Pro-Palestinian protesters blew a shofar at Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel

Source: AP
Source: AP

Demonstrators shouted, sang and blasted President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to Israel as a "war criminal" during a boisterous Senate hearing Thursday.

David Friedman has stirred opposition to his appointment due to his supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have been seen as a provocation and stumbling block to a peace deal between Israel and Palestine.

He also sparked outrage by comparing American Jews who oppose the settlements to "kapos" — a term for Jewish prisoners who collaborated with Nazis during the Holocaust.

David Friedman, center, is supported by former Sen. Joe Liberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Source: 
Susan Walsh/AP

Friedman's hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hadn't gotten far before the disruptions broke out. 

"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," a protester holding up a Palestinian flag shouted.

The demonstrator — crying "Palestinians will always be in Palestine!" — was hauled out of the room as Friedman sat silently with his notes in hand. 

Under questioning during the Senate session, Friedman apologized for using inflammatory rhetoric during the heat of the Trump campaign. 

But the attorney also continued to flatly assert that a two-state solution is unlikely in part because of the influence of Hamas, which he called a "terrorist organization" seeking "the destruction of Israel."

He also condemned the influence of Hamas as damaging to economic development in the Gaza Strip, saying no progress could be made in the region without limiting the group's involvement. 

The hearing interruptions continued, including from one woman who jumped up to shout at Friedman while wearing a hand-lettered "Stop Settlements" placard.

Demonstrators also blew a shofar, the ceremonial ram's horn used as part of Jewish High Holidays observances, and yelled that Friedman doesn't represent the views of American Jews. 

Protesters were escorted from the room as they sang "Olam Chesed Yibaneh," a song of peace.

When the hearing continued following a recess, Friedman told Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, in response to a pointed question about his past "intemperate" statements that he could and would try to steer the Trump administration toward a posture of acceptance on the age-old Israel-Palestine conflict. 

"I think it's extraordinarily important [to] cause the issue of Israel not to be a political football," Friedman said.

Friedman's stop-and-go hearing came a day after Trump appeared at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eased off a longstanding policy of U.S. insistence that a two-state arrangement is the only way to achieve peace.

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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