UPDATE: Raymond Deane and Ronit Lentin responded to my queries about this story concerning tweets purportedly published by the Israeli embassy which insulted the Irish political leadership. After I’d published, they noted that Oxygen.ie, where one report about this incident was published, is a student publication which sometimes publishes spoofs. On further examination, I discovered that Oxygen removed the article (here’s the cached version) about the embassy tweets.
The responses by both Oxygen and the Israeli foreign ministry have been bizarre. Instead of appending a statement to the article explaining what happened, it deleted the entire story. And instead of explaining what happened in a way that might create sympathy for the embassy, the foreign ministry refused to make any public statement at all:
@richards1052 I’ve gotten a private denial from a MFA spokesperson that the tweets were authentic. No explicit claim of hacking. @DaraDeBrun
— Joe Catron (@jncatron) November 3, 2014
They seem to hope that by not responding at all they’ll avoid doing further damage to the reputation of the ambassador and his Madam LaFarge-like wife, the deputy ambassador In short, I think all parties have handled this incident in the worst possible way from the point of view of transparency and even their own interests. Both responses have only furthered the mystery, rather than deconstructing it. This Reddit thread in which multiple commenters claim to have seen similar tweets on the embassy Twitter feed confused things even more. I should note that the over-the-top hasbara tactics of Tinari-Modai gives itself over to parody. In essence, the Israeli embassy is so over-the-top, that it has become a parody of Zionist propaganda. It’s no surprise that Irish ironists would feast on the opportunity. This passage from the Wikipedia article on Poe’s Law illustrates my point:
“Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.”
I couldn’t think of a better description of Israel’s ambassador-ambassadoress to Ireland. Here is one of the spoof tweets making fun of their Zio-lunacy: The tweets refers to deputy prime minister Joan Burton, and in Irish idiom, it claims that she’s an idiot and an ugly one at that.
UPDATE II: Oxygen.ie and the Israeli foreign ministry have now made public statements about this incident. The latter’s point of view, carried in Ynet, ranged from histrionic to defensive. It defended the Tinari-Modais as a couple who fought the good fight against Israel’s enemies. Their truculence was seen as a positive rather than negative, as most Irish see it. The reporter touts the fact that the ambassador raised the embassy’s number of Facebook Friends from a few hundred to 8,000. What he neglects is that a considerable percentage are those who enjoy watching car wrecks as they happen and want to have a front row seat. Not to mention a country that touts the success of its diplomatic efforts by the number of Facebook Friends it has, is a country that has no diplomatic strategy.
The ministry had this final word on the matter:
…The success of the embassy to penetrate hostile public opinion in Ireland through social networking motivated Israel’s adversaries to pursue a smear campaign and forge tweets in an attempt to sour relations between the two countries. “This is an ugly and very dangerous act,” that is likely to put the Israeli embassy in a difficult position, Foreign Ministry officials said.
While the claim that the embassy is in danger is ludicrous, the spoof does put the embassy in an even more difficult position than it was already in, thanks to its own Zio-zealotry. This suggests the Oxygen satirist achieved his or her purpose.
I’ve written numerous times here of the the Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of the Israeli diplomatic corps, Boaz and Nurit Tinari-Modai, who’ve managed to anger and offend most of the Irish nation during their tenure. Their mission in Ireland seems not to convey the views of their country in the way normal diplomats do; but rather to stick a needle in the eye of the Irish populace en masse. It’s quite a performance. In all the odd and sordid history of diplomatic appointments, this one plumbs new depths of bathos. This tweet published during Operation Protective Edge about sums up the orientation of these Goebbels-like propagandists. Some will note that I frown on references to Nazism in the rhetorical war between Israel and its critics. But given the disgusting inclusion of an image of Adolph Hitler himself in this tweet, I thought a reference to der Fuhrer’s propaganda chief was only fair.
http://t.co/iFQhQLwQSc Hamas take lead from Hitler pic.twitter.com/3V2JDAgDVK — Israel in Ireland (@IsraelinIreland) July 23, 2014
A little added history may be in order about our hasbara-soaked Macbeths. In 2007, when Boaz Modai was being promoted to a post as ambassador to the Vatican, a secretary who worked under him in the foreign ministry, made a police complaint that he made scores of harrassing phone calls to her home in the middle of the night. He didn’t speak during the calls, but stayed on the line till he hung up. In reply, Modai admitted making the calls, but claimed they were in retaliation for gossip the staff member spread about alleged affairs he’d conducted. Despite a police investigation, he received this promotion to ambassador to Ireland, where he seems to be continuing his string of unwanted harassing advances. But this time to the entire Irish population.
