Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast. Join the Israel Daily News Stream on Facebook.
Today’s Top Stories
1. The trial in absentia of several Hezbollah operatives for the death of Rafik Hariri got underway in The Hague. NOW Lebanon’s liveblogging. The Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor previewed what’s in store with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The trial is polarizing Lebanon, including the news services affiliated with the different factions. Naharnet describes the astonishing extent:
. . . representatives of local media outlets checked into different hotels in The Hague and the municipality of Leidschendam, each according to their political views and their opinions on the works of the STL.
3. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to the Times of Israel: Settlements aren’t necessarily illegal in international law, and called the global Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement anti-Semitic. I may be wrong, but I think she’s the first Western diplomat to pin that label on the BDS campaign:
“Israel has to be ever vigilant against such tendencies on the part of the international community,” the minister said. While private organizations were free to boycott whomever they wanted, any Australian body that received state funding should be barred from calling for boycotts, she continued.
She also strongly condemned the global anti-Israel BDS movement: “It’s anti-Semitic. It identifies Israel out of all other nations as being worthy of a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign? Hypocritical beyond belief.”
4. Demonizing Irish Times Columnist Crosses the Line: Eamonn McCann’s criticism of Ariel Sharon attacks Judaism.
5. CNN Holds Sharon Responsible for Massacre: Not once did a reporter mention that the real perpetrators were Christian Phalangists. Thanks to our Watchdog of the Week, Adrian Needlestone for spotting this.
6. HonestReporting is proud to roll out Fighting BDS, a Facebook page (like it) and daily roundup of everything you need to know to fight the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions campaign. Today’s roundup: Australian FM Calls BDS Anti-Semitic.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Benyamin Netanyahu visited Jordan’s King Abdullah for an unannounced discussion on the peace talks, according to media reports.
• I liked Khaled Abu Toameh‘s take on the Moshe Yaalon dustup.
It is interesting to see how one comment from an Israeli minister has managed to strain relations between the U.S. Administration and Israel, while fiery rhetoric and street demonstrations against Kerry and Obama in the Palestinian territories and Arab capitals are completely ignored by Washington.
Kerry’s no doubt angling for a Nobel Peace Prize by using Arafat’s successful “Emperil Israel” strategy.
— Dennis Miller Show (@DennisDMZ) January 15, 2014
• Worth reading: Irwin Cotler denounces hatred and incitement from official PA and Iranian organs, challenges peace-seeking non-governmental organizations to combat it.
The Geneva Convention, he emphasizes, does not require genocide to actually take place for incitement to it to be considered a crime.
• The Iron Dome had a busy day, shooting down five rockets fired at Ashkelon. Israel responded with retaliatory air strikes on Gaza. Jerusalem Post coverage.
• Palestinian leaders are trying to blame Israel for the future failure of peace talks. Exhibit A is a Mustafa Barghouti op-ed published in the Irish Times:
The negotiations are not about compromise and two states. They are about deceiving the Palestinians and the international community into accepting, endorsing, and legitimising the current system of apartheid.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Reading Eritrean engineer Ghirmay Birhane’s moving NY Times op-ed about leaving Africa leaves me with one unanswered question: Of all the countries in the world he could’ve fled to for asylum, why did he choose Israel?
• It says something about The Guardian‘s skewed priorities that it considers Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal to be such a threat to the region. Nonetheless, Julian Borger brings some interersting historical background.
• Obama’s Iranian gambit is bound to fail, argue Max Boot and Michael Doran in a NY Times op-ed:
First, it ignores the obvious fact that, unlike China at the time of President Richard M. Nixon’s diplomacy in the 1970s, Iran does not share a common enemy that would force it to unite with America. Though Iran’s proxies are fighting Sunni extremists in a number of theaters, Iran itself has cooperated with Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists, such as Hamas and the Taliban, when it has served its interests to do so. Iran’s rulers simply do not regard Al Qaeda as an existential threat on a par with the “Great Satan” (as they see the United States). By contrast, Mao did see the Soviet Union as a sufficient threat to justify an alliance with the “capitalist imperialists” in Washington.
The second major problem is that Iran has always harbored dreams of regional hegemony. There is no sign that the election of the “moderate” cleric Hassan Rouhani as president has changed anything.
• Walter Russell Mead wonders why Israel’s critics are silent while the Syrian army is literally starving the Yarmouk refugee camp to death.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.