Boaz Moda'i

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His Excellency,
Boaz Moda'i
Israeli Ambassador to Ireland
In office
September 2010 – September 2015
Preceded by Zion Evrony
Succeeded by Zeev Boker
Personal details
Spouse(s) Nurit Tinari Modai
Profession Diplomat

Boaz Moda'i (also Boaz Modai, Hebrew: בועז מודעי‎) is an Israeli diplomat, who was Israel's ambassador to Ireland from 2010 to 2015.[1] He announced in August 2015 that his tenure and that of his wife Nurit, as his deputy, would end that September. [2] He is the son of Yitzhak Moda'i and Michal Har'el Moda'i (née Herison). Modai joined Israel's foreign ministry in 1988.[3]

Early life[edit]

Modai is the son of prominent parents. His father, Yitzhak Moda'i, was an Israeli politician. His mother, Michal Har'el, was the second Miss Israel, crowned in 1951, who later became one of three honorary life presidents of the Women's International Zionist Organization.[4]

Career[edit]

Modai joined Israel's foreign ministry in 1988. He has served in Israeli embassies in Guatemala, Honduras, Thailand, and London. He served as first counselor of Israel's Embassy to the Holy See.[5] In that role he acted as political co-ordinator for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Israel in 2000.[6] Before moving to Dublin, he spent six years in the Training Bureau of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.[3][7]

After becoming ambassador to Ireland, he was joined in his work by his wife, Nurit Tinari-Modai (Nurit Tinari Modai), who as of February 2012 serves as Deputy Head of Mission.[8] [9] Under their leadership the Israeli Embassy in Dublin received repeated criticism for diplomatic faux pas committed on its social media accounts. Modai and Tinari-Modai have adopted a "provocative" approach to diplomacy that at times has been embarrassing to the embassy.[10]

The embassy won an award for its online hasbara from the Comper Center for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at University of Haifa. On Dec 31, 2013, the university's website noted: "The annual appreciation for extraordinary hasbara activity was granted today … to Israel's ambassador to Ireland, Boaz Modai, and his deputy, Nurit Tinari-Modai, by the unique academic program 'Ambassadors Online,' which trains students for pro-Israel hasbara activity online." It lauded them for "activity in the struggle against those who promote the economic-cultural boycott of Israel and against anti-Semitic agents," and credited them with "exposing Israeli culture and the variety of Israel's tourist locations and technological achievements to the residents of Ireland."[11] On the other hand, critics have decried the husband and wife duo for their hasbara approach. "Israel's embassy in Dublin has been in the headlines many times over the last few years, not only because of the tense relations between Jerusalem and Dublin, but also because of embarrassing provocations by Israel's envoys at the mission, who try to think creatively when it comes to public relations (hasbara)," wrote Haaretz's diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid, "The person who leads this provocative line in the embassy in Dublin is not only Ambassador Boaz Modai, but also his wife, Nurit Tinari Modai, who serves as deputy head of mission."[12]

Controversies[edit]

Harassment of female employee[edit]

While he was Head of the Instruction Branch in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moda'i was investigated by police for harassing a woman in his office. The Jerusalem District Police received a complaint from Moda'i's previous employee, who complained of receiving harassing phone calls from an unidentified number. Police traced the phone number to Moda'i, who said he believed the woman had caused him sleepless nights by spreading rumors he had been having an affair. He therefore felt she should not have any sleep either. The Jerusalem police issued Moda'i a restraining order, reported the incidents to the Foreign Service Commission, and recommended that Moda'i be prosecuted.[13]

Diplomatic faux pas[edit]

The Moda'i couple, acting as ambassador and his deputy, have been named in connection with a series of gaffes committed via social media postings.

  • "If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians." Illustrated by an icon of Jesus of the Sacred Heart and Virgin Mary with the heart pierced by a sword. During Christmas season, on Embassy Facebook posting, 17 December 2012.[14] The Times of Israel reported that "some people demanded the ambassador in Dublin be fired," while a Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Jerusalem said, "We will of course conduct an internal investigation to determine how such a post could have been uploaded."[15]
  • A posting was linked to an article stating "The UN has itself become a tool against Israel. Hitler couldn’t have been made happier.", and introduced with Embassy's own remark "It's from 2011 but it's always relevant." Embassy Facebook and Twitter posting, 6 August 2013.[16]
  • Mona Lisa wearing a hijab and holding a rocket, with the words "Israel now, Paris later" and described by Haaretz as the most recent in a series of less than tactful, social media posts "Don't say we didn't warn you." Tweeted in the week after the January 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.[17]
  • Palestinian flag with superimposed photo of Adolf Hitler and the text "Free Palestine – Now!" and message "Hamas take lead from Hitler". Posted on Embassy Twitter account during 2014 Gaza war, 23 July 2014.[18]
  • - In another incident, Israel's Channel 10 TV station published an email sent by Tinari Moda'i to senior Foreign Ministry officials. In it she offers that Israeli expats living in Ireland who are criticising Israel, are doing so due to psychological and sexual identity problems, suggesting that they should be targeted and publicly embarrassed:

