Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 04/12/2011

From an email from DG:
1) "Interfaith trialogue"

I saw a blurb on the cover of this week's Baltimore Jewish Times about an "interfaith trialogue" about the upheaval in the Middle East. Apparently this is a regular program, sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Council.

Apparently these "trialogues" are about trying to promote mutual understanding among Judasim, Christianity and Islam.

According to the Jewish Times

What that means for the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other countries is still unclear. “How does one meld freedom, justice and equality with the application of Islam?” he said. “I think that they will grapple with that.” 
Overall, Imam El-Amin was optimistic, saying, “The literacy rate will rise, they will make a significant contribution to humanity. … I think that Egypt will be a model for that expression.” 
The imam believes religious and political extremists will be held at bay. “This is not a ‘religious’ movement going on in these countries. Islam has not found its way there. It is a desire for the human life, human spirit,” he said.
further we read:

Rev. Paul Tunkle of Baltimore’s Church of the Redeemer agreed with the imam that technologically savvy young people are front and center of all the changes in the Middle East, and they are “hungry for self-expression.” 
But Rev. Tunkle reminded the audience that these young activists see the world from an Islamic viewpoint, which may not mesh with American perceptions about democracy. “I think people that are hungry for democracy in a culture that is primarily Muslim may then turn to their Muslim tradition and find there the resources that uphold their desire to live a life of human dignity,” he said.
If it is the "technologically savvy young people" who are at the forefront of the revolution, then it can't be good that the authorities have just sentenced a blogger to three years in prison.

An Egyptian blogger was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for criticizing the military in what human rights advocates called one of the more alarming violations of freedom of expression since a popular uprising led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak two months ago.  
The blogger, Maikel Nabil, 25, had assailed the Egyptian armed forces for what he called its continuation of the corruption and anti-democratic practices of Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Nabil often quoted from reports by established human rights groups.
The New York Times report includes further details:

Mr. Nabil has the unusual political position in Egypt of being a pacifist as well as a champion of Israel, often praising its democracy, educational standards and innovations.  
Mona Seif, a rights advocate, said Mr. Nabil may have been singled out as an easy target, partly because of previous run-ins with the military and partly because of his pro-Israel views. Mr. Nabil, who is Christian, refused to fulfill his obligatory military service in 2010 on pacifist grounds and has campaigned against forced conscription ever since, Ms. Seif said. 
Barry Rubin observes:

I don't know Sanad but people speak well of him. This is one more step to the rolling back of freedom in Egypt and the defeat of the "Facebook liberals." Egypt will probably go radical nationalist, it might go Islamist, but it isn't seeming to go in the direction of moderate and open democracy. 
So the evidence so far suggests that political and/or religious extremists will prevail in Egypt.

In other words the "trialogue" was about supporting a dubious narrative. More important than accuracy was the principle of not offending anyone.

I guess it was about promoting mutual misunderstanding.

2) What ceasefire?

I hadn't paid too much attention to the Isabel Kershner article I linked to yesterday. I wasn't looking at its contents, but what wasn't there. But Barry Rubin pointed out that there was something amiss in the article.

Israel and Hamas signaled on Sunday that they were willing to restore calm after days of intense fighting, and while militants in Gaza fired about 10 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, most fell in open areas close to the border and Israel did not immediately respond
That represented a sharp reduction in activity since Hamas fired an antitank missile at an Israeli school bus on Thursday, critically wounding a 16-year-old boy and setting off Israeli aerial, artillery and tank fire against targets in Gaza that killed 18 Palestinians, 10 of whom were militants and the rest civilians, according to officials in Gaza.

Hamas and other militant groups fired about 130 mortar shells and rockets, including several mid-range ones, at southern Israel over the previous three days.
Perhaps I'm nitpicking here, but is there any other conflict where the reporters are as meticulous at pointing out civilian casualties. (There were two Israelis injured; the boy was the more severely injured. And isn't the school bus also a "civilian" target.) And of course the breakdown of casualties is according to "officials in Gaza" who have been know to inflate civilian fatalities. If it's not confirmed by another source, why is the Times reporting it?

