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Lessons from Biebergate

The comical contretemps is actually an important, depressing sign

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Justin Bieber performing earlier this month.(Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Future historians studying the current Netanyahu administration won’t have to look much further than his botched meeting with pop sensation Justin Bieber to understand just how dysfunctional his regime was.

Bieber’s people have released several evasive accounts of just why the singer and Israel’s prime minister never met, fluctuating from a flat-out denial that a meeting was ever scheduled in the first place to a softer statement citing logistical difficulties. It seems clear that the prime minister’s invitation of children from the south threatened by Gaza missiles was not unrelated to the cancellation. But regardless of what exactly came to pass, a few things are inarguable:

• Despite his image as the polished and cunning manipulator of public opinion, Bibi is incompetent at public relations. In inviting the children, Bibi chose not to present Israel as a normal country where normal kids do normal things like listen to Justin Bieber, but rather to insist that the spotlight be turned back toward the darker side of Israeli life, to the conflict and the rockets and the grief.

Bibi is incompetent at diplomacy. Never mind not being able to get the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Bieber? Bieber? Once upon a time, the Israeli definition of overcoming logistical difficulties meant sending a team to Argentina to capture Eichmann or to Entebbe to rescue hostages; now, it means playing phone tag with a kid who sings songs called “Baby” and “One Less Lonely Girl.”

Bibi is incompetent at telling the truth. As recent investigative reports in the Israeli press show, the prime minister is a master at stretching, bending, tweaking, and otherwise torturing the truth. As soon as Bibi announced that the meeting had been canceled, both Bieber’s people as well as, curiously, representatives of the Israeli children stricken by terrorism, on whose inclusion in the meeting Bibi allegedly insisted, denied the prime minister’s account. Granted, this is far from a matter of national importance, but a lie, as one Israeli politician after another has learned in recent years, is a lie is a lie is a lie.

Israelis and supporters of the Jewish state should be outraged by Biebergate. I’m serious! This brief and comical affair is actually a dead-serious indication that the leadership in Jerusalem is morally corrupt, intellectually bankrupt, and just plain ineffective. Baby, it’s time for a change.

Related: Diplomatic Breakdown Amid Bieber Fever in Israel [NYT]
Bieber: Netanyahu Meeting Never Scheduled [Ynet]
Earlier: Bibi-Bieber Summit Cancled Amid Controversy

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H/Ramat-Gan/Israel says:

Liel, you neither funny nor smart, maybe you should stick to what you do best: Palestinian Propaganda

Matt says:

Where is the evidence that the Palestinian Authority has made efforts to get to the negotiating table? What Liel Lebovitz writes of Bibi – “Never mind not being able to get the Palestinians to the negotiating table” – is an example of leftist racism. In other words, he has no, or extremely low, expectations of the Palestinians but excessive, or inordinate, expectations for Israelis. In fact, this is an assertion of Israeli superiority and Palestinian inferiority.

DeeDee says:

Thanks for yr insights; they’re spot on. Bibi’s attempt to get a propaganda moment out of Bieber was crass, unwelcome, and fell flat as a pancake.
Based on the preceding posts, I also do not even you. Have yr readers heard or read nothing about the Palestinian Papers?

c lifshitz says:

why do you believe the inanities printed in israel’s tabloid style press? by all indications bieber’s advance sales have been very poor for his tel aviv show, and his sophisticated PR team hit on a”fool” proof method to garner a massive amount of publicity. how you can take such an absurd lightweight moment and manipulate it for a recall of a sitting government is beyond me.

benj says:

Liel Leibovitz will use anything to criticize Israel and attack Netanyahu. This is pathetic.

Liel, boychick, I’m trying to connect the dots between blowing off Justin Bieber and perpetuating middle east strife and I just can’t do it. Bibi’s leadership brain trust screwed up the meeting logistics and the pr fallout afterwards. Ok. But seriously, how much effort did Bibi put into this meeting? Maybe the better question is: How much effort should Bibi have put into this meeting?

Dude! Justin f-ckin’ Bieber! Who cares?!?

Fnord says:

A small postscript for future historians: This is in many ways a good example of the heavyhanded PR-campaigning that is the trademark of the Israeli government under Bibi. Hes not satisfied with a photo-op, he needs to link it to the war. If he could have shown the images of the killed ettler family to Beiber he would think that a good idea. All opposition is anti-semitic, all leftwingers are traitors, Sarah Palin is the real president of the US, everything in the universe is about the palestinian conflict, that is the current public message coming out of Israel these days.

Bibi couldnt just be a nice host, he had to drag Bieber into politics.


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Lessons from Biebergate

The comical contretemps is actually an important, depressing sign

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