Everything you need to know about the weekend media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Why is Christiane Amanpour fixated on a feigned fatwa? Did Marwan Barghouti sell out Yasser Arafat to Israeli interrogators? And what’s the significance of a Syrian opposition leader’s interview on Israel Radio?
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Israel and the Palestinians
• The IDF has trained soldiers to use video cameras as “tactical documenters” to record military action and use it for either legal or PR purposes. So, Israel HaYom asks, what went wrong with Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner and Andreas Ias?
• Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl describes the Abbas letter as a pathetic collapse of the PLO’s unilateral statehood bid:
Even the small bombshell Abbas planned to drop this time fizzled: Under pressure from U.S. and European leaders, the 77-year-old leader merely threatened rather than declared the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority. “This situation cannot continue,” the letter ominously states. But the disappearance of Abbas’s administration looks no more likely than reconciliation with Hamas, admission to the United Nations or a new intifada.
Abbas’s defenders will claim that Netanyahu’s right-wing government, and the Obama administration’s inability to influence it, left him with few options. That’s a canard. In fact, Abbas has never seriously tested the Israeli leader. He could have done that by fully committing to the negotiations the Obama administration tried to organize or to those sponsored by Jordan’s King Abdullah this year. That would have forced Netanyahu to reveal his terms for Palestinian statehood — and brought real pressure to bear on him if they were unreasonable.
See also David Rosenberg’s take at The Media Line.
• A number of papers picked up on deputy Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook’s interview with The Forward. It’s the first time a senior Hamas official has talked to any Jewish publication. But the real buzz is Marzook’s take on the possibility of an final peace deal approved by a Palestinian referendum: Hamas, he said, would only recognize that as a temporary truce too.
• Which of the following evictions did the EU condemn?
- The UAE’s mass eviction of working bachelors in Sharjah.
- 30,000 Rwandan refugees at risk of being evicted from the Rwamwanja refugee camp in Congo.
- One Palestinian family evicted from an east Jerusalem home which a court ruled legally belonged to a Jewish family.
• Ramallah may be bustling now. But over a cup of cappuccino, Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour warns Irish Times reporter Michael Jansen that it’s a bubble:
“People are financing homes, cars, marriages, computers and education by borrowing,” he states. “Banks get loan guarantees, but individuals get into debt,” as they did in western countries suffering from massive individual and national indebtedness.
He points out that the World Bank has warned that the economic situation is “unsustainable”.
• Over at The Australian, columnist Brendan O’Neill raps the real motivations of the BDS movement:
Hating Israel is no longer a serious political stance so much as a cultural signifier. It’s one of the key ways through which the chattering classes now advertise their decency, their caring streak, their loathing of “evil” and their pity for “victims”.
And therefore, the more conspicuous they can make their loathing of Israel, the more loudly and colourfully they can declare it, the better. That is why they constantly write letters to newspapers, tell everyone that they studiously avoid Israeli shops, and wear the Yasser Arafat-inspired keffiyeh – because these are all signifiers of moral worth and thus must be made visible to all and sundry.
Hating Israel is now like wearing a red ribbon for AIDS or making a virtue of eating only organic foodstuffs.
• Keep an eye open for a 60 Minutes feature on “Christians in the Holy Land.”
Bob Simon reports on the slow exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians, who say life in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become too difficult.
• Globe & Mail correspondent Patrick Martin takes a look at “Israel’s European Complex.” Are you nodding your head in agreement or shaking it in anger? Related reading: Disproportionate Coverage: The Flip Side.
• Seven Palestinians released in the Gilad Shalit swap were arrested after returning to terror. A NY Post staff-ed is rightly outraged.