A pure political ploy for relevancy for a defunct political party.
Who You Gonna Believe, Me or Your Own Eyes?
Herzog and Livni Invent Swedish Diplomatic Success Story
In today’s information overload many news consumers simply assume social media and news outlets are reliable sources.
However, there are unscrupulous people who make up stories knowing that many people will not fact-check and will then share the story uncritically with other uncritical readers. When it is a question of harmless stupid stories—such as claiming we say “hello” on the telephone because that was the name of Alexander Graham Bell’s girlfriend—no problem.
When politicians make up stories and the media print them without fact-checking them, that is a problem.
This week Israeli media outlets reported that Zionist Union (ZU) politician Tzipi Livni met with Israel-bashing Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and improved relations with Sweden. To quote one report, “Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni managed to repair Israel’s poor relations with Sweden by meeting with senior officials in Stockholm, Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog said.” This is the same Wallström who characterized the shooting of Palestinian terrorists in the act of knifing Israelis as “extrajudicial killings”.
Allegedly one magical meeting was all it took for Livni to persuade Wallström that Israelis are allowed to act in their own self-defense, and that BDS is a bad thing. With this masterstroke of diplomacy, years of Swedish hypocritical anti-Israel posturing, funding of terrorists, blood libel claims, etc. were all wiped away.
Is your Snopes alarm going off? Mine did. None of the Israeli articles I looked at offered any direct quotes by Wallström. I searched Swedish media outlets, including Aftonbladet, the infamous party organ of Wallström’s fellow Social Democrats, as well as Dagens Nyheter, SVT Swedish national television, and a few smaller local papers. None had any stories about the meeting or pro-Israel statements made by Wallström.
If the Swedish press didn’t cover it, it effectively didn’t happen. Like its close kin Pravda, the Swedish media is very tightly controlled and restricted. If Livni’s meeting was not covered in the Swedish press, then it is not the watershed moment the ZU politicians want you to think it is.
The fact that there were no quotes and only a snapshot of Livni with Wallström should have been another tip-off. Considering the many issues Israel has had with Swedish anti-Israel behavior, printing Herzog’s claim that everything is fixed makes the press look pretty naïve. Anyone who lives here in the Middle East should know better than to expect facile solutions to long-term issues. Sweden has not become Israel-friendly, and the claim that it has should sound like a political fantasy to any serious journalist.
It is obvious that the Israeli media swallowed the story hook, line and sinker. Yet only a little bit of fact-checking was enough to shoot holes in this story. Perhaps the real story is that on both sides, unpopular politicians were looking to boost their depleted political capital with this fishy story. Herzog and Livni are trying to appear less leftist and more centrist to a public that has mostly tired of them, and Wallström’s political favors scandal has tarnished her reputation.
Livni has gone against the recent Israeli government’s decision to cut ties with Wallström; the only real result of this media machination ought to be a reprimand of Livni for contravening a diplomatic directive.
The promoters of this story assumed that no one would ever look at the Swedish side of the story, and it was a mostly a safe bet—but not quite, because now you know better.