Tuesday, 12 November 2013

'Doctor' of Israeli spin omits key facts in tour of Scotland

Propagandists seem determined to find new ways of presenting a “positive image” of Israel in Scotland — a country where they have encountered a frosty response on several occasions.

In October last year, Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub’s talk at the University of Edinburgh was disrupted by a crowd of 200 protestors, and ended up with the ambassador fleeing to his car. Just a few hours before that talk, Taub was voicing concern over “elements of extreme hostility to Israel in parts of Scottish society” during a meeting with the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

The same thing happened a year earlier when Israeli diplomat Ismail Khaldi was invited to give a talk to students at Edinburgh University; his event was disrupted and shut down due to protest.

When politicians and diplomats failed to sell Israel as the one and only democracy in the Middle East, a medical center’s public relations officer seemed keen to give it a shot. American-born Larry Rich, director of development at the Emek Medical Center in Afula — a city in present-day Israel — gave several talks recently titled “Israel at eye-level, through the prism of a medical institution.”

His tour — which included visits to Edinburgh and Dundee — took place in early November.

An email promoting it read:
You are cordially invited to a free illustrated talk by Larry Rich, director of development and international public relations, affiliated to the Emek Medical Center, in Afula, Israel

Mr. Rich will present a positive image of today’s Israel, with no political or religious bias, simply elaborating on co-operative achievements and everyday ground-level realities that seem light-years beyond what the media reports. Israel is a tiny, beleaguered nation sharing life-saving knowledge and cutting-edge technology with neighbors, some of whom look upon Jewish people as their enemy. The reality is that much is wrong with the image presented by the international media. The land of Israel truly lives the deeply-felt Jewish vision of mip’nei tikkun ha-olam — ‘for the sake of the world.’
Students at the University of Dundee devised a statement calling upon their university to refuse to give a platform to Larry Rich; labeling him an apologist for illegal wars, human rights abuses, and the expulsion of the indigenous people of Palestine. In less than 12 hours, students collected signatures in more than ten of the university’s most active student societies, including those affiliated to the Labour Party and Scottish Nationalist Party.

However, the predictable response from the university’s secretary was a refusal to take action, based on the university’s principle of supporting academic freedom and the ideals of free expression and debate.

Rich’s event at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh was faced with interruptions inside the hall, as well as a small protest outside the event. The event was organized by Ken Macintosh, a member of the Scottish Parliament for the Scottish Labour Party. Macintosh had been proven — by police checks — to have previously lied when he claimed to The Jewish Telegraph that a leaflet distributed by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign was “anti-Semitic.” more


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