On the evening of March 23rd BBC News was able to tell its international audiences that the newly confirmed US ambassador to Israel is “controversial”, “right-wing”, “pro-settlement”, a “hardliner” and a “critic of the two-state solution”.
However, BBC News was less capable of informing its audiences what the new envoy is called.
In an article headlined “Pro-settlement hardliner Friedman confirmed as US envoy to Israel” which appeared on the BBC News website’s US & Canada and Middle East pages on March 23rd, the BBC fortunately did manage to get the ambassador’s name right.
“The US Senate has confirmed right-winger David Friedman as America’s next ambassador to Israel.
He was approved in a 52-46 vote in the Republican-run chamber, despite opposition from the Democrats.
Mr Friedman, who was once Donald Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer, is critical of the US goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
No mention is made in the article of the fact that at his nomination hearing, Mr Friedman expressed views that differ from the BBC’s simplistic portrayal of his approach to the subject of the two-state solution.
“Testifying before the Senate in a hearing on his nomination as ambassador to Israel, David Friedman said a two-state solution – in which a Jewish State of Israel and an independent Arab state of Palestine live side by side in peace and security, ending all claims in the conflict – remains the “best possibility” for genuine peace in the region.
“A two-state solution, if it could be achieved, would bring tremendous benefit to both Israel and the Palestinians,” Friedman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling such a solution “ideal.” He said he will not campaign, support or advocate for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, which has long been considered the future home of a Palestinian state.”
““I would be delighted to see peace come to this region where people have suffered on both sides for so long,” Friedman elaborated. “I have expressed my skepticism about the two-state solution solely on the basis of what I have perceived as unwillingness to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state.”
He said that the groundwork for such an accord was reached at the 1993 Oslo talks between Israel’s then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. But he argued that, since then, Palestinian violence against Israel has only increased. “One of the primary commitments was chairman Arafat’s commitment to begin to educate his people to stop hatred,” he said. “We haven’t made progress since then, and terrorism has increased four-fold since before Oslo.””
With no explanation of the group’s political agenda or the vigorous campaign it ran against the nomination, the article quotes J Street:
“J Street, the Washington-based pro-Israel Jewish group, opposed his nomination, saying he “lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials”.”
The article goes on:
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not have warm relations with President Barack Obama, welcomed Mr Friedman’s nomination.”
For months now the BBC has been promoting a narrative according to which the new US administration spells the end of chances of the two-state solution coming about. The highly selective framing seen in this article contributes to the promotion of that chosen narrative.