By Middle East Affairs
Unbeknownst to him at the time U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took photos holding a doctored picture of an aerial view of Jerusalem showing the Third Temple in the place of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Friedman was touring Bnei Brak held by the Achiya organization which aids children who suffer from learning disabilities when one of the staff members acted on his own accord and gave him the photoshopped picture for a press photo event.
Haaretz was told that the U.S. embassy sought an apology for the stunt, which the organization released in a statement, “We wish to thank the ambassador Mr. David Friedman and the staff members for their professionalism and courtesy… regretfully the entire event was marred by a cheap political act, the responsible staff member was identified and apologizes and we will deal with the matter internally in the organization.”
The ambassador said that he was deeply regretful that anyone would take advantage of his visit to stir up controversy. A statement from the embassy said, “The U.S. policy is absolutely clear: we support the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.”
Before the stunt was revealed, Arab-Muslim Israeli politician and leader of the Arab Movement for Change said, “And this madman wants to bring peace good thing you didn’t put the embassy there!”
Except of course that the U.S. did go against international wishes and relocate its embassy to the holy city of Jerusalem, Paraguay and Guatemala have also followed.
The opening day of the U.S’s embassy in Jersulam was the same day that Israeli soldiers shot and killed 62 Palestinian protestors and injured nearly 3000 in Gaza, the bloodiest day for Palestinians in years.
David Friedman has made controversial comments in the past and is known to have led a group that fundraised tens of millions of dollars for Beit El, what some say is the most radical settlement in the West Bank.
The U.S. ambassador published a report to pressure the U.S. State Department to stop referring to the West Bank as occupied territory. In speaking to Israeli news, Friedman has caused even bigger controversy by making undiplomatic comments such as “Israel is only occupying 2 percent of the West Bank.” He has even spoken that Israel was “always expected: to expand its area of conquest since the Six Day War in 1967, that left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced and went out a home, making them refugees ever since.
The State Department has tried to distance themselves from Friedman, by issuing a statement that says that the U.S still considers the West Bank occupied territory and that his words do not signal a shift in U.S policy. The State Department has not, however, removed him from his position for such bias unfit for the role of a diplomatic ambassador.