Leah Parker-Bernstein: Concerns about nominee as ambassador to Israel

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Concerns about nominee as ambassador to Israel

As leaders and members of the western Massachusetts Jewish community, we wish to express our concerns regarding the nomination of David Friedman as the United States ambassador to Israel.

Although President Trump has stated that he will work toward peace in the region and has suggested that settlement expansion in the West Bank does not help the peace process, David Friedman’s nomination contradicts this commitment. Friedman’s stated policy positions and world view suggest that he would depart from long-standing bipartisan support for the two-state solution.

Friedman has suggested moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and annexing the West Bank, and has raised millions of dollars to support Beit El, one of the most radical Israeli settlements.

Moreover, Friedman has called liberal Jews who support the two-state solution “worse than kapos” — referring to Jews who were forced into turning in other Jews to Nazi death camps. His appointment would push the possibility of a two-state solution further and further away, and will endanger the safety and security of both Israelis and Palestinians.

We are calling upon Jewish communities and individuals to do all that they can to visibly oppose all actions that will endanger the safety and future of all those living in Israel and the West Bank.

Take the first step and call our senators to reject President Trump’s dangerous choice for ambassador to Israel. We, members of the Jewish community of western Massachusetts, will be doing so, and urge anyone who supports peace and Israel’s future to do the same.

Leah Parker-Bernstein


The writer, a junior at Smith College, is a member of J Street U and president of the Smith College Jewish Community. The letter also was signed by the student board of J Street U at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Rabbi Justin David; ​Mordechai Kamel, vice president of  the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts; Rabbi Riqi Kosovske, Beit Ahavah Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton; Rabbi Benjamin Weiner, spiritual leader of the Jewish Community of Amherst; Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, Amherst College Hillel; Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener; Rabbi Joyce Galaski; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson; Rabbi Edward Feld; Rabbi David Seidenberg; Norbert Goldfield, past president, Congregation B’nai Israel; Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro, rabbi emeritus, Sinai Temple; Rabbi Howard Kosovske, interim rabbi, Sinai Temple; Rabbi Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser; Rabbi Ellen Bernstein; Rabbi Aaron Fine, UMass Amherst Hillel; and Rabbi Saul Perlmutter.