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. Freedom House’s annual report had some very kind words about the state of freedom in Israel. Read the original report (pdf) or the Jerusalem Post‘s summary. This key snippet puts it all in perspective:
Israel remains the region’s only Free country. In recent years, controversies have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression and the rights of civil society organizations. In most cases, however, these measures have either been quashed by the government or parliament, or struck down by the Supreme Court.
2. The Assad regime is showing an ugly pattern of attacking bakeries and people in breadlines. McClatchy News did some nice investigating.
3. I’m singling out the Times of London for a solid pre-election staff-ed that put the issues in perspective. The Times writes:
Israel’s allies will not welcome the likely rightward shift in the composition of the Knesset and inevitable wrangling in forming a new government. But Israel’s security needs should be given proper weight in Western foreign policy, however exasperating the country’s leadership may sometimes appear. . .
Likewise, while the Obama Administration is committed to preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, there are good reasons for Israel to be insistent on the issue. When President Ahmadinejad simultaneously denies the Holocaust and gleefully anticipates the extinction of the Jewish state, Western democracies must give Israel solidarity. Whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s election, that moral obligation and overwhelming strategic interest will remain.
See also The Australian‘s staff-ed, which notes that Australian and UK abstentions on the UN’s Palestinian statehood vote undermined their influence with both Jerusalem and Washington, then adds that settlements aren’t the biggest obstacle to peace.
4. See the Israel Elections Drinking Game, addressing the media cliches you can expect to see in the coming days.
Israel and the Palestinians
• YNet: Palestinian security forces shoot protesters.
• Osama Hamdan, the unofficial Hamas “foreign minister” based in Lebanon, is visiting Gaza for the first time. And arriving in the strip tomorrow is Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak. Although the entry point for both is/was via Egypt, it’s likely that the both visits have Israel’s tacit approval. More at the Jerusalem Post and AFP. Oh yeah, Maan News adds that Tunisia’s president will visit in February.
• Professor Richard Landes continues blogging France 2 and Charles Enderlin’s lawsuit against French activist Philippe Karsenty.
•Yoaz Hendel does a yeoman’s job explaining to readers of The Guardian‘s Comment is Free section why Israelis lean to the political right.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• According to the Global Post, the deaths of reporters Yves Debay and Mohamed Al-Massalma is raising chills — and uncomfortable questions — for the foreign press in Syria:
As the dangers rise, the number of journalists venturing into Syria slowly decreases. In order to keep journalists coming in and the flow of information coming out, many opposition groups are pooling their resources in an effort to reduce the risks of reporting in their areas. . .
As reporters become increasing reliant on one side of the conflict for protection, some argue that their neutrality may be comprised.
CPJ program coordinator Sherif Mansour reasoned that foreign journalists are left with no choice but to smuggle themselves into the country with the aid of opposition groups.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.