February 13, 2018
News Press Release

ZOA Criticizes Haaretz’s Levy/Schocken for Attack on Israel and Friedman

Amb. David Friedman, Wikimedia Commons

ZOA’s president Morton Klein and ZOA’s Director of Special Projects, Liz Berney, Esq. released the following statement:

The depths to which Jewish Israel-haters sink is extraordinary. Their anti-Israel venality, “anything goes” falsehoods and lack of any compassion for their Israeli Jewish brethren who are innocent victims of Arab terror, are mind-boggling.  The latest example of such hatefulness is a disgraceful op-ed in the far left-wing Haaretz newspaper by Gideon Levy which attacked and cursed Israel, the Jewish town of Har Bracha, and pro-Israel U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.  (“U.S. Ambassador to Israel’s Ambulance,” Haaretz, Feb. 8, 2018.)

Gideon Levy is an anti-Israel BDS-promoter and anti-Israel mouthpiece in Haaretz and elsewhere, who says that everyone should support BDS [anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions] against “all” of Israel.  Levy wrote in another Haaretz article, which was reposted on the main BDS movement website:  “I’m a supporter of BDS.  All Israelis should say ‘I am BDS’.”  As one commenter noted:  “This guy [Levy] lives to bash Israel.  The most negative and vicious personality I’ve ever encountered.” 

Deplorably, Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken wrote that Gideon Levy’s latest hateful screed was correct, and made further unwarranted attacks on Israel. 

Background:  On Monday afternoon February 5, 2018, a 19-year-old Israeli-Arab terrorist brutally stabbed 29-year-old Rabbi and teacher Itamar Ben Gal in the back while Rabbi Ben Gal was waiting for a bus. The Arab terrorist then chased after the Rabbi when the Rabbi attempted to run for help.  Rabbi Ben Gal collapsed, and later died from his wounds. 

Amb. Friedman: “What has become of Haaretz? Four young children are sitting shiva for their murdered father and this publication calls their community a ‘mountain of curses.’  Have they no decency?

Rabbi Ben Gal was a young father of four small children.  Anyone with a smidgen of compassion, anyone with any heart at all, feels heartbroken for Rabbi Ben Gal; and for his bereft young wife and little children, who will grow up without their father; and for Rabbi Ben Gal’s young students, who were distraught when they learned that their beloved teacher was murdered by an Arab terrorist.  (See article and picture of Rabbi Ben Gal and his family, at “Father of Four Murdered in Ariel Terror Attack,” YNet News, Feb. 5, 2018.)

Rabbi Ben Gal had lived with his family in Har Bracha (“Mountain of Blessing”) – a Jewish community in Samaria built upon Mount Gezirim, the Biblical mountain of blessing possessed by the Jewish people, as described in Deuteronomy 11:29.  

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman – a man of great compassion and heart and love of Israel prayed for the Ben Gal family and recalled:  “20 years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies. Instead, a man from Har Bracha was just murdered by a terrorist, leaving behind a wife and four children. Palestinian “leaders” have praised the killer. Praying for the Ben Gal family.”  (David M. Friedman‏ @USAmbIsrael, Feb. 6, 2018.)

Israel-haters Gideon Levy/Haaretz then launched their sickening, unwarranted, multi-pronged attack on Ambassador Friedman, Har Bracha and Israel – without the slightest bit of compassion or prayers for the bereaved Ben Gal family.    

Levy’s Immoral “Morality”:  First, Gideon Levy’s Haaretz op-ed portrayed Ambassador Friedman’s generous gift of an ambulance to the struggling Jewish town of Har Bracha twenty years ago as a moral failing. 

Levy complained that Ambassador Friedman didn’t give the ambulance to Gaza or to an UNRWA camp instead.  Levy failed to mention that Gaza and UNRWA camps receive billions of dollars in international aid, and then use their ambulances to hide and transport rockets, and Hamas terrorists to enable attacks on Israeli civilians.  (It’s often aptly said that HAMAS stands for “Hides Among Mosques, Ambulances & Schools.”)

Thus, in Gideon Levy’s upside-down sense of morality, it’s “immoral” for Jews to give to other struggling Jews – while it’s “moral” for Jews to give to groups who want to murder Jews.

Gideon Levy next, distorted Amb. Friedman’s words.  Levy wrote: “Friedman thought the ambulance would only be used to transport healthy babies, he wrote this week.”  That’s of course not what the Ambassador wrote.  Amb. Friedman wrote that he “hoped” that the ambulance would be used to transport healthy babies – in other words, for the normal, everyday use for an ambulance in a peaceful society. 

It’s heartbreaking that Israeli ambulances must be used to transport so many Jewish and American victims of Palestinian-Arab terror attacks.  But, Gideon Levy fails to acknowledge that the real tragedy here is murderous sprees by Arabs that take so many innocent Jewish lives.

