Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catching Fireballs

The U.N. press pool includes reporters from papers that don't even bother pretending to be sources of objective news, which results in some interesting questions at the daily press briefing at Turtle Bay. When the subject turns to Israel, the questions can be quite enlightening, as seen during today’s UN press daily briefing:
Question: Does the Secretary-General subscribe to the point of view of Mr. ElBaradei that any threat by Israel to Iran could really bring about a fireball in the whole region?

Spokesperson: I don’t have any information about that. The Secretary-General is certainly aware of what Mr. ElBaradei has been saying, but I don’t have any specific statement to make at this point.
The spokesperson might want to consider this alternative response:
Fantasy Spokesperson: Please explain what you mean by “a fireball.” My understanding is that Iran has threatened to place nuclear fireballs throughout Israel so as to, in Mr. Ahmedinejad’s own words, wipe Israel off the map. Are you talking about those threatened fireballs or some other fireballs?
We continue with the Q&A from the briefing:
Question: Why is the Secretary-General always slow to react to any threats by Israel?

Spokesperson: Well, we don’t react to threats; there are so many of them all around the world and all over the planet. If we reacted to threats and not to actual, physical, proven danger, I think the Secretary-General would be busy 24 hours a day issuing statements.
You know, I think ol' Spokesperson could have done better. How about:
Fantasy Spokesperson: It could be because then, in all fairness, he would have to respond to threats to Israel. Do you really want him to get into all the surrounding nations and entities that have called for the elimination of Israel’s right to exist? Would you like him to discuss the threat of the proposed genocide of the Israeli people?
OK now, last question! Let's see if Spokesperson learned from the valued free coaching:
Question: But here you have a situation that is really escalating, especially on the vocal level. And the Middle East is not just any area. It is a very inflammable area, as we all know. Does that not concern Mr. Ban Ki-moon?

Spokesperson: It concerns him, definitely. It does concern him. Several times he has appealed for calm and for people to refrain from threats.
Will the need for coaching ever end?
Fantasy Spokesperson: It concerns him, definitely. It does concern him. He would particularly like to see the day when the inflammatory anti-Israel media decide to cool down the rhetoric, stop running every trumped-up Palestinian charge verbatim, and also stop ignoring Israel’s position in its entirety. But Mr. Ki-moon is a realist and he understand there’s about as much a chance of that as there is a free and fair election under Robert Mugabe or the free practice of religion in China.
I remain, as always, available to the U.N. staff to help them with their messaging and media training.

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