US/World News

J Street Israel rejects David Friedman’s remorse for ‘kapos’ remark

(JTA) – The Israel director of J Street rejected the expression of regret by David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to the Jewish state, for calling her group “kapos.” Yael Patir maintained during an interview Feb. 17 with Army Radio that the regret expressed Thursday, Feb. 16, by Friedman for applying the term – the Nazi designation for Jewish helpers in the oppression and annihilation of other Jews – was neither sincere nor worthy of being considered a real apology.

“I provided some context for my remarks, but that was not in the nature of an excuse,” Friedman said during a Senate confirmation hearing. “These were hurtful words and I deeply regret them. They’re not reflective of my nature and character.” Asked whether she accepted his apology, Patir said, “He did not apologize. He said ‘I used words I shouldn’t have.’ There’s a difference. There’s nothing to accept or not accept.”

During the hearing, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., pressed Friedman also about past statements that appeared to oppose a two-state solution. Friedman replied that he had been skeptical of a two-state solution, but would welcome any solution arrived at by the Israelis and Palestinians that ended suffering for both peoples.

Patir’s organization is among several left-of-center Jewish groups in the United States and in Israel fighting the nomination. During the interview with Army Radio, Patir fielded critical questions about her organization’s pro-Israel credentials but provided no answer beyond saying she was not familiar with the cases cited and that she would study them. One question concerned J Street pulling out from a 2014 Boston rally in support of Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Hamas in Gaza, which Haaretz reported on. In informing the Boston Jewish Federation of J Street’s decision to quit the rally, Northeast Regional Director Shaina Wasserman wrote: “There was no voice for our concerns about the loss of human life on both sides.”

She was also asked to explain J Street’s stated objection to lobbying by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for U.S. support for Israel amid rebuke over the slaying by Israeli troops of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists aboard a Gaza-bound ship. The troops opened fire after being attacked by the activists. Patir said she was not familiar with J Street’s response to the AIPAC push. J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote in 2010 that AIPAC’s move was “primarily for domestic political consumption rather than to advance the U.S. interest.”

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