Wednesday, June 10, 2009

hack job

Howard Arenstein at CBS News reported yesterday that

Israeli TV newscasters Tuesday night interpreted a photo taken Monday in the Oval Office of President Obama talking on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an 'insult' to Israel.

See, the reason why they might be insulted is that the White House photographer took a picture of Obama talking to Netanyahu while he had his feet on his desk. And his feet were pointed towards the camera*. Which, I suppose, must represent Israel.

They saw the incident as somewhat akin to an incident last year, when the Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush in Baghdad.

Wow. That's quite a stretch, isn't it? But I guess both incidents did involve footwear.

It is considered an insult in the Arab world to show the sole of your shoe to someone. It is not a Jewish custom necessarily...

But, but...

...but Israel feels enough a part of the Middle East after 60 years to be insulted too.


Was there a subliminal message intended from the White House to Netanyahu in Jerusalem, who is publicly resisting attempts by Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to force Israel to stop any kind of settlement activity in occupied territories once and forever?

That's it! It was a subliminal message, and a damn clever one. You know what would have been an even more insidious subliminal message? If they had doctored the photo just a little, kinda like this...

Still, what an extraordinary tale of hyper-sensitivity. Except that it doesn't seem to be remotely true. Arenstein doesn't link to the offended newscasters, of course, and I can't find me a single inflamed Israeli pundit anywhere. Oh, there are plenty of follow-ups out there, but they all bemusedly refer back to the CBS story, which must mean that the only person to pick up on this pointed subliminal message is Howard Arenstein, who may have 99 problems, but an editor isn't one of them.

*Or Mecca.

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