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US-Israel relationship is ‘altar’ of ‘holiness,’ and Jerusalem embassy is ‘shrine’ — US ambassador

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There’s been a lot of focus on US Ambassador David Friedman saying at a ceremony in Jerusalem Tuesday that Israel “is on the side of God,” as the New York Times reported.

The religious character of Friedman’s remarks went well beyond that statement. Friedman likened the US-Israel relationship to the “altar” of the original Jewish temple in Jerusalem and called the embassy a “shrine” that people pray to and thank God for. The US and Israel need to get even closer in the coming months, Friedman said, and move toward even greater “holiness.”

Friedman spoke at an event on May 14, marking the first anniversary of the opening of the US embassy in the city, the day in 2018 that saw the killing of more than 60 Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

Here are religious excerpts of Friedman’s speech.

I think we’ve done something that has not been done in some time, we have created a new shrine in the ancient city of Jerusalem and we’re extremely proud of it. [Applause]… What I get perhaps the greatest satisfaction from… [are] the tourists who come to visit the embassy… I kid you not, people got on their knees and they prayed to god that they had seen this day, that this day had arose…  They took pictures, there were people in tears, there were people were in deep moments of prayer. The reactions frankly were stunning and moving, and I can’t get enough of that.

When people say the embassy move was “just symbolic,” Friedman disagrees.

That just cannot be further from the truth. The move of the embassy was a validation by the strongest nation in the world, not just strong militarily, strong economically, but strong morally, strong ethically, with a bedrock of Judeo-Christian  values that govern every citizen’s attachment to this country. That country recognized the unbreakable, historical truthful connection between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. That is not symbolic. That is the farthest thing from symbolic.

Friedman then hinted that the U.S. would go further and recognize Israeli sovereignty in portions of the West Bank.

Now is that enough? Should we be resting on our laurels?… I think the answer is No. With this administration of Mike Pence, and Mike Pompeo and John Bolton and Jared Kusher, Jason [Greenblatt] and me… Some say our most important ally in the region, I would take out the word region. To bring new and bold ideas of cooperation to just make this relationship stronger and stronger and stronger.

Here is the Godly Israel reference.

Is Israel getting stronger? Look, Israel is growing stronger for two reasons. Number one, the objective metric by which Israeli measures itself, the most important one, is how strong is its relationship with the United States and on how many levels. And that keeps growing and growing and getting stronger and stronger and stronger.

And the second is, Israel has one secret weapon that not a lot of countries have. Israel is on the side of God, and we don’t underestimate that.

On the theme of moving forward, Friedman cited the Jewish festival of Passover and the song “Dayenu,” meaning Enough, about “all the incremental steps that God has done for the Jewish people.” Friedman listed all the things that Donald Trump has done for Israel, among them recognizing the Golan as sovereign territory, tearing up the Iran deal, moving the embassy, personally praying at the Western Wall– any of these steps would have been enough, he said. But:

I don’t believe in enough. The parable I like better is the story of the temple in Jerusalem, and the altar… in Jerusalem. If you look at how the temple was constructed…. The altar is built on a ramp. If you’re going up, and you stop, you slide back. To achieve that level of holiness that the altar calls for, you have to keep pushing forward, you have to keep moving forward and forward. And there are consequences to stopping. If you stop, you’re going to slide backwards, and this is something that we don’t want to do. That is I think the model that we should have.

He concluded with Jewish-centric comments, and a reference to the altar of the special relationship.

We’re part of a 4000-year old continuum, a 4000-year-old history. Most of those 4000 years were very difficult years, very unpleasant years, for Jewish people and for non-Jewish people… Israel has grown flourished bloomed in ways that no one could have expected. My grandparents, my great grandparents could not have dreamed of what we have here… We need to keep moving forward, keep moving up the ramp, and I think if we keep doing that we can bring the relationship between the United States and Israel to greater and greater heights.

The Jewish News Service reports that Friedman responded yesterday to controversy over his remarks by doubling down on the religion:

“Most of the prophecies are about the return of the nation of Israel to their land. And it is happening in our lifetime,” Friedman said, adding that “just being in this room is evidence that the prophecy of Ezekiel and others have come true.”

