Beyond its military operation targeting the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, Israel is invested in an intense media campaign to make sure its side of the story is being heard overseas. But that’s not always easy to do.
In an interview with Israel’s top envoy to the United States on Saturday, MSNBC provided yet another example of how much work Israeli officials face in their effort to pass through the filter of the mainstream media and present their side of the story.
MSNBC’s Mara Schiavocampo began her interview of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren straightforwardly enough, asking “What would be the trigger for a ground operation? What’s the red line here?”
Oren answered, "You have the equivalent of what would be about 170 million Americans under bomb shelters. If Hamas continues to escalate we will take the necessary and legitimate measures to defend our citizens."
Schiavocampo’s second question might be considered more controversial, positing the argument that long-range rockets carrying warheads weighing between 20 and 90 kilograms -- 46 to 198 pounds -- aren’t actually dangerous to human life. She asked:
"Living under the threat of rocket attack is certainly a psychological trauma. But what would you say to those who argue that the rockets are essentially very ineffective, they rarely do damage and that the response from Israelis is disproportional to the threat they're under."
Oren answered she might want to pose that question to the three Israelis killed by a rocket in Kiryat Malachi on Thursday (see TheBlaze’s story here and Glenn Beck’s segment looking at media bias and profiling the victims here). Oren suggested Schiavocampo envisage what would happen if Hamas were bombing America. He said:
"Imagine if one rocket had fallen in the United States and not now since the year 2009, our last operation, we’ve had something in the vicinity of 8,000 rockets fall on the State of Israel. That's more than twice all of the German rockets that fell on London during World War II. And you saw how the British and Americans reacted to that."
Schiavocampo then posited that because the number of rocket attacks on Israel has dramatically increased since 2009, Israel’s policy has been a “failure.” By way of comparison, she did not attribute the increase in attacks to other possibilities including: Hamas feeling more emboldened since its ideological ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, took control of next-door Egypt or that its ties have only grown stronger with Iran, which provides its long-range Fajr-5 missiles. She asked Oren:
"You mentioned the amount of rocket attacks that have been seen in Israel. In 2009 that number was about 200 and this year it’s been about 700 despite the fact that we've been down this road again that Israel has responded with military force in the past. So does this show that Israel 's policy towards Gaza has been a failure?"
Oren said that after 12,000 rocket attacks in the past 12 years on Israeli civilians, “We have no option and nor would any other country in the world have an option but to defend our citizens by all necessary and legitimate means.”
To conclude, Schiavocampo asked:
"The people of Gaza say they've been under constant siege from Israeli forces from the air and from the sea. And Gaza, as you know, is one of the most densely populated places in the world. So how does Israel justify its use of military force in such a crowded urban environment?"
"Actually, Gaza is not one of the most densely populated areas of the world. It’s a conventional myth. Tel Aviv is four times more densely populated than Gaza is. But having said that we are operating in a densely populated area, That is true. And we have conducted more than 1,000 air strikes against rocket bases, rocket launching pits, arsenals, command headquarters and we have taken extraordinary, I would even say super-human measures to avoid inflicting civilian casualties there. We’ve made tens of thousands of phone calls, dropped leaflets, we’ve sent text messages to people, civilians in these areas, warning them to clear out. And as a result, we've been able to reduce civilian casualties to a minimum. It's always regretful when civilians are hurt. But up to this point, three-quarters of all the people who have been hurt in Gaza have been armed terrorists."
Conservative media watchdog the Media Research Center highlighted Schiavocampo’s coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests in October, pointing out that she concluded one segment by “passing along a request from the leftist activists” who wanted to recruit more numbers for their demonstration. She said then: “Organizers are also hoping students will join them in today's events. They're asking college students across the country to walk out of class at 2:00 this afternoon, in a show of solidarity.”
At the end of the Oren segment, perhaps as a way to demonstrate “balance,” Schiavocampo promoted another interview planned for Sunday with former PLO spokeswoman and anti-Israel activist Diana Buttu. Buttu recently spoke at a conference promoting the “One-State Solution,” that is, one state covering the territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Because of the higher Muslim childbirth rate, that “solution” would ultimately destroy Israel as a Jewish state.
Watch the MSNBC interview with Michael Oren here: