US envoy to reporters: ‘Keep your mouths shut’ on criticizing Israel over Gaza

Times of Israel

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attacked the media on Monday over what he said was a failure to fairly cover deadly protests on the Gaza border over the past months, advising reporters to “keep your mouths shut” unless they know better than Israel how to deal with the demonstrations.

Some criticism of Israel may be legitimate, Friedman allowed, but said journalists should have worked harder to find alternatives to Israel’s use of lethal force, which has left scores of Palestinians dead, before accusing the state of wrongdoing.  

“It would seem 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’d think that some journalists would take the time and go and meet with experts and try to understand what could have been done differently or better before they criticize. And I just haven’t seen it,” Friedman said at a media conference in Jerusalem.

Friedman said he had spent a great deal of time speaking to military experts in the US, Israel and other countries about the proper rules of engagement — which he said reporters should have done — and had found that the criticism of Israel was for the most part unfounded.

Palestinians run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018. (AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS)

Saying that his criticism was mainly geared at US media, Friedman said reporters should “just keep your mouths shut until you figure it out. Because otherwise, all you’re doing is creating impressions that have no basis in fact. They fit a narrative. They fit an opinion. They fit an agenda. But it’s not reporting, because it’s not based on hard, factual analysis.”

Israel has defended its use of tear gas, as well as lethal force, as a means of defending the Gaza border during violent riots which have seen tens of thousands of people gather at the fence weekly, starting March 30. The protests peaked on May 14, coinciding with the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Military officials said terrorists used the protests as cover to carry out attacks on troops or try to damage or infiltrate across the border. Dozens of the over 110 people killed were members of Hamas or other terror groups, according to Israel and Gazan sources.

A Palestinian uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza Strip, east of Gaza City, on May 18, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Criticism of Israel renewed on Friday after a Gazan medic was shot and killed while apparently trying to help wounded protesters during a border demonstration. The IDF said it was investigating the case.

Friedman said experts had told him tear gas, water cannons and other nonlethal means of crowd dispersal would not have been effective during the weeks of riots and clashes, but did not provide more detail.

“If what happens isn’t right, what is right? What do you use instead of bullets?” he asked rhetorically.

The US envoy, who has been criticized for hawkish views closely mirroring those of Israel’s right-wing government, said the last several weeks had seen “lots and lots of criticism of Israel” in the media.

Israeli forces take position near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018. (Thomas COEX/AFP)

“Some of it even may be legitimate. I think the State of Israel itself hasn’t concluded its own internal inquiries into what happened. Maybe there are things they could have done better. I am sure there’s always things you could do better,” he allowed, adding: “With all the criticism Israel’s gotten, nobody has identified the less lethal means by which Israel could have defended itself during the last four weeks. Nobody.”

Friedman said Israel had performed as best it could under what he described described as an unprecedented situation.

“Who did this better in some other circumstances? Where is the other case where 40,000 people rush the border under the cover of burning tires, with Molotov cocktails, pistols, kites painted with swastikas, starting fires everywhere — fires that are still burning today?” Friedman said.

“Where did that happen in some other place, where the people rushing the border were committed to killing the citizens on the other side, and somebody did it better? Where is the manual that says, when this happens, you do this, this and this, and you can avoid the loss of human life or bodily injury?”

Without this comparative analysis, “all the reporting is completely superficial,” Friedman said.

‘No democracy without free press’

During his speech, Friedman, a former bankruptcy lawyer, also had some good words for the media, hailing the First Amendment of the US Constitution and saying a free press was vital to a functioning democracy, even if it attacks positions he holds dear.

“We don’t have a democracy without a free press. It’s simply impossible to do that,” he said. “Criticism is fair game. It’s what I would expect and what I appreciate,” he added.

The comment seemed to contrast with some of those made by his boss, US President Donald Trump, who has recommended cracking down on media freedoms and dismissed critical reporting as “fake news.”

Having to grapple with the competing requirements of accuracy and speed was not a valid excuse for sloppy journalism, Friedman said Monday, speaking at the launch of the new Jerusalem office of The Media Line, an American news organization covering the Middle East. While everybody is entitled to their own opinion, not everybody is entitled to their own facts, he said.

“And the facts do matter. If you get the facts wrong, there ought to be some recognition and some accountability,” he said.

“And as long as there isn’t, I think people will continue to feel comfortable with getting it first and getting it wrong. Because if you’re getting it first and you’re getting it wrong, and there’s no price to pay, you’ll do it over and over again.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-envoy-to-reporters-keep-your-mouths-shut-on-criticizing-israel-over-gaza/

8 thoughts on “US envoy to reporters: ‘Keep your mouths shut’ on criticizing Israel over Gaza

  1. Ok. I’m going to step out in the street now, shoot 3 or4folks in the head, and blame the local news paper reporter for the deaths. She should have figured out an alternative to my bloodlust!

    1. lmao….. yes. Exactly. These Jews are insane, and they’re in the habit of using the media to create whatever reality they want to exist.

  2. “…….“If what happens isn’t right, what is right? What do you use instead of bullets?” he asked rhetorically…….”

    How about allowing them to protest? I guess that’s out of the question when you’re in the process of erasing their existence from the planet and history.

  3. Well then, we’ll just have to do the job they’re too pussified to doo doo.
    Here’s my letter to the editor. Think they’ll print it?

    He said love,
    Many around the world feel great pain witnessing Palestinians being systematically mistreated on their own land by Israel. One recent example of human rights violations to the Palestinians is the massacre which happened this past Mothers Day, when at least sixty Palestinians were murdered, and more than eight hundred shot by sniper fire. They were protesting on their own land. There were reports of snipers high fiving each other after plinking kids and ruining their lives. Their preferred shot being to the little terrorist’s knee. Yet when one looks in the mainstream, at every left or right talking head or politician, all they see is overwhelming support for Isreal’s actions to a soveriegn people. Opinions such as this will be labeled sympathetic to terrorism. When in reality, it’s quite the other way around. The paradoxical god loving war mongers, claiming to love their enemy, turn the other cheek, etc., will be raging by now reading this. It goes against their “belief” system. They and their zionist partners are determined to displace indigenous peoples by any means necessary. Because “god”, in their estimate, from their understanding, or dogma, tells them to do so. And anyone who says otherwise is a liberal, hater, anti-Semite or terrorist sympathizer. Try writing this opinion on your social media if you live in most any country in europe. You’ll be arrested for “hate speech” and face jail time. Coming soon for the US. The destruction of the first article, using “hate” speech” as the avenue. To prevent criticizm of Judeo-Christian global aggression. There don’t have to be atrocities to humanity endlessly plaguing the planet, but some out there won’t let it be. To the Christians who support offensive war and genocide. What would Jesus say? Hmmm?

  4. “Some of it even may be legitimate.”

    wow… how MAGNANIMOUS of you to point that out.

    Bet it felt like pulling teeth.

    “Who did this better in some other circumstances? Where is the other case where 40,000 people rush the border under the cover of burning tires, with Molotov cocktails, pistols, kites painted with swastikas, starting fires everywhere — fires that are still burning today?” Friedman said.”

    There’s an even MORE revealing case… what about the 66 MILLION Russians that the stinking Bolshevik jEWS MURDERED.

    Those Russians weren’t armed either, were they.

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