Sometimes good ideas come from the most unlikely of sources.
A couple of days ago, JoeSettler did a post in which he examined the question of how often President Obama and his top officials talk about Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Examining the week of Aug. 17-21, he found (with a little help from yours truly) that Israel was discussed on every single day. And he suggested — quite correctly — that this would seem to indicate an obsession with Israel on the part of the Administration.
Some people disagreed, however. One anonymous commenter wrote derisively that our analysis left him "laughing out loud". He criticized the information as presented, arguing that Israel is not mentioned by the Administration any more than other countries:
Why don't you google Egypt or France or Canada and see how many times the sec of state the labor scty and other major gvnmt officials mentioned them.Now, I wasn't sure I saw the point of looking for references to foreign countries from the Secretary of Labor, a government official who deals primarily with domestic issues — as opposed to the Secretary of State or the President himself, who also deal with foreign affairs. Nevertheless, the overall idea in the commenter's suggestion sounded quite reasonable to me. So, I decided to carry out his proposal.
Rather than googling, I examined the sources directly, in order to get thoroughly precise and reliable figures: I went through all speeches, press briefings, news releases, and blog posts for the duration of the period that was analyzed in Joe's post (Aug. 17-21), tallying every single reference made to each of the three countries listed by our anonymous critic — France, Canada, and Egypt — as well as Israel. The sources surveyed were the following:
- White House Speeches and Remarks
- White House Press Briefings
- White House Statements and Press Releases
- The White House Blog
- U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefings
- U.S. State Department Press Releases
- U.S. Department of Labor News Releases
- Speeches, Remarks and Congressional Testimony from the Secretary of Labor
France: 0 references.
Canada: 3 references.
Egypt: 52 references. (Of these, 9 were in direct connection with Israel.)
Israel: 87 references.
A couple of notes:
- As I had suspected, there were no references whatsoever to any of these countries from the Department of Labor.
- This was from a week during which Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in Washington, holding meetings and press conferences with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. (This explains the high number of references to Egypt, which is considerably higher than the number of references to Egypt during previous weeks.) No high-ranking Israeli officials were in Washington during the week in question. In spite of this, references to Israel still exceeded references to Egypt by more than 67%.
- References to Israel exceeded references to Canada (one of the countries our critic advised us to compare) by a ratio of 29:1.
- As compared with 87 references to Israel, France (another country our critic advised us to compare) was not mentioned even once.
I want to thank the commenter (pity he was anonymous; otherwise I'd thank him by name) for his shrewd suggestion that we should compare the count of references to Israel with that of references to France, Canada, and Egypt. The results clearly indicate that the Administration is even more obsessed with Israel that I had previously imagined.
Our anonymous commenter is free, of course, to continue laughing at the facts and figures — even the ones that he himself suggested we examine. But intelligent readers can certainly draw the logical conclusions for themselves.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד