AMP staffers arrested protesting David Friedman’s hearing at Senate Foreign Relations Committee

February 17, 2017

(WASHINGTON DC 02/16/2017) -- Capitol Police arrested two staff members from the American Muslims for Palestine after they disrupted confirmation hearings for David Friedman, President Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.

During Friedman's remarks, Kareem El-Hosseiny, AMP’s government affairs coordinator, and Taher Herzallah, associate director of outreach and community organizing, stood up, holding Palestinian flags, and loudly protested the bankruptcy lawyer's pro-settlement and anti-Palestinian bias. 

They were joined by members of Code Pink and If Not Now. In total, Capitol Police arrested six people.

“Friedman is very open about his pro-settlement stance and his willingness to support the annexation of these settlements into Israel,” said El-Hosseiny. “Several former American envoys have publicly stated that Friedman is unfit for the role of Ambassador to Israel because of his ‘extreme positions,’ that make him ‘unqualified for the position,”

El-Hosseiny was referring to a letter signed by five former ambassadors to Israel that was sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asking members to reject Friedman’s nomination. They suggested Friedman would not uphold decades of U.S. foreign policy in the region.

AMP has taken several actions to block Friedman’s confirmation, including having supporters email their senators and call Sens. Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, foreign relations committee chairman and ranking member, respectively. At last count, hundreds of people have taken action.

Friedman has no diplomatic experience and holds biased views on the Middle East that favor the extremist settler movement. The New York Times editorial board has said Friedman would be “far more likely to provoke conflict in Israel and the occupied territories, heighten regional tensions and undermine American leadership.”

AMP agrees. Friedman is the president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva, a pro-settlement organization that raises money for Beit El, a settlement near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Contrary to decades of U.S. policy that views settlements as illegal, illegitimate and an obstacle to peace, Friedman supports expansionist policies and Israeli annexation of the West Bank. He also has vowed to serve as ambassador from the “U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

U.S. policy has always viewed settlements as illegal and illegitimate, a position backed up with the December 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which confirmed Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have “no legal validity.” The resolution, which passed on 14 votes and the historic U.S. abstention, also does not recognize land annexed by Israel into Jerusalem outside the June 4, 1967 lines.

“We felt strongly that Friedman is so wrong for this position that we were willing to engage in civil disobedience,” Herzallah said. “He is bad for Palestinians and he’s bad for America’s national interests. We need to get this message across.”

 The two staffers, along with other activists, were released with various civil disobedience charges.