The makings of a farce:
[Commission member Shabtai] Rosen’s long list of credentials did not help endear him to the Americans, who were embarrassed by the photograph of him reading material while wearing pajamas with his Filipino by his side. The photograph also got him trouble with the immigration authorities who decided to raid his home to check the legality of the two foreign workers who assist him. They turned out to be legally employed.
Eli Bardenstein, Maariv, June 22 2010 [page 6; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
US administration official recently said that they were disappointed by the composition of the Turkel Commission formed to examine the flotilla events, mainly because of the advanced age of its members. “We got up in the morning and saw the pictures of commission member Shabtai Rosen, with him having no understanding that he must not be photographed in pajamas and with a Filipino nurse to boot, because it looks terrible,” they told Israeli officials. “This is no way to build confidence. We feel that you’ve pulled one over on us and that’s frustrating. We agreed it would be a serious composition, and instead we got a geriatric commission.”
It should be pointed out that the photographs, which were shown in both Ma’ariv and Yedioth Ahronoth last week, were with Rosen’s full permission. The professor invited the photographers to his home and chose to be photographed there.
The Turkel Commission was appointed after lengthy negotiations with the Americans, and elicited public criticism after it was made public because of the ages of its members: Shabtai Rosen, 93, Amos Horev, 86 and Yaakov Turkel, 75.
“Age is a matter of genes, it shouldn’t get in the way,” said Amos Horev in response to the criticism.
Horev, who served in the IDF as Chief Armaments Officer and as the Head of the Logistics Division in the General Staff, was appointed after his retirement as President of the Technion, and the the Director of the Mossad still listens to his advice attentively, even with veneration.
Rosen’s long list of credentials did not help endear him to the Americans, who were embarrassed by the photograph of him reading material while wearing pajamas with his Filipino by his side. The photograph also got him trouble with the immigration authorities who decided to raid his home to check the legality of the two foreign workers who assist him. They turned out to be legally employed.
UPDATE The source of the fable is the Talmud (Mechilata Derabi Ishmael) where it describes how the Egyptians managed to enact a their worst case scenario: Suffered the Ten Plagues, Let Israel go and lost all their wealth. Thanks, Shlomit Yarkoni.
A Hasidic fable tells of a Jew given the choice of three punishments by a Polish noble: Forty lashes, eating a putrid fish or expulsion from the city. After enduring thirty-five lashes he asks for the fish. He manages only three-quarters of the fish and is expelled from the city.
In a front-page commentary on the decision to lift the blockade of Gaza, Yediot’s Sima Kadmon alludes to this fable (full translated text at bottom):
And as if all this were not enough — the Quartet announced yesterday that the relief measures were not enough. The expression about eating the stinking fish and also being kicked out of the city would be true, if we were talking about fish. The problem is that we’re talking about sharks, and sadly — they were the ones who ate us.
Netanyahu tried yesterday to blame the siege on the Olmert government. He was not the only one: suddenly everyone is distancing themselves from what, until now, was considered to be the required policy. Netanyahu dumped it on Olmert, Olmert on Barak, Barak back to Olmert and even claims that he has long since thought that it should be lifted. Is this not disgraceful? The government has been in power for a year and a half, and is still tied to the policy of is predecessor. The defense minister, who was also defense minister when it was decided on the siege, now talks like a commentator, and not as the man who decided on it. What is going on here? Is there no one in this country who will take responsibility?
I agree with Kadmon that Israel has maneuvered itself in the worst of all possible worlds; I disagree with her assertion that the blockade served a logical purpose. One can understand, however, why many journalists would adopt such a position. After all, for over three years, they’ve toed the government line: The blockade is weakening Hamas. It’s easier to call the Prime Minister a liar now than to admit that you’ve served for so long as an uncritical stenographer.
Some journalists are not falling into this cognitive dissonance. On Channel Ten TV News yesterday evening, for example, both Yaron London and Raviv Drucker were livid with anger.
Both reactions have a constructive alternative: Journalists can simply stop regurgitating government talking points and begin asking questions. They can start with this one: Since the logic that applies to civilian imports also applies to exports, why are they still prohibited? Why not allow them as well so Gaza has a chance at economic recovery and does become a permanent welfare case funded by other people’s taxes?
Analysis, Sima Kadmon, Yediot, June 22 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
Even in Gaza they began yesterday to eat coriander and halva, pasta and jam, while we are the only ones continuing to eat dirt. That’s how it is when there is a right-wing government with two left hands, a bumbling leadership that leads us from bad to worse, whose every action, which is meant to fix the previous crisis, only bring us to a new low in terms of our public image and deterrence.
Why deny it? We’ve become a joke. There is no country in the world today that doesn’t know that Israel only understands force, and that its prime minister — the man who invented “they’ll give, they’ll get” and developed an entire credo on the war on terror — is the first who capitulated to terror and his government’s decisions strengthen Hamas’s control.