Levy curses the Jewish Mountain of Blessings:  Gideon Levy then curses Har Bracha (mountain of blessings), by calling it a “mountain of curses.”  Levy falsely claims that Har Bracha was established to “poke a stick in the Palestinian eye,” “drive a stake into any chance of an agreement,” and threaten the development of the nearby “Palestinian” city of Nablus. 

Of course, Har Bracha was established, just as its name says, to be a blessing, on the mountain of Jewish blessing, on ancient and modern Jewish land. 

Instead of cursing Jewish communities and the land, perhaps Levy and Haaretz should read the Bible and learn Jewish history, and remember the Torah’s words:  “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.”  (Genesis 13:3

Moreover, Nablus was also, in fact, a Jewish city.  It was the Jewish biblical city of Shechem, a city rich in Jewish history.  Shechem was Abraham’s first stop in Israel, and is the site of Jewish patriarch Joseph’s tomb.  (Joseph’s tomb was ransacked and destroyed by Palestinian-Arab rioters in 2000, at the beginning of the Second Intifada, while Palestinian police who were supposed to protect this Jewish holy site stood by.)  After the Roman conquest of Shechem, the Romans renamed Shechem Neapolis in 72 C.E. to try to de-Judaize it.  Over a thousand years later, in 1099 CE, Arabs Arabized the Roman name to Nablus.   

Har Bracha’s presence has not harmed Nablus’ Arab growth, as Gideon Levy implied.  Censuses from the 1830s pegged Nablus and Jenin’s population at approximately 16,000.  According to Palestinian Authority figures, Nablus’ population grew from 261,000 to 320,000 in the decade between 1997 and 2007. 

Thus, there is no basis for Gideon Levy’s absurd claim that any expansion of Har Bracha’s presence or status would harm Nablus.

Levy’s and Haaretz’s other baseless calumnies:  Gideon Levy also falsely accuses Ambassador Friedman of “believ[ing] in encouraging and funding war crimes and violations of international law” – a complete calumny.  Levy failed to specify exactly what supposed “war crimes” and “violations” he was referring to.  In any event, the presence of Jewish communities on Jewish land such as Har Bracha is neither a “war crime” nor a violation of international law.  As ZOA has repeatedly explained, international law guarantees the right of close Jewish settlement in Judea/Samaria.

Levy’s anti-Semitic attack on Friedman’s profession:  In another particularly low blow that invoked the worst anti-Semitic tropes, Gideon Levy also portrayed Ambassador Friedman as a profiteer “who made his fortune from the bankruptcies of others.”

Amb. Friedman’s bankruptcy work was an honorable endeavor.  As bankruptcy expert and University of Southern California Professor Michael Simkovic told ZOA: “Bankruptcy lawyers don’t cause debtor companies’ financial problems any more than doctors cause the illnesses they treat.  Bankruptcy lawyers help resolve debtors’ financial distress while trying to preserve as much value as possible for the benefit of stakeholders, including investors and  employees.”

Prior to entering public service, Ambassodor Friedman was one of the most respected bankruptcy attorneys in the country.  His work involved saving jobs and companies, and attempting to recoup funds for bondholders.  For instance, in a September 2011 Super Lawyers magazine interview, Friedman explained  We’re just trying to keep [Borders bookstore] alive. We’re totally focused on saving jobs. . . . And that’s the right way to look at a debtor case. When you represent a debtor, you’re really trying to keep the enterprise afloat and get as much value as you can to as many people. Obviously if you can save jobs in the process, that’s great.  

Amb. Friedman’s appropriate response:  Ambassador Friedman appropriately responded to Gideon Levy’s Haaretz op-ed, saying: “What has become of [email protected] ? Four young children are sitting shiva for their murdered father and this publication calls their community a ‘mountain of curses.’  Have they no decency?” (David M. Friedman @USAmbIsrael, 8 Feb 2018). 

ZOA agrees with Ambassador Friedman that Haaretz and Gideon Levy have displayed a total lack of decency and humanity. 

Haaretz publisher displays a similar lack of decency:  Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken then added his own anti-Israel falsehood-filled tweet, telling Ambassador Friedman: “Mr. Ambassador, Gideon Levy is right. As long as the policy of Israel that your Government and yourself support is obstructing the peace process, practical annexation of the territories, perpetuating apartheid, fighting terror but willing to pay its price, there will be more shivas [mourning].”  “US Ambassador Friedman, ‘Haaretz’ Spar on Twitter Over Har Bracha Attack,” by Eric Sumner, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 9, 2018.)   

Why does Amos Schocken and Haaretz spread such falsehoods?  Palestinian Arabs are the ones who continue to obstruct peace, refuse to negotiate, and promote murder and violence against Jews, even paying Arabs to murder Jews – while Israel – with its Arab Knesset members and Arab Supreme Court judges – is the furthest thing from apartheid.

When will these Jewish Israel-haters stop helping enemies who only want to kill fellow Jews and eradicate the Jewish state? 

What is wrong with people such as Amos Schocken and Gideon Levy and publications such as Haaretz that they lack the most basic sense of decency and humanity towards murdered innocent Jews?