What's missing in this photo of Jerusalem that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is looking at? The Dome of the Rock & Al-Aqsa Mosque. Removing the Islamic holy sites is a long-term goal of far-right Israeli Jewish extremists who want to erase Palestinians from Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/Y0AnKbAm2B— The IMEU (@theIMEU) May 22, 2018
It’s almost as if they aren’t even trying to hide their intentions anymore.
The photo, which circulated widely online Tuesday, showed Friedman during a visit to Bnei Brak in Israel. The trip was organized by the nongovernmental organization Achiya, which helps students with learning disabilities.
But during the visit, Friedman posed next to a poster showing the city of Jerusalem as many Israeli Jewish extremists dream it will someday look: with the Third Jewish Temple standing where the Dome of the Rock now stands.
The region known as the Noble Sanctuary, or al-Haram al-Sharif, is where both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located. For Muslims, Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third holiest site. Simply erasing it from a Jerusalem map shows just how far some Israelis are willing to go to see Muslims disappear.
On social media, many people criticized the American official, saying that the picture reveals the U.S. sides with Israeli hardliners who want to obliterate Palestinians from the region.
In Bnei Brak, @USAmbIsrael David Friedman joyfully receives a picture displaying the Temple Mount. Ominously, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque have been photo-shopped out, replaced by a Jewish temple. https://t.co/cA2lolgPcy— Ron Skolnik (@Ron_Skolnik) May 22, 2018
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman poses next to photo of Jerusalem where Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque are photoshopped out with the Third Temple taking their place. And, his guy represents both sides? Here he is giving credit to a radical-right Jewish messianic group. pic.twitter.com/OhqvYwOiwg— Louis Fishman (@Istanbultelaviv) May 22, 2018
After the backlash, Achiya apologized for the staff member’s “cheap political act.”
The U.S. embassy also apologized, saying that Friedman “was not aware of the image thrust in front of him when the photo was taken. He was deeply disappointed that anyone would take advantage of his visit to Bnei Brak to create controversy."
The embassy added that the U.S. position is “absolutely clear,” and that they support the current status of the Noble Sanctuary.
Before this controversial image appeared online, Friedman was clear as to what nation he truly supports.
In a piece for Fox News, Friedman accused the ”liberal media” in the United States of giving Hamas’ “rioting in Gaza” all the coverage just to undermine the “beautiful and uplifting event” of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
He even blamed Hamas for the slaughter of 100 unarmed Palestinians.
“Some 60 Gazans, the overwhelming majority of whom were known Hamas terrorists, lost their lives because Hamas turned them into a collective suicide bomb," he wrote. "They were neither heroes nor the peaceful protesters they were advertised to be."
Having a diplomat so openly siding with one nation in a conflict may not be a scandal in America, but it should be. After all, the way the Israeli government and its apologists act toward Palestinians may indicate that even if there was no Hamas, they would still justify their killing some other way.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Amir Cohen