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Today’s Top Stories
1. Bed-Gate hits the media. News of Netanyahu’s opulent sleeping cabin for flight to London reported widely as the new “austerity” budget nears cabinet vote.
2. Israeli officials concerned that countries will pull peace-keepers out of Lebanon. LA Times spoke to Israeli officials after Syrian rebels kidnapped and released four peacekeepers from the Philippines.
“We want them to stay,’’ said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “They can’t prevent the war in Syria but they have an important role to play. If they disappear, it will just be Israel facing whatever or whoever is on the other side.”
3. Pew Research poll indicates wide differences in attitudes between Israelis and the Palestinians on peace.
Israelis, on balance, believe a way can be found for an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully with their country. Palestinians, on the other hand, overwhelmingly do not think this is possible, and a plurality believes armed struggle rather than negotiations or nonviolent resistance is the best way to achieve statehood.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Elder of Ziyon looks at Stephen Hawking’s boycott decision in the context of British attitudes towards Israel.
Hawking is a product of his environment, and his ability to go beyond the conventional wisdom in anything besides physics is severely constrained. Which means that Hawking’s knowledge of Israel is filtered through the conventional wisdom of Britain.
In the most recent Pew Global Attitudes poll, we see that 44% of the British have an unfavorable attitude towards Israel, and only 34% have a favorable attitude.
When asked which side they sympathize with more, 19% were on the Israeli side and 35% sympathized more with the Palestinian Arab side. Even more telling, in 2002, while Israelis were being blown up every couple of days from suicide bombs, the British were only 17% sympathetic towards Israel compared to 28% for Palestinian Arabs.
Rabbi David Wolpe adds his perspective on Hawking in Time magazine:
Perhaps Stephen Hawking just doesn’t believe in talking to people with whom he disagrees. Where then is his condemnatory statement about the treatment of the Maya people in Guatemala, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Kashmiris in India, the Kurds in Turkey, The Bahai of Iran, The Shia of Pakistan, the Chechens in Russia, or perhaps about the Tibetans in China, where Hawking recently paid a celebrated visit? Rather than actually confront the difficulties of the region, he is deploying his considerable prestige to say that one country, among all the nations of the world, is uniquely deserving of obloquy.
An op-ed in The Scotsman argues that Hawking’s boycott will do little to affect Israeli policy. However, it freezes out Israeli academia, which is dominated by left wing critics of the government.
• Khaled Abu Toameh notes the deafening silence among the media and human rights organizations on the plight of Palestinians killed in Syria or displaced by the fighting there.
It is not only the Arabs and the Palestinian governments who are turning a blind eye to the mass displacement of Palestinians. Human rights organizations and the mainstream media in the West are also ignoring the plight of the Palestinians. This is, after all, a story that lacks an anti-Israel angle.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• AP gives Israel’s critics the lead voice in an article about a bill promoted by Senator Barbara Boxer allowing Israelis the right to visit the US without a visa.
The US allows inhabitants of 37 countries to enter without a visa, as long as they extend the same privilege to US citizens. Senator Barbara Boxer is proposing to add Israel to that list – but without requiring equal treatment for Americans travelling to Israel.
Instead, the legislation the Democratic senator has introduced would exempt Israeli visitors from visa requirements as long as the US government certifies that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardising the security of the state of Israel,” to admit Americans without a visa.
What that means, according to critics of the Israeli government, is that Israel can continue to exclude Americans who are either Arab or Muslim, or who belong to groups that oppose Israeli policies. Requiring a visa for visitors allows the government to bar them from entering, or to limit their activities or the length of their stay.
Perhaps Siddiqui, in using that strange word, “rabid,” unconsciously projects his own feelings of rage and frustration onto his subject. For the left and the leftish, such as Siddiqui, a furious opposition to Israel has become a sacred duty.
• Michael Totten on the futility of the West engaging the Muslim Brotherhood:
El-Gazzar made it to Washington and checked into his room, but he refused to show up at the conference.
Why? Because Israelis—or “Zionists” as he called them—were also going to be there.