Since the start of the most recent conflict in Gaza, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev has done a fair bit of press in the United States. It was, however, his interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid that may come to be remembered as the most frustrating interview he did over the entire course of this conflict.
When Regev was not correcting the endless stream of misinformation and untruths that his interlocutor was bombarding him with, he was being interrupted and talked over in the name of time constraints.
The interview got off to a fine start — a bit combative, but by no means out of line. In fact, Reid advanced the conversation early by allowing Regev to respond to criticisms his government has received from Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, who accused Israel of acts bordering on war crimes. But the interview quickly went right off the rails.
There were too many galling episodes over the course of this interview to recount entirely. Regev was repeatedly asked questions which he would answer, only to be told he had not answered them. But before he could clarify his original answer, Reid would change the subject.
But the most mind-numbing, inexplicable moment in an ocean of similar moments came when Reid, ostensibly a cable news host, exposed that she was utterly unfamiliar with the events of the last decade.
While asking for a third time where those Palestinians who lived in homes constructed above Hamas tunnels, structures which were either bombed out or bulldozed, are supposed to go, Reid asserted that it was Israel’s responsibility to shelter those displaced Gaza residents because “Israel is the occupying authority.”
A vexed Regev calmly explained that Israel forcibly evacuated all of Gaza (and portions of the West Bank) more than eight years ago. “There is no Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip,” he said. The Israeli spokesman added that Israel left Gaza with much of its infrastructure intact. “Gaza was supposed to become this Mediterranean Singapore,” Regev insisted.
Apparently, having been on the receiving end of this rather polite fact check, Reid’s pride was wounded. “First of all, you’re filibustering,” Reid interjected. “We need to point out that Israel does control the coastline, the airspace, the egress and ingress into Gaza. Gaza is not Singapore.”
Reid’s clarification is a touch shy of Israel being the “occupying authority,” and she failed to note that Israel naval and air blockade of the Strip was the result of the return of rocket attacks on Israel from that area and the ascension of Hamas as that territory’s governing authority. But even in the attempt to clarify her misstatement, Reid still misled her audience.
Let’s go to the map:
Since Israel apparently controls every means of “egress and ingress into Gaza,” it doesn’t make much sense for Iran’s parliament to recently issue a demand that Egypt to open the closed Rafah Crossing ahead of the International Quds Day. That border has been closed by Egyptian forces for over a year, as Egyptians recall the events of 2008 when Palestinians created their own means of egress by blowing a hole in that now more thoroughly secured border.
This entire interview is worth viewing, if only to observe how Regev can serve as a model of self-restraint.
Immediately following Regev’s inquisition centering on the myths surrounding the conflict in Gaza one acquires from reading The Nation a bit too uncritically, Reid asked for a reaction from Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center. Oddly, Munayyer never butted up against the clock in the same desperately pressing way that Regev did throughout the course of his interview.
Munayyer said that Regev was one of many Israeli officials who “blame the victims” of violence for their own deaths. He added that this was “fundamentally wrong and, in fact, racist.” At least the guy knew how to tickle the socio-political erogenous zones of his host and the viewing audience.