WASHINGTON (CN) - President Donald Trump's pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel piled on apology after apology at his confirmation hearing Thursday for firebrand remarks that Democrats say make him unfit for the job.
One remark that tripped up attorney David Friedman this afternoon was his statement that Jews who advocate for peace with Palestine are “far worse” than the concentration-camp prisoners who helped their Nazi captors supervise forced labor.
Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., called Friedman "profoundly unfit" to serve based on his history of "offensive, inflammatory and insulting rhetoric.”
"If we confirm him we are running a dangerous risk that Mr. Friedman will inflame a volatile situation and inflame other foreign governments in the region," Udall said.
"We need a steady hand in the Middle East, not a bomb thrower in a position of high power and responsibility," Udall added.
More than once during the hearing, Friedman apologized, expressed regret and said he could not rationalize some of his prior public statements.
"I have and will continue to reject inflammatory comments," Friedman said in response to Udall's comments.
Friedman said he has reached out in recent months to make amends with those he has offended and hurt.
After several hours of sometimes uncomfortable questioning, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called Friedman's disavowals “fairly extraordinary,” a dramatic departure from what normal politicians sometimes have to do.
"I'm just curious about this job and its importance to you to be willing to recant every single strongly held belief that you have," added Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Friedman called strengthening the bond between the U.S and Israel of utmost importance to him. "This is something that I really want to do because I think I can do it well," he said.
It was just this past June that Friedman called those aligned with the liberal Jewish, pro-peace advocacy group J Street as "far worse than kapos,” the word Jews use for concentration-camp prisoners who supervised forced labor for the Nazis.
"I have profound differences of opinion with J Street," Friedman said, noting that he does not think that will change.
"My regret is that I did not express those views respectfully," he added.
Democratic senators also raked Friedman over the coals Thursday for calling former President Barack Obama an anti-Semite and calling Sen. Tim Kane an Israel basher. Kane had been Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the November presidential election.
In his prepared testimony, Friedman tried to reassure the senators that they can expect to see different behavior from him once confirmed.
"From my perspective, the inflammatory rhetoric that accompanied the presidential campaign is entirely over, he said. “If I am confirmed, you should expect that my comments will be respectful and measured," he added.
Udall voiced skepticism of this. "Anyone who disagrees with his extreme views or approach to Israel is an anti-Semite," Udall said.