Forward Thinking

The Futility of Barring Flotilla Coverage

By Gal Beckerman

  • Print
  • Share Share

Never thought I would say this, but Benjamin Netanyahu just saved me from banging my head against the wall in desperate frustration.

This morning brought news that Israel’s Government Press Office had warned media outlets that any foreign correspondent found aboard the flotilla about to set sail for Gaza would be “denied entry into the State of Israel for ten years” as well as “the impoundment of their equipment” and “additional sanctions.” Attempting to write about the harsh measure with a degree of dispassionate objectivity, Ethan Bronner at the New York Times could barely contain his own anger — his article seemed to almost burst at the seams.

A few hours later though Netanyahu overruled his own press team and put out a statement saying that journalists would be exempt from “the usual policy applied to infiltrators and those who enter illegally” — a decision greeted by the Foreign Press Association. He also said that reporters would be invited along on the Israeli navy ships set to intercept the “Freedom Flotilla,” in order, Netanyahu said, to ensure “transparency and accurate coverage.”

I say this not because my sympathies are with the activists on the flotilla, but rather because there is such a thing as common sense and learning from history. How is that Israel’s PR minders fail to see that they only bring harm to their cause with these kind of aggressive steps directed at keeping the press from reporting. Because rather than act as a chilling force on coverage — presumably, this is the reasoning behind such a move — they always draw even more attention. The attempt to shut down a story becomes itself a story. And it all snowballs out of hand. Let’s call it the “protest too much” effect. Any reporter would naturally pay closer scrutiny to an event they are being forbidden from covering. That’s the common sense part. In the end, Israel just looks like it’s trying to hide something.

Think of the refusal to allow reporters in to cover the Gaza war two and a half years ago (a decision that was judged by the Israeli Supreme Court to be improper). Remember also the fateful choice to not participate in Judge Richard Goldstone’s UN investigation – that really served Israel’s interests, huh?

Let’s just hope that the prime minister’s smart decision indicates a learning curve taking place: If the hasbara gurus really want to keep international reporters from unfairly maligning Israel, maybe start by not alienating them.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Netanyahu, Media, Israel, Gaza, Flotilla

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.