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Congresswoman: Trump envoy’s memoir presents ‘libelous’ account of our meeting

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (second from left) and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (second from right) are seen during a meeting at the David Citadel Hotel on May 30, 2018. (J Street)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (second from left) and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (second from right) are seen during a meeting at the David Citadel Hotel on May 30, 2018. (J Street)

Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is accusing former president Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel David Friedman of presenting an “unequivocally false account” of a 2018 meeting they held in his new book “Sledgehammer,” which was released earlier this month.

In Friedman’s telling, the former envoy met with a congressional delegation visiting Israel that was organized by the dovish Middle East lobby J Street.

Friedman writes that Jayapal opened up the meeting by tying her experience visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum to her visit to the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar, which is slated for demolition by Israel.

“I certainly have a good sense of the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people… and I must say that [in Khan al-Ahmar] Israel is committing a war crime,” Friedman recalls her as having said.

The envoy proceeds to tear into the congresswoman for tying the two matters together. “I turned to J Street’s leader and then back to the congresswoman: ‘You have been ill served by your tour guides.’ And I walked out,” Friedman writes.

In a statement to The Times of Israel, Jayapal says Friedman’s account is “deeply troubling.”

“As is corroborated by contemporaneous notes, the Holocaust was not a topic of debate nor did Mr. Friedman storm out of the meeting,” she says.

“The libelous account is particularly galling because, while it was clear that our views differed, it was a generally lengthy and respectful meeting that ended cordially as most meetings of this nature do. Mr. Friedman’s attempt to sow false controversy does nothing other than undermine his own credibility,” Jayapal adds, saying she would not allow Friedman to undermine her efforts to work toward a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

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