The following though is very troubling.

The most recent escalation began when the military wing of Hamas fired a Kornet antitank missile at the school bus from a distance of about two miles. It was the first time the group used an advanced, laser-guided weapon against a civilian target.  
Hamas said the attack was meant to avenge Israel’s killing of three of the group’s militants on April 2, an act that Hamas said violated an earlier cease-fire. 
"Hamas said?" 

First of all, the New York Times reported on March 23, that Hamas had "apparently ended a two years ceasefire." That was nearly three weeks ago and more than a week before April 2. Second of all that so called ceasefire included the firing of over 600 rockets into Israel. By the New York Times own reporting, the statement from Hamas is false and yet the reporter lets it stand unchallenged. Do you ever wonder why we need bloggers?

3) Where have I heard this before?

Babylon and Beyond reports SYRIA: Student reportedly shot, killed; Muslim Brotherhood throws support behind protests

A student protester was reportedly killed Monday when security forces opened fire to break up an anti-government protest at the University of Damascus, according to unconfirmed media reports.The incident followed a weekend in which dozens of protesters across the country were reportedly killed in clashes with uniformed security forces and armed groups in civilian dress. Meanwhile, the leader of Syria's banned Muslim Brotherhood told Reuters that his movement was not behind the protests but that it supports their aims. 
"The authorities had thought that killings and terror would scare the masses," said Mohammad Riad Shaqfa, who lives in exile in Saudi Arabia. "The effect has been the opposite; repression only fueled the protests."
For all I know, Shaqfa's simply inflating his organization's profile, where they really have no presence. Still given the Egypt experience, this bears watching.

4) Re-reading Barnea

Yesterday I quoted from a Nachum Barnea column from the IHT. At the end of the column, a reader, Lynn, pointed that I had mis-read something.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have now established special teams to spread the new gospel of Goldstone all over the world. Alas, the world is paying little attention. The opinion about the Israeli operation in Gaza was set in stone when the report was published. The debate about the two Goldstones is of interest largely to Jews, in and outside Israel. It has become a Jewish affair. 
Barnea wasn't saying that the Goldstone report had become an internal Jewish affair - as I had read it - but the debate over the importance of Goldstone's retraction was. In other words, nothing comforting in Barnea's observation. My mistake.

One more thought about Barnea. I objected to his ascribing cynical motivations to then PM Olmert and DM Barak for launching Cast Lead. If Barnea's serious about criticizing Israel's government why is he providing further fodder to Israel's critics, who would say that Cast Lead was arbitrary?

Judge Goldstone was essential to his commission's credibility. After all he was a proud Jewish Zionist who dared to criticize Israel. Now that he's stepped back from his accusations, how has he been treated? The ADL noted (and followed up in a report in Ha'aretz) that in cartoons in Arab papers and now he's a dirty Jew. (h/t RC)

On April 2, 2011 the Washington Post published an op-ed by Justice Richard Goldstone in which he retracted the most serious accusation against Israel in the Goldstone Report (the United Nations Human Rights Council-mandated investigation into Israel's 2009 military operation in Gaza) -  that Israel intentionally targeted civilians.  Justice Goldstone's essay has fueled a spate of cartoons in newspapers across the Middle East.   
 Most of the depictions, many of them blatantly anti-Semitic, offer grotesque explanations for this reversal—showing Goldstone being bribed with "gold" by an Israel solider, or being subjected to tremendous Jewish/Israeli pressure.  Others feature Jews with stereotypical features such as a beard and a hat controlling Justice Goldstone. 
So the mask slips. Goldstone's presence was supposed to show that the commission was objective, and that it was search of justice, not scapegoating. But now that Goldstone is no longer acting as a fig leaf (the investigation was prompted by the pro-genocide OIC) the real intentions of the report are clear.

Will any media in the West report this?

Technorati Tag: .

No comments: