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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘spokesperson’

Former IDF Spokesman: Army Radio Hosted Anti-Disengagement Voices While Israel Radio Blocked Dissenters

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

Brigadier General Avi Benayahu, formerly the IDF Spokesperson, on Saturday shared with the Yediot Aharonot weekend supplement that Israel’s official radio channel, Kol Israel, was instructed to block access to MKs wishing to speak against the uprooting of some 8,000 Jews from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005.

“During the disengagement (the laundered, government issue term for the mass deporatations), all the rebel MKs, those who objected to the move did not receive access to Kol Israel,” by decree from above, Benayahu recalled. “I allowed them, of course, to be interviewed on Army Radio, and was receiving messages from [Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon that I was providing a platform for the extreme right, the marginal voices.”

“Back then we understood that to be our role,” the former IDF Spokesperson said, reminding many readers that the left-leaning military station used to be a small l liberal outfit.

According to the Israeli media monitoring NGO Keshev (Listening), the Israeli media systematically overstated “the threat posed by those opposed to disengagement and emphasized extreme scenarios.” Keshev’s report states that “throughout the weeks before the disengagement, and during the evacuation itself, the Israeli media repeatedly warned of potential violent confrontation between settlers and security forces. These scenarios, which never materialized, took over the headlines.”

Keshev’s report suggests the Israeli print and TV media “relegated to back pages and buried deep in the newscasts, often under misleading headlines” items that “mitigated the extreme forecasts.” Editors delivered “one dominant, ominous message:,” such as Channel 1’s Aug. 14, 2005 story: “Police Declare High Alert Starting Tomorrow, Close to a State of War.”

“The discrepancy between the relatively calm reality emerging from most stories and the overall picture reflected in the headlines is evident in every aspect of the disengagement story: in the suppression of information about the voluntary collection of weapons held by the settlers in the Gaza Strip; in reporting exaggerated numbers of right-wing protesters who infiltrated the Strip before the evacuation; in misrepresentation of the purpose of settler protest (which was an exercise in public relations, not a true attempt to thwart the disengagement plan); and in playing down coordinated efforts between the Israeli security forces and the settlers,” Keshev reports.

According to Keshev, the price for this misrepresentation was paid, at least in part, by the settlers, whose public image was radicalized unjustifiably. After the disengagement was completed without violence between Israelis and a sense of unity and pride pervaded society, “the media chose to give Israeli society, and especially its security forces, a pat on the back.”

David Israel

IDF Appoints Orthodox Officer to Command Education Corps

Monday, July 25th, 2016

The IDF General Staff on Monday decided to appoint Brigadier General Zvika Fairaizen as Chief Education Officer. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s announcement, Fairaizen, an Air Force man, used to command a squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles and his last post was as head of section 40 of the IDF Operations Division.

It should be noted that Brigadier General Fairaizen wears a knitted yarmulke, which constitutes an extremely meaningful change in the IDF’s recent attitude regarding Religious Zionism, following both the transfer of many educational functions from the military rabbinate to the education corps, and the controversy over the appointment of Rabbi Eyal Krim as the IDF chief rabbi.

Fairaizen is a resident of Neve Tzuf in Judea and Samaria, and graduated from a hesder yeshiva in Karnay Shomron. He was the first navigator in the IAF history to be appointed squadron commander.

Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Eizenkot preferred to appoint Fairaizen, whose background combined combat operations and religious Jewish education, to lead the education corps over the head of the corps’s education department, Colonel Yael Hess, who in the past was criticized for promoting religious pluralism in the IDF. Rabbi Yigal Levinshtein, head of the pre-military yeshiva in Eli, who has himself come under much criticism from the left, has been critical of Hess, who is married to the CEO of the Conservative movement in Israel, for being “a self-declared Reform Jew, who is the number one authority in the IDF today on educating soldiers on faith and ideas.”

Maj. Gen. Eizenkot has recently removed the Dept. of Jewish Studies from the IDF chief rabbinate to the education corps.

