5 Most Bizarre Moments at the Jerusalem Post Conference
In no particular order, here they are.
1) Jack Lew Gets Booed
First to mind, of course, is the hostile reception meted out to Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew. All he said before the first wave of boos started was: “We recognize that the threats to the state of Israel’s existence today are real. They are complex and they must to be taken seriously — that’s why the Obama administration has done so much in the past six years to advance Israel’s security.” From that moment on, every time Lew mentioned the President’s support for Israel or backed the diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement on the Iranian nuclear facilities, he was interrupted. Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Steve Linde had to apologize to him once Lew got off the stage.
2) Denying any connection between the occupation and the boycott
It seems like the participants of the conference not only made it a goal to attack the BDS movement and call it anti-Semitic but were also determined to absolutely deny any possible connection between a call to boycott or sanction Israel and the Israeli occupation. This determination resulted in some bizarre inconsistencies.
MK Yair Lapid stood on that Marriott Hotel stage, called for an immediate two-state solution, and declared that negotiations must be initiated — but kept saying that the BDS movement is Islamist and anti-Semitic and has nothing to do with the problem he obviously acknowledges, at least to some extent.
In a journalists’ briefing with Lapid, Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev asked the MK if he sees absolutely no connection between the absence of a peace process and the BDS movement. Lapid denied a connection and, when pushed with facts on the recent growth of the movement, he mumbled: “There’s more money.”
3) Steinitz comments on regional Middle East politics
Yuval Steinitz, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, and a member of the ruling Likud party, decided to bash the Arab Spring in order to emphasize the regional instability facing Israel. In his remarks, he mentioned Algiers as one the countries that, according to him, were once stable and are now rebelling. First, it’s Algeria, and second, there was never really an Arab Spring there. The other two examples he brought up were Syria and Libya.
He also tried to argue that creating a Palestinian state wouldn’t help Israel’s security by discussing how bad Iraq has been doing since the U.S. withdrew.
4) Caroline Glick blames former Mossad Director and IDF Chief of General Staff for nuclear Iran
Two and a half years ago, it was exposed that Benjamin Netanyahu and the Defense Minister at the time asked to prep the Israeli army for a potential attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Both Meir Dagan and Gabi Ashkenazi, who sat on the panel yesterday, objected to the move, which was eventually dismissed for many good reasons. Jerusalem Post’s Glick accused them of “refusing” to take orders from Netanyahu. To her mind, Israel should have attacked Iran and that way “we would not be where we are today.”
Dagan and Ashkenazi completely dismissed her reading of the situation and, for lack of a better word in English, Ashkenazi even called her argument “stupid,” which he probably realized later is a pretty strong word, because he asked to retract it and changed it to “insulting.”
5) “It’s the U.S., not Israel.”
On the margins of the main event, another bizarre scene took place, though only a few people noticed. Udi Segal, the senior diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Channel 2, was trying to shoot a report for his audience in Israel from the back of the hall, where platforms for press use were placed. He did it while Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, gave a speech. Segal repeatedly got shushed by angry audience members. Like the many other Israeli journalists who filled the back of the room, Segal was obviously surprised. He’s not used to getting shouted at while he does his thing. One woman who was particularly annoyed at him made him stop shooting and, when an argument between them arose, told him that his behavior was rude. “Don’t be selfish,” she said. “It’s the U.S., not Israel.”