(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman “a son of a dog” on Monday, with Friedman responding with a question: “Antisemitism or political discourse? Not for me to judge, I will leave that up to you.”
The US administration “has said that settlement building is legitimate,” Abbas said. “That’s what several American officials have said including, first and foremost, their ambassador in Tel Aviv, David Friedman. He said [settlers] are building on their land. Son of a dog, they are building in their land? He is a settler and his family members are settlers.”
While he has supported projects in settlements before becoming ambassador, Friedman lives in the official residence of the US ambassador in Herzliya.
Friedman’s comments came during a speech in Jerusalem at the Sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. He read about Abbas’ comments – which were delivered in a speech to a meeting of the Palestinian leadership at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah – just minutes before he delivered his speech.
The mudslinging between the two politicians is part of the deterioration of US-Palestinian relations in advance of the anticipated peace plan by US President Donald Trump.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement taking Abbas to task for his “verbal attack” on Friedman “For the first time in decades, the American administration has stopped pampering the Palestinian leaders and says to them: ‘Enough is enough...’ Apparently, the shock from the truth is causing them to lose their tempers,” he said in a statement.
Abbas was responding to a tweet earlier in the day by Friedman, who wrote of the recent terrorist attacks: “Tragedy in Israel.
Two young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the North, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists. Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded – so much sadness,” Friedman tweeted.
In his speech to the antisemitism conference, Friedman explained the tweet, saying that he merely “observed something that was unfortunate and obvious. I observed this morning that three Jews were killed in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists, and the reaction from the Palestinian Authority was deafening. No condemnation whatsoever. I pointed that out without further commentary.”
Abbas’s response, he said calmly, “was to call me the son of a dog.”
Friedman spoke of how in polite circles in his hometown of New York it is completely unacceptable to express antisemitic sentiments, but fine to say that Israel has turned into Nazis against the Palestinians.
“To accuse Israel of Nazism, apartheid, or institutionalized bigotry because of well-intentioned good faith efforts to protect its inhabitants against terrorists is to be an antisemite,” he said. “Plain and simple.”
This was not the first time that one of Friedman’s tweets following a terrorist attack has triggered Palestinian ire.
In early February, Friedman responded to the terrorist attack in Ariel, in which Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal from Har Bracha was killed, with a similar tweet: “Twenty years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies. Instead, a man from Har Bracha was just murdered by a terrorist, leaving behind a wife and four children.
Palestinian ‘leaders’ have praised the killer. Praying for the Ben-Gal family.”
Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in response to that tweet, “The statements by the US ambassador lead us to wonder about the ambassador’s relationship with the occupation: Does he represent the US or Israel? The ambassador’s advice and consultations, which are not aimed at achieving a just peace based on international legality, have led to this crisis in US-Palestinian relations.”
After the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach near Gilad Farm in January, Friedman tweeted: “An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists.
Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further as to why there is no peace. Praying for the bereaved Shevach family.”
That tweet elicited this response from the PA: “The American ambassador in Tel Aviv is known for his predetermined positions, which reflect a total bias in favor of the occupation and settlement.”