America and Israel are the two great loves of my life, and I think those Americans chosen to serve as ambassadors to Israel are the luckiest people alive.
While I have had significant policy disagreements with America’s current ambassador to Israel, Dan Schapiro, there can be no question of Dan’s steadfast commitment to the security of, and love for, the Jewish state. Above all else, Dan is a gentleman, a fact that I have been reminded of countless times in the warm greetings he has accorded me and my family upon our numerous visits to the embassy in Tel Aviv.
I first met Dan through Samantha PowerSamantha Power White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push 12 top U.S. officials to join Biden at major climate conference MORE at the White House. The three of us studied the verses in Leviticus that form the cornerstone of R2P, the Responsibility to Protect. “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” I was impressed at Dan’s humility and curiosity.
But not all of America’s envoys to Israel have been worthy of the post — some spent their years in Tel Aviv squandering goodwill by battling the Israeli government in an elusive attempt to pressure Israel into making security concessions for a peace that never materialized.
That’s why the appointment of David Friedman as America’s new envoy to the Middle East is cause for real celebration and is already being applauded across the ideological spectrum by the people of Israel.
Continuing that tradition of courtesy, gentlemanliness and outstanding professionalism to one of America’s most sensitive diplomatic missions is President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE’s brilliant choice for ambassador to Israel. One of America’s most respected and accomplished attorneys, David is regarded in the highest esteem by the New York Jewish community as an exemplar of the American and Jewish virtues of education, erudition, philanthropy and communal commitment.
Donald Trump taps lawyer David Friedman as ambassador to Israel https://t.co/NPhShpBd72— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 16, 2016
David has vast exposure to, and knowledge of, the Jewish state and its history and enjoys the confidence and respect of Israel’s leaders. A man of humility and openness, he has a gift for listening, showing respect and deference to all whom he meets.
David has been a lifelong defender of the values Israel upholds — liberty, the rule of law and a passionate commitment to human rights — in the world’s most terrorized region. He has shown courage and conviction in speaking out forcefully of America placing its embassy not in Israel’s commercial capital, Tel Aviv, but in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.
The embassy in Tel Aviv enjoys the beautiful and distracting views of Israel’s most famous beach. I have sometimes sat in the ambassador’s office wondering how, with so lovely a vista, anyone can get any work done. The United States should update the increasingly decrepit building and sell it off as a hotel, filling our Treasury’s coffers.
A beautiful new embassy should be built in the heart of Jerusalem, with its shimmering glow, allowing the light of America to venture out from its beautiful hills.
David has also defended the territorial integrity of the Jewish state and the right of Jewish Israelis to join their Arab brethren in developing and cultivating every part of the land.
You know that you’ve made the right appointment when you’re already upsetting all the right people. Trump’s announcement has set off J Street, with its director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, going apoplectic. “J Street is vehemently opposed to the nomination of David Friedman,” he screeched in a statement. “This nomination is reckless, putting America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk.”
Note to J Street: America’s reputation is in terminal decline in the Middle East, along with Aleppo. America’s reputation went up in flames with the rise of ISIS. And America’s credibility as a protector of its allies suffered a horrendous blow when it signed the Iran nuclear agreement, putting Israel’s very survival at risk, without even consulting the country the agreement most affected, just like Czechoslovakia in 1938.
David Friedman’s appointment has upset all those who peddle the false narrative that Israeli communities in the ancient Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria is the reason there is no peace. People like Ben-Ami have no way of explaining how it is that Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza, and the dismantling of all its communities, led not to peace but to tens of thousands of rockets raining down on the heads of Israeli civilians, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
David Friedman understands that that real reason there is no peace is the Palestinian rejection of the very concept of a Jewish state, something Mahmoud Abbas has refused to recognize, as well as Israel’s neighbor’s sworn commitment to its destruction. On its Western border there is Hamas with its charter pledging the murder of every Jew wherever he or she is to be found. To the north we have Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy army, which is currently being used to perpetrate genocide against in Syria. And to the east we have Iran and ISIS.
In David Friedman we finally have an ambassador who understands and boldly proclaims that these are the real threats to Middle East peace, rather than an Israeli family growing tomatoes in Shiloh.
He also understands that peace will never come through its imposition by a biased United Nations — only through direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and its neighbors.
I have known the family of David’s wife, Tammy, since I was a boy growing up in Miami Beach. I remember so clearly how his father-in-law, Julius Sand, worked with my uncle to keep the synagogue at my school, the Hebrew Academy of Greater Miami, functioning on behalf of the community, particularly the elderly. I remember the passionate commitment to Jewish continuity.
I have no doubt that David will serve as an agent of peace, promoting American goodwill to all Israelis in every part of the ancient homeland and assisting in turning back a tide of defamation against America’s foremost ally and the only democracy in the Middle East, the Jewish state of Israel.
Contrary to his critics, who complain that David has not spent his life at a desk in Foggy Bottom, David’s numerous published articles on Israel demonstrate a keen understanding of the real issues afflicting the Middle East and the remedies that can be found in upholding, promoting and championing American values in the troubled region.
I also have no doubt that David will make history in serving as the first American ambassador in King David’s ancient city, the spiritual crossroads of the world, Jerusalem.
Shumley Boteach, whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 31 books, including “The Israel Warrior,” which has just been published. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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