Bibi's bloggersI had never been to Metzudat Zev before. The building is a non-descript low building in which the Jabotinsky Museum is located (Jabotinsky was known as Zev - his full name was Binyamin Zev in Hebrew - Vladimir in Russian), with a 14-story tower above it. I was surprised at the relatively light security. No one confronted me until I got to the 14th floor conference room, at which point I had to show my identity card and my laptop case was checked. But by then I was in the press room. The building is located in an older area of Tel Aviv and is near several restaurants and used book stores. If I'd had more time, I would have explored more. But it was all I could do to make a pit stop at Dizengoff Center, a couple of blocks away and then head back to 'Zev's fortress.'
Some of you might have been wondering about the post below this one. I am going to stick a few comments in that post when I finish this post, but it is what it says it is. It's a live blog of a press conference held by Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu at Metzudat Zev (Likud headquarters) in Tel Aviv on Sunday morning. I was invited to attend along with Rafi G. from Life in Israel, Mother in Israel, Rivka from Coffee and Chemo and Lurker from The Muqata. The press conference dealt with education and that post speaks for itself (or will as soon as I have time to add a few annotations. I want to deal with something different in this post: Why is Bibi inviting bloggers to his press conferences? If you go to the link above, you will see that Mother in Israel is surprised we were invited. I was not. I thought someone would be. Eventually.
Israel's mainstream media is among the most biased in the world. I have discussed this many times: Go here, here, here, here and here. But in Netanyahu's case personally, the hatred is visceral and personal as was outlined by Ari Shavit in a famous Haaretz article written in 1999 called "Why we hate Bibi." (Unfortunately, I could not find the article online, but Shavit is a relatively honest leftist and he laid out in no uncertain terms in a three-part series how the media here hate Bibi in a manner that exceeds all proportions). Bibi cannot get a fair shake in the media here. Even the Left knows it.
Seeing Haaretz complain about how the Nefesh b'Nefesh conference was all 'right-wing religious bloggers,' Bibi probably figured it was worth a shot to see what we'd write. After all, American politicians do it all the time. I'm sure he would have liked to have had some Hebrew bloggers there, but while all of us have excellent Hebrew (you couldn't understand the press conference otherwise) none of us could have blogged - and I certainly could not have live-blogged - in Hebrew.
We were easily identified - five of us in a row, three of us with laptops. Someone took a picture of us, and it will be interesting to see if the MSM reacts at all. So far, Netanyahu's press conference has gotten short shrift from the JPost and Arutz Sheva, no shrift from Haaretz (whose reporter asked a couple of decent questions) and half an article from YNet which missed the key to Netanyahu's plan - that he will give the education minister the kind of backing and education cabinet that Netanyahu himself got from Arik Sharon when he was finance minister and reformed the economy. But as you can see in the next post down, there's already lots of coverage from the bloggers. I live blogged the entire conference, and I assume the other bloggers will also produce posts about it later today.
Was Bibi wise to invite us to the press conference? I believe he was. I believe that we will at least give him a fair shake. But I'm biased - I want to be invited back.