The Foreign Ministry pulled an animated 50-second video clip it uploaded last week which ridiculed foreign correspondents for their coverage of last summer’s Israel-Hamas fighting.
The video sparked complaints from the foreign press. The Foreign Press Association said it was “surprised and alarmed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s decision to produce a cartoon mocking the foreign media’s coverage of last year’s war in Gaza.”
“It is disconcerting that the ministry would spend its time producing a 50-second video that attempts to ridicule journalists reporting on a conflict in which 2,100 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed,” the FPA said.
Ronen Polak, the diplomatic correspondent for Israel Radio, said Sunday, “The Foreign Ministry decided to remove the facetious video, supposedly there to ridicule the journalists of the Foreign Press Association for the nature of their coverage of Operation Protective Edge. In the Foreign Ministry, they’ve understood that it wasn’t a successful joke.”
FM spox just now, in Hebrew: confirm removal of video. Intention was to illustrate Hamas crimes. It was interpreted otherwise and removed.
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) June 21, 2015
Ruth Eglash, a writer for The Washington Post in Israel, said, “I’m happy that the Foreign Ministry decided to remove the video clip which represented an unnecessary attack on foreign correspondents and did very little for Israeli public diplomacy.”
Israel says almost half of those killed in Gaza were combatants. It has blamed Hamas for the civilian death toll, noting that the Islamist group emplaced its rocket launchers and tunnel entrances in residential areas.
The cartoon released by the Foreign Ministry last week on YouTube pokes fun at foreign correspondents in Gaza who are supposedly oblivious to the rocket fire and Hamas military infrastructure surrounding them.
A two-dimensional, “South Park”-style animation, the 50-second clip shows a news anchor speaking about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in the wake of last summer’s war, while, behind him, Hamas gunmen can be seen carrying rockets and guns.
At the end of the clip, the journalist is given a pair of glasses. The woman who hands them to him says, “Here, maybe now you’ll be able to see the reality of life under Hamas rule.” Then, having taken in the true state of affairs in Gaza, the reporter appears to drop dead of a heart attack.
“Israel’s diplomatic corps wants to be taken seriously in the world. Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate, unhelpful and undermines the ministry, which says it respects the foreign press and its freedom to work in Gaza,” the FPA’s statement said.
The Foreign Ministry had initially said the cartoon should be taken as a lighthearted jab.
“The film mocks many journalists with a gentle wink, too many of whom are blind to what is happening around them,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told reporter Noga Tarnopolsky last week.
“There is no shortage of these, who do not see or do not want to see reasons of fear or other reasons… Quite a few journalists who were in Gaza did not report the rocket fire in residential areas in proximity of public buildings. Only after the operation and after leaving Gaza were these materials released and was real information about what they saw revealed.
“Thus, these journalists admitted they did not report what they saw. What is the reason for this? Fear of Hamas? A lack of willingness to tell the truth?” he added.