Everything you need to know about the weekend’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
A 60 Minutes letter to Ambassador Michael Oren betrays Bob Simon’s theatrics. Headlines screaming of divisions among Israeli leaders don’t bear out. A new video of a citizen journalist buried alive by Syrian forces is chilling — but is it credible?
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Israel and the Palestinians
• Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs unloaded on The Guardian’s insistence that Israel’s capital is Tel Aviv:
Foreign Ministry deputy spokesperson Ilana Stein told The Times of Israel: “Actually, it’s the Guardian who owes an explanation to its readers for publishing something that cannot be described but as a blatant lie. When a claim is so factually wrong as to insult intelligence, then unfortunately the word ‘lie’ is not too harsh, and one cannot but wonder about the motivation of such a conceit.”
• In a harsh video (in Hebrew), Yuval Diskin lambasts Benjamin Netanyahu as having no interest in negotiating with the Palestinians, and claims that Iran would recover from an Israeli strike and develop nuclear weapons within one or two years. But Amir Mizroch smells a rat:
So what’s going on here? Why have the country’s two top former spymasters, both who served in their positions for lengthy periods and were very well respected, turned on the government with such viciousness? Are Dagan and Diskin coordinating their efforts?
Both former spymasters left their government jobs in acrimonious circumstances. Dagan was refused an extension of his service by one year, and Diskin was passed-over as Dagan’s replacement for the job of Mossad director. They both have axes to grind with Netanyahu and Barak.
• Elliott Abrams notes that Mahmoud Abbas is trying to oust Salam Fayyad, Yasser Abed Rabo and Mohammed Dahlan, Palestinian officials who were close to the US during Clinton and Bush-era peace talks.
And it is unlikely that the successors to officials like Fayyad and Abed Rabbo will have the ties to the United States that they do or the respect among American officials that they have earned over the years.
• Maan News: Hanan Ashrawi slams PA crackdown on Palestinian news sites criticizing Mahmoud Abbas.
• The Obama administration released $147 million in aid to the PA. American displeasure with last year’s PLO’s unilateral statehood bid held up the money. More at AP.
• LA Times correspondent Edmund Sanders looks at a decade of Israel’s go-it-alone strategy.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Jeffrey Goldberg‘s rightly miffed at how the Washington Post responded to the Benny Gantz’s comments in Haaretz about Iran’s nuclear threat. Jonathan Tobin has similar gripes with the NY Times (and Haaretz too). All three sensationalized their headlines, which aren’t born out by a closer look at the Chief of Staff’s nuance. Tobin sums it up:
So while the tone of Gantz’s interview was not as sharp as the statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the substance isn’t very different. Which makes the claims made by the Times and the misleading headline in Haaretz a transparent attempt to portray a stark division within the councils of Israel’s leaders where there may be none.