Klos-C Press Conference – Eilat, Part 1

star-Kloss-CGPOUnpacking the Klos-C

What do you do when someone invites you to a party? In Hebrew a press conference is a mesibat intonayim (מסיבת עיתונאים) literally a journalist party.  Late yesterday I was invited to fly down to Eilat to see the pile of munitions that hadn’t reached Gaza. Cost me a lot more than I expected but I was already there so I shrugged my shoulders and this blog post is the result. Party on!

The big news of this week (at least if you were an Israeli) was the capture of the Klos-C, a freighter moving cement and a whole lot of nasty things that go boom in the night. I don’t think I’ve seen so much high explosive since I was sent to an ammunition bunker on my first miluim† to move shells for a tank battalion. The big news for journos and blogger was that the IDF was letting us see them up close. Actually not quite close enough to touch them but close enough.

Captured Iranian Mortar Shells

Iranian mortar shells

Even before we arrived the trip to Eilat was enlightening. In conversation, I learnt that most foreign (i.e. not Israeli) journos never refer to the Israeli Defence Forces (in Hebrew Zahal צה”ל) as such. They refer to it as the Israeli Army. Not using Zahal I can understand. It is, after all, a Hebrew acronym that doesn’t mean much to a non-Hebrew speaker. But not IDF? Even the BBC has no problem with IDF (terrorist/militant is another matter).

I put it to them that by not using the military’s correct name they were taking sides. It’s easier to portray Israel as the aggressor when you don’t let anyone know that Israelis see the military’s role as defensive.

A second surprise was that the very friendly team from the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) knew all about the Jew Hating Christ at the Checkpoint conference but would not be covering it. We agreed that Christians who didn’t agree with the Jews-are-the-cause-of-all-our-ills rationale might be too intimidated to speak out.

I asked them if CBN doesn’t expose the treatment of Christians in the territories who will?

They suggested that the liberal use of human rights catch phrases might be attracting pastors without an agenda against the Jews. Has anyone ever heard one of those pastors declare himself to be tricked after experiencing the conference poison.

A third surprise was to see three experienced journalists comparing notes on what the speakers actually had said. Now that shorthand seems to be a dying art I always thought journalists would be audio recording for accuracy.

Ashton in Iran

Body language?

I wonder if sometimes they all agree on the wrong thing. It’s something like Jimi Hendrix singing Purple Haze. Even now when I know he’s singing ‘Scuse me, while I kiss the sky I hear ‘Scuse me, while I kiss this guy. Perhaps when I heard the PM ask why EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who visited Tehran at the weekend, for her “smiles and handshakes” with Iran’s leaders without asking why they ship arms he was really saying, President Obama is a foreign policy genius who understands what Israel needs better than we do?

Oh, how I wish I had learnt shorthand!

SONY DSCBibi’s charm offensive turned out to be the last surprise, at the last-minute, when we were already seated in a bus to the airport. Prime Minister Netanyahu came aboard to thank the journalists (and the blogger :-)) for their efforts.

It was a mark of how much this press conference was important to him. Veteran journos told me he never does this. They had flown with him to America last week – twelve hours there and twelve hours back and he never spoke one word to them, all the way.

Did the charm offensive work? It depends who you spoke to. The Israelis, at least the ones  near me, were cynical, even offended that he paid them a complement for doing what is, after all, their job. The Spanish journalist sitting next to me in the plane was admiring even gushing, about what an asset Bibi was.

I’m beginning to think that BDS isn’t really Boycott, Divest, Sanctions as the proclaimed Destroy Israel Lobby declare but Bibi Derangement Syndrome coming from local journalists.

The PM was asked if the point of the event was to attack the West – a reasonable assumption based on his speech. He replied that he was just allowing the truth to come out.

So in case you missed it or still believe in Santa Clause and unicorns I’ll repeat the truth.

Iran attempted to hide its involvement, but the evidence is clear. With its
weapons exposed to the world, Iran can no longer deny its intentions to
terrorize Israeli civilians.

One wonders with their frequent threats against Israel and the velvet fist in a velvet glove approach of the EU/America to those threats, why did they bother?

Coming up: Eilat Part II The event.

Extra credit

Photographs in Part 2

† Miluim = annual reserve duty in the IDF.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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