“So where am I off in saying that God is on the side of Israel?” Friedman asked. “The fact that God has fulfilled his prophecies and delivered the people of Israel to their land is demonstrably true.”

Another part of Friedman’s Tuesday speech that was an affront to Palestinians was his claim that the move of the Embassy had no real consequences.

All the predictions, even some of our own predictions, about the risks, about the violence, about the gloom and doom– the reality is that in the entire city of Jerusalem that day, I don’t think more than 20 people got up to protest. I think more people were unhappy about the food they were eating in various restaurants than they were about the move of the embassy to Jerusalem. Of course there was violence that day in Gaza. There had been violence for a month before in Gaza. The violence in Gaza had nothing to do with the opening of the embassy, it had to do with relations between the P.A. and Hamas.

This is not true. As Allison Deger reported in an interview with protest leader Ahmed abu Artema, the move of the embassy was a “gamechanger” for Palestinians in Gaza, and an impetus for the Great March of Return protests, in which over 250 have been killed and thousands injured.

Here’s video of Friedman’s speech, at 1:31:00 or so.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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34 Responses

  1. Tom Suarez on May 16, 2019, 11:16 am

    Thanks to Phil Weiss for this, and brava ! to Katie Miranda.

    • Misterioso on May 17, 2019, 9:49 am

      @Tom Suarez, et al

      Reading between the lines of US Ambassador David Friedman’s ludicrous comments, e.g., Israel “is on the side of God,” I sense creeping panic. Zionists are now acutely aware that because factual information regarding the horrors they have inflicted on the indigenous Palestinians for over 70 years is now so easily accessible, the vital U.S./Israel bond is increasingly and rapidly deteriorating.

      Here’s one example of many:

      https://israelpalestinenews.org/poll-finds-only-41-of-americans-view-israeli-government-favorably/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=8b69879a-7084-47bc-b9d7-0434a9b977d7

      “Poll finds only 41% of Americans view Israeli government favorably”

      “Despite consistently pro-Israel U.S. media coverage, a new Pew poll found that most Americans view the Israeli government unfavorably. According to the poll, ‘Fewer than half (41%) have a favorable view of the Israeli government; a larger share (51%) views the government unfavorably.’

      “In addition, the poll found that about five times more Americans feel that Trump is favoring the Israelis too much than believe he is favoring Palestinians too much.

      “According to the survey, Americans 65 and older ‘are the only age group in which a majority (57%) have a favorable view of the government. Among the youngest adults (those younger than 30), just 27% view Israel’s government favorably.’

      “The poll found that among Republicans, Evangelical Protestants (which include all races) are more likely than non-evangelicals to express a favorable opinion of Israel’s government.

      “In recent years, however, support among evangelical Christians has been slipping.

      “A journalist reporting in 2012 about the ‘the largest gathering of young evangelical leaders in America’ stated: ‘In dozens of random conversations, I noted that Millennials … expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and annoyance with Israel. This is a seismic shift in the American church and a serious threat to Israel’s one traditional area of support.’

      “The recent poll did not measure Jewish views (Pew says that the sampling size was too small to evaluate that demographic). However, a 2013 Pew survey on Jewish Americans showed strong Jewish connection to Israel, combined with criticism of the Israel government.

      “According to the poll, ‘Emotional attachment to Israel has not waned discernibly among American Jews in the past decade,’ with 69% (and 76% of religious) of Jewish Americans feeling attached to Israel.

      “At the same time, however, the poll found: ‘Many American Jews express reservations about Israel’s approach to the peace process. Just 38% say the Israeli government is making a sincere effort to establish peace with the Palestinians.’
      ________________________
      The Pew poll was conducted April 1-15, 2019 among 10,523 American adults.

      • Mooser on May 17, 2019, 11:43 am

        ” This is a seismic shift in the American church and a serious threat to Israel’s one traditional area of support.”

        “Tradition!…Tradition!

      • Maghlawatan on May 17, 2019, 12:49 pm

        The Pew numbers are only going to get worse.
        Israel didn’t understand that the peace process was a very important fig leaf and that the majority of people outside Israel do not regard the colonisation of the West Bank and the martyrdom of Gaza as kosher.

        Israel took on huge risk in 1967 and the costs are beginning to show up.

