Gaza flotilla deaths put Israel’s Mark Regev, and the FT, on the spot

Not that Regev was involved personally in the raid by Israeli commandos on the Gaza flotilla relief mission but it’s shoved him back in the spotlight again as Israel’s official spokesman.

And the Financial Times, of all papers, finds itself occupying an unwelcome position too as its report by one Tobias Buck last Monday, to the effect that the natives of besieged Gaza were awash in Coca-Cola, Snickers, Heinz ketchup, Korean Fridges and German food mixers, is the main piece of evidence cited by Regev in his case that the Palestinians in Gaza aren’t as badly off as the rest of the world thinks.

Regev, an Australian by birth, originally Mark Freiburg from Melbourne, is a political studies graduate whose combative defence of Israel’s recent actions has alternately enraged and wrong-footed the world’s hacks.

First for former PM Ehud Olmert and now for his successor Benjamin Netanyahu he has sought to fight fire with fire by denying any suggestion that Israel’s response to Palestinian opposition has been anything other than justified self defence and that accusations of heavy-handedness (like shooting protestors in this instance) are nothing more than tacit support for Israel’s enemies and ‘terrorism.’

And a big part of his case in his defence of Israel’s treatment of the beleaguered residents of Gaza is the aforementioned FT report by Tobias Buck.

Now Buck is either right or wrong and presumably his masters at the FT are trying to find out which it is.

So, obviously, is Regev although one suspects he’s one of those spokesmen (and they’re taking over the world, alas) who decides what he wants to say in advance and then makes up the arguments as he goes along.

But even Regev sounded a bit wobbly today as, first, John Humphrys on Today (through gritted teeth but very politely) grilled him, followed by a succession of other journalists. This hostility verging on frank disbelief can’t be good for Israel. Why won’t the politicians speak up?

As for Tobias Buck he’s either been sold the biggest pup in recent journalistic history or the tunnels from Egypt to Gaza really are awash with a kind of black market Wal-Mart.

If it’s not the latter it’s not good for the FT either.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.