Lack of Obama-Netanyahu picture opportunity for the second consecutive time irks Israelis, sparks suggestions US president is “embarrassed”

March 26, 2010
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 The US has waved off Israeli complaints that the meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not been adequately covered.

In a twist of events, Israel, a country that last year used optics to express its dissatisfaction with Turkey, has complained that for the second time in a row, President Obama received Netanyahu without a single television or still camera there to capture the two men together.

Israeli reporters said that the minimal media coverage of the Obama meeting in Washington meant that the US President was “embarrassed” to be photographed with Netanyahu. However, the White House has waved off the suggestions.

“We were very comfortable with the coverage for the meeting,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Asked at a press conference whether he saw “any contradiction at all when the Secretary of State goes before AIPAC and says that the US has no stronger, no closer ally than Israel – and then the President will not even allow a photograph of him and the Israeli Prime Minister”, Gibbs answered: “No, I don’t see a contradiction at all.”

Disgruntled supporters of Netanyahu posted a video clip on You Tube to condemn the lack of pictures with Obama. The clip shows Obama pictured with the leaders of Libya, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and China who presumably do not support the US at the United Nations, while the leader of Israel, a country that immensely supports the US, cannot have his picture taken with Obama.

Side bar 1: Exchange at the press conference:

Q  When you — when the President holds events and does not allow photographers in it implies that the President is hiding something, is not — is embarrassed about something, is uncomfortable for photographs of that event to be made public.

GIBBS:  I disagree with all three of those characterizations.

Q    What’s your response to people who say that the way that the President has welcomed Netanyahu to the White House has been as if he’s embarrassed to be seen with Netanyahu — with not even allowing one of Souza’s photographs of it.

GIBBS:  Again, we were very comfortable with the coverage for last night’s meeting.  They had —

Q    There was no coverage.

Q    No coverage — there was no coverage.

GIBBS:  We were comfortable with that.

Q    Are you only pleased when there’s no coverage?  Is that what you’re —

GIBBS:  What?

Q    You’re pleased when there’s no coverage?

GIBBS:  We’re pleased that — we were pleased with the way we set up the coverage for last night.  Not every — I know this comes as a great shock to both you and to me —

Q    — transparent.

GIBBS:  I think it comes as a great shock to you and me, but not everything the President does is for the cameras and for the press.  It’s something —

Q    Not the American people —

Q    You don’t see any contradiction at all when the Secretary of State goes before AIPAC and says that the U.S. has no stronger, no closer ally than Israel — and then the President won’t even allow a photograph of him and the Israeli Prime Minister —

GIBBS:  No, I don’t see a contradiction at all.

Q    — as if he’s embarrassed to be seen with him?

GIBBS:  That’s your characterization, not mine.

Q    Is the President concerned about photographs of him and Netanyahu being seen in the world?

GIBBS:  No.  I forget Mark Knoller’s statistics but —

Q    This is the second visit that it hasn’t happened.

GIBBS:  — I think there have been many pictures of and —

Q    Never of a one-on-one.  Not a single one-on-one.

GIBBS:  No, that’s not true.  There was —

Q    There were just the trio pictures.

GIBBS:  No, that’s not true.  There was a spray in the Oval Office with just the two of them.

 Q    That’s right — talking about Iran.

 Q    But not the last time.  This is two times in a row —

 GIBBS:  That’s true.  Right.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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