A journalist's job is to seek out the truth. In the Middle East, however, a journalist first seeks to be in vogue. Perhaps this explains why the international media covers our region the way it does. There are those who would say that the one-sided manner in which we are portrayed stems from faulty hasbara (public diplomacy). Others would argue that Israel's inconsistent policies are what leads to the disappointing results. And there will be still others who point the finger directly at the source of our pride - Israeli democracy - for tolerating a multitude of opinions, versus the singular message propagated by the other side.
Whatever the reason, it's not clear why someone in Jerusalem chose to provide the international media with another opportunity to score points right on the eve of the provocative sequel, "The Gaza Flotilla 2."
Someone inside the National Information Directorate of the Prime Minister's Office decided that it was appropriate to threaten foreign correspondents, and to warn them that "participation in the flotilla would be a purposeful violation of Israeli law which could lead to a ten-year ban on entry into the State of Israel, the confiscation of equipment and further sanctions."
Israel is a state ruled by laws, and the law stipulates that a person caught trying to enter the country illegally is liable to face a ten-year entry ban. It could always be said that the flotilla participants aren't trying to enter Israel, they're trying to enter Gaza. But that would be disingenuous.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acted wisely when he decided to reconsider the matter.
Last year a group of reporters and I were on board a navy patrol ship heading out to meet the Turkish flotilla. The flotilla didn't manage to break the naval blockade, but the results for Israel were horrible: photographs of the violence perpetrated by the "humanitarian activists" were circulated almost exclusively in Israel, while overseas the emphasis was on the deaths of the nine Turkish activists, with coverage one-sided and damaging.
There was a discussion in Jerusalem on Monday over whether or not to let foreign journalists on board the flotilla do their jobs. The decision was, rightly, to let them work. This wasn't the case in last year's flotilla, a situation that allowed the Arabic-language stations to set the tone for the coverage.