Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Finger-pointing over the death of a French journalist in Syria, a high-ranking US official meets the Muslim Brotherhood, and a Dutch writer compares her experience with Israeli pre-natal care to Nazi eugenics.
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Israel and the Palestinians
• Worth reading: Elliott Abrams (WSJ op-ed via Google News) says the key Mideast players are too preoccupied with upcoming elections to make any dramatic breakthroughs. Besides the US elections, the PA has a long-overdue vote still scheduled (so far) for May 4. And nobody’s ruling out an Israeli snap election.
Thus the 2012 “peace process” won’t revolve around any negotiating table in Amman. That’s why when Americans pass through the Middle East, they’re never asked “Will there be a peace deal this year?” Instead the questions are “Who will win?” “What will Obama do in a second term?” and, without fail, “What are you going to do about Iran?”
• Hamas sentenced an alleged collaborator to death. AP picks up on the story.
• Should the UN admit Palestine as a member state? Dore Gold and Aaron David Miller squared off against Mustafa Barghouti and Daniel Levy in an Intelligence Squared debate moderated by John Donvan of ABC News. Watch the debate or read the transcript (pdf).
• Contrast the coverage of a provocative EU document seen by both YNet and The Independent. The Israeli paper focuses on how the EU wants to undermine Israeli influence in the West Bank, while the UK paper focuses on Israel undermining the two-state solution.
In a separate opinion piece on the matter, al-Indy’s Donald Macintyre says Israel has always neglected the Palestinians and Bedouins living in Area C.
• Hamas is building a beach-front promenade in Gaza City, widening the main street and adding parks and gardens. Issues of squatters’ rights and antiquities are interesting, but as far as I’m concerned, The Media Line sums up the real rub on what this means for the world’s largest concentration camp:
The fact that the authorities can even contemplate a project like the corniche says a lot about how much Gaza has recovered economically in the past three years.
• Jordanian Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh told Time that the Damascus-based Hamas leadership will be allowed to relocate to Amman — as individuals, not as an organization. Yeah, right. Cue the ominous music.
“The idea is not to bring them back as a launching pad for jihad against Israel or whatever. But as individuals they should be allowed to come back.” . . .
“We will be finding modalities to bring back members of Hamas and their families to come,” Khasawneh says. “We don’t want them to establish another organization here.”
• French cameraman Gilles Jacquier was the first Western journalist killed in Syria since the uprising began. The government blames terrorists, but human rights activists blame Damascus for the barrage of grenades that killed Jacquier and seven others. I blogged Jacquier’s death this morning. More links and video at The Lede.
• Another disgusted Arab League monitor told Reuters he’s ready to quit the mission:
Asked if he agreed with Malek’s characterization of the mission as a failure, the monitor said: “It is true, it is true. Even I am trying to leave on Friday. I’m going to Cairo or elsewhere . . . because the mission is unclear . . . . It does not serve the citizens. It does not serve anything.”
“The Syrian authorities have exploited the weakness in the performance of the delegation to not respond. There is no real response on the ground.”
• David Blair (Daily Telegraph) tries to get inside Bashar Assad’s head. Does Assad have a mental condition, or is he just thick-headed?
Mr Assad, a doctor by training, might serve as a prime specimen of a specific condition – let’s call it “dictator delusion syndrome” – suffered by the tiny class of humanity who run authoritarian regimes. The most striking feature of this mental state is its consistency. The themes that ran through Mr Assad’s speech have cropped up time and again whenever oppressive rulers have been forced to confront the anger of their peoples.
• Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns met with Mohamed Morsi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. It’s the highest level contact the US has had with the Brotherhood. Reuters adds that Salafist party officials weren’t invited.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• This LA Times staff-ed is critical of whoever assassinated an Iranian nuclear scientist yesterday:
Tehran’s Security Council chief said Roshan’s killing was “an act of the Zionists,” and while we’re not in the habit of believing such pronouncements, one would have to willfully ignore accounts of past covert Israeli activities not to at least suspect Israeli involvement — especially because the Israeli government has made little effort to deny it . . . .
Economic sanctions don’t appear to be doing much to slow Iran’s nuclear progress, and that is worrisome. But slaughtering scientists on the streets of Tehran isn’t the answer. It is as inefficient as it is morally bankrupt, because killing a handful of experts won’t erase the country’s institutional nuclear knowledge. If Israel is involved, it’s a shameful and foolish policy.
But a Daily Telegraph staff-ed dispenses with the LAT’s thinking:
If the West is indeed waging a clandestine war against Iran, questions inevitably arise as to who is responsible, and even whether their methods are justified. Yet no such qualms have been felt by the regime in Tehran in interfering with its neighbours’ affairs, whether sponsoring terrorist groups across the Middle East or supporting the insurgency in Iraq, at the cost of many British lives.
Whatever the moral considerations, there is no doubt that curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions is a paramount goal for policy-makers and security services alike, and the covert campaign appears to the most effective means of delaying the Iranians’ progress.
• Over at The Guardian, Harriet Sherwood tries hard to connect the dots to the Mossad. While the Israelis she quotes had wry comments saying nothing, CNN‘s whodunnit assessment is far more professional and nuanced.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• A Dutch writer at Trouw compares her experience with Israeli pre-natal care to Nazi eugenics.
• Australian columnist Greg Sheridan — who is visiting Israel — gets it:
Spending time in Israel is dangerous because it is impossible to reconcile the evidence of your eyes with the accepted international narrative about Israel. In the international media, Israel is presented as militarist, right-wing, oppressive. In fact it is the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East, the only nation where women’s rights — and gay rights — are protected. It has a vibrant Left wing, a cacophonous democracy and an innovative economy.
The vast majority of Israelis would love to be rid of the Palestinians and their territories if they could be confident they would get peace and security in return.
• Talking to Fast Company (hat tip Poynter) Nick Kristof had this to say about the future of journalism. It struck me as wierd at first, but the more I think about new media and games, the less dismissive I’m becoming. Farmville meets Darfur?
I do think there’s a natural tendency to be very proud of your existing platform and to be a little bit skeptical of new technologies. But I think it’s useful to push back at that skepticism and try new things. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. I think gaming might be the next big platform for news organizations and causes. There’s some snobbery about games. Some people think games are just “what teenagers do” or that they are too fun to be worthy of our attention. But there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time playing games online, so we in the news business would do well to think about how we can use games to attract eyeballs.
(Image of brain via Flickr/brain_blogger)
For more, see yesterday’s Media Cheat Sheet.