The Trump administration’s strenuous protests against the “son of a dog” cuss-word that Mahmoud Abbas used to describe Ambassador David Friedman are a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Representatives of a U.S. president who won’t control his mouth, who has turned gutter talk into official White House parlance, who uses personal insults as a political weapon of choice and who only recently called NBC’s Chuck Todd a “sleepy-eyed son of a bitch” – are outraged by Abu Mazen’s foul language and lack of decorum. In the race for the height of hypocrisy, America is clearly ahead.
Even though Abbas’ expletive was indeed reprehensible, Friedman is the last one who can complain. Before he was appointed as envoy, Friedman wrote that Barack Obama was anti-Semitic, that J-Street followers are worse than kapos and that Mahmoud Abbas is a liar and crook. Since taking up office, Friedman has moderated his personal smears but often serves as a mouthpiece for Jewish settlers and as the fiercest critic, as if it was actually part of his job, of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.
The very appointment of a U.S. Ambassador who publicly identifies with the messianic wing of the Jewish right could only be possible in the strange days of Donald Trump, in which ludicrous seems to be the ideal.
Together with Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, Friedman belongs to an American peace team that is exclusively comprised of Orthodox Jews with a proven penchant for Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies.
Political correctness has minimized public discussion of this blatant common ground, but one can only imagine the maelstrom that would have broken out if Barack Obama, for example, had appointed Palestinian professor Rashid Khalidi as his ambassador in Tel Aviv and American-Arabs such as former envoy George Mitchell and former Governor John Sununu to his peace team. “Son of a dog” wouldn’t even rate as an appetizer.
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Friedman is at the cutting edge of coordinated U.S.-Israeli policy that seeks to subdue the Palestinians and master them. Trump’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem, the transfer of the U.S. Embassy there and his insistence that “Jerusalem is now off the table” may have been greeted in Israel as a sign of redemption or, at the very least, recognition of existing reality, but Palestinians viewed these moves as an American attempt to humiliate them and dictate terms.
Any last doubts they may have harbored about Trump’s ultimate intentions were removed by Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who have stated in recent days that U.S. policy is “shock treatment”, meant to bring Abbas and the Palestinians down to what passes on their own rigid right as reality.
It’s not surprising that Friedman was the first to draw the anti-Semitism card, as if he was suddenly no longer the embodiment of an administration that Palestinians view as hostile but just another helpless Jew, persecuted for his beliefs and appearance. After all, Friedman and others of his ilk are at the forefront of the right-wing campaign to equate any criticism of Israel or its policies with hatred of Jews.
He frequently lambasts incitement in Palestinian schools or their leaders’ refusal to denounce terror, but never actually mentions the occupation, which, based on his previous statements, doesn’t even exist, as far as he’s concerned.
Friedman represents the policies pursued by the Trump administration and the GOP – influenced and supported by Netanyahu and some of Trump’s ultra-right backers – that sideline Abbas’ willingness to negotiate and fight terror to focus instead on his missteps and deficiencies. He is being set up as an arch-terrorist in the eyes of the world but as an empty vessel in the eyes of his own people. And when the Palestinian leader loses it for a minute and uses a common Arabic epithet, Netanyahu, Friedman and all the other Trump aficionados don’t even blush when they argue that it proves that Abbas is unworthy.