(JNS.org) President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, faced tough questioning from lawmakers and heckling from protesters at his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations committee Thursday.
“You do not represent us and you will never represent us,” some of the Jewish activists were heard saying before being escorted out of the room, the Times of Israel reported. Earlier, a protester held up Palestinian flags and chanted, “We were there, we are there, and we will always be in Palestine.”
In his remarks, Friedman apologized for some of the inflammatory statements he has made in the past, including accusing former President Barack Obama of anti-Semitism and calling supporters of the liberal Jewish lobby J Street “kapos,” the term for Jews who cooperated with Nazis during the Holocaust.
"Some of the language that I used during the highly charged presidential campaign that ended last November has come in for criticism and rightfully so," Friedman said. "While I maintain profound differences of opinion with some of my critics, I regret the use of such language."
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) questioned Friedman over his previous language and his stance on longstanding U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I have questions about your preparedness for this important post. I am uncertain of how you will represent all Americans to all Israelis, and whether you are committed to a longstanding U.S. policy to a two-state solution," Cardin said, referring to media interviews in which Friedman downplayed the two-state solution.
Friedman said he would welcome an Israeli-Palestinian agreement "through direct negotiations along parameters agreeable to them...I would be delighted to see peace come to this region where people have suffered on both sides for so long."
"I have expressed my skepticism solely on the basis of my perception of the Palestinians' failure to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state,” Friedman added.
Friedman also said that the Palestinians have failed to end their incitement against Israel, which was a key requirement of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
"We haven't made progress since then. In the aftermath of Oslo, terrorism has increased four-fold," he said.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that while he has some policy differences with Friedman, Trump's nominee "is the right guy at the right time. He'll be Trump's voice. Trump won the election."