Media Cheat Sheet 01/11/2012

Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.

An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated in broad daylight. In a tell-all interview, an Arab peace observer in Syria explains why he quit in disgust. And you’ll be suprised by what was accomplished by India’s foreign minister during a two-day visit.

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Iranian Atomic Urgency

Bomb kills a nuclear scientist in Tehran. Witnesses told Reuters a man on a motorcycle placed a bomb on the car of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, a supervisor at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.

All the basic info’s attributed to Iran’s Fars News Agency. Tim Marshall of Sky News comments:

Whoever is behind the wave of attacks is clearly having success after success. They have the ability to find the names of key personnel, track them down, and kill them. It’s a lot cheaper than air strikes and has fewer repercussions. The Iranians will attempt to hit back. The covert war goes both ways.

According to French news reports, the Mossad’s busy in Iraq’s Kurdish areas recruiting and training Iranian dissidents to work against Tehran. Haaretz picked up on the story.

Fordow nuclear site

A Washington Post staff-ed calls for tougher sanctions.

In short, the new Fordow operation crosses another important line in Iran’s advance toward a nuclear weapons capability. Was it a red line for Israel or the United States? Apparently not, for the Obama administration at least.

Speaking of sanctions, Reuters reports that the Saudis are pumping oil like there’s no tomorrow.

The kingdom, now pumping just under record rates of 10 million barrels per day, has poured billions of dollars into its vast oil fields, which on paper should ensure it has the ability to ramp up to 12.5 million bpd.

Arab Spring Winter

The Arab League observer team’s credibility took a big hit as one of the monitors quit in disgust. Algerian monitor Anwar Malek gave a tell-all interview with Al-Jazeera widely picked up by Western media. Watch as Malek says:

  1. Damascus deceived observers and sent spies to accompany them.
  2. Many mission colleagues preferred maintaining good relations with the regime.
  3. Assad is using the observers to buy time.

“What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime is not just committing one war crime, but a series of crimes against its people.”

The observer team’s credibility took a further blow when UN officials said Syrian security forces accelerated their killings after the monitors arrived. Reuters writes:

“The under-secretary-general noted that in the days since the Arab League monitoring mission has been on the ground, in fact an estimated 400 additional people have been killed, an average of 40 a day, a rate much higher than was the case even before their deployment,” Rice told reporters.

Rice was speaking after Lynn Pascoe, the U.N. under-secretary-general for political affairs, briefed the 15-nation Security Council behind closed doors on Syria and other major crises.

  Michael Weiss (CNN) wonders how bad things have to get before the world decides to stop the Syrian bloodshed:

Amassing such overwhelming support for intervention would be difficult, but certainly not out of the question. Last November, the General Assembly did what the Security Council was unable to do and passed its own nonbinding resolution – one co-sponsored by Arab and Muslim-majority nations – condemning the Assad regime for violence.If the crisis in Syria continues or escalates, then there may indeed be a moral and political consensus to invoke “Uniting for Peace” in order to establish a safe area . . . .

When a country of 23 million collapses into anarchy, how many people will have to be widowed, orphaned, or dispossessed before the definition of failed statehood has been met? The more time the world gives Assad, the more he makes a mockery of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, and the more people begging for Western assistance are simply wished the best of luck and left to their grim fate. 

Aisha Gaddafi

Point of No Return on the possibility of Aisha Gaddafi getting asylum in Israel:

If Aisha does indeed move to Israel, no reporter seems to have bothered to ask the Israeli public why they should offer asylum to a hostile dictator’s daughter. When he was alive, Colonel Gaddafi was responsible for the expulsion and wholesale dispossession of the last 6,000 Jews in Libya. Perhaps Israel should grant Aisha asylum after all – on condition she apologises and donates to Libyan Israelis a large chunk of her father’s billions, squirrelled away in Swiss bank vaults.

Perhaps the Arab Spring is having a trickle down effect on Arab journalists and their views on Israel. Roee Nahmias (YNet) describes the scene at an annual gathering of Mideast journalists:

Instead of the automatic reactions we’ve become accustomed to, such as journalists who stay away from Israelis or the constant charge that “Israel’s occupation is at fault for everything,” suddenly I encountered a new, frank attitude. While some participants still clung to past views and odd conspiracy theories, others had no interest in Israel or the Palestinians, instead turning their attention to an incisive, vocal process of self-reflection.

During the seminar, some Arab journalists admitted, even if quietly, that their rulers exploited the Palestinian issue for many years and blamed it for Arab distress.


Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman‘s fascinated by the prospects of a political tug of war between the competing Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Al-Nour parties. I don’t share Friedman’s detached scientific excitement — Egypt’s revolution has spillover effects for the neighborhood and I just happen to live next door.

So I’ll make my own prediction: The Islamists will play nice for awhile, but at some point, they’ll revert to the time-honored tradition of appealing to the lowest common denominator known as everyday Egyptian anti-Semitism.

Rest O’ the Roundup

A two-day visit by India’s Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna was more than about sharing the love of free trade. Here are four headlines you might have missed.

  1. India won’t oppose Pakistan-Israel ties
  2. Israel backs India for UN permanent seat
  3. India, Israel agree to firm up anti-terror plan
  4. Israel expecting high-profile visits from India in coming months

Benjamin Netanyahu greets India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna

By the way, Israel also boosted defense cooperation with Greece and Cyprus. A busy week indeed.

NY Post columnist Benny Avni on why the West should pay closer attention to the latest Israeli-Saudi cyber battles:

And since the earliest days of modern Israel, terrorists have “beta-tested” their tactics on the Jewish state. What starts out as a little-noticed cyberattack in Israel, in other words, might well morph into a global war with America as target.

Remember: “Little” plane hijackings and suicide attacks that started in the Mideast decades ago evolved into the 9/11 attacks.

FYI, the Daily Telegraph notes some controversy surrounding plans for a Winston Churchill center in Jerusalem. I always believed Churchill was philo-Semitic, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t touched by the prevailing prejudices of his day.

Adam Sherk ranks news organizations’ activity on Google+. After factoring the +1s, comments and shares, the NY Times came in first.

Wondering how to get the status symbol of a “Verified Twitter Account,” with blue check mark and all? AdAge (via Poynter) explains:

There’s no longer an application process that’s open to the public, but you can get a verified account if you can demonstrate that someone’s willfully trying to impersonate you, or if you’re a advertiser or partner, which Twitter spells out in its policies. The accounts are considered perks for advertisers using Twitter’s promoted products (still an invite-only program), as well as a way to confirm the identity of advertisers writing “Promoted Tweets.”

(Gaddafi image from France2 video via YouTube/Rainbow Sun84)

For more, see yesterday’s Media Cheat Sheet.