Media Cheat Sheet 01/17/2012

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

Sources say Khaled Mashaal to step down as Hamas chief, Egypt’s military junta fights media bias, and BBC gives a thumbs-up to Israeli cyborg rats.

Israel and the Palestinians

 The oxymoronic cliche of “cautious optimism” means absolutely nothing — but that’s how King Abdullah described peace efforts to the Washington Post.

Since Jordan’s the only player authorized to talk about meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials, the monarch’s cautious optimism circumspect buoyancy was picked up by other news services.

A French parliamentary report accuses Israel of “water apartheid” in the West Bank. According to Haaretz:

The report said that water has become “a weapon serving the new apartheid” and gave examples and statistics that ostensibly back this claim.

Unfortunately, Haaretz adds that the Israeli embassy in Paris, — might have been able to mitigate the report by presenting additional info — was “asleep at the switch.”

 A Hamas source told Maan News that Khaled Mashaal will soon be stepping down as the group’s politburo chief:

Asked about upcoming internal elections in the Hamas movement, the official said politburo chief Khalid Mashaal would step down and probably be replaced by his deputy Mousa Abu Marzouq.

Mashaal cannot run again to head the politburo as he has served the party’s limit of two terms in office.

YNet adds:

It is believed that those in Hamas who are unhappy with Mashaal’s “pragmatism” are campaigning against him.

At a joint press conference with Mahmoud Abbas, Deputy British PM Nick Clegg called settlements “an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise on which negotiations have taken place for years and years and years.” All the UK papers picked up on this. Daily Telegraph, BBC, take your pick . . .

International Parliamentary Union invited Hamas MPs to its 2012 session. The Hamas reaction ain’t hard to predict:

In a statement, the MPs said they planned to discuss “Zionist crimes against (Hamas) members of parliament, in particular their kidnap and deportation.”

Iranian Atomic Urgency

Frank Gaffney to the White House: Take your own red lines seriously or get out of Israel’s way.

Having accused Israel of carrying out covert “false flag” operations from his Foreign Policy bully pulpit, Mark Perry tells Australia’s ABC News he’s sure Israel also assassinated Mostafa Rashan. The evidence? Perry’s speculation.

Mr Perry says while he does not have confirmation Israel is behind the attacks, he is sure it is responsible . . .

He says while Iran has many enemies in the region, the sophistication of the attacks excludes the majority of them.

As I pointed out earlier today, Perry is entitled to his speculation. But I can’t reconcile Perry’s paucity of proof with ABC’s headline:

Israel ‘waging covert war in Iran’

  Mehdi Hasan got op-ed space in The Guardian (print edition) to weigh in on the language of “assassination” vs. “murder.”

These “men on motorbikes” have been described as “assassins”. But assassination is just a more polite word for murder. Indeed, our politicians and their securocrats cloak the premeditated, lawless killing of scientists in Tehran, of civilians in Waziristan, of politicians in Gaza, in an array of euphemisms: not just assassinations but terminations, targeted killings, drone strikes.

Their purpose is to inure us to such state-sponsored violence against foreigners.

Memo to Hasan: As Stephen Jukes would tell Iran’s apologists, “We all know that one man’s nuclear scientist is another man’s terrorist enabler.”

It’s all fun and posturing till somebody gets hurt. Iranian navy speedboats are hassling US ships in the Persian Gulf. More at AFP.

Arab Spring Winter

Sinai Bedouin tell CNN that weapons smuggling is as big a threat to Egypt as it to Israel:

“We have smuggled thousands of shoulder-launched (surface-to-air) SAM missiles to Gaza through the tunnels for a transporting fee only,” a Bedouin leader from Tarabeen tribe told CNN.

But not all those weapons may have gone to the Palestinian territory. The same man claimed Bedouins would turn some of those weapons against Egypt’s military-led government unless their demands were met.

“We saved some for us . . . stockpiles of RPGs, machine guns. And I personally have ten 14.5 mm anti-aircraft guns that I bought at $12,000 a piece.

“We have declared war against the military and will not wait for them to kill us all,” he said.

Amr Moussa

Asharq al-Awsat interviewed Egypt’s new presidential front-runner, Amr Moussa. Here’s what Moussa had to say about re-opening the Camp David agreement:

As for Egyptian – Israeli relations, the Egyptian – Israeli peace treaty is in place, and I do not think there are any circumstances that will lead to its cancellation. I do not think this will happen, and I do not think it would be wise for this treaty to be cancelled. The treaty will continue so long as each party respects it . . . as for the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula and the presence of Egyptian forces there, I believe that the security articles of the treaty should be reviewed in this regard. This is something that can be discussed within a political framework.

Al Masry Al Youm: Egypt’s military leadership is fighting media bias with a committee of 11 generals “tasked with ensuring the Egyptian armed forces are given positive media coverage.”

Syrian defector tells CNN that reports of atrocities are true, and Assad will continue fighting “at all costs.”

“There is no budget for the country but only money to serve the regime’s security forces and its ‘ghost hit men,'” he said . . .

But Ghalioun, the highest-ranking Syrian official to defect, said the reports of bloodshed by pro-government forces are true. He said Homs is a “ghost town full of horror.”

Bashar Assad says Al-Qaida has infiltrated the Syrian opposition. Any truth to that claim?

Rest O’ the Roundup

The Jerusalem Post picks up on the Trouw controversy.

Willem Schoonen, the editor- in-chief of Trouw, denied the article is anti-Semitic, in a telephone interview on Monday.

He said the paper got “loads of e-mails on the story, negative e-mails.”

When asked why the readership response was negative, he said for the same reasons of anti-Semitism that are being leveled against the paper. He flatly denied the article is bashing the Jewish state, and said van Heusden wrote about “experiences from a pregnant woman coming from a different background” and dealing with a “new chapter in Israeli society.” . . .

The global media watchdog organization, Honest Reporting, publicized Visser’s report on its website and encouraged its readers to file formal complaints to Trouw and comments on the paper’s website.

Controversy dogs Australia’s SBS channel for airing The Promise. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Jewish community is trying halt DVD sales of the documentary, which aired last year.

In its 31-page complaint to the SBS ombudsman, the ECAJ said historical inaccuracies and ”consistently negative portrayals” of The Promise’s central Jewish characters ”without any redeeming virtues” compared to the 1940 Nazi film Jud Suss, as well as Palestinian propaganda that ”all Jews are collectively guilty of the wanton shedding of innocent blood”.

It contended that identifiably Muslim characters would not be similarly portrayed by SBS.

In a letter to the broadcaster, ECAJ executive director, Peter Wertheim, said the complaint also related to any marketing, promotion or sale of the DVD, which would be ”inappropriate” while the determination was pending. ”Nothing should be done by SBS or SBS Shops which pre-empts or presumes the outcome of your final decision,” he wrote.

BBC reporter Katia Moskvitch visited Israeli researchers who are literally replacing parts of rats’ brains with microchips, “effectively turning them into cyborgs.”

The work aims to help people with diseases such as Parkinson’s or those who have suffered a stroke.

It involves swapping damaged brain tissue with a microchip that is wired to the brain, allowing it to carry out the tasks that the healthy tissue would have performed.

The Independent‘s update on the Avigdor Lieberman corruption investigation features a nasty headline:

Could corruption trial stop the rise of the black sheep of Israeli politics?

(Image of Mashaal via YouTube/falastinhurra, Perry via YouTube/AlJazeeraEnglish, Moussa via Flickr/WorldEconomicForum)

For more, see Monday’s Media Cheat Sheet.