan. His most recent book is entitled "One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
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4 Responses to David M Friedman

  1. Joe Cobb says:

    Even with the “giving back” of Jordan’s lands (and the Golan Heights) will not achieve any goal of “peace” with the Muslims, neither those who are descended from former residents of Israel’s jurisdiction or just sympathizing from abroad. “Justice” as any of us understand it is not part of this equation. This is a blood feud and will never be ended.

    I see no harm in taking a strong stand that nobody is allowed to attack Israel, and no reason not to acknowledge Jerusalem as its capital. Peace in that region is a chimera (or a “unicorn,” which is a better metaphor for modern times).

    • A Steinberg says:

      Joe — well said. Warren’s writing has relevant points, but it’s not about real estate. As to the ‘details’ –Arafat et. al refused a ‘deal’ offering most of what they wanted. Both sides can be faulted. The Palestinian “leadership” such as it is — has wanted to keep its people in squalor, as permanent victims. Friedman’s appt and moving the Embassy can be good for the long-run but get ready to fasten your seat belts for the short-run

      • wcoats says:

        You are quite right Arnie that there is fault on both sides–Arafat et.al. The Palestine Authority has deteriorated. But Israel has made it almost impossible for the PA to succeed and the U.S. rejection of the democratic outcome of elections in Gaza made a mockery of our beliefs. We must stop facilitating and enabling the Israeli government’s fail to do what its security requires it to do.

    • wcoats says:

      The U.S. should not soften its “strong stand that nobody is allowed to attack Israel” However, it has been wrong and unhelpful for the U.S. to accept illegal behavior by Israel. Israel for its own sake needs to make pease with its neighbors. This will involve compromises on all sides. This is the view of many Israelis and I share it.

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