Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

New U.S.ambassador to Israel could signal changes in familiar overseas relations

Ways to Subscribe
Attorney David Friedman (left) exits U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden, N.J., with Donald Trump and Trump's daughter Ivanka in a 2010 case involving Atlantic City casinos. The president-elect plans to nominate Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel.

President-elect Trump has nominated David Friedman for his U.S. ambassador. One UCLA professor thinks this could signal a change in relations between the countries.

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a lawyer to be the next US ambassador to Israel.

He's David Friedman - who served as an advisor to Trump's presidential campaign.

To gauge reaction, especially within LA's Jewish community, Take Two's Sanden Totten spoke with David Myers, Professor of Jewish history at UCLA.

On what we know about David Friedman

Well, David Friedman is a New York bankruptcy lawyer who has worked with Donald Trump and the Trump organization on some of the Trump organization's bankruptcy cases in Atlantic City. He is also described by the President-elect as a long time friend. And has served as an advisor on matters relating to Israel during the campaign. We also know that he's an orthodox Jew, an observant Jew, who maintains a residence in Jerusalem. In his first statement, Mr. Friedman has said that he looks forward to working from Israel's eternal capitol, Jerusalem. Which is not the current site of the United States Embassy.

On why it's such a big deal for him to work from Jerusalem

It's very unusual for an Ambassador-designate to get out in front of everybody and calling for a shift in policy. The history is this: In 1995 the United States congress passed a law that drew from the embassy bill which called for the embassy to be relocated from Telaviv to Jerusalem. No president has acted on that for a couple of reasons. 1: There was a belief by the subsequent presidents that this was an intervention by the congressional or legislative realm and an executive decision. And 2 and more importantly: It was felt that making Jerusalem the home of the U.S. embassy would be disposing, deciding the matter of Israel's capitol when negotiations were underway between the Israelis and Palestinians over the status of Jerusalem. So every president has acted with a great prudence and not in fact implemented the congressional resolution

On how the Jewish community in LA and nation-wide feels about the President-elect

College and friends of mine are deeply concerned. We should remember that 71 percent of American Jews. 24 percent voted for Donald Trump. A large majority of American Jews were supportive of Hillary Clinton. I'd say the policies associated with Mrs. Clinton in support of a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, a large majority of Americans support that approach... Donald Trump's recent statements and now the appointment of Mr. Friedman suggest a very significant departure from that set of policies. People in the jewish community that I'm speaking to are very concerned.

To hear the full conversation click the blue player above.

Answers have been edited for clarity. 

Stay Connected