The Israeli government press office and its director, Daniel Seaman, get the award for most tasteless hasbara of the week with their spoof press release touting the fine dining experiences available to the foreign press in Gaza. You’d have to see this to believe that anyone in their right mind would think this was humorous.
Apparently, the goal was two-fold, first to support Israel’s claim that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza (hence the fine dining experience); 2nd, ridicule the foreign press’ efforts to cover the non-existent humanitarian crisis and the international human rights flotilla making its way to Gaza to break the siege.
I’ve never heard of a government press office deliberately sticking its finger in the eye of the journalists it’s supposed to be serving. It’s an interesting, and purely Israeli, form of customer relations philosophy.
Someone might want to explain to Seaman that just because there is a single luxury resort in Gaza does not mean there is no humanitarian crisis for those who don’t have the means to pay for the luxuries available at this resort.
Seaman added fuel to the fire with this interview with the Israeli press freedom-democracy NGO Seventh Eye, in which he showed more of his rapier wit:
Q: Is this serious or a joke?
A: That’s because you must be a journalist and have no sense of humor.
Q: So it must be a joke.
A: No, the restaurant exists. Journalists know the place.
Q: Is this to say that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza?
A: You surely must be a young journalist and so haven’t completely lost your sense of humor.
Q: Can you imagine the possibility that there is on the one hand fine restaurants and on the other a broad cross-section of the population that does not receive the required minimum?
A: Are you speaking of Tel Aviv? New York? London? Paris? I don’t see anyone racing to cover those places. No one will tell you Gaza is a normal place. All the reporting from Gaza is based on the premise that there is a horrible crisis there. Gaza is not like Ethiopia 30 years ago [Seaman refers to the mass starvation there]. Gaza is like other places. When journalists ignore the fact that there is normal life in Gaza, they have a political goal and we’re pointing out the hypocrisy inherent in this. I’m simply alluding to those journalists who will go out this week and give voice to the joke that is this flotilla [the human rights flotilla sailing to break the Gaza blockade], and the hypocrisy of all those pro-Palestinian activists–or as they like to call themselves “peace and human rights activists”–we’re pointing out what they’re really saying.
Q: You don’t believe that a sarcastic approach will provoke an antagonistic reaction:
A: And when we dealt with the same issue in a businesslike and serious way it brought a better result? We’re trying something different for a change. There will be those who love it and those who don’t. That doesn’t bother me.
Those journalists who understand the situation got the joke and laughed. Those who are exploiting their status as international journalists to serve as megaphones for Palestinian propaganda were disgusted and angered. All of the actors played their roles and I made my point.
So, if Seaman is to be believed Gaza is not a ‘normal place,’ but it is ‘like other places.’ Makes sense to me.
And if he wants to make the point that there are world capitals beset with social problems and hunger just like Gaza, we’ll remind him that none of those places are under siege from an enemy power who is preventing food and provisions from entering.
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