The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


If you were to believe the hype, the State Department is populated by the "best and the brightest" who have chosen to forgo the vagaries of the distasteful private sector and serve their country selflessly. These diplomats (often graduates of elite schools) believe that their approach to foreign policy and interaction is the only one that is acceptable in a civilized world.

I have to wonder how they come to that conclusion. After all, over the past two decades we have seen a parade of State Department diplomats making a real mess of things on the world stage. In fact, it's hard to think of a single significant foreign policy achievement that can be attributed to a Secretary of State. During the Obama years, the failures of the State Department were not only significant, they we dangerous—to our country and our allies.

Given this as background, I find it very interesting that there so much pushback associated with Donald Trump's appointment of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, and now, David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. More on Tillerson is a future post, but for now, let's focus on Friedman.

The elites on the Left, a few anti-Israel politicians on the right, along with many "diplomats," are hyperventilating because Trump and Friedman have expressed their intent to move our embassy to Israel's capital of Jerusalem—a move that in my view is long past due. Vivian Bercovici , the past Canadian ambassador to Israel, comments on this:
Today, Messrs. Trump and Friedman are excoriated for expressing serious intent to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Some argue this would ignite Muslim fury and global mayhem. But it raises the question: How, exactly, does locating the embassy in West Jerusalem—which is not disputed territory—in any way predetermine the outcome of any negotiations regarding East Jerusalem? It doesn’t. This is a fallacy propagated by rejectionists of Israel and accepted unquestioningly by the international diplomatic community.

The effect of political appointments to diplomatic posts is critical. It signals to foreign governments (as well as domestic interests) that the relationship is a priority for the elected leader. It also allows the officeholder to select an envoy that he or she deeply trusts.

Professional diplomats resent the affront that such appointments represent. They reject “outsiders” for leapfrogging the system, for their access to the top, for their perceived impunity, for their utter unsuitability to the exalted foreign service. Mr. Friedman may be many things. But the notion that only those who have passed the foreign-service examination are worthy of an ambassadorship is laughable.
It's about time that a strong United States signal its intent to remove the notion that Jerusalem is somehow "in play" in any future negotiation with palestinians. In fact, its time for the palestinians to recognize that playing the victim will no longer work. After years of perpetrating violence, repeatedly rejecting any reasonable settlement of issues, and sponsoring terror against Israeli civilians, they are largely undeserving of the accommodations they have been given to them by the "international community." Even more important, placing the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem will send a message to the rest of the Arab world that their "outrage" is not the only parameter that defines U.S. policy.

Trump and Friedman are to be congratulated for their intent. I just hope they don't back down.