WATCH: Jewish Activists Disrupt Confirmation Hearing of Trump's Far-Right Israel Ambassador, David Friedman

Protesters were arrested after blowing a shofar and condemning Trump's nominee.

Photo Credit: C-SPAN

Protesters repeatedly disrupted the confirmation hearing on Thursday for Trump's pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Many of the activists were members of Jewish peace groups. One man even blew a shofar, a traditional Jewish horn, inside the hearing in protest.

The progressive Jewish group IfNotNow organized the action. Three of its members were arrested.

"The shofar is a call to action," said IfNotNow's Ethan Miller. "American Jews won't stay silent as Trump, Friedman and Bibi expand the occupation."

"The leaders of my Jewish community have been silent on Friedman, so I had to speak out," explained Lila Weintraub, another IfNotNow member, in a statement. "Friedman is a totally unconscionable choice to represent Americans in the region. As an American Jew, I refuse to allow his pro-occupation views [to] go unchecked."

"We are IfNotNow, American Jews against the occupation," said the man with the shofar. "David Friedman, you promote racism, fund illegal settlements," he continued, while being taken away by police. "We will not be silenced. You do not represent us and you will never represent us."

A woman wearing an IfNotNow shirt stood up and shouted in protest, "Israeli occupation is an injustice and a moral crisis for American Jews. Moral American Jews stand against occupation and against Friedman!"

Immediately after that, a man wearing a kippah declared, "Senator, if you send this man to Israel, you endanger millions of Palestinians and Israelis. American Jews stand against this man; we stand for freedom and dignity for all."

The activists then began to sign the traditional Jewish song "Olam Chesed Yibaneh" in protest. They also shook groggers, traditional Jewish noisemakers that are used to symbolically drown out the names of people who seek the destruction of Jews.

Other protesters disrupted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing as well.

In a powerful moment, a Palestinian man stood up holding a large Palestinian flag.

"Mr. Friedman also said that Palestinian refugees don't have a claim to the land, don't have a connection to Palestine, when in fact they do," the man said. "My grandfather was exiled, was kicked out by the state of Israel," he continued, "and I'm right here, Mr. Friedman, holding up the Palestinian flag, right behind you."

As police pulled him away, he shouted, "We aren't going away, Mr. Friedman. We were there, we are there now, and we will always be there! Palestinians will always be in Palestine!"

As AlterNet has reported, Friedman is notorious for his extreme pro-Israel, anti-Muslim views. He supports Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are built in flagrant contravention of international law. Friedman has demonized liberal Jews, calling them worse than Nazi collaborators, and has spread Islamophobic conspiracies. He has pledged to move the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in violation of international law.

The Trump administration is very close to the Israeli government—so close that Israel's hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once spent the night in the former bedroom of President Trump's son-in-law—and top Middle East adviser—the real estate mogul Jared Kushner.

Friedman previously served as the president of American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a group that has raised money for an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. President Trump himself donated $10,000 to the illegal Beit El settlement, and Jared Kushner's parents, Charles and Seryl, are members of Beit El Institutions' founding board of trustees.

In a statement on the protest, IfNotNow explained, "These young Jewish Americans expressed outrage at Friedman’s pro-occupation ideology and acted in part to counter the near-total silence on his nomination from the Jewish establishment."

The confirmation hearing and protest came just one day after Trump met with Netanyahu. Trump said he would not require Israel to pursue a so-called two-state solution with the Palestinians, in a moment that symbolically marks the funeral of what has for decades been considered the standard model to resolve the conflict.

"That Trump went through the entire press conference yesterday refusing to support the long-standing American policy of a two-state solution confirms what has long been suspected: Trump intends on doing all that he can to actively entrench the Israeli occupation," said Tom Corcoran, an IfNotNow member who was arrested, in a statement. "With Friedman as his representative in the region, untold violence could erupt."

"Trump and Netanyahu are two sides of the same coin, and we know that Friedman will use his position to further their shared goal of a permanent occupation," added Isaac Flegel-Mishlove, another IfNotNow member. "We refuse to let pro-occupation ideology become normalized in America."

Friedman previously served as Trump's bankruptcy lawyer, and has virtually no experience in diplomacy. Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel signed an open letter condemning his nomination, warning of his "extreme positions."

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet's Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

 

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