U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman lashed out at Haaretz on Friday morning after Gideon Levy, one of Haaretz's opinion writers, published a piece criticizing him and his donation of an ambulance to West Bank settlement. Friedman made his donation public this week after Itamar Ben Gal from the Jewish community of Har Bracha was murdered in a terror attack.
"What has become of Haaretz?" Friedman tweeted, writing: "Four young children are sitting shiva for their murdered father and this publication calls their community a 'mountain of curses.' Have they no decency?"
Friedman was referencing an opinion piece by Gideon Levy, who wrote: "With Friedman’s ambulance or without it, Har Bracha (literally, 'Mountain of Blessing') is a mountain of curses. It was a settlement established, like all the others, to poke a stick in the Palestinian eye and drive a stake into any chance of an agreement. A provocation. In the case of Har Bracha, the stick in the eye is palpable; it overlooks Nablus and threatens its development. Because of Har Bracha, Nablus periodically turns into a prison."
In response, Haaretz's publisher Amos Schocken responded on Twitter, writing: "Mr. Ambassador Gideon Levy is right. As long as the policy of Israel – that your government and yourself support – is obstructing [the] peace process, practical annexation of the [West Bank] territories, perpetuating apartheid, fighting terror but willing to pay its price, there will be more Shivas."
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An Orthodox bankruptcy lawyer who has for years worked for Trump and his real estate development business, Friedman was one of Trump's main emissaries to the Jewish community during his presidential campaign. Friedman served as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, an organization that raises several million dollars a year for projects in that settlement, where he has several close friends, Haaretz has revealed. Plaques bearing Friedmans name and those of other family members appear on buildings in the settlement, including a school built illegally on private Palestinian land. He also gave money to settle Jews in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.
In his text, Levy quoted Friedman, who "thought the ambulance would only be used to transport healthy babies" and calls out his choice to donate to an Israeli settlement.
"Because Friedman is Friedman there is nothing to say; he always does things in the best possible way. He located the place most in need of an ambulance. Not Gaza or Balata; his people don’t live there so those places are outside the realm of his charity and humanity. He didn’t consider Netivot or Shlomi either, because “the poor of one’s own city come first,” and Friedman’s city is the settlements. Friedman donated the ambulance to Har Bracha. The expert on insolvency, who made his fortune from the bankruptcies of others, chose that place above all others.
"Friedman has the right to donate as he wishes, but it’s clear that his choice testifies not just to his political outlook but also to his moral makeup. The United States also has the right to appoint an ambassador who believes in encouraging and funding war crimes and violations of international law. Here in the land of eternal begging, that’s what was missing – an ambulance for Har Bracha.
"The impartial ambassador, envoy of the honest broker, whose only wish is to establish a just peace in the region, remembered his ambulance this week after the murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal of Har Bracha, for whom the ambulance made no difference," Levy wrote.