Trump's pick for Israeli ambassador apologizes for past rhetoric

Trump asks Netanyahu during joint presser to ‘hold back’ on settlements in disputed territory

President Trump's pick for USA ambassador to Israel apologized for disparaging statements he's made about Palestinians, liberal American Jews and others during a tense confirmation hearing Thursday, as the administration sent out new mixed signals on its approach to Mideast peace.

Though some Republicans on the committee expressed mild discomfort with Friedman's remarks, many said his stinging criticisms of Palestinians was reasonable given the terrorist attacks directed at the state of Israel, including Sens.

Partners for Progressive Israel, a group affiliated with leftist Zionist parties in Israel, urged its activists on Monday to call senators and voice their opposition to Friedman.

The ambassadors, who had served both Democratic and Republican presidents, wrote that Friedman has been "active in supporting and financing the settler movement".

During the hearing, several pro-peace and pro-Palestinian protesters were thrown out of the room for disrupting Friedman's testimony, including one protester with a Palestinian flag.

The committee is scheduled to meet Thursday for Friedman's confirmation hearing.

David Friedman, a longtime friend and lawyer to Trump, was a surprise pick to become the US's chief diplomat in Israel, given both his prior remarks and his lack of experience in diplomacy.

As for the exchanges with senators...

Friedman's nomination has drawn strong opposition from more liberal American-Jewish organizations and groups, including J Street whose members and backers he called "worse than kapos" - a reference to Jewish collaborators with Nazis - for their support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an op-ed previous year. He got into a discussion with Senator Cory Booker about the difference between apology and atonement after agreeing that Tim Kaine wasn't an Israel basher and that former President Obama wasn't an actual anti-Semite. He promised Indiana's Rob Portman that he would do his utmost to fight BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign that Portman said seeks Israel's delegitimization. "But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel's destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas - it's hard to imagine anyone worse".

In an exchange with Sen. He said that Israel would investigate such cases.

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump declined to "specifically address the issue". He said he had been to Israel 50 times and this job would be the capstone of his life.

In a statement on the protest, IfNotNow explained, "These young Jewish Americans expressed outrage at Friedman's pro-occupation ideology and acted in part to counter the near-total silence on his nomination from the Jewish establishment". He apologized to New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen for offending one of her constituents whose uncle survived the Holocaust with his writings, including when he said liberal Jews "suffer a cognitive disconnect in identifying good and evil", offering to call the constituent personally.

Haaretz has reported that Friedman's claim that he only used inflammatory "kapos" rhetoric to describe opponents in the heat of the election campaign is inaccurate; he kept at it after the election was over.

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