Leveson Inquiry Releases Phone Hacking Findings

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Today’s Top Stories

1. The UN General Assembly votes today on giving the Palestinians “non-state observer status. More on that below.

2. The Leveson inquiry released its findings on the phone hacking scandal and the broader media culture.  The  full report is nearly 1,987 pages, so take your pick of key points, what you need to know, and an executive summary. The Daily Telegraph writes:

 It is Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for the future of press regulation, however, that will prove most controversial and will lead to the greatest political fall-out.

He suggests an independent regulator with the power to fine newspapers up to £1m or one per cent of turnover for breaching a new code of conduct, and says it should be up to the media to agree the form and powers of the new watchdog.

Crucially, however, the regulator must be underpinned by statute, to protect the freedom of the press, to reassure the public and validate the new body, he says.

3. Community Security Trust, the UK anti-Semitism watchdog group, issued a report on anti-Semitic discourse (pdf format) that specifically called The Guardian onto the carpet.

Specific accusations of antisemitism against the Guardian itself usually arise from opinion pieces (both in the newspaper and on its website) that reflect the hostility of the writer to Israel or those they associate with it. These articles are rarely, if ever, explicitly antisemitic. Rather, they usually contain remarks and attitudes that echo antisemitic motifs, such as Jewish conspiracies of wealth and power, and the notion that Jews are loyal to no one but each other. In their hostility, these articles afford little or no room for mainstream Jewish voices or perspectives.

The Statehood Vote

The American Center for Law and Justice did a legal analysis of  the statehood resolution submitted by the PA. It concluded that the resolution contains a number of key fallacies, overreaches, and is illegal. More on this at the Washington Post and the ACLJ itself.

Ehud Olmert

Ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made some waves by coming out in support of statehood. He shared his thoughts in an email to Bernard Avishai and published in The Daily Beast:

“I believe,” Olmert wrote me, intending his statement to be made public, “that the Palestinian request from the United Nations is congruent with the basic concept of the two-state solution. Therefore, I see no reason to oppose it. Once the United Nations will lay the foundation for this idea, we in Israel will have to engage in a serious process of negotiations, in order to agree on specific borders based on the 1967 lines, and resolve the other issues. It is time to give a hand to, and encourage, the moderate forces amongst the Palestinians. Abu-Mazen”—an alias for Abbas—”and Salam Fayyad need our help. It’s time to give it.”

Staff-eds: The Washington Post takes a dim view of the PA push. The NY Times rehashes the known arguments for and against; but the magic words are buried in there:

But passage of the resolution . . . would not get the Palestinians any closer to statehood. A negotiated deal with Israel is the only way to ensure creation of a viable Palestinian state and guarantee Israel’s security.

The Boston Globe (click via Twitter) says cutting off aid over a symbolic vote is a dangerous over-reaction. And The Guardian is honest enough to call the vote “theatrics,” but mindless enough to believe something good can still come from it. Easy for the editorial staff to say–they don’t live here:

Yet theatre can nevertheless on occasion change international politics in unexpectedly radical and sometimes welcome ways.

Yossi Klein Halevi’s take (at the Globe & Mail) was the best article I read all day.


Alex Spillius

The Daily Telegraph‘s Alex Spillius thinks the statehood push is an Abbas maneuver to bring Israel back to the negotiating table. Heh. Abbas was the self-acknowledged Do-Nothing Premier even when Israel froze settlement activity. Implicit in Spillius’s take is that Israel isn’t interested in peace. This snippet’s at the 1:32 point of the Telegraph’s video:

I think the immediate goal for Abbas and the Palestinians is to bring the Israelis back to the negotiating table. There haven’t been any talks for two years. The Palestinians are desperate, they’ve seen more and more Israeli settlements constructed on the West Bank — so in their minds, this is really their last shot at getting Israelis back to the table.”

A Christian Science Monitor commentary argues that Mahmoud Abbas is the Gaza war’s biggest beneficiary:

But a number of countries are warming to the UN bid following the fighting between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist organization that governs Gaza. They see the vote as a way to bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is behind the UN effort and who is seen as a moderate counterweight to Hamas.

Will Canada cut Palestinian aid?

For more commentary/analysis, see Ambassador Ron Prosor, Aaron David Miller, Haviv Rettig Gur, Uri Dromi, Sam Kiley, McClatchy News, Patrick Martin, Olivia Ward, NY Daily News, and MK Einat Wilf, US Rep. Ted Poe,  Canberra Times, and the Australian Financial Review. In the Sydney Morning Herald, dueling op-eds pit Ambassador Yuval Rotem against Gregor Henderson.

See also cartoonists Patrick Chappatte and Steve Bell.

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