When the military campaign in Gaza had just started, I wrote a post about the sheer number of Israeli journalists wearing leather jackets while reporting the news from the field. I was using an article of clothing to make a bigger point about the jackets being some sort of civic uniform, and pondered about the collective consciousness that led individuals to wake up in the morning, feel the winds of war, and decide to suit up accordingly. I thought it was a clever commentary on the Israeli media as a pseudo-military unit called to help the IDF, and questioned their objectivity. I guess Channel 10’s senior defense correspondent Alon Ben David did not get my point as he retorted: “Good to know that while half a million people are under a barrage of rockets, there is someone monitoring fashion issues.”
And so, Alon and other readers who thought my previous post was about fashion issues should probably skip this one too, as they might perceive it as making fun of a physical shortcoming. It’s not.
Meet Brigadier General Avi (Avraham) Benayahu. He is the IDF Spokesperson which means on regular days he serves as the mouthpiece for the Israeli army, but nowadays as journalists are banned from entering the Gaza strip, he is the Alpha and the Omega when it comes to supplying materials for the media to report. Naturally, since he is part of the army, everything he says is taken with a grain of salt, and so his relationship with the media is particularly important under the fog of war. For example, when he supplies the media with a video taken by an unmanned aerial vehicle showing Palestinians loading cylinder shaped objects onto a truck and claims these are Hamas operatives transferring short-range Grad missiles – should the cylinders turn out to be oxygen tanks, it will not only prove the Palestinians were innocently killed, but also deal a death blow to his credibility. Next time he talks to the media, they may not listen.
Now, God knows I have my own flaws, and for sure the IDF Spokesperson does not have to be a runway model, but there is something about a comb over that says ‘We may not have met before, but I will try to fool you even before shaking your hand and telling you my name’. People with comb overs bring with them an elephant into the room, and when it is the IDF Spokesperson entering a television studio, the subtext is: ‘I have lied to you right off the bat and now you should believe everything I am going to say’.
In addition to the credibility issue, a comb over may be a testament to Benayahu’s level of professionalism, as viewers may ask themselves ‘Is this the guy in charge of media relations for the army? Who is he trying to fool? Does he even understand the concept of broadcast television?’