The mainstream Israeli media organizations went out of their way to minimize the importance of US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel. The world saw it quite differently
How many nations in the world have the President and Vice President of the US visited in their first year of office? How many nations have both of them visited where the visit was not part of a global summit? Of those nations where both visited, how many have been historic visits such as the last of the President and the Vice President of this US Administration?
This was the first administration where the President and Vice President visited the Western Wall, where the Vice President spoke in the Knesset, and all this coming on the heels of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and a commitment to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Despite all this, from the Israeli media, one would have no idea as to the significance of the Vice President’s visit, and one would have no idea that one of Israel’s strongest supporters was here. Instead of focusing on the substance of Pence’s visit, the Israeli media chose to concentrate on anything and everything else, either to ignore or distort its significance. As usual, the big loser in all this is the ordinary citizen who is only interested in knowing what is really happened.
The Israeli mainstream media does not like Mike Pence, nor do they like Donald Trump, but for different reasons. Vice President Mike Pence likes Israel because it is the land of the Jewish people and he is a man of the bible and an admirer of the Jewish people. Pence comes and reminds the Jewish people that their rights to Israel emanate from the bible, and we are seeing before our eyes those prophecies come true. “And this April, we will mark the day when the Jewish people answered that ancient question — can a country be born in a day, can a nation be born in a moment? — as the State of Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its birth.”
Donald Trump comes and brings unequivocal support to Israel: “I make this promise to you: My Administration will always stand with Israel;” and to respect Israel in any decision it makes concerning negotiations with the Palestinians: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.”
In summary: we love your heritage, we love your Jewishness, we will always be with you, and let us know if they are any updates in the peace process.
For the Israeli media, there can be no worse Administration for Israel than this, especially as Netanyahu leads the country. For them, the ideal president would be one that comes to Israel, praises gay rights, the fact that an Arab has sat on the Supreme Court, and Israel’s willingness to return to 1967 borders and divide its capital.
Thus as Mike Pence showered praise on Israel, and the US commitment to Israel, here was the headline on Ynet, one of Israel’s major news sites:
“Pence’s Speech in the Knesset: Commitment in Question”
Shortly after Pence visited the Western Wall, the headlines on mainstream media websites in Israel was about the fact that there has been a complete break in communications between the White House and the Palestinian Authority, as if that is an important story compared to the momentous event of the Vice President at the Western Wall!
As the Vice President was visiting the Western Wall and in the aftermath, the major story was the fact that female reporters were separated from male reporters while covering the event, as if it’s a new idea that there is a separation between men and women’s section at the Western Wall. Even if they were supposed to be together while covering the event, their separation certainly doesn’t warrant a headline.
Ha’aretz, Israel’s far left-wing paper went even further, writing as their headline:
“Pence Made A Personal Visit to the Western Wall; Female Journalists Separated From Male Journalists and Sent to a Remote Compound”
Returning to Pence’s speech in the Knesset, Ha’aretz both in Hebrew and English had no problem showing their contempt for him and his message:
“VP Pence’s Speech [at the Knesset] is a Victory for the Messianic Right”
“In his speech, Pence presented a Coherent Zionistic Outlook as to the Jewish Rights to Israel, as if the Palestinians Don’t Exist. For the former this was a dream come true, for the latter another slap in the face”.
Pence’s speech was covered in these media outlets as if there were two narratives, the Israeli and Palestinian, both of which deserve to be presented in the Israeli Parliament. This equivocation was also on display as Arab MK’s were removed from the Knesset floor after disrupting and protesting the Vice President’s speech.
In a tweet (below), Haa’retz political correspondent, Barak Ravid writes: “Removing the Arab MK’s from the Knesset Floor is one of the saddest and most disgraceful pictures Israel has issued” (translated)
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) January 23, 2018
The Arab MK’s planned a protest as an insult to the Vice President with whom they disagree ideologicilly. What should have been done? Should they have been allowed to remain? Should Pence have been asked to stop speaking?
Ha’aretz’s headline saying that “Israeli Arab Lawmakers Forcibly Removed After Protesting Pence’s Speech” belies the idea that if the lawmakers would have returned to their seats quietly had they been left alone, or that some other way of treating them would have been befitting.