David Israel

Israelis Raise More than $120 Thousand Overnight for Hebron Shooter’s Legal Defense

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Former MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beiteinu) has proven that everything people have been saying about the burgeoning Israeli rightwing majority whose power has only begun to be unleashed is absolutely true. Gal, who hosts a show on economics on rightwing TV Channel 20, found out that the attorneys for IDF medic Sergeant Elor Azaria had not been paid and that as a result the defense for the 19-year-old soldier was facing obvious difficulties, took to the crowdsourcing Headstart website where in about 12 hours he raised more than the needed amount — and the money is still pouring in.

Gal told the Headstart visitors — as of 10 AM Monday there were 3,297 donors who left the equivalent of $120,098.67 — that he will continue the collection to create a fund for future cases in which IDF soldiers who carry out righteous shoots against Arab terrorists are taken to court by their own army.

On March 24, which was also the holiday of Purim, Sergeant Azaria arrived on the scene of a terror stabbing outside the Jewish community of Hebron, where one stabber was dead and the other lay next to him on the ground. Azaria shot the second terrorist dead, an act that would have at most resulted in a disciplinary hearing within his military unit, but, an Arab B’Tselem employee was on hand to document the event and the video went viral. This resulted in the entire military apparatus becoming prosecutor, judge and executioner of the exemplary soldier, who received official recognition as Outstanding Fighter. From the defense minister down, they all condemned the yet to be investigated act. And so, rather than receiving a slap on the wrist, Azaria faced a murder charge, which was later reduced—under pressure from an outraged public—to manslaughter.

The trial is in full swing these days in a military court in Jaffa, and the Azaria family was running out of funds fast. At which point their countrymen took out their credit cards and gave and gave.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office responded that “Azaria is an IDF soldier who is entitled to a fair trial. Despite the fact that he had the option of taking a military defender for free, he opted to take a civilian attorney.”

Of course, the military prosecution did exactly the same thing: preferring not to rely on their home-grown talent, the prosecution conscripted one of Israel’s top litigators, Nadav Weisman, to lead its team, so, to play fair, the IDF should have paid for the defendant’s outside legal help, too. But the IDF spokesperson had nothing to say about that.

JNi.Media

‘At The End Of The Day, We Only Have Each Other’: An Interview with Israeli Consulate Spokesperson Shimon Mercer-Wood

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Shimon Mercer-Wood is the spokesperson and consul for media affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in Manhattan. A product of the London School of Economics and Yeshivat Ma’aleh Gilboa, Mercer-Wood previously served as political officer at Israel’s embassy in New Delhi and press officer at Israel’s embassy in London. 

The Jewish Press: What’s your background?

Mercer-Wood: My mother’s family is from Transylvania, which is Hungarian-speaking Romania, and my father’s family is from Ghana in West Africa. My father’s uncle was the ambassador of Ghana to Israel in the 1960s, and he brought along my father with him.

Why did he bring your father?

They were very close. Also, in that part of Ghana, it’s actually a matrilineal society, which means the person you inherit is not your father, but your mother’s brother. So as part of his being groomed to take over from his uncle, he went with him and was kind of like his protégé.

And then your father stayed in Israel?

In 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day war, Ghana’s embassy was ordered to evacuate because everyone was sure Israel was going to be destroyed. In Israel they were preparing mass graves in the public parks because they thought there would be, chas v’shalom, many casualties, and in Holland they were preparing refugee camps.

But my father had developed an interest in Judaism and felt it was disloyal to abandon the Jewish people in a time of danger, so he stayed in Israel. And then my father got swept up by the very obvious miracle of Israel going from the brink of peril to unprecedented victory in such a short time. So my father stayed in Israel, converted, joined the army, and has basically been in Israel ever since.

It’s quite a story.

Apart from it being my personal family story, though, it also speaks to Israel’s relationship with Africa in that time. Israel was a huge player in the African continent in the 1960s. This was part of Golda Meir’s policy to find friends around the world and to fulfill the aspiration of being an ohr la’goyim. So Israel was very active in introducing modern agriculture to Africa. In fact, Israel at that time had more embassies in Africa than any other non-African country. The relationship was so close that when my uncle was shifted from the Ghana Embassy in China to the Ghana Embassy in Israel, it was considered a major promotion.

What do you do at the Israeli consulate in Manhattan?

