Pro-Palestinian and Jewish hecklers interrupted the opening of a stormy Senate hearing to determine whether David Friedman will be accepted as the new US ambassador to Israel.
As Friedman began his opening statement, several hecklers interrupted him, one by waving a Palestinian flag in front of the Senators while yelling, “My grandfather was exiled. Palestinians will always be in Palestine!” before being escorted out of the room. Another heckler accused Friedman of being a “war criminal”.
Several Jews came to to protest the appointment of Friedman. His appointment is opposed by many liberal secular Jewish groups, who have challenged his appointment. Friedman, whose middle name is Melech (Hebrew: king), is religiously observant, speaks Hebrew fluently, and personally owns a home in Jerusalem. A heckler from the group IfNotNow, a Jewish NGO that wants to bar Jews from living in Judea and Samaria, blew a shofar and yelled, “You do not represent us”.
Friedman has done little to earn the affection of the secular Jews. He was challenged by the Senate representatives at the hearing about comments he made in the past comparing liberal American Jews to Jewish prisoners who worked for the Nazis during the Holocaust. He responded by saying, “I regret the use of such language” in his opening statement, while promising the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be less inflammatory in the future.
Friedman was also questioned by Democratic Senators for calling former President Obama an anti-Semite, and accused to Jewish Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer of perpetrating the “worst appeasement of terrorists since Munich”.
“We need a steady hand in the Middle East, not a bomb thrower,” said Democrat Tom Udall.
Despite the grilling, it is expected that Friedman will be confirmed by the Senate, which has a Republican majority.