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Thursday, January 02, 2014

A Complete Lack of Curiosity

I find it fascinating that yesteday's news about the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic being killed in an explosion at his official residence in Prague is being treated largely like a a common car accident by the major international news outlets.

I mean seriously, what could possibly be considered out of the ordinary about a senior diplomat being blown up in his official residence, right?  After all, diplomats routinely handle explosives in their homes while representing their countries in foreign capitals, right?  Right?!

As the story has developed in a ho-hum fashion over the past 24 hours, more details have emerged, including the bizarre explanation that "the explosion occurred while [the ambassador] was opening a safe, inadvertently setting off a security protection". [source]

Am I the only one who is just a little curious whether having explosive booby traps in safes is a common practice among diplomats?  Apparently so, because so far, not one news organization (that I have seen) has contacted any other country's ambassadors or consul generals to ask this basic question.

The media has also failed (so far as I can tell) to contact any government officials anywhere in the world to make the obvious (to me, anyway) inquiry as to whether there is any problem, from a legal and/or diplomatic protocol standpoint, with a foreign country's diplomatic staff possessing explosives in their missions and/or official residences.

The only consistent quotation I see regarding this event is the following police statement that appears in the first paragraph of nearly every article:  "[The Prague police spokesperson] said there was no indication the explosion was sabotage or a terrorist attack".

It must be frustrating for the world's media outlets to be faced with that fairly ironclad statement as it somewhat limits their ability to trot out idle speculation that Israel might somehow be responsible.  But you have to give credit to the New York Times which still managed to insert the following non sequitur into their coverage of the explosion:

"Difficult negotiations have been underway for months between the Palestinian leadership and Israeli officials over a two-state solution to their prolonged conflict."

 Well played, NYT... well played, indeed!

Yet there remains a fairly obvious line of questioning that, inexplicably, isn't taking place. Anywhere!

As you probably know, I'm nothing, if not a giver... so feel free to forward the following crib sheet to any journalists you might know to help prod them along:

Question:  Is there any possibility that the explosion was a 'work accident' which occurred while a bomb was being constructed, stored or transported?

Question:  If the explosion was, as reported, caused by a security device in a safe located in the ambassador's residence, are such security devices common... and if so, are they in use by other country's diplomatic personnel?

Question:  Are diplomatic missions required to seek permission for, or at least declare, explosives in their possession as they do for weapons used by their protective detail/security personnel?

Question:  Are there any commercial manufacturer's currently marketing safes equipped with explosive security countermeasures, or is this the type of thing which one would have to have custom built/installed by a demolitions expert?

Question:  The fatal injuries the Palestinian ambassador sustained, specifically "head, chest and stomach injuries", seem to suggest a fairly substantial explosion... certainly in excess of what one would assume would be required to destroy the contents of a safe in case of a burglery.  Unless, of course the 'security device' was an offensive weapon meant to maim or kill an intruder.  And if the latter, are there any restrictions on the importation and use of such offensive weapons in the Czech Republic or other countries where the Palestinians maintain diplomatic missions?

Question:  It has been stated that the explosion took place in the ambassador's residence and not in the actual 'Embassy' which is housed in a building next door.  Why would an ambassador be required to have materials in his residence that require such a high level of security when the formal diplomatic mission is a few steps away?

Question:  The New York Times has stated that , "The Palestine Liberation Organization, the main umbrella organization of the Palestinian national movement, maintains missions in a number of European capitals as part of a broader diplomatic effort aimed at advancing the cause of Palestinian statehood".  So if Palestine is not (yet) an official country, and the diplomatic missions it maintains are largely for 'advancing broader diplomatic efforts...', what kind of data/information could they possibly be safeguarding that would warrant a security system that employs explosives?

Maybe these will stir the journalistic juices and spark a glimmer of curiosity.

Don't thank me... I'm a giver.

Posted by David Bogner on January 2, 2014 | Permalink

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Of course, you know the "dirty little secret" that the world's journalists don't CARE about Palestinians blowing themselves up UNLESS that explosion can be used against Israel. I would think this fact would be insulting to the Palestinians.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jan 2, 2014 3:14:01 PM

rutimizrachi... That is what is known as 'the soft bigotry of low expectations'. The world, and the media from which the world gets its information, holds the Palestinians (heck, most third world leasers/populations) to a much lower standard of behavior than they do first world leaders/populations. The problem with this emerges when a third world entity engages a first world entity in an armed conflict. Israel is arguably the best example of a first world power that is forced to fight a third world power according to a higher/different set of rules and expectations.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 2, 2014 3:43:33 PM

Actually, the full quote from the Prague police spokesperson was, "There is no indication the explosion was sabotage or a terrorist attack. Wink wink, nudge nudge." The quote was edited for space considerations.

And as you know, the NY Times would be happy to shove the Israel-Palestinian "stalled peace negotiations" into a story about potted plants, if it could. Bashing Israel is always sequitor to those clowns.

Posted by: psachya | Jan 2, 2014 4:54:38 PM

Here's a teensy-weensy insignificant little update: http://www.timesofisrael.com/illegal-arms-stockpile-found-at-prague-home-of-dead-palestinian-ambassador/

Color me surprised!

Posted by: cba | Jan 2, 2014 6:26:00 PM

Another update or two:

http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/zpravy/palestinians-may-have-used-czechrep-for-arms-transit-czech-expert/1026536

http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=337052

Posted by: Drew | Jan 6, 2014 6:56:50 PM

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