We try to introduce positive material about Israel into the media output, and I would divide that into three “battles.” The first battle is to engage with those journalists who write primarily about the Israeli-Arab conflict and provide them with information that may help them be more sympathetic to the Israeli position.

The second battle is to provide stories to journalists who are interested in writing about Israel. So, for example, we met a producer at one of the news channels who said, “I want stories about Israeli startups. Please feed me with stories.” Our job then is to seek out such stories – be in touch with relevant authorities and hubs in Israel – and build up story pitches.

The third battle, which is the most interesting, is to reach those journalists who don’t even think about writing about Israel, and introduce Israel to them. Recently, for example, we sent a journalist to Israel to cover a conference on accessibility – especially how to make tourism more accessible for people with disabilities. This is a writer to whom it would never have occurred to write a story about Israel. But she came back from that conference very enthusiastic, and it was a huge success. It’s very gratifying to find someone like that and put Israel on their radar in such a positive context.

I should add that we place a special emphasis on Jewish media, because the most important asset this building is charged with safeguarding is the relationship between Israel and American Jews. I very often meet people who adore Israel but their conception of Israel is kind of what Israel was like in the 1980s. Israel is a very dynamic place – it’s constantly changing – and it’s important for me to make sure people see Israel as it is today.

Why is this important?

Because we’re one nation, we’re one people. At the end of the day, on the face of the planet, we only have each other. And just like you keep in touch with your brother who lives in another city and you want him to know what’s happening in your life and you don’t want his perception of your life to be stuck like when you were in college, it’s important for the different components of the Jewish nation to know what the others are going through. It’s not because you want their “support.” It’s because that’s what it means to be one people.

Those who dislike Israel sometimes call it racist. When you speak to such people, do you find your skin color helpful in combating this argument?

There’s a spectrum of anti-Israel attitudes. On the light side you have ignorance, and in that case perhaps it helps. But further along the spectrum, there is entrenched hostility to Israel, and then nothing helps because they don’t really care. It’s not about knowledge or understanding. It’s an emotional issue. It’s a feeling of commitment to a struggle against Israel. And you can really see it physically when you speak to these people, how much their whole being is fired up with attacking Israel.

So I don’t bother arguing with them, because a) they don’t deserve it and b) it’s completely pointless. We really should focus our efforts on those who don’t have that level of hatred. I often hear people say, “Show them the facts!” They don’t care about the facts. They operate in a cultural sphere in which facts are of no importance. It’s part of a certain brand of post-modern mode of thought that says that everything is subjective and relative, and facts are just not important.

What’s Israel’s opinion of Donald Trump?

It’s important to understand that Israel has a relationship with the United States that exceeds the relationship with the president of the United States. So it sounds like a talking point but it’s actually true: Whoever the American people elect, Israel will be happy to work with because they will be elected by the American people.

What’s very important, though, is that the political relationship between Israel and the United States remain bipartisan. There are people in America – on both sides of the political spectrum – who are trying to undermine the bipartisan nature of this relationship for their own political reasons. These people don’t have Israel’s best interests in mind.

Several media outlets have reported that Bernie Sanders’s supporters hope to amend the Democratic Party’s platform so that it is less pro-Israel or even anti-Israel. Is Israel concerned?

I’m not going to comment on anything a particular politician is doing, but in general the attempt to make Israel a divisive issue is exactly what I was talking about before. Israel shouldn’t be a divisive issue.

I also think that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not an Israel thing. It’s a Jewish thing. When someone wants to remove reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, they are trying to erase one of the most fundamental features of the Jewish heritage. You want to criticize Israel, go ahead. But if you erase reference to Jerusalem as our capital you’re insulting every Jew who has ever lived.

Syria is currently a mess. What are Israel’s hopes for the conclusion of that conflict?

Israel’s policy on Syria is that we don’t care who rules them, how they are ruled, what sort of government they have, etc. It’s none of our business. We just want to be left alone.

But the prime minister has laid down three red lines. First, anyone who shoots at us, we shoot back. Second, we will not allow Syria to become a conduit for advanced weaponry reaching Hizbullah in Lebanon. And third, we’re not going to allow anyone to build an infrastructure that can be used to threaten Israel in the future. So if we see someone building a terrorist network, the purpose of which is to threaten Israel, something may happen to that person. According to certain reports, these things have happened in the past and they will continue to happen so long as there are people who want to use Syria as a base for attacking Israel.

