By going to such great lengths to interfere in a report by CBS News simply because it involves Israel, the government and foreign ministry of Israel are proving just how reprehensible the country’s policies are – that they require constant PR surveillance.
When the Israeli government and its embassy in Washington discovered that CBS News show 60 Minutes was going to run a segment on the increasing departure of Christians from the West Bank, they felt obligated to step in. With Prime Minister Netanyahu’s advice and blessing, Ambassador Michael Oren decided months ago that before the show even aired, he must speak with the network’s chairman in order to make sure the report included an Israeli reaction, delaying the report’s airing from last Christmas to this last Sunday.
The Ambassador claimed he had information the 60 Minutes story was going to do a “hatchet job” on Israel which, apparently for Israeli leadership and diplomatic officials, means any mention at all of the possible suffering of Christian Palestinians in places like Bethlehem, due to the separation wall towering over their homes, or the myriad other hardships and violations committed by Israel’s military occupation.
In this clip from the full 60 Minutes report, Bob Simon tells Ambassador Oren that he has never in all his years of journalism been confronted with such interference in his reporting, before a story even aired.
By telling Bob Simon of CBS News that there is a ‘first time for everything,’ Ambassador Oren admitted that Israel’s Foreign Ministry is pioneering a new kind of diplomacy: pure damage control. Israel will continue to be an occupying force, while doing everything in its power to make sure its PR strategy is cleansed of any mention of it. Great plan.
As far as Israel is concerned, this makes perfect sense. As one Israeli diplomat told Haaretz: “Ambassador Oren did what a diplomat is supposed to do to – prevent serious damage.”
How many faux pas will it take for Israel’s well-oiled PR machine to realize that the best way to prevent serious damage to its image is to simply act in a way that merits a better image? One that maybe wouldn’t require my taxes going to an ambassador that is wasting time making Israel look even worse than it already acts. This kind of effort doesn’t show the world how fair and democratic Israel is – but rather gives the world every reason to believe Israel has a lot it must hide and much “damage” to “control.”