Yesterday the prime minister tried to explain why it was decided to lift the siege on Gaza. He had two ways of doing this. One, to say forthrightly and courageously that he was acceding to the decision of the European Union to lift the siege and he therefore is asking the Europeans to announce that there is no longer any need for protest flotillas and no legitimacy to the ships trying to reach Gaza. That way, at least, we would have gotten something out of this whole story.
Instead, Netanyahu chose to explain to the Israeli public why lifting the siege was the most correct thing to do, and that this “pulled the rug out from under the propaganda claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” After all, any idiot then immediately asks: if this is such a correct thing to do, why didn’t we do it a year ago? Why did this siege go on for three years, with a need for failed campaign such as stopping the flotilla and massive international pressure in order to drag Israel into making a decision that it actually doesn’t want.
UPDATE Greg Levy basically says that this whole post is a con job, designed to mislead readers into thinking that AIPAC disseminated the Obama hate video. Given the wording of the post, I think that is an insult to most of my readers’ intelligence, but for the record: Josh Block of AIPAC DID NOT disseminate the Obama hate video, he DID disseminate the Turkish hate video. Both videos were produced by the same outfit within the space of three months. I’ll let readers decide if and how that reflects on AIPAC.
Hot on the heels of We Con the World, Caroline Glick’s US-funded operation has released another video, this time an anti-Turkish screed. MJ Rosenberg points out that it has been endorsed by AIPAC and calls it “right out of 1930’s Central Europe.” Andrew Sullivan posts the full text of the AIPAC e-mail.
Josh Block, AIPAC’s flack, must have a really bad case of Hasbara Derangement Syndrome if he thinks that he is helping Israel’s cause by endorsing an outfit that recently produced a racist segment on POTUS. In this video the Barack Obama character sings of his hatred for “dirty Jews” and his hope that the Koran will rule the world and the Jews will drown in the sea, and then calls for Iran to strike Israel with a hydrogen bomb.
According to Maariv, Israeli officialdom is shocked that it’s “great friend” Germany actually requested that Poland arrest and extradite a Mossad agent suspected of involvement in forging its passports (full translated text at bottom):
Israel may have a problem with public opinion in Germany and with left-leaning political groups that criticize its policy, but as a whole Germany is defined by political sources as “one of Israel’s patrons in Europe.” One of the reasons is Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust, but it is also because of strategic interests, including relations on the security and intelligence level.
Indeed, as Yediot pundit Eitan Haber notes in a column entitled “Time to sober up Israel,” even Israeli exceptionalism has its limits:
We thought we deserve everything, after the Holocaust and the six million dead. The world was silent while our grandparents were being burned? Well, the world shall pay. We deserve everything. Yet how come we didn’t realize that one of these days, the memory of the Holocaust will nearly evaporate in the world’s political corridors?
The Camera Quintet, a mythical Israeli satire group, tried to convey this message to the Israeli public years ago. Watch this skit, entitled “World Athletics Championship 1995, Stuttgart, Germany,” it’s mostly in English:
Not many in Israel were listening then and, to use Haber’s analogy, the resulting hangover is painful.
Watching yesterday’s (June 6 2010) Israeli Channel Ten TV evening news, I had the dubious pleasure of watching a Caroline Glick and her merry band of Hasbaristas celebrate. They were sitting around Glick’s kitchen table, clinking champagne glasses. At one point, the hostess banged on the table and announced “finally, some Hasbara!”
What I found remarkable was not the grotesque scene at the home of the Jerusalem Post’s Deputy Managing Editor, but rather the TV reporter’s framing of the event: A gathering of a citizens’ Hasbara commando group, just returned from a successful raid behind enemy lines.
Not everyone in the Israeli media has completely lost his grip on reality. As the newscast ended, my copy of Globes, a conservative evening business daily, was delivered. Columnist Yoav Karni, continued his series on the strategic threat Turkey is posing to Israeli national security. This installment was a desperate call for some effective public diplomacy to counter Erdogan’s ambition. He cited Glick’s clip as an example of what not to do:
The most popular news show on Canadian radio reported on the video with restrained rage, adding sarcastically that it gave Israel the opportunity “to do something it never does”: apologize.
Fortuitously, someone at the Prime Minister’s Office thought that the Jerusalem Post video was worthy of international dissemination. Later it had retract it. There is a human limit to expressions of of lack of empathy to the suffering of the other, even when the other is a Palestinian child in Gaza (in the satire, the Gazan child needs “a little cheese and rockets for breakfast.”)
This kind of thing makes people who are not pre-disposed to hating the country, who do not share Erdogan’s neo-Jihadist agenda, detest Israel.” These people need a sign of remorse from Israel.
Yes, remorse. Those who have their backs to the wall have nothing to lose now, not even their dignity.”
Karni is unfair to the Jerusalem Post. They didn’t publish the video. The neoconservative operation where Glick moonlights, Latma, did. In fact, this morning’s edition of the newspaper provides some helpful context about the kind of effective public diplomacy that Latma has produced in the recent past:
Jacobson is one of three actors employed regularly by Latma, and can be seen in previous clips portraying White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel calling himself a “Capo,” and in semi-blackface (“autumn-face”) as US President Barack Obama, in whose guise he sings of his hatred for “dirty Jews” and his hope that the Koran will rule the world and the Jews will drown in the sea, before calling for Iran to strike Israel with a hydrogen bomb [from 01:33].