I have to add that on a human level it’s very sad to see such unspeakable suffering, and we try to extend humanitarian aid wherever we can. There’s an Israeli NGO called IsraAID which set up shop on the island of Lesvos in Greece giving medical care to refugees. Other Israeli NGOs are providing food and supplies in refugee camps in Jordan.

How is Israel dealing with Russia’s interests in Syria?

It’s a very complicated issue. Our interests in Syria do not correlate with Russia’s. Russia wants to keep Assad in power. Keeping Assad in power means strengthening Iran’s influence and presence – which is the main threat to us. And the Russians are also fighting shoulder to shoulder with Hizbullah which is one of our main enemies. So our interests do not correlate. Having said that, Israel and Russia share enough interests elsewhere and on other levels that we both have the motivation to make sure the conflicting interest don’t become a direct conflict.

What “other interests” are you referring to?

First of all, it’s interesting to note that Russia sees Israel as a special case on account of its huge population of Russian Jews. I remember meeting the Russian ambassador in Israel, and he said, “Since I’ve come to Israel, my English has deteriorated because from the supermarket to the president, everyone speaks to me in Russian.” So they feel there’s an important link there, and I think that makes for a different attitude.

I won’t go into too many details, but there are other issues on which Israel and Russia cooperate so that both countries wish to maintain cordial relations.

What’s Israel’s current policy toward Iran? Are we now beyond the point where destroying Iran’s nuclear program is possible?

Israel’s fundamental policy hasn’t changed. We will take every means necessary to make sure Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons. What has happened is that because of the Iran deal, the crunch time – the point at which you have to make a decision – has been pushed off by a few years. But when we reach that crunch time again, I have no doubt that the prime minister of Israel will not hesitate to act.

Elliot Resnick

IDF Kills Arab Bystander in 443 Terrorist Ambush

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

A well orchestrated ambush by Arabs on Rt. 443, the alternative highway connecting the Tel Aviv metro area with Jerusalem via Modi’in, which resulted in three Israelis injured from stones and broken glass and damage to a dozen vehicles, also ended with an IDF rescue force shooting an apparently innocent Arab youth who was in a car that drove by the incident.

An IDF spokesperson said that after a group of Arab youths had hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at moving Israeli vehicles on route 443, “Israeli forces acted to protect additional vehicles from immediate danger and fired toward the suspects and bystanders were mistakenly hit.”

According to motorists who spoke to News 0404, late Monday night masked Arab terrorists poured oil on the highway about two miles east of the Maccabim check post, then stood by the side of the road and as each Israeli car arrived and started swerving on the oil, they smashed it with very large stones. At least 12 vehicles were seriously damaged, as windows and windshields were cracked and broken, as well as the sides and roofs.

David Israel

State Dept. Spokeswoman’s Blooper: “US Position on Egypt ‘Ridiculous’

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

U.S. State Dept. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki showed exhaustion from having to parrot absurd American policy and was caught on a “hot mike” last week saying that her department’s lack of reaction to an Egyptian court acquittal of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on murder charges was “ridiculous.”

Psaki and her sidekick Marie Harf entertain reporters every weekday with non-answers to questions, which is the job of spokesmen. Their function is to defend their bosses, no matter how stupid they sound.

That is why Psaki constantly ignores incitement by the Palestinian Authority and constantly calls on Israel not to take any action that would “inflame tensions” after terrorist attacks.

That also is why she kept a straight face when questioned by reporters about the Egyptian decision. She set a near record for then number of times saying “no comment” in several different ways.

One reporter opened the issue by asking, “Do you have any reaction to the court’s decision dropping the charges against former President Mubarak?”

Psaki answered, “Generally, we continue to believe that upholding impartial standards of accountability will advance the political consensus on which Egypt’s long-term stability and economic growth depends,” she said. “But beyond that, I would refer you to the Egyptian government.”

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, one of the few daily briefing reports who asks Psaki and hardball questions, couldn’t restrain himself.

