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U.S. ambassador unleashes rare public criticism on Israeli paper

David Friedman
David Friedman at his confirmation hearing last year. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman went on an unusual and probably unprecedented attack today against the Haaretz newspaper a day after one of its senior columnists published an op-ed criticizing his support for the Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Why it matters: It is very rare for foreign diplomats to attack the media in any democracy – especially in Israel – which is a close U.S. ally and a country with strong free press. In my 12 years as a reporter covering the diplomatic corps in Israel, I can't remember a similar case.  

While attacking the left-leaning newspaper in general, Friedman didn't mention in his tweet that he was actually responding to an op-ed that was published Thursday by Gideon Levy and criticized him personally for another tweet of his from February 6th. Levy wrote in his op-ed that Friedman was "an occupation friendly ambassador" and claimed that his tweet was a "deception" and immoral positions.

A few minutes after Friedman's tweet he got a response from Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken, who tweeted back:

Chemi Shalev, one of Haaretz's senior columnists, also tweeted back at Friedman:

Background: Haaretz has been very critical of Friedman and his positions since he went through the U.S. Senate confirmation process to become ambassador. One of the editorials which Haaretz published designated Friedman as a "Persona non Grata".