Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians railed against Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, after the the Palestinian Authority president launched an angry attack on US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, calling him a “son of a dog.”
Netanyahu said Abbas’s words were indicative of Palestinian frustration with the US in the wake of moves by the Donald Trump administration that have dovetailed with Israeli policy, such as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and offering scant condemnation of settlement building.
“Mahmoud Abbas’s attack on US Ambassador David Friedman says it all,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “For the first time in decades, the American administration has stopped pampering the Palestinian leaders and tells them, that’s it. Apparently the shock of the truth has caused them lose their cool.”
Abbas launched an attack Monday on Friedman, calling him a “son of a dog” and a “settler.”
Many in Israel, including Friedman himself, translated the term as “son of a bitch,” a stronger insult than what Abbas seems to have intended, prompting an accusation by the ruling Palestinian party Fatah on Twitter that Israelis had “distorted” his speech.
Mentioning US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the country’s embassy in Israel to the city, Abbas had said Trump “views the settlements as legitimate.”
“More than one official has said that,” Abbas added, speaking at the opening of a Palestinian leadership meeting. “The ambassador, David Friedman, said they’re building on their own land. You son of a dog, building on their own land?! You are a settler and your family are settlers!”
“Son of a dog” is a pejorative in Arabic, open to multiple interpretations. It is seen by some as analogous to “son of a bitch,” by others as relatively mild, and but by still others as more serious given the reference to an animal.
But the Arabic term has entered Israeli slang and is used by many Hebrew-speakers as more insulting than it is in Arabic, perhaps the reason Abbas’s use prompted particularly strong Israeli reactions.
MK Michael Oren reacted on Twitter and said, “By personally and crudely disparaging my distinguished colleague Ambassador David Friedman, Mahmoud Abbas has insulted Americans and Israelis alike. Can he really be a peace partner? Should his representative continue to work in Washington?”
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said that Abbas’s remarks were “worthy of every condemnation possible. I call on the entire international community, led by the countries that donate money to the Palestinians, to strongly condemn the words and consider sanctions if he doesn’t retract them.”
Responding to the comment while at an anti-Semitism conference in Jerusalem, Friedman himself quoted the insult, translating the term in English to “son of a bitch.”
“Anti-Semitism or political discourse? I leave this up to you,” he told the audience.
Friedman earlier Monday slammed the PA for not condemning a spate of deadly attacks that have killed two Israeli soldiers and a civilian in the past four days.
“Tragedy in Israel,” Friedman posted to his Twitter feed. “2 young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the north, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists. Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded — so much sadness.”
Tragedy in Israel. 2 young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the North, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists. Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded – so much sadness.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) March 19, 2018
Friedman is known for making comments aligning himself with the Israeli right-wing, as well as for supporting projects in settlements.
Abbas has made a series of bitter speeches since Trump recognized Jerusalem, and is now boycotting the US administration.
In an address in January, Abbas called Israel a “colonial project” unrelated to Judaism, implied that European Jews chose to die in the Holocaust rather than go to pre-state Palestine, and claimed that first prime minister David Ben-Gurion forced Mideast Jews to come to Israel.
The comments came amid roiling Palestinian anger at the US over the Jerusalem decision, with Ramallah rejecting Washington’s role in attempting to broker peace talks.
This article was updated to elaborate on the definition of “son of a dog.”