Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 8/14/2012: New York Times vs. Netanyahu On Iran

1) Iran, Netanyahu and the New York Times
A new New York Times editorial Israel and Iran charges:
Israeli leaders are again talking about possible military action against Iran. This is, at best, mischievous and, at worst, irresponsible, especially when diplomacy has time to run.
Later on:
Even so, Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line government has never liked the idea of negotiating with Iran on the nuclear issue, and, at times, seems in a rush to end them altogether. On Sunday, the deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, told Israel Radio that the United States and the other major powers should simply “declare today that the talks have failed.”  
Towards the end the editorial allows:
Of course, it is disappointing that the negotiations have made so little progress. No one can be sure that any mix of diplomacy and sanctions will persuade Iran to give up its ambitions. But the talks have been under way only since April, and the toughest sanctions just took effect in July.
The lack of progress in negotiations over years is, of course, disappointing. But that's the problem, if Iran isn't willingly scaling back its nuclear ambitions, then it presents a threat to Israel and the world. On the other hand without a credible threat of force, what chance is there that negotiations will produce the desired result?

Consider the following statement from Walid Sakariya, a member of Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon:
This nuclear weapon is meant to create a balance of terror with Israel, to finish off the Zionist enterprise, and to end all Israeli aggression against the Arab nation.
Perhaps it's bluster, but Sakariya believes that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be an existential threat to Israel.

Or consider the ongoing threats coming from Iran. Or the ongoing shadow war against Israel (and Jews worldwide)?

The editorial position of the New York Times is that the current Israeli government needs to wait until Iran's intentions are clear. Short of a nuclear attack on Israel, will the burden of proof ever be met?

Michael Ledeen provides an antidote to the hysterical speculation of the New York Times (h/t Instapundit):
Whatever the actual state of affairs, they’re not gonna tell us, and it’s quite farfetched to imagine that somebody’s gonna put the whole country at risk by leaking it. So a really smart pundit would just wait and see, because in order to know that a decision is near, or has actually been taken, he’d have to know what the Israelis think they know about the Iranian nuclear project. 
Why is that? Because Israel is only going to do it if they think they know that time’s up. That the Iranians have everything they need to put a nuclear warhead on a serviceable missile that can hit Israel. Israel does not want to do it. For as long as I can remember, the Israelis have been trying to get U.S. to do it, because they have long believed that Iran was so big that only a big country could successfully take on the mullahs in a direct confrontation. So Israel’s Iran policy has been to convince us to do whatever the Israelis think is best. And while they’re willing to do their part, they are very reluctant to take on the entire burden.
But if you’re the prime minister, and your head of military intelligence comes to you and says “time’s up,” and you’ve failed to convince the Americans, then you’ve got to act.
He's right. The hysteria of Israel's critics (including the editors of the New York Times) is based on an assumption that they know what Netanyahu will do and that he will do it soon. It's possible that even Netanyahu doesn't know what he will do yet, but he'd be reckless if he weren't preparing for every eventuality.

If you're Netanyahu do you take a chance? Netanyahu's obligation is to protect the country he was elected to lead. I suspect he has much more information that I do about Iran and capabilities. I'd go far as to suggest he has a lot more information than the editors of the New York Times do. Netanyahu needs to weigh the risks of attacking against the risks of staying his hand. It is irresponsible to accuse Netanyahu and the Israeli government of recklessly rushing into war. War is a notoriously unpredictable enterprise and only a fool undertakes such a risk casually.

Israeli Matzav takes the editorial apart paragraph by paragraph. Daled Amos considers why an attack might be imminent and Seth Mandel writes about parallel threats that Israel must consider.

Related articles at memeorandum.

2) The culture strikes back

Last week Palestinian monopolist and businessman, Munib Masri penned an op-ed in the New York Times claiming that it was the Israeli occupation that was hindering Palestinian economic development, not Palestinian culture.

Now he's finding himself under fire for discussing peace with an Israeli. (h/t Elder of Ziyon) The Times of Israel reports Former PA minister and billionaire slammed by Palestinian boycott group for discussing peace with supermarket mogul:
Masri has been singled out by the Boycott National Committee (BNC) for discussing the Arab League’s 2002 Peace Initiative with Israeli businessman Rami Levy, at a meeting at one of Levy’s supermarkets in the West Bank, as part of an effort to persuade Israelis to take the initiative seriously. 
Masri told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency on August 1 that a group of independent Palestinians has launched an effort to revive the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, a peace plan outline adopted by the Arab League but largely disregarded by Israeli decision makers. Masri said the Palestinians intended to reintroduce the plan to members of Israeli civil society “across the political spectrum.
“The warm relationship revealed recently between a segment of Palestinian capital and Israeli capital is among the worst kinds of normalization,” the BNC statement read. “It gives the occupation-state a fig leaf with which to cover its continued occupation, ethnic cleansing, and racism.” 
I believe that the Arab Peace Initiative was never sincere and it's hard to imagine it being the basis of any sort of peace given that quite a few of the tyrants who supported it are no longer in power. Nor am I fan of Masri. However the idea that discussing peace with Israel is somehow a betrayal of Palestinian interests is a sentiment that is too accepted. And yes it is reflective of a culture that is more interested in preserving its own privileges than in making peace.

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