UNITED NATIONS – Israel may have planned a public relations offensive against Iran and its nuclear “research” program at the United Nations this week, but as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left New York City for home today, his Iranian rival enjoyed the better press.
Netanyahu, normally a favorite of the American media Sunday news shows, shunned them all, while interviews with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from earlier in the week continued to be replayed.
In New York City since Thursday, Netanyahu all but ignored Western media outside of his United Nations address.
Not so the Iranians.
Controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in his last year in office, made a final swing, meeting numerous news organizations and holding a farewell news conference earlier in the week.
His foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, remains in New York City and has scheduled his own conference call with reporters tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Iran’s United Nations mission distributed copies of the Ahmadinejad’s address to the press shortly before it was given and responded to questions quickly with its own brand of diplomatic spin in the media.
Israel, on the other hand, was a study in contrast.
Netanyahu’s arrival in New York City received virtually no news coverage, and advanced copies of the much anticipated nuclear deadline speech were non-existent. Only some “background” comments from some unidentified Israeli officials surfaced.
The speech, while generally acknowledged as “good” by U.N. diplomats, broke no new ground. In fact, the so called “line in the sand” for Iran to heed Security Council demands or face new “punitive actions” by Jerusalem turned out to be almost another year away.
In Israel, Netanyahu was mocked in the local press for the controversial graphic he used depicting how an atomic bomb is built. Some Israeli newspapers deadpanned that it looked like it was lifted from a “Road Runner” cartoon, where the infamous Wile E. Coyote tries to blow up his avian nemesis.
Israel’s U.N. delegation, through Netanyahu Press Secretary Mark Regev, originally told the press it would distribute the speech shortly after it was made, but afterwards informed the U.N. copies of the speech would not be distributed.
Regev then disconnected his New York City cell phone.
Hours later, under pressure from the media, the Israelis reversed themselves and emailed copies of the controversial speech.
Karean Peretz, spokeswoman for Israel’s U.N. mission explained, “It was a long speech, and we had to translate it from Hebrew.”
But Netanyahu delivered his speech in English, and his graphic was in English too.
When pressed if the prime minister was actually doing an ad-hoc Hebrew-English translation while on the G.A. podium, Peretz went silent.
That silence continued later in the week as an Iranian delegation returned to the U.N. hall to refute Netanyahu, yet an unidentified group of Israeli diplomats sat quietly as the Iranians challenged Jerusalem to open its own nuclear facilities to U.N. inspectors. When an opportunity arose for an Israeli reply … nothing.
Meanwhile, the Iranians will continue their public relations offensive tomorrow.