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. Trying to soften its image, Hamas appointed a 23 year-old woman to be its spokesperson to the Western media. Israa Al-Mudallal is a British-educated journalist who started off caught between Hamas and the Israeli media — in this case, YNet:
The new spokeswoman has many plans to change the stereotypes affiliated with Gaza, as well as plans to present the regime in Gaza to Israeli media. “I will address Western and Israeli media,” she said in an interview, “and I will work on changing the media discourse, painting a different picture of Palestine and Gaza. The West does not understand religious discourse.”
It may be that Al-Mudallal is unaware that the Hamas administration has ordered to ban all Israeli media and journalists over a year ago, but the discrepancy was apparently amended as she has now aligned with the policy and refused to speak with Ynet.
2. The Assad regime is shaking down Western aid groups and their Syrian beneficiaries — with complicity from the aid groups. NOW Lebanon reports:
Those in charge of relief operations say they are buying the good will of security services in order to allow a portion of aid to make it to those actually in need. Yet, do the international organizations offering these funds take these considerations into account? When faced with the millions of dollars spent on relief operations in Syria, are these organizations aware of how much is being cashed in by the regime and its loyalists without any form of control?
4. Razing a Racket: Imagine you’re the mayor of Jerusalem faced with a sensitive home demolition situation on an unusually large scale. What would you do?
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Hamas introduced its own textbooks into Gaza curriculum. The NY Times compares them to the PA’s textbooks:
Among other points, the books, used by 55,000 children in the eighth, ninth and 10th grades as part of a required “national education” course of study in government schools, do not recognize modern Israel, or even mention the Oslo Peace Accords the country signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1990s.
Textbooks have long been a point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which dueling historical narratives and cultural clashes underpin a territorial fight. And they are central examples of what Israeli leaders call Palestinian “incitement” against Jews, held up as an obstacle to peace talks newly resumed under American pressure.
Beyond their take on Israel, the new texts are also a salvo in the war for influence between the rival Palestinian factions: Gaza-based Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank. They reflect a growing gulf between the 1.7 million Palestinians living in the densely populated Gaza Strip and the 2.5 million spread among the West Bank’s cities and villages.
• Eric Margolis levels a helluva allegation at Israel while weighing on the NSA scandal. He writes in Hurriyet:
Israel has long tapped into the US communications networks and even, it is alleged, the White House phone system – installed by an Israeli electronic firm.
• Damage control: John Kerry visited the Mideast to repair ruptured relations with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
• For a better understanding of where the field of journalism is headed, check out this exchange between former NY Times editor Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA eavesdropping story. Greenwald’s “activist journalism” is clearly gaining ground on the more traditional journalism Keller advocates. Imagine if Israel’s foreign press corps adopted Greenwald’s activism . . .
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.