U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visited an Israeli settlement last week during a long weekend of visits to settlements by senior Republicans that was splashed across social media, including a shindig in Jerusalem where former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee performed the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Sweet Home Alabama.”
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 29, 2018
In the West Bank settlement of Adam, Friedman was pictured speaking with relatives of Yotam Ovadia, an Israeli who was killed the prior week at the age of 31 in an attack by a Palestinian. He gave a strong condemnation of the attack, telling mourners, “I was heartbroken to see the tragic impact of the murder of Yotam Ovadia – a young mother left alone to care for two small children, parents grieving for their only son. Words are insufficient to describe the evil and barbarity of the terrorist act.”
Friedman also posted criticisms of Palestinian leadership, who spoke out against his visit to the settlement, before and after the trip.
“All life is sacred, but premeditated murder cries out for condemnation. Not hearing it from Palestinian leadership,” he posted to social media.
Shocked to hear of the brutal terror attack in Adam that left 31 year-old Yotam Ovadia dead and two others injured. My heartfelt prayers for all the families. All life is sacred, but premeditated murder cries out for condemnation. Not hearing it from Palestinian leadership.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) July 27, 2018
Yesterday I visited a young widow grieving the death of her husband, murdered last week by a Palestinian terrorist. I was heartbroken by her tears and those of her in-laws who had lost their only son. Today, the PA Foreign Ministry condemned my visit. Nothing more to say.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) July 31, 2018
Settler leaders took note that Friedman has met with Israelis living in West Bank settlements more than any other ambassador and questioned if the Trump administration had quietly overturned a longstanding ban on senior diplomats conducting official embassy visits in Israeli settlements.
“It seems as if we are talking about a change in U.S. policy with respect to the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria,” the spokesman for the Binyamin Regional Council said in a statement.
Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat and foreign envoy for a settler group, told the Jerusalem Post, “It is encouraging to see Israelis treated equally by the [White House] without paying attention to where they live, in stark contrast to the previous administration.”
The meeting in Adam was Friedman’s second official visit to a settlement since beginning his post as ambassador last year.
— Avi Hyman (@AviHyman) July 29, 2018
The night before Friedman was filmed at a party in Jerusalem with senior GOP officials on a tour of Israel and the settlements. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee played “Sweet Home Alabama” to a crowd that included former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.
— Jacob Magid (@JacobMagid) August 1, 2018
Huckabee and Scaramucci were in Israel meeting with settler leaders. Yossi Dagan, the head of the settler group the Shomron Regional Council, brought the two to the West Bank settlement of Efrat where Huckabee laid a stone in a construction site in front a red and white banner that read “Build Israel Great Again,” an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan.
praying at the burial place of the fathers & mothers of the Nation of Israel at The Ma’arat HaMachpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hevron with our wonderful delegation headed by @GovMikeHuckabee @Scaramucci & Dr Joe Frager pic.twitter.com/APj6DZGluM
— Rabbi Chanina Sperlin (@ChaninaSperlin) July 31, 2018
Honored to visit Judea & Samaria and meet Shomron Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan along with true friends of Jewish state @GovMikeHuckabee Anthony @Scaramucci Am Yisrael Chai pic.twitter.com/CRt00Tex1U
— Rabbi Chanina Sperlin (@ChaninaSperlin) July 30, 2018
Huckabee and Scaramucci can be seen in pictures on social media touring the Tomb of the Patriarchs or Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. And Scaramucci posted images of an outing to Rachel’s Tomb, another religious site located in the West Bank outside of Bethlehem.