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December 11, 2013

Where's the Coverage? Netanyahu Not the Only Leader Absent from Mandela Memorial


The passing of Nelson Mandela has rightly been a big news story. The memorial service, attended by many dignitaries, has also, appropriately, received broad coverage. But one element of this story has been grossly over-played by the press and that is the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not attend the memorial. The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, NBC, CNN, Huffington Post and others all lamented Netanyahu’s absence. The Washington Post ran an Associated Press story:

Fresh off a series of scandals over his high-flying lifestyle and expensive habits, Israel’s prime minister says he will skip Nelson Mandela’s funeral on Tuesday due to the high cost of the trip.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision stood in contrast to the mad rush by world leaders to attend the event, and seemed to underscore the embattled Israeli leader’s isolation on the world stage. Nearly 100 heads of state, along with tens of thousands of mourners, are expected at the memorial in a Soweto soccer stadium.

Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama also did not attend the Mandela memorial. And how did The Post and AP cover that? Did he “skip Nelson Mandela’s funeral�?? Uh, no:

The Dalai Lama will not attend memorial services for fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela in South Africa, where the Buddhist spiritual leader has twice been unable to obtain a visa, a spokesman said Monday.

Tenzin Takhla gave no specific reason for the Dalai Lama missing the memorial service in Johannesburg and funeral in Mandela’s hometown, saying only that “logistically it’s impossible at this time.�?

Note the contrast with the description of Netanyahu’s absence. It’s pretty stark.

Because they were so busy haranguing Netanyahu, the popular press was unable to cover the fact that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also did not attend the Mandela memorial. CAMERA could find no mention of his absence in any of the mainstream media. Only the Turkish media outlet Hurriyet Daily News felt it was newsworthy.

This double standard between the over-coverage of Netanyahu and the media silence on Erdoğan is so pronounced that it inspired a hilarious satire in the Tablet online magazine, “Entire World Sneers at Turkish Prime Minister’s Absence at Mandela Memorial�?:

When time came for the Turkish leader to pack his bags for Soweto, Erdoğan decided not to go. Despite the attendance of over 90 heads of state and tens of thousands of selfie-taking world leaders and mourners, Erdoğan sent Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay in his stead. And that is when the world erupted!

Erdoğan “is determined not to be a part�? of the world one liberal Turkish columnist scribbled angrily. The columnist added that Erdoğan, the premier of a G20 nation, “is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He’s something worse.�? Turkish authorities, careful to safeguard their rank of #138 in the Press Freedom Index, quietly carted the journalist off to jail for 25 years.

How did The Washington Post and Associated Press cover Erdoğan’s absence? They didn’t. The leader of a G20 nation and NATO member state decided to “skip Nelson Mandela’s funeral.�? Where’s the coverage?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
Did you hear about that?

Posted by SC at December 11, 2013 09:50 PM


He should have attended to avoid the inevitable negative press. Bad move.
BTW, why didn't he?

Posted by: Stephen Laitman at December 12, 2013 11:12 AM

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may not have attended realizing how much anger there is in South Africa with regard to occupied territories.

So just as President Jacob Zuma was booed at the Mandella ceremonies, so it is likely that Erdogan may have been subjected to even worse given his illegal occupation of Northern Cypress

Posted by: Stephen Holstein [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 12, 2013 11:34 AM

My response to Erdogan not attending the funeral - is a little known but powerful Yiddish "slang" word. Vooden ? Look it up.

Posted by: Anonymous at December 13, 2013 01:54 AM

It's not the absence of an Israeli figure at the funeral, but the reasons given, and the simple fact that Israels notorious anti-African policies, and comparison of the states' policies to apartheid (as well as it's close ties to the former government) are clearly exposed by the incident. The fact that John Kerry made remarks regarding the South African solution in relation to the Middle East peace process also indicates an ideological barrier that prevented him from attending.

Posted by: Goolam at December 13, 2013 03:07 AM

I had posted a comment in the NYT under the infamous Mr. MacKay column regarding the attendance at the service and that the column was only relevant if all absent leaders were discussed. I specifically made reference to numerous other leaders who were absent from the service such as the Turkish leader. Others were even denied entry (e.g., Dalai Lama). How shocked *cough cough* I was that a couple hours after submitting my comment, the comments were closed and my comment never appeared.

Posted by: Anonymous at December 17, 2013 11:17 AM

par for the course. just another case of Israel being held to a different standard than the rest of the world.

there are other "occupied territories"in the world (the word "disputed" is more accurate but let's just go with the standard term), but nobody seems to care about any of them except the ones in the holy land. and they didn't care much about those ones when they were "occupied" by Jordan and Egypt.

in the Muslim countries that surround Israel, women are routinely NOT treated as equals, with child marriage, honor killings, and female genital mutilation all common. yet then-Sec State Clinton ignored all that and had a major hissy-fit when Israel's ultra-orthodox community wanted to have certain buses reserved only for men.

I could go on but you get the point.

to Erdogan specifically: well golly gosh, he's an Islamist! ergo, the MSM will not condemn him.

Posted by: rulierose at December 19, 2013 08:18 PM

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