Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 07/31/2011

From DG:


1) Who wrote it?

A) Israel’s conservative government is determined to crush a growing push by Palestinians and their supporters for boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel. Since last year, many Israeli artists and intellectuals, as well international artists, have canceled performances and programs in Israel and the West Bank to protest the settlements. The bill’s sponsor, Zeev Elkin, said his concern was that the calls for a boycott “increasingly have come from within our own midst.”


B) "The secret to Israel's survival, despite all the great challenges it has faced, lies in democracy and respect for the worth of the [Israeli] individual, regardless of [Israel's] racism and brutality vis-à-vis its Arab enemies. The secret to the collapse of the Arab countries, one after another, lies in dictatorship and in the oppression of the individual... It is impossible for an Arab country, a neighbor of Israel, to succeed in liberating Palestine while denying dignity to individuals [within its own borders].

C) There would be neither Christianity nor Islam without Judaism, and that Judaism was born in the current Holy Land of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galili, and Jericho etc till the Romans destroyed the temple and exiled the Jewish. Afterward, Islam conquered the land around 638 A.D and installed their mosque on the very spot where the famed Biblical Temple of Solomon once stood, after its destruction by the Romans.

D) These acts of obstructing the peace process –- most recently shown by the PLO's refusal to negotiate with Israel for the past two years --- along with its continual breaches of the Oslo Accords, raises the question: Does the Palestinian leadership want peace at all? Or does it want peace only on its own terms: Erasing Israel from the map?

E) "This year, Israel published numerous scientific studies that put it in first place worldwide in terms of the number of studies [published] per capita – 12 studies to every 10,000 people. America is in second place, with 10 studies [to every 10,000 people], followed by Britain, with nine. As for the Arab countries, they are all at the bottom end of these statistics.

Answers:

A) "Not befitting a democracy," New York Times editorial, July 17, 2011
B) "Do we really still believe that Israel is a temporary entity bound to disappear?" Saudi columnist Khalaf Al-Harbi, the daily 'Okaz, June 7, 2011
C) "The Jewish State of Israel is a friend to the African State of the Republic of South Sudan," Editorial at the South Sudan News Agency website
D) "Is it time Israel ends Oslo," by Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian writer and academic from Jordan, currently in exile, July 29, 2011, Hudson New York
E) "Israel is at the Pinnacle of Scientific Research, the Arabs at its Nadi," Saudi columnist Fawaz Al-'Ilmi, of the daily Al Watan, June 7, 2011
The two articles from Saudi Arabia were excerpted at the MEMRI blog on July 29, 2011


2) Muddying the issue

On Friday the International Herald Tribune published an op-ed by Yonatan Toval, "Israel's Identity Crisis."

Since taking office more than two years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly pressed the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” In his speech before the U.S. Congress in May, Netanyahu even made this demand the linchpin of any future peace deal, promising “a far-reaching compromise” if only the Palestinian leader were to publicly declare “I will accept a Jewish state.” 
It's really simple. Essential to the ideology of Palestinian nationalism, is the denial of Jewish history. Article 20 of the Palestinian National Covenant reads

The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong. 
It's not just biblical as Touval asserts in the op-ed. Jewish history supports Jewish claims to Israel. What Netanyahu is asking is acknowledgment of that fact. By trying to define the Jewish nature of Israel, Touval is simply muddying the issue.

Surprisingly, France just came on board. A New York Post editorial states:

Sarkozy's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, publicly stated: "There will be no solution to the conflict in the Middle East without recognition of two nation-states for two people," including "the nation-state of Israel for the Jewish people." 
That's been a significant Israeli condition for years -- that the Palestinians must recognize Israel's existence as a Jewish state, thereby ending their claims on the entirety of Israel.
Just as significantly, that's something the Palestinians adamantly refuse to do. 
Read more about France's Peace Bombshell

