A satirical website has accidentally broken a real news story – by revealing that America offered Israel “a nice, big shipment” of weapons to try and salve its anger at the Iran nuclear deal.
A spoof news story on The Onion, headlined “US Soothes Upset Netanyahu With Shipment Of Ballistic Missiles”, appeared 24 hours before reports emerged that this had actually happened in real life.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted the similarity to its own story, published the following day, which carried the headline, “After Iran deal, Obama offers military upgrade to help Israel swallow bitter Iranian deal”.
Barack Obama had offered Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu “immediate talks to upgrade the Israel Defense Forces’ offensive and defensive capabilities”, the paper reported last week.
Later, Haaretz graciously admitted in a blog post that: “There’s no other way around it: the fake newspaper broke the story.”
The only difference between spoof and reality was that Mr Netanyahu (in reality) initially didn’t respond to the offer and later rejected it. – the second time he had turned down such a proposal – “believing that any kind of reciprocal deal would be construed as Israel having come to terms with the Iran nuclear deal”.
By contrast The Onion quoted a fake State Department spokesman, who said: “Bibi always gets a little cranky when he sees us talking to Iran, but a few dozen short-range surface-to-surface missiles usually cheer him right up.
“Of course, we try not to spoil him by giving him a whole new tactical ballistics delivery system every single time he throws a fit, but our guy’s pretty good at getting his way. At least we’ll have a couple months of peace and quiet around here.”
Officials at the Pentagon briefed the media over the weekend that, in fact, Israel would not be offered any weapons to make up for the Iran deal.
Whatever the truth of the matter, Haaretz, the paper of Israeli doves and liberals, reckons that when life apparently imitates satire so faithfully, it's generally not a good sign.
On Monday the UN Security Council unanimously voted in favour of the Iran nuclear deal, which has done the already strained Obama-Netanyahu relationship under yet more pressure.
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