    "We can find names of [those] Israelis… we should hit their soft spot, publish their pictures, maybe it will embarrass their friends and relatives at home, and hopefully the local [Palestinian] activists will think that they work for the Mossad… The acts of these activists are, I think, not ideologically motivated, but rather have to do with psychological reasons (disappointment with their parents or problems with their sexual identity) or due to their need to receive a residence permit (refugee visa) in one of the European countries…"[14][19][20][21][22]

Complaints filed against The Irish Times[edit]

Over a half dozen complaints brought by Modai to the Office of the Press Ombudsman against The Irish Times over its coverage of matters involving Israel have been rejected by the press ombudsman. In his complaints, Modai claimed that reporting and commentary about Israel's actions in Gaza and Israeli-Palestinian relations violated principles of the press code of conduct.[23] [24]In one complaint, Modai asserted that an interview with Gideon Levy of Haaretz published by the Irish Times[25] had breached several principles of the "Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines." Modai said the journalist publishing the interview must have endorsed the views of Gideon Levy as she had not questioned or probed what he had said. Modai protested that the headline was "anti-Semitic and insulting to the State of Israel and its people," whilst the newspaper said the headline was clearly marked as a quote from the interviewee, Gideon Levy. The ambassador criticized Haaretz as a "minority far-left newspaper, read by only 4% of the Israeli newspaper-reading population" and protested that some Gideon Levy remarks quoted by the Irish Times journalist were "pure libel against the Israel Defense Forces and the State of Israel". The Ambassador requested The Irish Times publish a clarification that "Mr Levy is an extreme contrarian in Israeli discourse” and that the journalist was guilty of "dereliction of her journalistic duty" for not questioning his views. The ombudsman found no violations of the principles of the press, noting: "One can be critical of a State's activities and policies without in any way being critical of its people."[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ex-UN ambassador to become next Egypt envoy"http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/ex-un-ambassador-to-become-next-egypt-envoy-1.3640
  2. ^ Where Israel is concerned it's always Groundhog Day The Independent, 26 August 2015
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-28. Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  4. ^ "Moda’i, World WIZO honorary president, dies at 81"http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Modai-World-WIZO-honorary-president-dies-at-81
  5. ^ Palmieri-Billig, Lisa. "Vatican and Israel jointly seek pilgrims for Year 2000" (Sept 22, 1995) Jweekly [1]
  6. ^ http://www.irelandstandup.org/updates.html
  7. ^ Rosen, Robyn. "Irish government rejects Israel boycott" (June 24, 2010) The Jewish Chronicle [2]
  8. ^ "Why Mr Ambassador You're Spoiling Me" Jewish Chronicle, 1 March 2012
  9. ^ Raphael Ahren, "Israeli Embassy's 'lynching Jesus' Facebook post sparks Irish ire" [3] Times of Israel, December 17, 2012
  10. ^ Robert Mackey, "Israeli Embassy Deletes 'Christmas Thought' Attacking Palestinians From Facebook" The New York Times, 17 Dec 2012
  11. ^ [4] University of Haifa, 31 Dec 2013
  12. ^ Mary Fitzgerald, "Israel's embassy in Ireland criticised after social media controversies" The Irish Times, 28 September 2013
  13. ^ Shoval, Lilach. "Foreign Ministry official admits to harassment: Official receives restraining order after discovery that he called an employee repeatedly at night and hung up" (March 28, 2007) YNET News [5]
  14. ^ a b Barak Ravid (17 December 2012). "Israeli embassy in Ireland's latest Facebook post: If Jesus were alive, he'd be lynched by Palestinians". Haaretz. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Israeli Embassy’s 'lynching Jesus' Facebook post sparks Irish ire The Times of Israel, 17 December 2012
  16. ^ Jonny Silver (6 August 2013). "Israel's Ireland embassy: Hitler would have liked the UN". Haaretz. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Israel's Ireland embassy: France, don't say we didn't warn you". Haaretz. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Hamas take lead from Hitler". Twitter. 23 July 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "Deputy Ambassador in Ireland: the pro-Palestinian activists motivated by sexual identity problems". Nana 10. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "Israel's Dublin embassy planned to smear Palestine activists as sexual deviants and Mossad agentsAli Abunimah". The Electronic Intifada. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  21. ^ "Israeli Deputy Ambassador/Culture Officer in Dublin advocates intimidation and smearing human rights activists; suggests humiliating them by associating them with Mossad and 'sexual identity problems'". Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 13 June 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  22. ^ "'Pro-Palestinian activists have sexual identity problems'". +972 Magazine. Noam Sheizaf. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Press regulator rejects Israeli claims of bias The Sunday Times, 29 March 2015
  24. ^ Decided by the Press Ombudsman Office the Press Ombudsman, accessed 30 April, 2015
  25. ^ "Holocaust makes Israelis think international law doesn’t apply" The Irish Times, 11 September 2014
  26. ^ His Excellency Boaz Modai, Ambassador of Israel, and The Irish Times Archived 2016-03-15 at the Wayback Machine. The Press Council, 25 March 2015