Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Contrasting approaches on comments that are ‘offensive and inappropriate’

“I will continue to defend the security of Israel’s citizens with determination, responsibility and good judgment,”

14 January '14..

From Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel:

In a rare public rebuke of an Israeli official, a spokeswoman for the US State Department took Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to task on Tuesday evening for calling US Secretary of State John Kerry “messianic” and “obsessive” over the latter’s pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

“The remarks of the Defense Minister [Ya'alon], if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a brief statement Tuesday in Rome, according to Reuters.

“Secretary Kerry and his team, including General [John] Allen, have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary’s deep concern for Israel’s future,” she added. “To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally.” ....

....Ya’alon lashed out at Kerry and savaged Washington-led peace talks in private conversations, according to a report Tuesday in a major Israeli daily.

The unsourced report in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper recounted the defense minister lambasting the proposed security arrangement drawn up by Kerry as part of his peace deal as being “not worth the paper it is printed on” and as a plan that wouldn’t provide security for Israel.

The report also quoted Ya’alon as calling Kerry “inexplicably obsessive” and “messianic” in his efforts to coax the two sides into a peace agreement. Ya’alon reportedly said Kerry has “nothing to teach me about the conflict with the Palestinians. All that can ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.”

Although he didn't deny its substance, Ya’alon presented a softer tone Tuesday afternoon in responding to the report, but continued to warn of the dangers of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

בנוגע לפרסום הבוקר: היחסים בין ארצות הברית וישראל הם אינטימיים ובעלי משמעות רבה עבורנו. ארצות הברית היא ידידתנו הגדולה ביותר ובעלת הברית החשובה ביותר שלנו, וכשיש מחלוקות אנחנו מלבנים אותן בתוך החדר, כולל עם מזכיר המדינה קרי איתו אני מקיים שיחות רבות בנוגע לעתידה של ישראל. אמשיך לשמור בנחישות, באחריות ובשיקול דעת על ביטחונם של אזרחי ישראל.
“Relations between the United State and Israel are intimate and important to us. The United States is our greatest friend and most important ally, and when there are disagreements we air them inside the [discussion] room, including with Secretary of State Kerry, with whom I have held many discussions about the future of Israel,” Ya’alon said in a statement to the media.

“I will continue to defend the security of Israel’s citizens with determination, responsibility and good judgment,” he added.

On the other hand, back in November 2011 at the G-20 Summit in Cannes, an open-mic moment between American President Obama and French President Sarkozy elicited the following what might be construed as comments that are ‘offensive and inappropriate’.

From Judith Miller, Fox News:

Open mic. Open mouth. Insert foot.

It seems that politicians never learn: wearing a microphone is like carrying a loaded weapon. You can never be sure when it will go off, or in this case, go live.

The French government is deeply “chagrined” – now we know why it’s a French word – about the latest diplomatic “faux pas” that is turning into a major “scandale”: the all-too-candid conversation between French President Nicholas Sarkozy and President Obama about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the G-20 Summit in Cannes.

Unaware that the microphones used to enable translations were live, Sarkozy let Obama know just how he felt about his Israeli counterpart: "I can't stand him,” the French president was captured on tape as saying. “He's a liar." The normally silver-tongued American president did not object. "You’re fed up with him,” Obama replied. “But I have to work with him every day."

The French government, and even some journalists, say that the media shouldn’t have reported the exchange because it was picked up before the two leaders knew they were on-mic. In fact, most of the French press did not initially report it because Sarkozy's office had asked journalists not to turn on the headsets until the press conference began. Hence, the comments, under French media traditions, were considerate private, or as we say in America, “off the record.” In other words, we weren’t playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules (definitely not a Frenchman). But Arret Sur Images, a French website that analyzes media coverage of politics and current affairs, apparently didn’t’ get the “do not publish” memo....

And how did this revelation play out?

Asked about today’s “contretemps,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to comment. But, he added, Obama believed that “both sides -- Israelis and Palestinians -- need to take steps that bring them together to direct negotiations and not ones that make it harder to happen” -- like lobbying for membership in the U.N. while the negotiating table stands empty. Similar sentiments came from France’s foreign minister.

No comment, change topic, move on.

Unlike this on-mic, public display, Ya'alon's comments were made in a closed forum, if at all, but repeated for whatever purpose by those, and to those most willing to publish without hesitation anything which will cause damage to the State of Israel on regular occasion.

In the meantime, Min. Ya'alon, we stand with you and expect you to do your best, as you have said

“I will continue to defend the security of Israel’s citizens with determination, responsibility and good judgment,”

For the rest, a no comment, change topic, move on works fine.

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