David Friedman, Trump’s pick for Israel envoy, expected to apologize for bashing liberal Jews ahead

Donald Trump, center, along with his attorney David Friedman, left, exiting the Federal Building following their appearance in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden, N.J., in February, 2010. Photo: Bradley C Bower/Bloomberg News via Getty Images

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is expected to apologize during his Senate confirmation hearing for derogatory statements he has made against liberal Jews.

Representatives of the nominee told Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., who is the senior Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee that will hold the confirmation hearing, that Friedman will apologize for use of the term “kapo” to attack J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Kapos are the Jewish prisoners who were forced to work for the Nazis in the concentration and death camps.

In an Op-Ed in June on the website of Israel National News, also known as Arutz-7, a right-wing media outlet, Friedman wrote of J Street supporters: “They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps. The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one? 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.”

Friedman, a bankruptcy expert and longtime Trump attorney, was tapped in December as the U.S. ambassador to Israel. He has expressed support for and funded construction in Israeli settlements, including in his position as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, and has expressed doubt about the future of the two-state solution, traditionally a pillar of bipartisan U.S. policy in the region. Friedman also owns an apartment in Jerusalem’s Talbiya neighborhood and speaks Hebrew.

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Several liberal Jewish organizations and their supporters are protesting the nomination.

The groups organized three separate letters this week to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: one each from over 600 rabbis and cantors, from Holocaust survivors and from Holocaust scholars, protesting the nomination and focusing on Friedman’s use of the term kapo.

Friedman’s supporters include Christians United for Israel, which on Tuesday ran a full-page ad in the Capitol Hill daily, The Hill, in support of his confirmation, and the Orthodox Union, which sent a letter of support to the Senate committee.

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