Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 5/2/2012: The Media Forgets Who Is Israel's Prime Minister

From DG:
1) I'll take Israeli leaders for $200, Alex

Recently Tzippi Livni, the former head of Israel's Kadima party retired from Knesset. If you had been paying attention to the American media, though, you could be forgiven for being surprised.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported, Former Israeli Premier Assails Netanyahu on Iran, about a speech disgraced former Prime Minister Olmert gave. A few months earlier, the Times also allowed Olmert to write Peace Now or Never to castigate Netanyahu for his handling of the peace process. With the attention given to these two ex-leaders of Kadima, you might not realize that Prime Minister Netanyahu is in a very strong position to be re-elected, possibly this fall. Barry Rubin writes:

Israel is apparently going to have elections this autumn and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly win by a big margin. Understanding why explains a lot about the country that people think they know the most about but in fact comprehend the least. 
According to polls, Netanyahu’s Likud party may go from 28 to 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset. That may not sound like a big percentage but with around 12 different parties likely to win seats that margin would be sufficient. 
One key element in this equation is that the country is doing pretty well. True, it faces serious security problems but that’s the norm for Israel. Indeed, with no other trusted leader on the horizon, Netanyahu is the one most trusted to manage that dangerous situation.
David Weinberg adds:
I find it hard to believe that a Netanyahu-Mofaz-Lapid-Yechimovich government (with or without Lieberman and religious parties) would truly be any more or less cautious regarding Iran than the current Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman government. Neither governing constellation is going to run headlong into direct military confrontation with Iran unless absolutely necessary. The result of the upcoming US presidential election in November has more bearing on whether Israel hits Iran than the result of any election in Israel. 
The same goes for diplomacy on the Palestinian front. Kadima, Labor and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid praty may be declaratively more willing than Israel Beiteinu or Habayit Hayehudi to forgo and swap land in the West Bank, but they are unlikely to find themselves in government without Likud or all of the sudden discover a sensible Palestinian partner with realistic negotiating positions. The public is not going to support any more unilateral withdrawals, and nobody is withdrawing the IDF from Samarian hilltops or the Jordan Valley with an Arab “winter” raging around us. 
Economic and social policy? Summer protests and tent encampments notwithstanding, all public opinion surveys indicate that the public recognizes Netanyahu as the best economic steward for Israel at this time. His steady hand has helped Israel weather the global financial storms, and in the process he cut the middle class a few breaks too (like free early childhood education).
Like it or not, Likud is Israel's new center.

2) Terror's enablers

After Anders Behring Breivik carried out his terrible massacre last year, columnist Roger Cohen knew who was at fault. In a column, Breivik and his enablers he wrote:
Breivik has many ideological fellow travelers on both sides of the Atlantic. Theirs is the poison in which he refined his murderous resentment. The enablers include Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, who compared the Koran to “Mein Kampf” on his way to 15.5 percent of the vote in the 2010 election; the surging Marine Le Pen in France, who uses Nazi analogies as she pours scorn on devout Muslims; far-rightist parties in Sweden and Denmark and Britain equating every problem with Muslim immigration; Republicans like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Representative Peter King, who have found it politically opportune to target “creeping Shariah in the United States” at a time when the middle name of the president is Hussein; U.S. church pastors using their bully pulpits week after week to say America is a Christian nation under imminent threat from Islam.
Everyone who was critical or cautionary about the rise of political Islam was an enabler. There was no subtlety in Cohen's blanket indictment. Peter King was as guilty as Marine Le Pen. But consider the following he wrote in a column he wrote two years ago, Hard Mideast Truths:
This, too, I believe: Through violence, anti-Semitic incitation, and annihilationist threats, Palestinian factions have contributed mightily to the absence of peace and made it harder for America to adopt the balance required. But the impressive recent work of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank shows that Palestinian responsibility is no oxymoron and demands of Israel a response less abject than creeping annexation.
The extremism that is regularly broadcast over the official Palestinian media is attributed to Palestinian "factions,' not to its government. Those who turn a blind eye to the incitement (what in the world is "incitation?") deserve a lot more blame for the lack of peace in the Middle East. Cohen, though, is content to blame "creeping annexation."

Now comes word from Norway that the creator of "peace studies," is a raving antisemitic lunatic. No major American newspaper has seen fit to report on Johann Galtung's pronouncements. Fortunately, as Ynet reports, at least publications in Norway have noticed:
Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet published in October an article by journalist John Faerseth, who attended one of Galtung's lectures at the University of Oslo, where he outlined his doctrine in front of a cheering crowd. 
Throughout the article, Fearseth slams Galtung, who is dubbed "the father of peace studies", saying the "findings" on which he bases his theories against Jews are "dubious" at best.
Norwegian magazine Humanist published a correspondence between Galtung and Fearseth, in which Galtung claimed, as he did several times in the past, that the Jews control world media.
Cohen is currently on leave, so we won't see any column from him on the topic of those who hate Israel and how they enable Palestinian radicalism. Walter Russell Mead observes:(via Instapundit)
He hinted at links between Anders Behring Breivik’s attack on civilians in Norway and Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. He suggested there was some truth behind the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He said that Jews share some of the blame for what happened at Auschwitz — they had provoked the poor Germans under the Weimar Republic. He suggested that Jews control the American media and academic establishments. The list goes on and on — the kind of remarks that haters call “common sense” and “daring to tell the truth” but that sane people see as hatred, error and bile. 
Professor Galtung is 82 and perhaps these days like his soul mate Helen Thomas he expresses himself with more freedom and less restraint than in former times. And perhaps the mind is not everything that it once was. But his example demonstrates that the bacillus of Jew-hatred, responsible for centuries of folly and murder before climaxing in the Holocaust and the destruction of half Europe, has not been extirpated. Even among liberal academics who specialize in the study of peace, the flame of hate sometimes burns. 
There may be some who say that the Professor is not an anti-Semite; he is merely an anti-Zionist whose righteous passion against the sins of Israel drove him momentarily into some incautious language. And they will argue that such a peace oriented fellow could only have been stimulated to such passions by truly unconscionable activities on the part of “the Jews.” That is how such people often talk, and it is always contemptible, always dishonest, always a manifestation of a failure of either character or intellect. 
More at memeorandum.

Criticism of Israel these days is so uninformed and vicious (not to mention counterproductive) it's impossible not to ask if there's another motive behind it.

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