U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman fired back at The New York Times on Wednesday over an article castigating him for claiming that Israel was “on the side of God” while speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the upcoming U.S. peace proposal.
Speaking to a group of evangelical faith leaders at the Aish Hatorah World Center, overlooking the Western Wall plaza and the Temple Mount, Friedman said that, “apparently, there was nothing more offensive I could have said to The New York Times.”
The event, organized by the Latin Coalition for Israel, led by Pastor Mario Bramnick, was also attended by First Lady of Guatemala Patricia Marroquín, Guatemalan Ambassador to Israel Mario Búcaro Flores and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon.
The Times called Friedman’s comments “the latest sign of an anything but evenhanded approach to the conflict by the Trump administration,” and noted that Palestinians were “slack-jawed” at Friedman’s remarks. The article claimed that the “Palestinians [were] complaining that Mr. Friedman was representing the interests of Israel’s right-wing government more than those of the United States.”
The article quoted critics of Friedman’s statements, including former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, and Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erakat and Hanan Ashwari, the latter of whom was recently denied an entry visa to the United States.
Friedman defended his remarks, saying that “billions of people around the world accept the Old Testament as part of their faith.” He explained that the Old Testament chronicles the Jewish people’s initial arrival and subsequent exiles from the land of Israel.
“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.”
Following the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has continuously criticized mainstream media outlets, and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, who recently called the Times a “cesspool of hostility” to Israel, Friedman fired back sharply at the paper, stating, “If anyone speaks to the editors of the Times, they should tell the Times to spend a little less time to defending terrorists and spend a little more time defending the truth.”