December 19 Media Cheat Sheet

Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.

Turns out Marwan Barghouti and Tim Tebow (!) have parallel narratives. A citizen ambassador’s literally traveling around the world with his family to talk about Israel. And thank Iran for an emerging Israel-India gas deal. A most unusual cheat sheet today.

Prisoner Swap, Part 2

• Another 550 Palestinian prisoners were released in the second stage of the Gilad Shalit swap. I liked NY Times coverage.

• Worth reading: The JTA‘s Linda Gradstein compares Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners with Hamas’ treatment of Gilad Shalit. Every cell in the Ofer Prison has its own bathroom, shower, kitchenette and TV; prisoners get regular time for outdoor exercises, group prayer, medical care, and family visits. But my heart bleeds over the food:

The prisoners are provided with ready-made meals, but Issawi said that most of the time prisoners cooked for themselves because they did not like the prison food.

“There was a lot of oil in it and the rice was undercooked,” he said.

• The Christian Science Monitor profiles Marwan Barghouti, “the man Israel didn’t release.” The Palestinians who Rebecca Collard talked to don’t just compare him to Mandela. They idealize Barghouti as the raw, unpolished face of a youth movement who can lead the Palestinian team to better days if only given a chance by disbelieving Israelis. But that sounds like Tim Tebow‘s story line.

Marwan Barghouti and Tim Tebow: Parallel narratives?

Israel and the Palestinians

• Hamas is now talking “non-violent resistance.” According to The Guardian, it’s part of the organization’s rapprochement with the PA, and also  a move

towards the more progressive Islamism espoused by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo.

I’ll skeptically wait and see if Hamas is really changing its spots. As I noted earlier today, its founding charter and 24 years of ideology won’t simply disappear in a soothing puff of lavender and Songbird. As for the “progressive” Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood, see Michael Totten.

• Here’s a Palestinian assertion I’d like to see fact-checked. Sheera Frenkel (Times of London, paywall) writes:

The Palestinian Authority said that since 1967, one fifth of the Palestinian male population has been in Israeli jails. The proportion is higher in villages such as Nebi Selah and Bilin, which hold protests against Israel every Friday.

• Israel issued housing tenders for 1,000+ homes in the West Bank. Nearly half are in Har Homa, the rest in Givat Zeev and Betar Illit, which “everyone knows” will revert to Israel in a final status deal. Haaretz ties the deal to the Palestinian unilateral statehood bid:

This apparently marks another step taken by the Israeli government to punish the Palestinians for their successful effort to join UNESCO in October.

Arab Spring

• When Iran and Syria sneeze, Hezbollah catches a cold. According to French news reports, international sanctions on Tehran and Damascus have Hezbollah feeling financially under the weather. YNet News writes:

According to the article, which was based on information obtained by French intelligence agencies, the civil uprising against President Bashar Assad in Syria has significantly reduced the flow of money to the Lebanese terror group.

Moreover, the report said, Iran has recently cut its financial aid to Hezbollah by 25% due in part to the international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

• Egypt’s propaganda war heats up: State run media blames fatalities in latest Cairo protests on protesters, while the independent press blames security forces. More at the NY Times.

Rest O’ the Roundup

• Tanya Rosenblit the Ashdod woman who refusal to move to the womens’ side of the bus sparked accusations of gender segregation is Big Media’s Israeli of the Day. CNN and the Irish Times call her the Rosa Parks of Israel. AP also picked up on the story.

• The Wall Street Journal gets the jump on Israeli hockey with a visit to Metulla, where blue lines refer to the ice, not the flag. Among the people we meet are Levav Weinberg, an apple grower who not only plays for Maccabi Metulla, he wants to bring a team of Jewish and Arab kids to a Quebec youth tournament next year:

Yet while Metula still has its share of border conflicts—it sat in the crossfire between Israeli and Hezbollah forces during fighting in 2006—this winter, Mr. Weinberg has been passing pucks to promote peace.

He’s recruited Arab youths from two nearby villages to join Israel’s national junior team, drawing players from the town of Al Ghajar, half of which sits in Israel, the other in Lebanon. Others come from Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the occupied Golan Heights.

Can we call it Pucks for Peace?

• Meet the Zemach family. They’re a family of six literally travelling around the world as citizen ambassadors for Israel. After making their way across Europe, the Zemachs are in the US, where the Daily Record (NJ) caught up with them:

Their goal is to meet with people in 27 nations over the course of a year, in places where there are no Jewish communities and in places where there are. They talk about their village, Kadesh Barnea, known for cherry tomatoes and other produce, even though you have to go 700 feet underground to find water. They say they want to give people a peak into Israeli society that isn’t all about the Palestinian conflict.

“We believe Israel is much more than this,” Chami Zemach said . . . .

They plan to travel from China to Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway, with a stop in Mongolia where someone read about their trip and invited them by email to stay for a few days.

My hat’s off to Chami and his family. Traveling to Mongolia to talk up Israel and break down barriers is definitely reaching beyond the choir.

Jewish Chronicle: China to build Tel Aviv-Eilat railway to boost Israel’s southernmost city, help develop the Negev, and provide an overland alternative to the Suez Canal.

• This could ruin the BDS movement’s day: Israel’s working out the feasability of exporting natural gas to India. According to the Times of India, we have Iran to thank for the opening:

Iran, which could have been a major supplier of LNG, cancelled a huge deal to India after it had been signed, following India’s vote against its nuclear programme in the IAEA.

• This could also ruin the BDS movement’s day, but some Colorado lawmakers who returned from a visit to Israel gushing about energy and agriculture innovations they saw that could benefit the Centennial State. More at the Pueblo Chieftain.

With the Saudis pumping oil at record levels and Libyan oil output increasing now that the uprising’s over, “the world’s awash in oil.” And that’s bad news for Tehran. Could new sanctions be endgame for Iran?

• Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal purchased a $300 million stake in Twitter. According to the Wall St. Journal, that’s three percent of the company. He’s best known for being the richest Saudi and for having his $10 donation to NYC disaster relief after 9/11 turned down by Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

(Image of Tebow via Flickr/Jeffrey Beall)