Over the years I have encountered many cases of incompetence and blunders on the part of those responsible for promoting the case for Israel on a global level, but nothing quite as bizarre as what I experienced a few days ago.
A number of British Jews wrote to me complaining bitterly that the Israeli London Embassy was promoting a tour by Haaretz journalist Gidon Levy.
For those who are unaware, Levy is regarded as one of the most extreme and outspoken of the Israeli anti-Zionist journalists, notorious for demonizing Israel and supporting the most anti-Israeli groups. He repeatedly brackets Israeli behavior with that of the Nazis, accuses Israel of practicing apartheid and committing war crimes, and defines himself as anti-Zionist. He accuses Meretz, Peace Now and others on the far left in Israel of lacking the courage to open "the 1948 file."
So when I was informed that the embassy was promoting his visit, which was under the auspices of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign I refused to believe it, and requested evidence substantiating such an accusation.
I subsequently received the following transcript, which I was informed had been issued by Michael Brodsky, the director of public affairs at the London Embassy.
Gideon Levy from Haaretz will be in conversation with Jon Snow at 8.15pm on Tuesday 24th August and it will be taking place at Amnesty International UK''s Human Rights Action Centre.Attendance to the event is free but needs to be pre-registered.The event is presented by Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Palestine Solidarity Campaign & Verso.Here is a link to further information.Michael BrodskyDirector of Public Affairs Department"
My initial instinct was that the e-mail was a hoax and I urged my informant to obtain further clarification from the embassy.
I was then informed that Brodsky had indeed released the communication, justifying it on the grounds that it was being directed "to a small group of Jewish activists in order to inform them about an anti-Israeli event taking place in London."
Yet according to Zalmi Unsdorfer, Chairman of Herut UK, the e-mail was distributed to people who were neither "activists" nor in a position to organize a protest. Unsdorfer sent a formal protest to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Under the auspices of our current ambassador, the UK Israel embassy has established a reputation for being one of the most effective Israeli embassies in the world. Ambassador Ron Prosor is articulate, courageous and has earned the respect of friend and foe alike.
But there is little doubt that there is something wrong with the management of the embassy if a communication of this nature can be dispatched on the embassy e-mail network.
Even if the public affairs director had good intentions, for an embassy to dispatch such a communication reflects an abysmal lack of judgment and sensitivity. We are surely entitled to expect a greater level of sophistication and professionalism from Israeli representatives occupying such sensitive roles.