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Did US envoy to Israel help facilitate donations to far-right settler group?

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman [U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Flickr]
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman [U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Flickr]

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was president of a pro-settler organisation during a time when it donated tens of thousands of dollars to a far-right Israeli non-profit, reported Haaretz.

Between 2008 and 2013, Friends of Beit El Yeshiva donated 372,000 shekels (approximately $93,000) to Komemiut, a group whose full name in English is “Independence, Spirit and Heroism for Jewish Israel”, and whose key activists have included current Jewish Home Member of the Knesset Bezalel Smotrich.

According to Haaretz, “those were years when Friedman was very active in the Friends organisation, even before he became president of the Friends organisation [in December 2011]”.

Komemiut, the paper explains, “aspires to turn Israel into a state bearing a Jewish-religious character in the spirit of the precepts of the Torah, and advocates weakening ‘secular institutions’ such as the media and the courts.”

In addition, “heading the list of Komemiut rabbis that appears on the organisation’s website is Dov Lior”, described by Haaretz as “a consistent supporter of the ‘transfer’, or expulsion” of Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied West Bank.

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According to Ran Cohen, of new NGO Democratic Bloc, “the president of a foundation bears responsibility far beyond an honourable title and [attending] gala dinners.”

“Throughout his years as president of Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, Friedman enjoyed full credit for the foundation’s activity and reaped public benefits from it. Just as he took credit for its successes, he must now take responsibility for its support for neo-Kahanism and for racism.”

Friedman’s office told Haaretz that “the Ambassador is not familiar” with Komemiut, and “nor is he aware of any connection between those entities and American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva Centre.”

The US envoy has previously been rebuffed following remarks he has made on the Palestine-Israel conflict in which he described illegal Jewish only settlements in the occupied West Bank as being “part of Israel”.

Friedman has also referred to the “alleged” occupation.

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