The Government Press Office’s distribution of an e-mail containing a link to a satirical video on the Free Gaza flotilla affair was “an honest mistake” and has been corrected, the head of the GPO Daniel Seaman said on Sunday.
Seaman said the link to the video “We Con the World” was accidentally sent out to members of the foreign press on Friday along with hundreds of e-mails that are sent out on a daily basis, and does not represent any official stance of the GPO. After the e-mail was sent, the GPO sent out a statement explaining that the video “was not intended for general release” and that its contents “in no way represent the official policy of either the Government Press Office or of the State of Israel.”
“We only send out videos that are officially from the government. This was a private video so it was not something that we could send out. We have corrected the mistake, but we understand that making a mistake and then correcting it is something that foreign journalists in Israel aren’t always familiar with,” Seaman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
The video, made by the satirical news Web site Latma TV (www.latma.co.il) depicts a number of people, some wearing keffiyehs and speaking in faux Arab accents, performing a song called “We Con the World” set to the tune of “We Are the World.”
The performers are meant to represent members of the Gaza flotilla, and as they wave knives in the air, they sing about convincing the world “to abandon reason” and believe “that the Hamas is Mother Theresa.”
Since it was posted in the wake of the Gaza flotilla raid, the video has garnered well over a million hits and has been featured extensively in the Israeli media. It has also been mentioned on CNN, Speigel Online, and on blogs featured on The New York Times and Atlantic monthly Web sites.
Noam Jacobson, a 35-year-old musician and songwriter who portrays Mavi Marmara skipper “Captain Stabbing” in the Latma video, said on Sunday that since it hit the Internet he has received a great deal of positive feedback from people, which he says has been very moving.
Jacobson, who performed in the video while on leave from IDF reserve duty near the Lebanon border, said that “the point of the video wasn’t to be provocative. In my eyes what we were saying is the mainstream of the Israeli mainstream. It’s satire and satire that doesn’t aggravate isn’t satire.”
Jacobson is one of three actors employed regularly by Latma, and can be seen in previous clips portraying White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel calling himself a “Capo,” and in semi-blackface (“autumn-face”) as US President Barack Obama, in whose guise he sings of his hatred for “dirty Jews” and his hope that the Koran will rule the world and the Jews will drown in the sea, before calling for Iran to strike Israel with a hydrogen bomb.
Jacobson said he believes that such videos don’t cross the line between good taste and bad taste and “are obviously satire and must be taken as satire, and not word for word. People must take them with a sense of humor.”
He added that Latma didn’t make the video as any sort of official
Israeli advocacy, saying, “We are a private group. We didn’t think of
hasbara for the State of Israel, but we absolutely
thought to do something for the people of Israel, to bring them a smile
and put things in proportion.”
Latma editor-in-chief Caroline Glick, who is also senior contributing
editor of the Post and can be seen toward the end of
the “We Con the World” video dancing with a knife and wearing a
keffiyeh, said on Sunday the video has increased traffic on the Latma
Web site “by hundreds of percent.”
Like Jacobson, Glick dismissed claims the video was offensive.
“There are people who support Hamas who think it is in poor taste. I
think it’s in poor taste to support Hamas. The point of satire is to
make people uncomfortable. We’re not trying to be fair and balanced,
we’re trying to make a point,” she said.
In a posting on her Web site on Thursday, Glick called the video “an
important Israeli contribution to the discussion of recent events” and
referred to Latma as an initiative of the Middle East media project run
by the “Center for Security Policy,” a Washington, DC, think tank where
she is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs.
The GPO’s sending out of the link to the Latma video came less than two
weeks after the GPO sent out an e-mail to foreign press covering
“reports of alleged humanitarian difficulties in the Hamas run
territory,” suggesting they visit Gaza City’s Roots restaurant, adding
that the “beef stroganoff and cream of spinach soup are highly
That e-mail, which included a menu for Roots, also suggested
correspondents visit Gaza’s new Olympic size swimming pool and the
Greens Terrace Garden Café, “which serves eclectic food and fresh
Seaman said that e-mail was “absolutely” sent out in a cynical tone,
and that “serious journalists understood it for the irony involved and
laughed at it. Those who were insulted by it, I guess they deserve to
Seaman said the e-mail was sent after foreign journalists ignored GPO
reports on the situation in Gaza and that “those journalists who are
professional were not offended by this.”
The GPO has no hostility toward “professional foreign journalists doing
their job” but “those who are insulted probably have a reason to feel
insulted,” he added.