U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Melech Friedman donated an ambulance 20 years ago. This week he was reminded of it. The ambassador is a philanthropist and that’s impressive. He donated the ambulance to a distressed area on the verge of a humanitarian disaster, a place where people are dying of starvation, poverty and disease, get no government assistance and work hard to make a living. The ambulance was their lifeline. Friedman thought the ambulance would only be used to transport healthy babies, he wrote this week, but there are no ambulances that carry only healthy babies. We can forgive him this deception; it’s not the most serious deception by the occupation-friendly ambassador.
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. As if the budgets slated for the settlements were not enough; as if a country rich enough to buy submarines for billions can’t buy its own ambulance.
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. Yuli Edelstein, the Knesset speaker and self-appointed candidate for prime minister or president, whichever comes first, is perhaps less of a philanthropist than the ambassador, but he promised the punishment: Har Bracha will be declared a city. Maybe even a metropolis.
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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, as it was during the second intifada. Because of it and other settlements like it, the Israeli army “operates” in Nablus as if it owns it, as it did during the past few days, indiscriminately wounding and killing as it hunted down the terrorist.
When Har Bracha turns into a city, God forbid, Nablus, the former center of Palestinian economic and cultural life, will turn into a ghost town, dead, a ruined city. After all, that’s the goal. Whoever wants to turn Har Bracha into a city, like the Knesset speaker does, secretly wants to remove the Palestinians from Nablus. Anyone who believes in the two-state solution would of course have removed Har Bracha and its ilk a long time ago, or at least halted their malignant spread. Rabbi David Dudkovich, rabbi of the neighboring settlement, Yitzhar, said on Tuesday, in neo-Nazi Hebrew, “We’re in charge here. This isn’t some Mohammed, it’s a nation that lives by the sword against a nation that brings good to the world. They aren’t partners in this land, they are total strangers. It would behoove us to remove this murderous nation.” Maybe Friedman will donate an ambulance to them too.
So now America is with Har Bracha and Friedman is with Har Bracha and Edelstein is with Har Bracha, and soon we will all be Har Bracha. There’s already tahini in Har Bracha and a hotel in Har Bracha and even an ambulance, donated by America, in Har Bracha. Soon it will be a city.