        Plus mention of God in relation to Israel is disturbing. If God is pro JudeoNazism she must also have blessed the Shoah.

      • Elizabeth Block on May 17, 2019, 6:27 pm

        Much the same in Canada.
        On Monday – it’s a holiday here – there is a Walk With Israel. A group of us will have a presence there, and the Jewish Defence League has threatened to break our legs. Yes, the Zionists are on the defensive, and for good reason. Israel’s strength is the strength of a bully.

  2. Another Dave on May 16, 2019, 11:55 am

    Good thing there’s no such thing as blasphemy anymore. Amirite?

    Gott mit uns. Hmmm, no. That doesn’t really sound better in the ‘original’ German. (yes, I know it’s not the original source of that…)

  3. HarryLaw on May 16, 2019, 12:06 pm

    Most of the Senior Trump appointees responsible for the Middle East John Bolton [Duel citizen Israel], [Mike Pence Evangelical, end timer], Mike Pompeo [Evangelical and waiting for the rapture said Trump sent by God to save Israel], Ambassador Friedman, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt all part of Trump’s negotiating team, all adore Netanyahu and are Israeli firsters. Trump himself, though secular, is beholden to his backers like Sheldon Adelson who said “I’m a one issue guy and that issue is Israel”. There may be nothing unusual about a Politician believing in religion as a personal private matter but US foreign Policy is being driven by extremist religious cranks. It will not end well.

    • Keith on May 16, 2019, 3:40 pm

      HARRY LAW- “John Bolton [Duel citizen Israel]”

      Are you sure? I am unaware that Lutheran John Bolton could qualify.

      • HarryLaw on May 17, 2019, 12:26 pm

        Hello Keith, According to the ‘American Freedom Party’ he is, I did see it somewhere else, although you might be right. Sorry the only link I could find with a short search was this disgusting White supremacist party.
        I tried to post earlier but did not appear, maybe because of the link.

      • DaBakr on May 17, 2019, 4:47 pm

        Bolton is not Israeli.

      • echinococcus on May 17, 2019, 8:03 pm

        I’m sure Bolton and Breivik have both earned the title of Righteous Goy and should be given “Israel” citizenship honoris causa.

  4. just on May 16, 2019, 12:10 pm

    Friedman’s words and actions are abominations.

    Katie Miranda’s brilliant & artistic interpretation is sheer genius.

    • bintbiba on May 17, 2019, 8:39 am

      That word [abominations] is far, far too kind in my opinion , but there doesn’t seem to exist a more apt one …..
      but thanks for invoking the harsh horror of it all , dear ‘just’ !

      I find these characters just as terrifying as the Daesh vile and vicious [abominations ] are , if not more … as they do carry such solid immense power protecting them !

      • just on May 19, 2019, 11:46 am

        Hi Bintbiba! It is indeed “harsh horror”.

        This morning I read two interesting articles referencing the warped theology that is being evoked by US influencers/lawmakers/appointed ideologues:

        “The Deadly Consequences of a Dead-on-arrival Trump Mideast Peace Plan

        When the U.S. ambassador states ‘Israel is on the side of God,’ he’s voicing in off-base terms the Trump administration’s one-sided support for Israel. But an excessively pro-Israel ‘ultimate deal’ could tip Israeli-Palestinian relations into apocalyptic territory

        “Israel is on the side of God.” At least, according to U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who stated as much last week at a function commemorating the first anniversary of the U.S. embassy relocation to Jerusalem.

        That may be Friedman’s sincerely held personal belief, but it was off-base for a U.S. diplomat to say in a public venue, even about an American strategic partner like Israel. His comment was a stark reminder that the Trump administration has chosen a side too, shedding any pretense of America as an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

        In this context, a report circulated last weekend on Israel’s Channel 12 from last weekend that the United States would implicitly greenlight Israel’s unilateral annexation of West Bank settlements should be unsurprising. Yet despite all of this, the Trump team is still gearing up to release their perennially-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan next month.