Two notes about Touval. When I investigated to see his background, I discovered that not too long ago he was affiliated with the Economic Cooperation Foundation, which "was founded by Dr. Yair Hirschfeld (the initiator of the Oslo Peace Process), and former Minister of Justice Dr. Yossi Beilin." I have no idea if he's still affiliated as the International Herald Tribune did not list it. Also his father Saadia was a prominent theorist in the area of peace process diplomacy. Saadia Touval's obituary observed:

Starting in the 1970s, his work on "biased intermediaries" had an impact on prominent U.S. negotiators such as Aaron David Miller and Dennis Ross, who borrowed his ideas.
Dr. Touval drew on concrete lessons from disputes in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans to assert that neutrality or impartiality were not as important as holding power.
Looking at the Middle East, he pointed out that Arabs viewed the United States as a reliable ally of Israel. This was not a problem, he wrote, because the Arabs knew that the Americans were in a better position to win concessions for them. 


3) Shulamit Shamir

From Israel National News
Shulamit Shamir, wife of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, died in her Tel Aviv home Friday at the age of 88.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with the Shamir's son, Yair, after learning of Mrs. Shamir's death and sent his condolences to the family. 


"Shulamit was Yitzhak's right hand in the Lehi," read Netanyahu's statement. "We join all of Israel's citizens in mourning her death."
The book, A Tzaddik in our Time, about Rabbi Aryeh Levine, tells of the underground marriage of the Shamirs. The match was suggested by a fellow underground fighter named Moshe Segal. When Shamir demurred, Rabbi Levine prevailed upon him to get married and arranged for several prominent Rabbis to preside over and participate in the ceremony.


4) The hesitation come to fruition

In its generally enthusiastic endorsement of Barack Obama for President the Washington Post offered this caution.

Mr. Obama's greatest deviation from current policy is also our biggest worry: his insistence on withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq on a fixed timeline. Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years in office. But if it isn't -- and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal -- we can only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of success in Iraq and adjust his plans. 
Once again, a couple of weeks ago, the President's zeal to withdraw from Iraq makes news:

Iraq may seek to keep U.S. troops in the country past this year to help with training, a role not requiring the approval of a parliament ready to reject continuation of American combat missions, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said today. 
“Iraq needs the Americans for training on the sea, air and ground and sea weapons,” he said in an interview with state- sponsored Iraqiya television. “This does not need the approval of parliament,” he said. 
A few more related items. 

The security situation in Iraq is getting worse.

The security situation in Iraq is more dangerous than it was a year ago, according to a government watchdog report issued Saturday that cites more attacks on U.S. troops, a continuing wave of assassinations targeting Iraqi officials and a growing number of indirect rocket strikes on Baghdad’s Green Zone. “Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, wrote in his quarterly report to Congress and the Obama administration. “It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago.”
Iran has signed a major deal to provide gas to Syria and Iraq.
Iran, Iraq and Syria have signed the Middle East's biggest gas contract for the transit of Iranian gas from the country's South Pars gas field to Europe via Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.
The 10-billion-dollar agreement was inked by Iran's caretaker Oil Minister Mohammad Aliabadi and Oil Ministers of Iraq and Syria Abdul Kareem Luaiby and Sufian Alao on Monday, IRIB
Iraq is increasing its order of F-16's from the United States.
The announcement of the deal came as Iraq and the U.S. government discuss whether to keep some U.S. troops or military trainers in the OPEC country after the planned withdrawal of the last American soldiers at the end of the year.
"A delegation from the Iraqi Air Force along with advisers will travel to revive the contract to include a larger number than the contract had agreed before... We will make it 36 instead of 18," Maliki told reporters.
5) Islamists in Tahrir

The New York Times blog, The Lede noticed that the latest demonstrations in Tahrir Square were dominated by Islamists.

As my colleague Anthony Shadid reports, tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Tahrir Square on Friday for a day that had been billed as one of unified protest against the interim military government. But the turnout was lopsided, dominated by members of religious movements, ranging from the most conservative, the Salafists, to the relatively moderate Muslim Brotherhood.
I'm not sure what "relatively moderate" means.

It pays to read Barry Rubin on this topic.

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