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Why Israel should heighten censorship of the press

Results of Israeli civil defense drills in Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

Results of Israeli civil defense drills in Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska.)

A June 1 article on the Haaretz website entitled “Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran” details the role of Israeli embassies and consulates in preparing for the Iranian presidential election on June 12. According to the article, diplomatic responsibilities include “[o]rganizing demonstrations in front of Iranian consulates worldwide, staging mock stonings and hangings in public, and launching a massive media campaign against Iran,” the ultimate goal of which is described by a senior Foreign Ministry official as being “to show the world that Iran is not a Western democracy.”

The source of inspiration for mock stoning and hanging exhibitions is cited as Iran’s continuing dependence on public execution, “particularly [of] homosexuals and women who violate its morality laws.” Israeli reenactments of Iranian criminal procedures are touted as part of an effort to draw global attention to other radical Islamic faults aside from nuclear aspirations; not explained in the article is why the Israeli diplomatic corps was not enlisted during the run-up to the Lebanese elections to stage mock explosions of US embassies.

Another issue not addressed in the Haaretz piece is whether Iran might improve its democratic standing by tasking its diplomats with innovative performances of their own. These performances might include mock shootings of Palestinian civilians at mock Israeli checkpoints, mock insertion of uncomfortable objects into Palestinian body cavities, or mock transfers of American weapons from Israel to Iran and mock funneling of the proceeds to Nicaragua. Such efforts might, however, be forced out of the spotlight by contemporaneous Israeli civil defense drills comprising mock chemical attacks on the Jewish state and attended by scores of foreign officials.

Foreign observers had proved less useful during Palestinian elections in 2006, which were nonetheless rendered mock. As for election processes in Iran, Donald Rumsfeld had referred to the 2005 presidential contest as mock, as well, a label that is certain to resurface in the coming days  in the Israeli Foreign Ministry. A senior official has already been quoted in Haaretz as endorsing the pre-election enhancement of Israel’s diplomatic repertoire in order to “make sure that the presidential election does not create the illusion that [Iran] is a Jeffersonian democracy.”

The same official is quoted as describing the latest PR initiative as a move “from defense to offense.” The involvement of consular staff in impending Israeli offensives adds some nuance to Thomas Jefferson’s warning of the dangers of standing armies.


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