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Holocaust Survivors' Descendants Speak Out against Friedman Nomination

February 15, 2017


A number of constituents whose families were impacted by the Holocaust wrote to their Senators to explain how their Jewish families' values and experiences compelled them to stand for justice and oppose the Friedman nomination. Here you can read two public letters.

Friedman would call my great uncle a "kapo"

Dear Senator Shaheen,

Oppose Friedman for US Ambassador to Israel

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As a Jewish constituent of yours whose great uncle survived the Holocaust, I am appalled by David Friedman’s likening of liberal Jews to Nazi collaborators.

It is such a shame that someone who survived the brutality of the Nazi regime... would be disparaged today by the Israel Ambassador nominee as a “kapo.”

I was born and raised in Concord, NH, but my great uncle, Leon Messer, was born on October 16, 1920 in Rzeszow, Poland. My great uncle was interned in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. He lost both his mother and his sister during the Holocaust. He was only able to survive due to his talent for fixing watches. You can watch an interview of him telling his full story here.

It is such a shame that someone who survived the brutality of the Nazi regime, and who lost so many loved ones in the Holocaust, would be disparaged today by the Israel Ambassador nominee David Friedman as a “kapo,” or Nazi collaborator, simply for standing up for what he believes is right. Friedman’s disparaging comments towards other Jews with whom he disagrees should disqualify him for the post.

My Jewish family has a long history of standing up for others against acts of violence and advocating for peace. I seek to continue this tradition by working for arms control and nuclear non-proliferation. David Friedman’s actions and statements threatening the human rights of Palestinians directly contradict my family’s values. I am personally incredibly concerned by David Friedman’s rejection of the Iran nuclear deal, which I consider to be a triumph of peaceful diplomacy limiting the spread of the most powerful and horrific weapons on earth. In fact, Friedman shamed Senator Chuck Schumer merely for considering the deal, calling it “the worst appeasement of terrorism since Munich.” To use Holocaust imagery to malign potential supporters of a great achievement for international peace is an insult to my family.

To use Holocaust imagery to malign potential supporters of a great achievement for international peace is an insult to my family.

I strongly urge you to speak out and publicly commit to vote against President Trump's pick for the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

David Friedman's record of funding illegal Israeli settlements, his support for Israeli annexation of the West Bank, and his likening of supporters of the two-state solution to Nazi collaborators should disqualify him from one of the most sensitive and complex diplomatic postings in the world.

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, Concord, NH

Justice, justice you shall pursue

Dear Senator Markey,

As a Jewish constituent of yours whose grandmother survived the Holocaust, I am appalled by David Friedman’s likening of liberal Jews to Nazi collaborators. I strongly urge you to speak out and publicly commit to vote against President Trump's pick for the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

My Judaism is rooted in the Biblical Hebrew phrase "tzedek, tzedek, tirdof" – justice, justice you shall pursue. Friedman's record of funding illegal Israeli settlements and supporting Israeli annexation of the West Bank makes clear he is more concerned with pursuing ethnocentric power and nationalism. These poisons, when magnified by the power of government and uncontested by the people, are what allowed my grandmother's family to be murdered in the gas chambers. My grandmother was able to escape with her life due to a non-Jewish couple who chose to pursue justice rather than power.

My grandmother was able to escape with her life due to a non-Jewish couple who chose to pursue justice rather than power. Friedman's record makes clear that he shares no such values.

Friedman's record makes clear that he shares no such values. By describing supporters of the two-state solution as 'worse than kapos,' he displays a brutal heartlessness towards oppressed peoples; had my grandmother encountered this mentality in 1939 she would have been left to die in Vienna. In addition, his cavalier conflation of Nazi collaborators with those pursuing the justice of a two-state solution should disqualify him from one of the most sensitive and complex diplomatic postings in the world.

I urge you to publicly speak out against Friedman's nomination, and to publicly commit to vote against his confirmation.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Eli Cohen, Boston, MA

Press Release Sen. Shaheen Reads Letter from Holocaust Descendant at Friedman Hearing, Friedman Responds  

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) read the letter of constituent and Holocaust descendant Alicia Sanders-Zakre urging her to oppose President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Update Joe Harris says Friedman Goes Against What His Family Has Stood For 

In a powerful letter, Joe Harris of Cambridge, Massachusetts describes a number of compelling family stories to share on how, as Jewish Americans and Zionists, Friedman’s nomination will do untold damage to Israeli and to the region.

Statement FCNL Opposes David Friedman for Ambassador to Israel 

FCNL vigorously opposes the nomination of David Friedman to the position of US Ambassador to Israel, and urges the Senate to reject his nomination to this position. FCNL strongly encourages senators to speak out against his nomination and the dangerous policies that Friedman has advocated.

Action Alert Broad Opposition to Friedman for Israel Ambassador 

A broad spectrum of opponents to Friedman's nomination, including Members of Congress, media, and civil society, are speaking out on Trump’s dangerous choice for U.S. Ambassador to Israel for his extreme positions.

Background David Friedman In His Own Words  

Americans for Peace Now compiled quotes from his articles and speeches so that advocates and lawmakers can understand Friedman's views.

Background Which Members of Congress are Expressing Concerns about Friedman? 

J Street is cataloging the statements of Members of Congress who have expressed concerns about Friedman. A number of Representatives have spoken out against Friedman, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has also raised concerns.