Israel ambassador nominee would hurt chance for peace - Albuquerque Journal

Israel ambassador nominee would hurt chance for peace

This is an unusual piece of writing coming from members of the New Mexico Jewish community. Why? Because we, as a Jewish family with very different generational and political perspectives on Israel, are actually in complete agreement on something. We are writing to voice our opposition to the Trump administration’s nomination of David Friedman as ambassador to Israel.

Let us explain.

I (Barbara Einhorn) am Zoe’s mother. I am a loyal member of AIPAC, the pro-Israel advocacy group. I believe deeply in a strong friendship between the United States and Israel, our only ally in the Middle East. I believe that Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, is targeted disproportionately in international institutions like the United Nations. I believe that Israel is a legitimate partner for peace, and that the Palestinian leadership has direly failed its people. I attended the AIPAC Conference last year, and I stayed in the room during then-candidate Donald Trump’s speech – I aimed to listen to what he had to say with respect, as we did with all candidates that spoke.

I (Zoe Goldblum) am a junior studying at Stanford. Last year, I was the vice president for the Northwest Region on the national student board of J Street U, the campus arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. I help lead the J Street U chapter at Stanford, and I am a leader in the region. I believe that among the most important obstacles to peace are factors that Israel can control, like settlement expansion and governmental appeasement of the far-right wing of Israel’s political spectrum. I believe that the current Israeli government has shown little to no evidence of working toward a sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I call the military presence and control over life in the West Bank and Gaza what I recognize it to be – an occupation. I also attended the AIPAC conference with my parents last year, but I participated in a walkout during now-President Trump’s speech.

Our family political disagreements sometimes provoke headaches at the dinner table. But there are things that we do agree on, and there are boundaries that, when crossed, we believe pro-Israel American Jews must speak out against as a united front. David Friedman has rejected the two-state solution, which is essential to the work both AIPAC and J Street do. Moreover, he has articulated support for annexation of the West Bank, which we recognize to be a policy that would permanently debilitate aspirations for a Palestinian and a Jewish state to live side by side.

We know that a solution to this conflict will, in all likelihood, rely on U.S. diplomacy as it has in the past. Yet Friedman has made and defended repugnant and deeply offensive remarks against members of his own community. We cannot stand idly by as members of J Street are called “worse than Kapos” (a disgraceful reference to Jews who aided Nazis during the Holocaust) and described as “not Jewish” simply because of political disagreements. As a family full of diverse opinions, we believe that we represent a small microcosm of the American Jewish and pro-Israel communities. And while we often have our own misunderstandings and arguments, we do not tolerate remarks like Friedman’s, which are fueled by hatred and a refusal to recognize the humanity and legitimacy of those he disagrees with.

Friedman’s views, close ties to the settlement movement and propensity for outrageous personal attacks make clear that he is completely unsuitable to serve as American ambassador to Israel. Indeed, the inability to recognize the humanity of one’s neighbor that Friedman has displayed is part of the reason that Israelis and Palestinians alike still feel the effects of the ongoing conflict on a daily basis.

We must draw a line somewhere. Friedman’s hateful rhetoric, combined with his extremist views, unequivocally disqualify him from representing the United States in Israel. We came together as a family to speak out about this important issue, and to do so we put aside our many differences. Will you join us?

Barbara Einhorn is a physician and serves on the board of the Albuquerque Jewish Community Center. Zoe Goldblum attended Solomon Schechter Day School and Albuquerque Academy and is a junior at Stanford University.

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