Lady Macbeth too has earned her notoriety: she once suggested (Hebrew) in a 2012 Israeli TV interview (English here), ‘blackening the reputations’ of Israeli pro-Palestine activists in Ireland; “attacking their soft underbelly” by publishing their names and pictures to cause embarrassment among their friends and family in Israel, and also to raise doubt among Irish activists that they might be Mossad agents. This sounds more like Mossad dirty tricks than legitimate diplomatic activity. It’s a wonder Ireland hasn’t rendered them persona non grata.
She also contended that these Israelis were not acting out of ideological or political motivations, but because of confusion about their sexual identities (don’t ask me to explain that one). Their actions arose from psychological motivations, like an inability to face the disappointment of their parents; or from a need to obtain an EU visa. I bet you didn’t know these geniuses were also psychologists in addition to their day jobs as diplomats.
Richard, although the Israeli embassy in Dublin tends to lurch from one gaffe to another, these alleged tweets originate from a section of oxygen.ie called “The Spanner” which is intended as satire.
The tweet that they threatened boards.ie over (the one referring to the “spineless Irish Gov”) is still of uncertain origin. If it was fake, it was certainly credible enough to fool a lot of people, given the embassy’s past behaviour.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Ian: Thanks. Ronit Lentin & Raymond Dean wrote virtually the same message to me. I’ve updated the post accordingly.
declan cheasty says
Warm the cockles of your heart by watching the following clip of those two Bozos being filleted by Richard Boyd Barrett at the
Irish Parliament’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Deïr Yassin says
That was amazing. If I were Irish he’d get my vote !
Right — amazing. Imagine a US politician sounding off like this. The Ambassador and his wife (yes?) are pitiful characters altogether.
Deïr Yassin says
I can’t even think of a European politician speaking like that, and without being interrupted. And Boyd Barrett actually lived in Israel/Palestine for a year. After listening to this guy (his wife is just sitting there smiling like a cow …) I wonder: how the hell do the State of Israel choose their diplomatic staff ? Are they so totally out of reach with reality that they actually think this kind of person is doing anything good for their image.
John Flynn says
Just a small correction: Tánaiste is the Irish for Deputy Prime Minister, who happens to be Joan Burton of the Labour Party (a woman, obviously, which makes the insult about appearance if anything even more crass)
Arie Brand says
Don’t these diplomats truly represent the spirit of their government? It would advance the cause of truth if there were more of them.
Israel’s MFA has responded to the forged tweets.
Richard Silverstein says
The Ynet article is unintentionally hilarious. I think we smoked out the MFA and forced them to confront & admit what happened.
Those two are hilarious! Here’s a conspiracy theory for you : Maybe they’re Hamas agents trying to turn us all against Israel. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth – nice analogy Richard! Got a chuckle out of that one
Conor Tobin says
The Irish sense of always being the underdog, squandering our opportunities because of national pathologies that stretch way back into the mists of time – I see this in Israel, on a much more destructive scale. If Ireland is the drunk who starts blubbering into his drink after a few too many, then Israel is the guy who starts a fight and ends up killing someone. Brendan Behan – an Irish novelist – once said “Most people have a nationality, the Irish and the Jews have a psychosis.”
Richard Silverstein says
Interestingly, Behan’s stories about the 1919 Rebellion were models for similar stories on Israeli themes by Israeli writers in the period after 1948: S. Yizhar & Wiesel wrote such stories.
Conor Tobin says
1916 Richard Gawd … sorry that’s my national pathology coming up to the surface! Chaim Herzog came from Ireland – he spoke with an Irish accent. The Jerusalem Post had this article four years ago http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/The-Irish-Jewish-connection
Doubt they’d post it now, because we’re all against Israel because we’re a nation of anti-semites and so on and so on, ad infinum …