Ambassador Friedman: I was more mortified than any Palestinian

US Ambassador to Israel says picture thrust on him with Temple replacing mosques 'unacceptable,' says US deserves respect from PA.

Gary Willig ,

Ambassador Friedman with the offensive photo
Ambassador Friedman with the offensive photo
Yisrael Cohen/ Kikar Hashabbat

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he was "more mortified" than "any Palestinian" when an image of the Temple Mount with the Holy Temple digitally imposed over the Dome of the Rock was thrust in front of him during a tour in Bnei Brak.

"I was more mortified than anyone else, than any Palestinian, when I saw a picture of myself next to that poster. Somebody just shoved it in front of me and took a picture" the ambassador told Hadashot News Wednesday."

"Of course this is unacceptable to me and that the US respects the status quo on Haram al Sharif [the Temple Mount]. It's just an unfortunate thing and I felt terrible that people might have reacted to that the way they did," he added.

However, Ambassador Friedman criticized the Palestinian Authority's demonization of him following the incident.

Earlier, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' adviser called Ambassador Friedman the "spiritual father of racism."

"The ambassador to the occupation has become the extremist father of extremism and racism," he said. "This is outrageous incitement by a diplomat who is biased and extremist, and issues clear calls to religious terror. This is a dangerous precedent which aims to incite disagreements."

Ambassador Friedman said in response that “the US has given over $5 billion to the Palestinians since the 1990s. There is no country that comes close in financial aid and to trying to help the Palestinians build better lives."

He added that the US does not "deserve this treatment."

The picture which sparked the controversy was a real photograph of the modern Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount with the Holy Temple digitally imposed over the Dome of the Rock, was presented to Ambassador Friedman by the "Achiya" organization during a tour in Bnei Brak.

The publication of the picture on the haredi news site Kikar Hashabbat aroused outrage among left-wing activists on social networks, despite the fact that the picture was thrust on him without his knowledge.

In a statement, the US Embassy said, "Ambassador Friedman was not aware of the image thrust in front of him when the photo was taken. He was deeply disappointed that anyone would take advantage of his visit to Bnei Brak to create controversy. ‎The US policy is absolutely clear: we support the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount."