by David Rosenberg
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman set to arrive in Israel next week, draws criticism from Reuters bureau chief for 'insensitivity'.
Reuters bureau chief Luke Baker
On Tuesday, Friedman announced via Twitter that he would be heading to Israel on May 15th, and sparked speculation that an embassy move may be in the works.
“I am arriving in Israel on May 15 to represent the United States as Ambassador to Israel. I hope to work out of Jerusalem very soon!”
Friedman’s announcement drew consternation, however, from at least one senior journalist, who criticized the timing of Friedman’s departure for Israel.
Luke Baker, Israel bureau chief for Reuters, expressed disapproval that Friedman would be beginning his service in the US Embassy in Israel on May 15th, coinciding with this year’s “Nakba Day”.
Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe” is the term used by Arab opponents of the existence of a Jewish state to describe the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Declared by arch-terrorist and mass-murderer Yasser Arafat in 1998, Nakba Day is marked each year with condemnation of the establishment of Israel and accusations of wrongdoing during Israel’s War of Independence, when the nascent Jewish state was invaded by its Arab neighbors.
More than 7,000 Jews, or more than one percent of the total Jewish population in Israel at the time, was killed from the onset of violence following the UK’s November 1947 declaration it would withdraw from the Mandate of Palestine through the end of the war in 1949.
Nakba Day, held on May 15th, the day after Israel declared independence (according to the Gregorian calendar), has been condemned by the Knesset, which voted to empower the Finance Ministry to strip organizations participating in Nakba Day events.
Nevertheless, on Tuesday Baker hit Friedman over his announced trip, saying it ignored “the tragedy” suffered by Arabs “at Israel’s founding”.
“U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, will arrive on Nakba Day, when Palestinians mark the tragedy they suffered at Israel's founding.”
Baker has a history of apparent hostility towards the Jewish state, slamming what he termed the “idiocy” of Israel’s security establishment, and blasting an invitation to speak at a Knesset hearing on media bias as a “witch-hunt”.
Nor has his bias been confined to his private Twitter feed or off the record comments. Baker’s reporting in Reuters often emphasizes Israeli responses to terror attacks, rather than the attacks themselves.
For example, instead of emphasizing the stabbing attack by an Arab terrorist which left three wounded on April 1st, an article by Baker highlighted the death of the terrorist during the attack – and declined to identify him as such, calling him instead a “Palestinian”.
“Israeli police kill Palestinian who stabbed three in Jerusalem,” read the headline.
Yet Baker not only denied any bias in his own writing, he went so far as to claim that there is no problem of anti-Israel bias whatsoever in the foreign media.
“I clearly don’t think the foreign press is biased,” Baker told a Knesset hearing in 2016. “I don’t think anyone is denying there have been errors, problems from time to time. Sometimes it’s been harder to correct them than others.”
Foreign reports, he argued, had succeeded in producing a “huge amount of coverage with very few factual errors. I fail to see the media has something to answer in terms of systemic bias.”
In December 2017, media watchdog organization Honest Reporting named Baker first runner-up for Most Distrusted Reporter of 2016.
Luke Baker's tweet Twitter/Screenshot
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