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Friday, October 23, 2009

Hasbara that falls short

YNet reports:
Israel decided to dispel rumors according to which excavations under Temple Mount were the reason behind recent riots in Jerusalem.

As part of the public relations campaign, the Government Press Office held a tour of the Western Wall tunnels for foreign reporters.

Some 70 reporters participated in the tour, during which they received briefings from engineers, archeologists, members of the Antiquities Authority, as well as from the Western Wall's Rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz.

"Under the instructions of Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein, the Government Press Office will resume PR activities with foreign reporters," Daniel Seaman, head of the Government Press Office, told Ynet.

"During the tunnel tours we explained that we are not excavating, but merely exposing the past, in order to learn what happened here. Unfortunately there are those who are looking to discredit our right to the Temple Mount by painting a distorted image of our actions, as part of a de-legitimization campaign against the State of Israel," added Seaman.

Mary Ann Hock, a journalist who participated in the tour, was impressed by Israel's transparency. "There were some new things they showed us.

"I was impressed; we entered areas that are not open to visitors. It was very intriguing because we saw the depth of the excavations, and I never realized how many layers existed," said Hock.

According to Hock, the explanations given by Rabbi Rabinowitz clarified the picture. "I understood there is no way Jews are conducting excavations here; certainly not underneath the Temple Mount.
This all sounds good, and is much overdue.

The bad news? So far, I can only find one reference to this tour in the world media: from Al Quds newspaper, showing a picture of the tunnels and not explaining any facts.

These 70 journalists might now be better informed, but they have little incentive to report the truth.

And enthusiastic journalist Mary Ann Hock does not show up in any Google searches as a reporter.