At first I thought the latest video by Israel’s foreign ministry — the one that lampoons media coverage of last year’s Gaza war — was unfunny, amateurish, and useless. Needless to say,it wasn’t my cup of satire.
After seeing the overheated reaction by many journalists, though, I must admit to a slight change of heart. It may still be true that the animated clip, which cast foreign reporters as myopic and oblivious to the realities of the region, was ill-conceived. But it turns out that the video, whether by design or not, was actually useful in that it exposed some of the strange beliefs, blind-spots, and self-justifications relied on by prominent journalists, whose angry reactions in fact underscored thetruth behind the video’s central premise: that media coverage of Israel deserves criticism.
Note, for example, the response by Robert Mackey, a news columnist at The New York Times. While dismissing the video’s message that coverage of Israel is flawed, Mackey oddly describes Israel’s now-defunct Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs as the “ministry of Hasbara — responsible for what Israel calls public diplomacy and its critics call propaganda.”