Melanie Phillips is the prominent British journalist and author, most recently, of The World Turned Upside Down. Her Londonistan is not to be missed. The Spectator (UK) hosts her blog.
Last week Phillips discussed the difficulties of holding rational discourse about Israel in a January 8, 2011, interview on Israeli television. I first saw the video over at My Pet Jawa, but the invaluable Daily Alert also posted a link to it. Among other things, the interviewer asks Phillips about Israel’s “hasbara,” i.e., its public diplomacy, and seems to be shocked by Phillips’s description of it as pathetically inept.
The organs of the mainstream Israeli media are just as bad as those of the United States. Phillips cites the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as representative of the problem Israel faces, to the horror of the interviewer. Phillips’s interviewer seems to embody the conventional wisdom conveyed in the Israeli media. I think he shows us what Bob Schieffer would be doing if he were holding down the fort on Israeli television.
Who is this guy? Phillips’s interviewer is Ya’akov Ahimeir. He the current affairs editor on Israel (public) TV Channel 1’s Saturday night foreign news and culture magazine show Ro’im Olam (Seeing the World). Kudos to Mr. Ahimeir for having Phillips on and letting her have her say.
UPDATE: Andy Weinstein writes from Efrat, Israel, to provide a corrective to my take on Ahimeir:
Ya’akov Ahimeir is a “closet” right-winger. He has recently “come out of the closet,” I think. He comes from a distinguished “revisionist” (right-wing) family — his father Aba Ahimeir is an important historical Zionist figure.
As a journalist he tries not to wear his opinions on his sleeve; most people attribute this to professional prudence (i.e., fear for job) but also to his journalistic ethics. So kudos to him for having her on the show, but it’s a different kind of kudos. I didn’t watch the video, but if he was acting surprised at how she described Haaretz, he was acting the part of the mainstream journalist. I’m pretty sure he agrees with her.
I welcome any additional information our readers may have.