The editorial section provides Israelis with a balanced selection of American commentary on the Flotilla Debacle, no doubt helping them get a realistic grasp of US public opinion on the issue: Opening with Charles Krauthammer, continuing with Elliott Abrams and ending with Anne Bayefsky.
On Friday (June 4 2010,) uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic published a post entitled Israel Derangement Syndrome III. It linked to We Con the World, a remarkable video clip produced by Latma, the right-wing satire project lead by Caroline Glick, who doubles as The Jerusalem Post’s Deputy Managing Editor.
The video is a repulsive attempt to use satire to make Israel’s case on Flotilla Devbacle. I recommend suffering through its entirety to grasp just how much. This is not really surprising to anyone who has ever read Glick’s columns or makes a cursory inquiry into her background. She is, for example, the recipient of the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) Outstanding Journalism in the Mideast award, which was presented to her in a ceremony featuring the esteemed John Bolton. Memorably, Glick was also quick to report (Hebrew), while embedded with a US unit in Iraq that she had “discovered” the first stash of WMDs.
The kind of US audience Glick appeals to is illustrated by the fact that Latma is fully funded by Center for Security Policy’s Middle East Media program, headed by Frank Gaffney, and that Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) was quick to post the video on its website.
The growing importance of the Israeli nodes of American neo and theo conservative networks is not new and regulars readers of Coteret know that we have followed it closely. But the reception this clip has received in Israel was surprising.
On Friday, I began to see intelligent, mainstream, Israeli opinion-leaders posting the clip on their Facebook pages. I assumed they were doing so for the same reason I was: To illustrate just how misguided some Israeli public diplomacy efforts had become. A closer look revealed just how wrong I was. These posts were intended for non-Israelis. One caption, posted by a successful left-of-center Israeli PR operative on the Economist Facebook page, read “make sure you see this before making up your mind.” On Saturday, they began doing the same thing with a classic Glenn Beck segment on the Flotilla Debacle and were incredulous and argumentative when I pointed out that Beck was not exactly the most effective source to cite if one wanted to make Israel’s case abroad.
In a two-page spread, this morning’s edition of Yediot (June 6 2010, full translated text below, Hebrew original here and at bottom of post), billed the clip as an effective citizen’s initiative “that defended Israel better than any of the experts.” It also made the following stupefying revelation:
Members of the Government Press Office who encountered it thought it was a state-sponsored clip and disseminated it overseas. After a Spanish journalist researched its sources, the GPO was forced to clarify that the parody was disseminated accidentally and that the contents of the clip did not reflect the official position of the State of Israel.
Writing about the Glenn Beck segment referenced above, MJ Rosenberg warned that American popular support for Israel is becoming increasingly restricted to the far-right. The way in which mainstream Israel perceived the public diplomacy value of Glick’s clip is a good illustration of this point. Indeed, with the Israeli media increasingly providing front and center venues for arch-conservatives such as Newt Gingrich (Israel Hayom) and Elliott Abrams (Maariv), one should not be surprised that the perceptual gulf between Israelis and most Americans is widening.
The editor recruited her friends, the lead actor cam back specially from reserve duty and the director bought Keffiyehs
How the clip that defended Israel better than any of the experts was created
Zvi Singer and Itai Shmoscowitz, Yediot, June 6 2010 [page 8; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
lead actorIn a place where the official Israeli public relations failed, a popular wave has risen up and succeeded: a satiric video clip that mocks the way in which the participants in the Gaza flotilla were cast as heroes around the world, became a hit this weekend on the internet.Party
Below is an e-mail sent out today by Israel’s official Government Press Office (GPO) to international correspondents. Unfortunately, I received it without the links and attachments.
Funny? Dignified? Professional? We report, you decide.
From: Andy Lutterman
Subject: Restaurant in Gaza
Sent: May 26, 2010 12:35 PM
GPO Recommended Restaurant in Gaza
In anticipation of foreign correspondents traveling to Gaza to cover reports of alleged humanitarian difficulties in the Hamas run territory, and as part of efforts to facilitate the work of journalists in the region, the Government Press Office is pleased to bring to your attention the attached menu and information for the Roots Club and Restaurant in Gaza.
We have been told the beef stroganoff and cream of spinach soup are highly recommended. You may wish to enquire of a possible discount upon presentation of a valid press card.
There is also the possibility of an enjoyable evening on the Greens Terrace Garden Cafe, which serves “eclectic food and fresh cocktails”.
A video of the club’s luxurious facilities may be viewed here.
Booking in advance is advisable, and as the website states, the Roots Club is fully equipped for hospitality and corporate events.
Correspondents may also wish to enjoy a swim at the new Olympic size swimming pool as reported in the Palestinian media to have been opened last week.