Al Qaida vs. Hezbollah

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 new Israeli government is due to be sworn in tomorrow. The Times of Israel lists the cabinet players, while the BBC overviews what’s in store.

2. Mariam Farhat, who was known around Gaza as “The Mother of Martyrs” died. Farhat (a.k.a. Umm Nidal) became famous for proudly sending three of her sons to “martyrdom.”

In 2002, she recorded a farewell video with her 17-year-old son Mohammed, giving him her blessing the night before a shooting attack in a Jewish settlement. He killed five seminary students before he was shot dead by soldier.

A fourth son’s in an Israeli prison. Farhat’s prominence was extraordinary; ABC News said she was Hamas’ most popular candidate in 2006 parliamentary elections; it was said criticizing Farhat was “Like Attacking Mom and Apple Pie.” But the acclaim debunked the idea that popular support for Hamas didn’t mean Palestinians endorsed terror. Unlike the sons she sent to die, Farhat passed away in a hospital of lung and kidney problems.

popcorn3. The Daily Beast describes the Mideast equivalent of a professional wrestling cage match: Hezbollah squaring off against Jabhat al-Nusra. To Hezbollah’s displeasure, the Al-Qaida-linked rebels have taken over a few Syrian villages along the border:

Few in the West may want to shed a tear over a full-scale confrontation between Hezbollah and al-Nusra. “Sure one could say this is the equivalent of the movie Alien vs. Predator and we should be sitting back and munching on a bag of popcorn,” says Jonathan Schanzer, a scholar in Middle Eastern studies and vice president of research at the Washington D.C.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “But we are looking at a fierce war that has left 70,000 people dead and more than a million as refugees and this isn’t going to make things any better; in fact, it will make things worse.”

How could things get worse? Jabhat al-Nusra takes the fight to Lebanon. Pass the popcorn anyway . . .

4. NY Times Complicates Jerusalem Issue: Bureau chief admits apartments are privately financed; should people really be banned from buying apartments simply because they’re Jewish?

5. HonestReporting’s latest shareable graphic is up on Flickr. If you want others to care, remember to share.

President Obama, welcome to Jerusalem, Israel's capital.

6. If you haven’t watched his video yet, Yarden Frankl gets in the last word on the Baby Omar affair.

Obama’s Israel Tour ’13

Lead Screed: Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul McGeough on the presidential trip:

As manager-in-chief of the Israeli occupation, it’s time he had a look at the sponge that soaks up billions in US taxpayer funds. But after the smackdown he got from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because Obama had the cheek to call for a settlement freeze, the President is buttoning his lip: there’ll be no head banging on that peace-making nonsense.

Gallup: Americans’ sympathies for Israel match all-time high. But this snippet gives me pause:

Younger Americans show less favoritism toward Israel than middle-aged adults and, in particular, seniors; however, they are no more likely to favor the Palestinians. They are simply less anchored about whom they favor.

Corrie family calls on Obama to seek justice from Israel

For commentary and analysis, see Reuters delves into the Iranian issue, Jeffrey Goldberg (why the president’s visiting now), Khaled Abu Toameh (10 Points the US Needs to Consider), Eli Lake (Obama and Netanyahu are remarkably close on Iran), and Shoula Romano Honig (an Obama visit to Ramallah is hypocritical). See also Yoram Ettinger, Tony Burman, AP, more AP, LA Times, The Independent,

Israel and the Palestinians

Hamas and Egypt are fighting a “media cold war.” The Egyptians are ramping up their campaign against Gaza’s smuggling tunnels, writes the Jerusalem Post. Rounding out the ill-will, Egypt deported back to Gaza seven Palestinians. Maan News explains why:

The unidentified Palestinians were detained at Cairo International Airport on Wednesday carrying maps of military buildings in Cairo, airport sources told Ma’an.

A security official said Thursday that the Palestinians had entered Egypt through tunnels from Gaza, and that they had visited Syria and received training in Iran.

Security forces arrested a number of Palestinians involved in last week’s West Bank stone throwing incident that left a two-year-old Israeli girl fighting for her life. Six people were injured — including Avda Biton and her daughters — were injured when her car collided with a truck in a hail of rocks.

Throwing stones is an act of violence.

Sarah Schulman “Doesn’t Know” About Hamas

Here was the BDS movement in a nutshell. In a room filled with progressive activists, an American academic with unimpeachable progressive credentials claimed she didn’t know enough about Hamas to criticize its views on matters of gender and sexual orientation.

A tale of two terrorists:

  1. Palestinian airline bomber set to be released from prison.
  2. Activists protest French ‘procrastination‘ in Abdallah case.

Rest O’ the Roundup

This LA Times report is making waves: The CIA’s “sizing up” jihadi extremists in Syria for possible drone strikes:

The CIA effort, which involves assembling detailed dossiers on key militants, gives the White House both lethal and nonlethal options if it concludes that Syria’s 2-year-old civil war — which has caused 70,000 deaths, according to United Nations estimates — is creating a haven for terrorists.

As clashes intensify, Damascus residents focus on survival, reports the Wall St. Journal.

Worth reading: Matthew Levitt (National Post) weighs in on Hezbollah’s extensive-enough history of dirty deeds on European soil. Why, he asks, does the EU continue to allow the terror group to operate?

Stephen Pollard and Rod Liddle weigh in on Lord Ahmed’s Jewish conspiracy shtick.

Matthew Keys, the deputy social media editor at Reuters, was indicted for helping the hacker group known as Anonymous attack a newspaper computer:

The alleged incident occurred before he joined Thomson Reuters Corp, the indictment filed on Thursday indicated.

The indictment charged Keys with three criminal counts, including conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer. The indictment said that he promised to give hackers access to Tribune Co websites and that a story on the Tribune’s Los Angeles Times website was later altered by one of them. . .

The company did not comment on Keys’s employment status. However, a Thomson Reuters employee at the New York office where Keys worked said that his work station was being dismantled and that his security pass had been deactivated.

(Image of popcorn via Flickr/ginnerobot)

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.