 But I – wow. I don’t understand that at all. What does that mean? You believe that – of course you do. But was that – were those standards upheld in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything – any specific comment on the case. I’d point you to the Egyptian Government.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) justice was served? Do you think justice was served in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific on the case…..

QUESTION: — to argue with you or ask about the comment. Are you trying to understand what is – does – this decision means?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you.

Do we have anything more on Egypt?

QUESTION: Do Egyptians explain to you what’s going on?

MS. PSAKI: We obviously remain in close touch with the Egyptians, but I don’t have anything more to peel back for you….

QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean, Transparency International is basically disappointed with that. And some international organizations have also expressed concern over, like, dropping all the charges against Mubarak, who’s accused of having murdered – having ordered the murder of protestors…and also corruption, other things. And so you’re not willing to show your concern over that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we speak frequently, including in annual reports, about any concerns we have about – whether its rule of law or freedom of speech, freedom of media, and we do that on a regular basis. I just don’t have anything more specifically for you on this case.”

Lee persisted and said, “You call for accountability and transparency all the time from any number of governments. And so if no one is held to account, if no one is being held accountable for what happened, it would seem to me that you would have a problem with that and “

Psaki assured him, “If there’s more we have to say, Matt, we will make sure you all know.

Lee tried again:

But I mean, what you have said, that the – what you said says nothing. I mean, it just – it’s like saying, “Well, we support the right of people to breathe.” Well, that’s great, but if they can’t breathe —

MS. PSAKI: If we have a further comment on the case, I will make sure all of you have it. ”Al Quds correspondent Said Arikat persisted, “I mean, aren’t you a little bit annoyed that the person who was elected by the Egyptian people, Morsi, is languishing in prison while the person who is accused of murdering hundreds of people is actually out on —

Psaki, obviously a bit fed up with having to parrot the insane American policy, tried to smile while saying, “I appreciate your effort, Said. I don’t have anything further on this case.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

UN Leader Backpedals: ‘No Concrete Evidence’ of Abduction

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appears to be retracting his condemnation on Saturday of last week’s kidnapping of three Israeli teens by Arab terrorists.

In his statement at the time, Ban had spoken of his “deep concern over the trend towards violence on the ground and its attendant loss of life, including today of a child in Gaza as a result of a recent Israeli air strike.” The reference to an IAF bombing that following four missiles fired from Gaza at Israeli civilian population centers, ended with Ban’s plea that Israel and Gaza terrorists both “exercise restraint and lend urgent support for the release and safe return of the three youths.”

Thus it makes no sense that Ban’s spokesperson would follow such a statement on Tuesday night by telling journalists the U.N. has “no concrete evidence” that 19 year old Eyal Yifrach, and 16 year old Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha’ar were “actually” kidnapped by terrorists last Thursday as they hitchhiked home for the Sabbath from Gush Etzion.

Israeli public radio quoted Farhan Haq, the spokesperson, as saying the United Nations also does not have an independent investigative unit that could even confirm the incident.

Perhaps, however, Haq’s statement had something to do with a letter sent to the United Nations by Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levi-Abekasis.

“Last Thursday evening, June 12, 2014, three Israeli youths were abducted, two of them only 16 years old,” the MK wrote. “The kidnapping highlights, among other things, the breaking of all humanitarian boundaries and is a blatant violation of the rights of Israeli children to live their lives safely and without fearing for their lives.”

Since the Palestinian Authority unity government is now a member of the U.N. International Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), which states “member states shall take all appropriate measures at the national level … in order to prevent the abduction, sale or trafficking of children for any purpose or in any form,” – and since the PUG has been celebrating the kidnapping on its television programs and its population has been passing out sweets in the street to encourage children to perpetrate similar acts in the future – this places the U.N. in an awkward position.

“The CRC provides that ‘member states must undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law relating to the child, applying them in situations of armed conflict,” the MK pointed out in the letter.

Since Ban had already acknowledged his awareness of the teens’ abduction last Saturday, his spokesperson appears to now be doing his best to help his boss climb down from the tree. They may even be trying to pretend the incident may never have happened – because if it did, what action will have to be taken against the United Nation’s newest non-sovereign member?

Rachel Levy

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/un-leader-backpedals-no-concrete-evidence-of-abduction/2014/06/18/

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