        And the White House’s transparent and excessive one-sidedness begs an important question: when and if the American proposal is released, will it matter? …”

        much more @ https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-the-deadly-consequences-of-a-dead-on-arrival-trump-mideast-peace-plan-1.7255190
        ~~~~~~~~~~

        Then this:

        “Ocasio-Cortez: GOP Trying to Turn U.S. ‘Into a Far-right Christian Theocracy’ …

        Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the Republican Party over the weekend as multiple GOP-led states pass laws limiting access to abortion.

        “To the GOP extremists trying to invoke ‘the unborn’ to jail people for abortion: Where are you on climate change? OH right, you want to burn fossil fuels til there’s hell on Earth. If they were truthful about their motives, they’d be consistent in their principles. They’re not,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted to her 4.2 million followers.

        Ocasio-Cortez has been pushing a “Green New Deal” legislative initiative to slow the effect of climate change and often frames the debate around protecting future generations.

        “What angers me about the GOP’s attempts to turn the United States into a far-right Christian theocracy is how dishonest they are about it,” she wrote. “At least be forthright about your desire to subvert and dismantle our democracy into a creepy theological order led by a mad king.”

        Companies operating in Alabama and Georgia, ranging from Toyota to Netflix, as well as an Alabama music festival faced boycott threats on Friday after the states passed near-total bans on abortion.

        Responding to the United States’ most restrictive laws on the procedure, activists have taken aim at media companies that use Georgia as a production hub and Alabama-based automakers such as Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz. …”

        https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/ocasio-cortez-gop-trying-to-turn-u-s-into-a-far-right-christian-theocracy-1.7256193?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    • RayJosephCormier on May 17, 2019, 8:45 am

      The attitude will lead to A-bom-i-Nations the current sense of the ancient Biblical word.

      • echinococcus on May 17, 2019, 7:57 pm

        Just when we were thinking that it can’t get worse than Obamination, an even deeper abyss opens under our poor feet.

  5. Sibiriak on May 16, 2019, 1:03 pm

    With this administration of Mike Pence, and Mike Pompeo and John Bolton and Jared Kusher, Jason [Greenblatt] and me…

    We’re fcuked!!

    • Mooser on May 16, 2019, 7:47 pm

      “We’re fcuked!!”

      Nah, Vladimir Putin will keep Trump in line. In fact, Putin may have already told Trump to dial it down.
      Thank goodness there is still an adult in charge.

      • Misterioso on May 17, 2019, 10:26 am

        @Mooser

        With fingers crossed, I agree. When push comes to shove, Trump will prove to be what he really is, a creepy, not very bright, cowardly real estate huckster

      • Mooser on May 19, 2019, 1:39 pm

        ” Trump will prove to be what he really is…”

        And Putin will prove to be the Messiah, too.

  6. CHUCKMAN on May 16, 2019, 3:26 pm

    The relationship between Israel and the United States gets sicker as you watch.

    Almost like watching something rot right before your eyes.

    The Ambassador’s words are those of a fanatic, a rather superstitious and dangerous fanatic.

    They have absolutely no place in diplomacy or even government in general.

  7. MHughes976 on May 16, 2019, 4:36 pm

    The prohibition on steps to the altar comes in Exodus 20:26 and is not to discourage stepping back, as the Ambassador supposes, but almost the reverse,, to encourage caution, in particular hasty movement that would expose the priest’s nakedness. The ramp comes from an inference but does not seem to be a necessary one because a Mosaic altar is only 3 cubits high – 4.5 feet or shoulder height. I believe that some Rabbinic interpretations use this passage to urge us not to take big steps in judgement, not something that Trump and his minions remember when dealing with Israel. But then we rarely meet a Zionist who knows his Bible.

    • Mooser on May 17, 2019, 11:09 am

      The Jerusalem Enmbassy is a “shrine”, and the US graciously invites all countries to worship at the shrine of Israel?

  8. Marnie on May 16, 2019, 11:32 pm

    Awesome art work by Katie.

  9. James Canning on May 17, 2019, 11:19 am

    The American ambassador to Israel thinks that Jewish oppression of the Palestinians “is the work of God”? Welcome to the Old Testament.

    • MHughes976 on May 17, 2019, 12:48 pm

      The religion-based argument is always there, at least implicitly. Why is the Jewish experience, ancestry etc.in Palestine the one that counts, other experiences and family links as nothing in comparison? I can only think that it’s because these have an aura of sacredness derived from the Bible.

