1. Press Release
  2. Middle East & Iran

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

By Kate Gould, February 16, 2017

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.




February 16, 2017

Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) included in her line of questioning for David Friedman a message she had received from her constituent and Holocaust descendant Alicia Sanders-Zakre urging her to oppose David Friedman for Israel Ambassador.

During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of David Friedman to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Senator Shaheen read an excerpt from the letter, in which Sanders-Zakre responded to Friedman’s attacks against Jews with whom he disagrees writing “it is such a shame that someone 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.”

Senator Shaheen then asked Mr. Friedman, “what do I tell my constituents about the fact that you could represent her and that you’re not disparaging people who have her views?”

Mr. Friedman responded by saying that he would give Senator Shaheen his number to relay to Sanders-Zakre and that he would “apologize to her personally.”

Sanders-Zakre relayed her response to Friedman’s remarks to FCNL: “To be frank, I’m not looking for a personal apology from David Friedman, as his words were an insult to all liberal Jews. I am counting on Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan to vote against David Friedman’s confirmation for U.S. Ambassador to Israel because he is ill-suited to represent the United States.”

Sanders-Zakre is one of thousands of FCNL constituents who have submitted letters, made calls, wrote letters to the editor and otherwise voiced their opposition to Friedman’s nomination. The full text of her letter, among other descendants of Holocaust survivors can be found here, along with FCNL’s resource highlighting the breadth of opposition to Friedman’s nomination from editorial boards, Jewish organizations and statements from members of Congress.

Full Text of the Letter to Sen. Shaheen

Dear Senator Shaheen,

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.

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.

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

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 Senate Confirms David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel 

FCNL vigorously opposed the nomination and urged senators to speak out against his nomination and the dangerous pro-settlement, pro-occupation 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.

Kate Gould

  • Legislative Director, Middle East Policy

Kate Gould served as FCNL's Legislative Director for Middle East Policy. Kate was one of only a handful of registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. working to advance human rights objectives and support diplomatic solutions to resolve disputes between the U.S. and Iran and the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Israel/Palestine.