Friedman Sees 'Madness' in Trump Amb Pick Talk of Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

Appearing as a guest on Friday's New Day, liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman fretted over what he viewed as the "shear madness" of Donald Trump choosing attorney David Friedman to be the next ambassador to Israel, and the likelihood that a Trump administration will finally relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

As Thomas Friedman complained about David Friedman's skepticism toward pushing a "two-state solution" approach to peace between Jews and Palestinian Arabs, the liberal Times columnist repeated misinformation as he suggested that Trump's ambassador choice had derided any Jews who support a "two state solution" as "Kapos," or collaborators who helped Nazi Germany.

But, in reality, David Friedman was directing his criticism specifically at far lefr groups like J Street who have a history of blaming the Israeli government for the lack of a two-state solution, and that criticize Israeli government policies like military actions in defense of the country. He also faulted J Street for being so quick to jump on board with President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran when other Jewish groups were more skeptical.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo introduced the segment:

Donald Trump naming his ambassador to Israel, and it is raising eyebrows. The man's name is David Friedman. He's a bankruptcy lawyer. He's already vowing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, this thing that has a lot of roots in history an in politics. Joining us now from Washington is New York Times columnist and author of Thank You for Being Late, Thomas Friedman. Also, must be noted that you won a Pulitzer Prize for your reporting about the situation in Israel and the politics surrounding it. Tom, thank you for joining us on New Day. What is your take on this choice?

The liberal New York Times columnist immediately went negative:

Well, its shear madness.  I mean, to have someone who has referred to Jews who support a two-state solution as the equivalent of Kapos. Those were Jews who collaborated with the Nazis in concentration camps. That's talking about Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, the Israeli general staff. More than half of Israel -- well more than half of Israel -- still believes in a two-state solution.

I believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still on record of supporting a two-state solution. So to appoint someone that extreme, well, I could tell you this, Chris, he'll be the first American ambassador to the state of Israel-Palestine because, if you're against the two-state solution, you're for a binational state.

But one of the big problems with J Street is its tendency to indict the Israeli government for the absence of a two-state peace deal when it has been the Palestinian Authority that has repeatedly refused to sign onto a two-state plan. Palestinian leaders and the general population have opposed dropping their demand that several million Palestinians who are the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original Arab refugees from the 1940s be allowed to move to Israel and become citizens.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas even has a history of refusing to meet for talks unless the Israeli government halted construction by Jews in East Jerusalem, and, even after the government did impose a 10-month construction freeze, Abbas still refused to meet for the first nine months.

As for J Street, the group is so far out of the American Jewish mainstream that it was rejected in a 2014 bid to be admitted into the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The liberal Times columnist then essentially took the position that, if doing the right thing makes the bad guys angry, then don't be bold enough to do the right thing as he worried that Iran would behave aggressively in reaction to the U.S. moving the embassy to Jerusalem:

The United States position is that the ultimate disposition of Jerusalem remains to be negotiated by the two sides, and until it is, we're going to keep our embassy in Tel Aviv. Now, moving the American embassy -- and this is an evergreen, everyone running for President tosses this out, no one actually does it -- moving the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, in the absence of an agreed upon solution between Israelis and Palestinians, I would call that the "Full Employment for Iran Act."

He added:

Because I can tell you, Chris, the Iranians, oh, they would be clinking glasses over that because what the Iranians would then do is make a huge issue of this, paint the Americans as a pro, a basically fanatical right-wing supporter of the worst kind in Israel. And that would then embarrass all the Sunni Arab regimes. They would have to do something, enormously complicating, by the way, Israel's relations with them, but also with their relations with us. This would put Egypt, Saudi Arabia in a very awkward position. I can tell you, the Iranians right now, I mean, they'd be sending love letters to David Friedman.

As co-host Alisyn Camerota jumped in to change the subject, he reiterated: "This is such madness that it's -- it's just -- I can't believe we're talking about it."

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, December 16, New Day on CNN:

CHRIS CUOMO: Donald Trump naming his ambassador to Israel, and it is raising eyebrows. The man's name is David Friedman. He's a bankruptcy lawyer. He's already vowing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, this thing that has a lot of roots in history an in politics. Joining us now from Washington is New York Times columnist and author of Thank You for Being Late, Thomas Friedman. Also, must be noted that you won a Pulitzer Prize for your reporting about the situation in Israel and the politics surrounding it. Tom, thank you for joining us on New Day. What is your take on this choice?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Well, its shear madness.  I mean, to have someone who has referred to Jews who support a two-state solution as the equivalent of Kapos. Those were Jews who collaborated with the Nazis in concentration camps. That's talking about Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, the Israeli general staff. More than half of Israel -- well more than half of Israel -- still believes in a two-state solution. I believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still on record of supporting a two-state solution. So to appoint someone that extreme, well, I could tell you this, Chris, he'll be the first American ambassador to the state of Israel-Palestine because, if you're against the two-state solution, you're for a binational state.

ALISYN CAMEROTA: So let's talk a little bit more about that. His name is David Friedman, no relation to you. He goes further. I mean, he has all sorts of controversial ideas. Not only is he not a fan -- in fact, an enemy -- of the two-state solution, he does want to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- also controversial. He also believes in building more settlements in the West Bank. I mean, what do you see happening once he becomes --- if he becomes ambassador?

CUOMO: Also, Tom, give us the background of, he didn't create the idea of moving the capital to Jerusalem. This has been out there, and it's been ignored or passed on by presidents in at least three administrations. Tell us what the issue is here.

FRIEDMAN: The issue is that we continue -- the United States position is that the ultimate disposition of Jerusalem remains to be negotiated by the two sides, and until it is, we're going to keep our embassy in Tel Aviv. Now, moving the American embassy -- and this is an evergreen, everyone running for President tosses this out, no one actually does it -- moving the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, in the absence of an agreed upon solution between Israelis and Palestinians, I would call that the "Full Employment for Iran Act."

Because I can tell you, Chris, the Iranians, oh, they would be clinking glasses over that because what the Iranians would then do is make a huge issue of this, paint the Americans as a pro, a basically fanatical right-wing supporter of the worst kind in Israel. And that would then embarrass all the Sunni Arab regimes. They would have to do something, enormously complicating, by the way, Israel's relations with them, but also with their relations with us. This would put Egypt, Saudi Arabia in a very awkward position. I can tell you, the Iranians right now, I mean, they'd be sending love letters to David Friedman.

CAMEROTA: Okay, that's, those are stark words. So let's move on to Russia.

FRIEDMAN: Let's move on.

CAMEROTA: Let's move on. I mean, you know, that, there it is. Let's move on to Russia.

FRIEDMAN: This is such madness that it's -- it's just -- I can't believe we're talking about it.


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