      • Mooser on May 17, 2019, 2:04 pm

        You shouldn’t get sacred too easily. You’ll get sacred out of your wits, one day.

  10. Elizabeth Block on May 17, 2019, 6:29 pm

    We’ve known for some time that for many Zionist Jews, Israel has taken the place of God. For some Christians too, eh?

  11. Stephen Shenfield on May 18, 2019, 2:08 pm

    Friedman said that God is on the side of Israel. Not that Israel is on the side of God. Why should Israel deign to help God in his petty quarrels?

  12. HarryLaw on May 20, 2019, 11:35 am

    For proof, has Friedman got the actual title deeds signed by God, because as far as I know Hezbollah have first dibs on Gods backing, they are after all called ‘The Party of God’? /S

  13. just on May 21, 2019, 10:32 am

    Ta~da! Here they come again:

    “Majority of Congress Urges Trump to Safeguard Israel’s Interests as Syrian War Ends

    ‘With the region in flux, it remains critical that we reiterate to both friend and foe in the region that we continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself,’ bipartisan letter reads

    Nearly 400 members of Congress signed a bipartisan letter to President Donald Trump calling on him to safeguard Israel’s interests with Syria’s civil war coming to an end.

    The letter sent Monday from members of the House of Representatives and the Senate urged Trump to ensure that Israel has the support and materiel to maintain its qualitative military edge in the region.

    It also wants economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia and Iran to retreat from their support for the Assad regime, and intensifying sanctions on Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that is Iran’s ally.

    “With the region in flux, it remains critical that we reiterate to both friend and foe in the region that we continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” it said.

    The letter was spearheaded by the top foreign policy lawmakers in each chamber: Reps. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, its ranking Republican; and Sens. James Risch, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., its ranking Democrat. …”

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/majority-of-congress-urges-trump-to-safeguard-israel-s-interests-as-syrian-war-ends-1.7271527?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    When, oh when, will the citizens of the US states vote these people out? There is no ‘bipartisanship’ on the Hill except when it comes to Israel. Do Americans ever wonder about this? What does Israel provide to the average American? Does this cozy relationship help or hurt US national security? Do the billions provided to Israel by Congress and the WH contribute to US national security? Does it provide health care, infrastructure, environmental protection, education, etc.? Both Israel and the US have interfered in Syria~ hell, they created much of the mayhem and are responsible for untold misery and disinformation.

  14. just on May 21, 2019, 5:09 pm

    From the Florida swamp:

    “Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to Israel with a large contingent of business leaders — not surprisingly, especially as the GOP woos Jewish voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. But DeSantis’ plan to hold a meeting with his elected Cabinet while he’s there has raised concerns about whether officials are violating the state’s open-meeting laws. The Associated Press reports:

    When DeSantis first announced the trade mission, he noted that his attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner would accompany him, and that the Cabinet would hold a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem during the trip, which runs from May 25 to May 31.

    Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried had previously planned a trade mission to the country, but there was no apparent reason why the other two were going, except for the Cabinet meeting.

    “I see no reason to hold a Cabinet meeting in Israel,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the open-government watchdog group First Amendment Foundation. “And we still don’t have an agenda, so I don’t know what they will be doing at that meeting.”

    By law, the state has to post an agenda seven days before the independently elected Cabinet members meet, except during an emergency. As of Tuesday, the Cabinet website not only didn’t list an agenda for the meeting, it didn’t even have the meeting on the calendar.

    DeSantis’ office isn’t talking about his Israel plans, citing security issues. The Associated Press has made several requests to interview the governor about the trip by phone or in person, and his office said he wasn’t available.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2019/may/21/trump-news-today-live-don-mcgahn-mueller-report-2020-democrats-latest-updates

  15. Ossinev on May 22, 2019, 9:36 am

    @Just
    “Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to Israel with a large contingent of business leaders — not surprisingly, especially as the GOP woos Jewish voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.”

    Yet another jolly for the Benjamin brigade.

    BTW I have always thought references to “wooing etc Jewish voters or votes” as being inherently nonsensical given that the Jewish “population” in the US is miniscule. Benjamins are being sought – not votes.

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