Update: 23 June
This may come as a shock, but it seems that it is possible to shame the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After the furore surrounding its video mocking international journalists’ coverage of Israel’s attacks on Gaza in summer 2014, the ministry withdrew the video, removing it from the front page of its own website and making the YouTube version private.
However, other people have already copied the video, so it’s still possible to see what Israel thinks of the press when they try to report on its war crimes.
A video produced by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been branded “bizarre,” “misleading” and “poorly conceived” by the Foreign Press Association, which represents international journalists working in Palestine and Israel.
The video, which depicts journalists covering Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014 as naive and uninformed, has been met with anger by press covering the region.
The video’s narrative claims that foreign journalists represented the Hamas authority in a biased manner, suggesting that it was peaceful and pluralistic whilst ignoring internal social issues and what Israel disingenuously calls Hamas’ aggression towards it.
A 15 June statement dated on the association’s website said they were “surprised and alarmed” by the “mocking” video, which it also called “bizarre” on its Twitter feed. The statement went on to say that:
At a time when Israel has serious issues to deal with in Iran and Syria, it is disconcerting that the ministry would spend its time producing a 50-second video that attempts to ridicule journalists reporting on a conflict in which 2,100 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed.
Israel’s diplomatic corps wants to be taken seriously in the world. Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate, unhelpful and undermines the ministry, which says it respects the foreign press and its freedom to work in Gaza.
In claiming that overseas journalists in Gaza were misled by what they saw during the summer 2014 attacks, the video comprehensively ignores actual scenes witnessed by members of the foreign press corps, including the wanton murder of four young boys targeted by an Israeli navy gunboat whilst playing on a beach.
Even The New York Times, not a publication normally known for its critical stance on Israel, has criticized the video.
A piece on the newspaper’s website concluded with two questions it said were raised by Israel’s habit of trying to devalue foreign reporting of its behavior. The first of these was why:
if wildly inaccurate, comically misinformed reports on the conflict from foreign correspondents are so common, Israeli officials cannot simply point to actual examples but instead find it necessary to resort to fiction again and again to illustrate this reality?
The second question flagged up in Robert Mackey’s article was “how, exactly, [is] insulting them … likely to help Israeli officials get a more receptive hearing[?]”
This may itself be a somewhat naive question, given the often unquestioning approach taken by many international media to Israeli government spokespersons — including the Times’ own Jodi Rudoren.
Its somewhat wide-eyed take on Israeli veracity mirrors the apparent surprise by some journalists at Israel’s clearing of its own military in the case of the killer of those same four boys — Ismail Mohammed Baker (9), Zakaria Ahed Baker and Ahed Atef Baker (both 10), and Mohammed Ramiz Baker - murdered on the beach in Gaza.
But the very fact that it is being raised in such media does point to the stupidity of this latest backfire by Israel’s hasbara teams.