David Freidman, the US Ambassador to Israel, is engaged in social media sparring match with Haaretz after the left-wing Israeli news service called a Jewish town in Samaria a “mountain of curses” and accused the “occupation-friendly ambassador” of “deception.” Haaretz received some backing for its claims against Friedman from an outside source: the Palestinian Authority.

Ambassador David Friedman attends the Priestly Blessing. (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)

The conflict began when Haaretz published an opinion piece on Thursday criticizing the US ambassador for a Tweet he posted in response to the terror attack on Monday in which a Palestinian stabbed Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal to death at the entrance to Ariel, a large city in Samaria. Friedman, who is a religious Jew and has a long-time personal connection with Israel, donated an ambulance to Har Bracha in Samaria 20 years ago.

The op-ed in Haaretz criticized Friedman for the “deception” of thinking an ambulance would only be used for babies and for not considering Gaza as a recipient for his largesse. The article referred to the Jewish towns in Samaria as “war crimes and violations of international law”, a claim that is entirely inaccurate.

“We can forgive him this deception; it’s not the most serious deception by the occupation-friendly ambassador,” Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz. The op-ed’s attack turned personal when Levy criticized Friedman for making his fortune as a bankruptcy lawyer.

Levy then referred to the city of Har Bracha (literally, the mountain of blessing) as a “mountain of curses”. The dig was clearly intended as an anti-Bible reference since Har Bracha was established on Mount Gerizim mentioned in the Deuteronomy as the site from which God blessed the Jews before they entered Israel.

When Hashem your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and possess, you shall pronounce the blessing at Mount Gerizim and the curse at HarEival. Deuteronomy 11:29

The article went on to refer to a rabbi of a nearby Jewish town as speaking in “Neo-Nazi Hebrew” and criticized the IDF for  “indiscriminately wounding and killing as it hunted down the terrorist.”

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Friedman responded to the op-ed in Haaretz with a Tweet. (Note: ‘Shiva’, literally ‘seven’, is the seven day period of mourning.

In accordance with the Arab idiom of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, Haaretz has an ally in the Palestinian Authority (PA).  Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, questioned Freidman’s motives in a statement in PA’s Wafa media outlet on Thursday. In response to the murder of the rabbi, Rudeinah blamed the ambassador for providing terrorists with “pretexts for… acts of violence”, and was “making the situation more tense”.

Rudeinah blamed Friedman for the current “crisis in US-Palestinian relations”.

“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?” Rudeinah said, implying that US interests lie with the Palestinians.

Rudeinah’s question leaves an opening for a similar query: The statements by Gideon Levy lead us to wonder about his relationship with what he described as an illegal occupation. Who does Haaretz really represent?

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Source: Israel in the News