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Today’s Top Stories
1. The Sunday Telegraph reports that Hezbollah’s deeply divided over supporting Bashar Assad:
The most dramatic sign of dissent within Hizbollah is the cancellation of a forthcoming party convention that is usually held every three years – the first time anybody can remember it being dropped. The official explanation is that it would be a security risk.
But a Shia politician from an important political family said: “They are not able to hold their convention because they are afraid they cannot agree on Syria.”
Disagreement is said to be strongest between civilian Hizbollah members, who are more likely to favour cutting links with Damascus, and its powerful military wing, trained and indoctrinated by Iran and still fiercely loyal to the Syrian regime.
2. Irish TV3 news anchor Vincent Browne said on air that “Israel is the cancer in world affairs” and that it stole Arab land.
In the face of condemnation, Browne’s digging in his heels. HonestReporting has more.
3. Big media put Sudan-Iran ties in the spotlight. And according to the Sunday Times (paywall), the Khartoum factory destroyed last week was producing Iranian missiles capable of hitting Israel from Sudan.
Under Revolutionary Guard supervision, the Iranians were building advanced Shahab ballistic missiles and rockets at a plant in the factory compound. . . .
The threat of a new source of missiles set off alarm bells in Israel. “These ballistic missiles could be launched towards Israel from either Sudan or from the Sinai peninsula,” an Israeli security expert said. “They pose a direct threat.”
Israel and the Palestinians
• When I was a kid, cancelling school for snow was the best. But things are different in Israel: Beer Sheva schools closed as rocket fire continues.
• Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini brilliantly takes apart Haaretz and Gideon Levy’s apartheid survey. Haaretz columnist Yehuda Ben Meir also raises objections to the poll too (paywall). Meanwhile, Irish Times correspondent Mark Weiss uses the survey as “context” for reporting the merger of the Likud/Israel Beiteinu parties.
• For some counter-intuitive views, Elliott Abrams discussed the emir of Qatar’s Gaza visit with former Israeli National Security Advisor, Giora Eiland:
He thinks the visit and the aid were perfectly acceptable. He does not believe Israel has any particular interest in reuniting the West Bank and Gaza, rather than seeking a greater integration of Gaza with Egypt. He also notes that efforts by Israel to strengthen the PA and its leader, President Abbas, against Hamas quite often have the opposite effect.
He also believes that weakening Hamas does not strengthen Abbas and Fatah in Gaza, because they are so weak there and unable to improve their situation. Instead, weakening Hamas strengthens even more extreme salafist and jihadi groups. He argues that to the extent that Hamas comes to be more like a stable government for Gaza, with a decent economy, it will have that much more to lose from confrontations with Israel. When many more valuable targets are at risk, he believes, Hamas will be more careful.
• Credit where credit is due: Mondoweiss changed its reader comments policy
Obviously this decision is a result of the recent flap over anti-Semitic comments posted from the Free Gaza Movement Twitter account. That incident has prompted a lot of soul searching inside the movement for Palestinian human rights, because it showed that a significant part of the community wants to talk about Israeli policy in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity, and do so in a highly critical manner. Clearly a lot of people, including many in our community, want to have these conversations and regard them as necessary to resolving the Middle East conflict. We don’t. We are tired of serving as a platform for this discussion, including in the comment section, and don’t see the conversation as a productive one. From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.
We are making this change because this discussion makes for a toxic, often racist, discourse, and scares off others who would otherwise be drawn to the issues this site concerns itself with.
Would that The Guardian and its Comment is Free section come to a similar realization.