On Thursday, Donald Trump appointed David Friedman as ambassador to Israel, but the Manhattan bankruptcy lawyer is already getting vocal pushback from some members of Congress. Two Democratic representatives, who are also both Jewish, have reportedly criticized Friedman's far-right opinions on Israeli politics for both political and personal reasons. Though the majority of Trump's appointments thus far have sparked controversy in one way or another, this pushback signals serious concern over foreign policy under a Trump administration.
Though Friedman's appointment was somewhat overlooked in light of the upcoming Electoral College vote on Monday, two congressmen made sure to call out Trump's implicative decision. "This is an appointment with dangerous consequences for both the United States and Israel, not only with respect to the prospect of an eventual negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but also with respect to the relationship between our two countries, and more generally, to regional stability," New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler wrote in an official statement Friday.
A few hours later, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky took to social media to denounce Friedman's appointment too. "At a challenging and precarious time in the Middle East, catering to right-wing inflammatory views that will unnecessarily strain our relationships in the region is extremely dangerous. We should be working toward a two-state solution, with both Jews and Palestinians living alongside each other in peace and security," Yarmuth echoed in a Facebook post.
Yarmuth focused more of his statement on the foreign policy implications of a far-right policy shift on Israel, but Nadler specifically referenced the impact Friedman's appointment could have on the Jewish-American community. "Mr. Friedman's extreme views and use of such hateful language is an insult to the majority of American Jews," Nadler wrote in his statement, referencing Friedman's use of Nazi imagery in an essay earlier this year. If other Jewish members of Congress come out this passionately in opposition of Friedman, the Democrats could have a chance to block the nomination without using too much of their desperately needed political capital in the next session.
Though neither Nadler nor Yarmuth will be able to vote in Friedman's eventual Senate confirmation hearing, their willingness to speak out against his appointment could give some Jewish senators the platform to speak about the issue too. The next Congress will have nine Jewish senators, including Bernie Sanders, whose especially progressive view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict made headlines during his presidential campaign earlier this year. Sanders may be the perfect person to lead the charge against Friedman's appointment, both for his standing within the party and his far-left policy prescription. What is certain is that someone — whether it's Sanders or not — needs to lead it.
The statements by Reps. Yarmuth and Nadler serve as a reminder that this is an extremely important issue to address during the next four years. Preventing Trump from turning foreign policy too far to the right — and thereby too far away from a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine — is critical, and opposing this appointment is just as good a place as any to start protesting him.