Arad Nir, reporter for channel 2 news, then retweets and compliments Andrea Mitchell’s outrageous tweet on the incident.
Well said! https://t.co/B3lOUcKV0a
— Arad Nir (@arad_nir) January 23, 2018
The 13 Israeli-Arab members of Israel's Parliament held up signs saying "Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine" and were forcibly removed by security as Pence started to speak. Can you imagine Capitol Police dragging members of the congressional black caucus off the House floor?
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) January 22, 2018
This tweet shows how each has absolutely no clue about the other’s political system. Mitchell views Israeli Arabs as a minority, like Blacks in America. Both may be a minority of the population, but there is absolutely no comparison between the Blacks and their history with the Arabs. Regretfully, Mitchell knows that no such protests exist in Congress. Members of Congress, and others invited to speak, do so uninterrupted. The spectacle of the Arab MKs in the Knesset would never happen in Congress. Thus, after Mitchell tweets out an incorrect comparison, Arad who has no clue as to what goes on in Congress retweets it and compliments her on her outrageous comparison.
However, even before the Arab MKs protested, their planned actions received equal headlines as did Pence’s speech. Ynet, Israel’s leading news website stated (below): “Climax of the Vice Presidential visit nears: After speaking with Netanyahu, Vice President, Mike Pence, will speak in the Knesset plenum. Members of the United Arab list will boycott: “We won’t be a decoration for the speech of a dangerous racist”’
Ha’aretz had no problem belittling Pence as they called him ‘Preacher Pence’ after his speech. Ha’aretz political writer, Chemi Shalev, could barely hold back his disgust for the whole visit and Pence’s friendship with Netanyahu.:
The uncontrolled hatred of Ha’aretz for Netanyahu and disdain for Pence reached its height with this article where Pence’s level of friendship to Israel is cast into question.
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) January 23, 2018
One of the most unfortunate things concerning the newspaper Ha’aretz is that people who read it around the world think they are a serious, legitimate newspaper. Unfortunately, even many conservative networks in America are unaware of the inaccuracy of its reports and the radical positions of its analysis pieces.
To sum up this truly historic visit, here was the headline in Walla News:
“After the Hugs and the Caressing, Netanyahu is Forced to Return to Real Life.”
This is to say that the Pence’s visit is merely a political maneuver for Netanyahu which gives him a few days of breathing room.
An even more unnerving tweet came from, Akiva Novick, Knesset reporter for Channel 10:
לסיכום: תודה לחברינו במשותפת, ולטל שניידר ויעל פרידסון, שהצילו אותנו מאחד הביקורים היותר משעממים שידענו
— akiva novick (@akivanovick) January 23, 2018
His tweet writes: “In conclusion: thank you to our friends from the United Arab list, and Tal Schneider and Yael Fridson, who saved us from one of the more boring visits we knew.”
That is how the Vice President’s visit was summarized. The tweet shows how much Novik either lacks understanding as to the meaning of the visit and its significance, or that he is deliberately ignoring it.
In another puzzling tweet, Novick’s colleague, Globes political correspondent, Tal Schneider, writes:
“For all those who claim that Michael Pence is not important and without authority, I will remind you that this is the man who revealed Michael Flynn’s lies that led to his firing…although he is a senior member of a weird and problematic administration, he cemented his stature in its first days.”
Thus, Schneider thinks that Pence is important because he led to Flynn’s firing, conveniently forgetting that the Vice President’s position is very important, period. While the Israeli mainstream media failed to see the importance of the visit, Aaron David Miller, assistant to six US secretary’s of states and no right winger by any means, wrote that this visit was ‘like nothing I’ve ever seen in some 40 years’ of watching US-Israel leaders interactions. He summed up the visit as follows:
Mike Pence’s trip was less important for what it accomplished than what it reflected and represented: Under Trump: the U.S.-Israel relationship has undergone a transition from a valued special relationship to one that’s seemingly exclusive. The need for “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel used to be a talking point wielded by staunchly pro-Israeli supporters against Democratic and Republican presidents alike; Trump has turned it into official policy…”
Pence’s visit capped off a year of unprecedented occurrences between the US and Israel. Hopefully, as Pence said, the best days between the US and Israel are still in front of us.
Gideon Israel is co-head of the Jerusalem Washington Center and can be contacted at [email protected]
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