Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement on Nomination of U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Friday, December 16, 2016 

The Central Conference of American Rabbis respects that the new nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is a longstanding friend of Israel and a Hebrew speaker, both of which are qualities that would enhance the critical U.S. - Israel relationship, as well as liken him to the diplomat he would replace, Ambassador Dan Shapiro.

At the same time, we are greatly concerned about the issues and values that have emerged over time about Mr. Friedman that cause us to urge caution toward his nomination.  We look forward to robust confirmation proceedings to explore these issues to determine if they promote or undermine the interests of the United States and Israel. We are particularly concerned by Mr. Friedman's apparent support for unfettered expansion of settlements in disputed territory and his rejection of the two-state solution, flying in the face of decades of U.S. policy toward the region and opposing the declared position of the Israeli government. Reform rabbis oppose settlement expansion and cherish the dream of two states for two people, living side by side at peace.

We also fear that Mr. Friedman’s public statements indicate an approach and inflammatory attitude, and therefore deride Americans who may disagree with his view and concurrently promote division among Americans, including within the Jewish community.  For example, Mr. Friedman has labeled Jews who promote a more progressive Zionist view than his on Israel as “far worse than kapos.” 

Like the Ambassador-Designate, Reform Rabbis herald Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish State. We affirm every nation-state's right to determine its own capital. Any U.S. Embassy or Ambassador's residence in Jerusalem must be built in the portion of Jerusalem that was part of Israel before the 1967 Six-Day War. We also urge caution in the timing of any such move with a sensitivity toward violence that such a move could provoke.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger                         Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                                          Chief Executive

      Central Conference of American Rabbis