Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mark Regev

Monday we went to a luncheon on behalf of Laniado Hospital at which Mark Regev, the spokesman of the Israel Foreign Ministry spoke. He said that although he tries hard, it is very difficult for him to "win" in his situation, and its not only because of anti-Israel bias of the journalists or editors.
He gave as an example a Canadian TV reporter who came to him recently and said the he had interviewed an 80 year old Palestinian man at the security fence, who claimed that he was separated from his olive trees for the first time in his life. He wanted a comment from the official spokesman. How can any response he gives compare to the picture of the poor old man deprived of access to his livelihood? Even if he explains that there are gates and that the barrier has been erected to save Israeli lives due to terrorism and that the barrier could be removed if the terrorism were to stop, etc., it still cannot balance out the graphic picture of the poor old Palestinian man.
As the official spokesman he is viewed by many journalists and their readers/viewers as the colonial representative, justifying the "occupation" of the colonized Palestinians. They make an automatic comparison between the former colonial control of the British over its colonies and the French in N. Africa and Israel with the Palestinians. They think, instead of justifying why you are there why don't you simply leave and give them their freedom? They don't see the true picture of the situation. A truly balanced comparison would be for the TV reporter to go and interview a family member of someone killed by a suicide bomber to make a person to person balance. But, he can only suggest this, he cannot enforce it.
But, he thinks Israel itself is a success story, as he remarked he hadn't been to Netanya for many years and was amazed by the growth, for example of the southern region of Poleg that now consists of hundreds of apartment blocks where there was nothing 10 years ago. In that respect Israel is a succcess story, while abroad foreigners only know Netanya as a target of terrorism.
He also pointed out that the poll results show that the anti-Israel bias in Britain and France has been slowly reversing and the US has become more pro-Israel over the past few years. He attributes this to a paradigm shift, as the colonial power view of Israel changes to one of a common victim of Islamic terrorism. He said that he used to dread debating with Hanan Ashwari, who was the spokesman for Arafat, because she came across as so liberal, so western and so reasonable. But, now his opponents, who won't even debate with him, are full-bearded Muslim extremists with foreign accents who remind the viewer of Arab terrorists more than fellow western liberals. So his job is made easier. In that respect Israel's image is improving.


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