Everything you need to know about the weekend media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
An embarrassed Arab League weighs pulling its monitors out of Syria; Google’s investing a lot of money in Israeli start-ups, but it may not be good news. And Gadaffi’s daughter raises eyebrows by hiring an Israeli lawyer.
Israel and the Palestinians
• On the anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, an excellent New Statesman commentary puts the casualty count into perspective:
Kemp explains that by UN estimates, the average ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide is 3:1 — three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan. But in Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to have been 4:1. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.
Since the 22-day Gaza operation, Israel has also been demonstrably fastidious in its efforts to protect civilian lives while targeting combatants. The Israel correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly sites Israel’s record this year, saying “the IDF killed 100 Gazans in 2011. Nine were civilians. That is a civilian-combatant ratio of nearly 1:10.”
• The PA plans to raise the issue of settlements at the UN Security Council. More at Haaretz.
• Robert Bowker: Hamas sees an opportunity in discontent
• A Washington Post staff-ed slams Egyptian authorities for raiding 17 NGOs promoting democracy and human rights:
Thursday’s raid consequently represents a frontal provocation by the ruling military council to the Obama administration, which has waffled between supporting a transition to democratic civilian rule in Egypt and appeasing the generals. The military is attempting to rally waning domestic support by blaming domestic disorder on sinister “foreign hands”; it is also seeking to destroy liberal, pro-democracy groups that have resisted its attempts to perpetuate its power indefinitely.
Elliott Abrams says the raids are part of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” resulting from “Mubarakism.”
In his thirty years in power, Mubarak did not crush the Muslim Brotherhood. He made deals with it, setting for example how many seats it could have in parliament, while crushing the moderate, centrist parties. The Egyptian government refused time after time to allow the establishment of a moderate Islamist party that would have competed with the Brotherhood. And when a non-Islamist named Ayman Nour had the audacity to run against Mubarak in the 2005 elections, he was jailed. The policy during the Mubarak years was to attack and weaken the center, and then tell the Americans and others that the only choice was Mubarak or the Islamist radicals.
Given recent election returns this seems to have been a self-fulfilling prophecy–and this is the real crime of Hosni Mubarak against his country.
• The credibility of Arab League monitors took another hit as the league’s advisory body called on the monitors to leave Syria. Reuters writes:
“This is giving the Syrian regime an Arab cover for continuing its inhumane actions under the eyes and ears of the Arab League,” he said.
Meanwhile, monitors disputed among themselves whether they saw Syrian snipers in Deraa. According to the BBC:
The latest footage posted on the internet cannot be verified, but it shows what appears to be an Arab League observer complaining about snipers shooting at demonstrators in Deraa.
The man is filmed telling protesters: “You’re telling me there are snipers? You don’t have to tell me, I saw them with my own eyes.” . . . .
However the head of the Arab League mission, Gen Mustafa al-Dabi, later contradicted these accounts. He told the BBC’s Newshour programme that the official seen in the video was making a hypothetical remark.
“This man said that if he saw – by his own eyes – those snipers he will report immediately,” Gen Dabi said. “But he didn’t see [snipers].”
• Col. Gadaffi’s daughter, Aisha, has hired Israeli lawyer Nick Kaufman to represent the family in its own quest for justice: pressing the International Criminal Court to investigate her father’s death, suggesting that rebel forces and NATO were guilty of war crimes. Kaufman told The Daily Beast:
“It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I’m Israeli,” Kaufman said in a phone interview. “When it comes to practicing at the ICC, I’m one of the few lawyers with substantial experience.”
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• CNN: Iran successfully built and tested its first nuclear fuel rod.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• This from AP:
Fox Latin America has apologized for a poll on whether Jews killed Jesus Christ that one of its staffers put on a Facebook page promoting the National Geographic Channel’s Christmas special.
The poll asked readers who they think is responsible for the death of Christ: Pontius Pilate, The Jewish People or the High Priests.
The poll was already removed.
• Ottawa unapologetic for friendship with Israel after Canada fails to get seat on the UN Security Council. More at National Post.
• The Israel Law Center is threatening to take legal action against Twitter over a Al Manar TV’s Twitter account. Al Manar is Hezbollah’s media outlet and their Twitter account has 7,700+ followers and has posted more than 16,000 tweets in English, French and Arabic.
I liked CNN coverage — the Washington Post and MSNBC focused too much on the possibility of recruiting through Twitter, but Al Manar looks too smart to do that. As the Washington Times wrote when the State Dept. first considered adding Al Manar to its designated terror list:
But as the Treasury Department made clear, the issue is not al Manar’s role as a television station but its role in facilitating the activities of Hezbollah, an organization that has killed more Americans than every other terrorist group save al Qaeda.
“Any entity maintained by a terrorist group — whether masquerading as a charity, a business or a media outlet — is as culpable as the terrorist group itself,” said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.
Meanwhile, a Globe & Mail staff-ed takes an opposite view regarding Taliban tweets. I don’t agree with the thinking, but the G&M deserves an airing, even if the Taliban itself doesn’t:
Freedom is a greater weapon than censorship, and silencing the Taliban’s social-media voice will not eliminate the problem of the Taliban insurgency, nor will it alter the Taliban philosophy, though its voice may be muffled. In the long term, openness in these media may be the greater weapon, and the bravado just a short-term annoyance. Far from being a weapon that aids the Taliban cause, Twitter may yet be the sword that the Taliban will fall upon.
• Nahum Barnea (YNet News) slams the Prime Minister’s Office for its handling of the Tom Friedman column.
• The LA Times discovers “terror.”
For months many Israelis shrugged off the mosque burnings, the uprooted Palestinian olive trees and even the death threats against Jewish leftists. But when young settlers this month vandalized army bases and stoned Israeli soldiers, the question of Jewish terrorism turned into a national emergency.
I agree that price tag attacks should be called terror. But how often does the LA Times use the T-word when the terrorists are Palestinian?
• Google is pouring money — lots of it — into Israeli start ups. But it ain’t necessarily good news:
“The minute Israeli high-tech is primarily based on development centers of major companies, their fortune will be tied to that of those companies so that, if they are cutting staff, they will cut in Israel as well,” Peled said.
• Washington Post ombudsman says corrections in the print edition are down, but there are no stats for online corrections. I like these suggestions:
I’d like The Post to figure out a way to count its online errors, at least the more significant ones, such as fact inaccuracies and misspellings. And I also recommend that there be a page on the Web site, in addition to the printed corrections on Page A2 every day, where recent corrections are listed, both for print and online.