In a bid to stir awareness of anti-Israeli slants in foreign media coverage of Gaza, the Government Press Office sent an e-mail on Wednesday to members of the Foreign Press Association in Israel containing a guide to a luxurious restaurant in the Strip and a recently opened Olympic-sized pool.
The e-mail was based on a recent dispatch by journalist and commentator Tom Gross, in which he highlighted what he described as “the manipulative agenda of the BBC and other foreign media agencies.”
In the dispatch, sent on Tuesday, Gross added that much of the foreign media coverage was “deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault.”
Gross sent the dispatch ahead of the imminent arrival of a flotilla of boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists attempting to reach Gaza to deliver what they say is humanitarian aid to the Gazan people.
“In anticipation of foreign correspondents traveling to Gaza to cover reports of alleged humanitarian difficulties in the Hamas-run territory, and as part of efforts to facilitate the work of journalists in the region, the Government Press Office is pleased to bring to your attention the attached menu and information for the Roots Club and Restaurant in Gaza,” the GPO missive read.
“We have been told the beef stroganoff and cream of spinach soup are highly recommended. You may wish to enquire of a possible discount upon presentation of a valid press card. There is also the possibility of an enjoyable evening on the Greens Terrace Garden Cafe, which serves ‘eclectic food and fresh cocktails,’” it continued.
“Correspondents may also wish to enjoy a swim at the new Olympic size swimming pool as reported in the Palestinian media to have been opened last week,” the e-mail said.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Seaman said he not surprised to receive several outraged responses from foreign journalists.
“Those who act as spokespeople for Palestinian propaganda were furious with self-righteous indignation and were angry,” Seaman said. “This was to be expected.”
“There is much hypocrisy in the coverage by international media of Gaza, and unfortunately, to some extent, the Israeli media plays a part in it. We are receiving political, slanted coverage. This message could help them wake up and do a better job,” he added.
“The same journalists who constantly point a finger at Israel were outraged by this. One journalist asked me in response, ‘don’t you have rich and poor areas [in Gaza] like everywhere else?’ I responded by asking her, ‘Why don’t you write about the affluent parts of Gaza?”
Seaman stressed that his aim was to “make it possible to bring a few
facts about other realities in Gaza to come to light, beyond the agenda
that some members of the foreign press keep pumping out.”
Seaman added that over the past week, Israel has released a number of
press statements from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the
Territories highlighting humanitarian aid which had been delivered by
Israel to Gaza.
“These get very little exposure in the foreign media,” he said. “I assume this [e-mail] will get more mention.”