Sometimes it’s good to be boring

US and foreign media have replaced Israel, and Israel and the Palestinians, and Israel and the Islamic world, with a new set of obsessions.

August 29, 2017 09:52
3 minute read.
Sometimes it’s good to be boring

COMPARED TO current crises with North Korea, Israel is bland. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Most of the time Israel gets top billing when it comes to international headline-grabbing news and media attention. And that’s a mixed blessing. People know where Israel is and can find the small country on a map. They might not understand Israel’s priorities or they might have a skewed or unrealistic grasp of the issues at hand, but they feel comfortable enough with their knowledge to call the prime minister by his nickname and offer him their advice and critiques.

For decades people have bemoaned this situation saying, “If only Israel were not in the headlines and under such scrutiny all the time.” Lucky for Israel, that time has come. It might not last long, but the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

And for that we should all give thanks to US President Donald Trump, North Korean dictator President Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Given the internal vicissitudes that Israel is confronting – the investigations, the scandals, the plea bargains, the fact that world media has bounced them from their headlines and editorial pages is indeed a blessing.

The conflicts swirling around Israel right now are what are called “insider baseball” in the parlance of international media. That term means that it has no value to the general viewing, reading and listening public. But that has rarely stopped the international media from steadily covering similar issues before.

US and foreign media have replaced Israel, and Israel and the Palestinians, and Israel and the Islamic world, with a new set of obsessions. Now it’s President Trump and his face-off with North Korea (or NOKO as the press has taken to calling it). That is their new priority.

The next runner-up is Trump/Russian collusion, a story being beaten into a proverbial pulp.

Should the internal situation in Israel heat up, if there are indictments or resignations, that may cause a blip on the world’s media stage, but for now, Israel is pretty back-burner. After all, NOKO has nuclear weapons and is threatening to use them against the US island territory of Guam. And the leader of the Western world is threatening back with “fire and fury.”

As for collusion between the Trumps and the Russians, the issue was summed up best by Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner in his testimony before Congress when he explained that the Trump presidential campaign was so disorganized that they could not even collude with their local offices, let alone the Russians. They had no idea what was happening or how to communicate with their own teams in the field, so how could they even dream of colluding with Russia teams? Article after article and column after column have been devoted to the US and North Korea and the US and Russia.

Has Trump overstated his position? Will Kim Jong-un react or over-react to Trump’s rhetoric? How much influence, money and control does Trump owe to the good graces of Russian leadership? It’s media madness and, to paraphrase from that wonderful classic film Casablanca, right now, Israel’s problems do not “amount to a hill of beans” in the international arena.

That’s a good thing.

Yes, there has been an uptick in Palestinian terrorism. And Islamic State is creeping around in Syria close to Israel’s border. But Israelis should not mind that those issues are not being covered by the world. Because if they were, the world would also be paying attention to the other stories, the stories about how the prime minister is being investigated, his wife is being investigated, his former staff and advisers have been indicted and a major international arms deal for submarines purchased through Germany has been suspended because of allegations of corruption.

For their part, the Palestinians are feeling neglected and insignificant. A month ago, they thought the world media pendulum was swinging in their direction. They thought that media momentum was on their side. But for now international pressure on Israel for a solution has been put on hold. It’s the nature of world events and priorities of coverage.

North Korea’s imminent nuclear threat hands-down trumps internal corruption in Israel and long-term Palestinian/Israeli issues. And Putin is always a headline grabber.

The international media, much like local media, makes its decisions about what to cover based on several issues.

The first has to do with what sells.

In the industry it’s called what’s sexy.

Trump and NOKO are definitely sexier than Netanyahu and Sara. They deserve to be headline news.

The author is a political commentator.

He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @ MicahHalpern.

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