US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has lambasted the media for its “biased” coverage of the Great March of Return in Gaza.
Friedman told journalists to “keep your mouths shut until you figure it out,” claiming that most reporters covering the Great March of Return hadn’t bothered to investigate whether Israel had other viable alternatives for “defending its border” besides using live fire.
Speaking in Jerusalem, the Ambassador explained that “it seems to me that in a journalistic environment where nine out of ten articles that are written about the Gaza conflict are critical of Israel, you would think that some journalists would take the time to go meet with experts and understand what could have been done differently before they criticise – and I just haven’t seen it.”
According to Haaretz, Friedman primarily directed his accusations at “my friends in the United States and one Israeli newspaper I’ve been known to criticise.” Haaretz believes Friedman was referring to its own publication, which the ambassador has previously criticised after the paper slated his donation of an ambulance to an illegal West Bank settlement.
Friedman is known to have close links with illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In May, it was revealed that Friedman was president of pro-settler organisation Friends of Beit El Yeshiva when it donated 372,000 shekels ($93,000) to Komemiut. Komemiut is a right-wing group dedicated to turning Israel into a Jewish-religious state, advocates for the weakening of “secular institutions” such as the media, and contains leaders who consistently support the transfer or expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.
The ambassador has also frequently promised settlers that they will not be forced to leave their homes, telling a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organisations in February that illegal settlers in the West Bank “are not going anywhere”. It is also known that Friedman’s daughter, Talia Friedman, moved to Israel in August 2017.
Friedman has been a controversial figure since he was chosen as the US Ambassador to Israel for his staunchly pro-Israel stance and hard-line attitude on behalf of the Trump administration. He stoked controversy in May when he was photographed posing with a poster in which Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and iconic Dome of the Rock were replaced with a Jewish Temple.
The incident was subsequently denounced by Al-Azhar, the leading Sunni institution in the Arab and Muslim world, which describing the act as “irresponsible behaviour in the context of the continued Zionist-US provocations of the feelings of more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.”