Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
The blame game gears up as peace talks in Jordan hit the rocks, Egypt frees an imprisoned pro-Israel blogger, and cyber terror’s still in the news.
Join the Media Cheat Sheet Page on Facebook.
Israel and the Palestinians
• The Daily Telegraph exposes Saeb Erekat’s stalling tactics and questions the PA’s commitment to peace talks. Earlier today, I expanded on how this fits into Abbas’s long-term game plan. Later on, Haaretz updated Erekat’s latest antics, while Maan News says Abbas wants today’s meeting in Amman to be the last one.
The PA’s delay of game is having some success. Jordan mulls sanctions against Israel if no concessions to justify the PA’s return to the talks are forthcoming.
• Palestinian officials admit warn that elections going ahead as scheduled in May is nigh impossible. Details at AFP.
• AP: Hamas and Fatah opened up a voter registration office in Gaza.
• The NY Times gave an “op-doc” soapbox to Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz. He recently produced a film critically examining Israel’s Supreme Court and “The Justice of the Occupation.” As Bugs Bunny might ask, What’s op-doc?
A forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced with creative latitude by independent filmmakers and artists.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Jeffrey Goldberg and contacts describe a not so far-fetched scenario involving an “accidental armageddon.”
Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese proxy, launches a cross-border attack into Israel, or kills a sizable number of Israeli civilians with conventional rockets. Israel responds by invading southern Lebanon, and promises, as it has in the past, to destroy Hezbollah. Iran, coming to the defense of its proxy, warns Israel to cease hostilities, and leaves open the question of what it will do if Israel refuses to heed its demand.
. . . “If it looks as if the Israelis are going to destroy Hezbollah, you can see Iran threatening Israel, and they begin to change the readiness of their forces. This could set in motion a chain of events that would be like ‘Guns of August’ on steroids.”
• International sanctions, war drums and Israeli warnings about nuclear Iran are all poppycock, insists Robert Fisk.
• According to the Washington Post, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t going to interfere with jointly managed Israeli-Egyptian industrial zones.
• After 10 months in prison, Egypt frees pro-Israel blogger Maikel Nabil.
The 26-year-old was detained March 30 and 11 days later was sentenced by a military court to three years in prison for “insulting the military” and “spreading false information.” To supporters, Nabil represented the first of thousands of prisoners of conscience tried by military courts over the past year. To opponents, however, he is an enemy of the state not only for his remarks against the military but also for calling for normalization with Israel.
In late 2010 Nabil wrote in his blog he would refuse to serve out his compulsory military service if doing so meant he would have to point a gun at Israeli soldiers carrying out their own mandatory service.
The Global Post adds that even Egypt’s progressive secular activists pushing for free speech keep Nabil at arm’s length.
Nabil’s release is in the context of the military leadership partially lifting emergency laws in force since 1980. Egypt’s parliament routinely renewed the state of emergency declared after the Sadat assassination.
• Sam Segev (Winnipeg Free Press) on Israel-Egypt ties:
The sad truth, however, is that this peace treaty has become meaningless. Since the capture of the Israeli embassy, Egyptian landlords refuse to rent a place for the new embassy and the Israeli ambassador is forced to conduct his diplomatic work from home. Even then, the work is very limited, since Egyptian officials repeatedly tell the ambassador that they are busy. Hence, the ambassador’s routine diplomacy is limited to meetings with other diplomats, especially the Americans. Furthermore, Muslim Brotherhood leaders are repeatedly hinting that Israel should understand that things in Egypt have changed and that Israel should show more understanding of Palestinians’ aspirations.
In practical terms, the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty is dead.
• No surprise here: Arab League peace mission in Syria on verge of collapse.
• CNN: Syrian forces crack down on funerals.
• Israel holding its first ever nationwide “cyber terror drill” simulating a sustained multi-source attack on strategic infrastructure. YNet says the government learned one lesson before Operation Lights Out even began:
Meanwhile, the Communications Ministry said last week that it will not participate in the drill, citing its personnel lacked “the necessary expertise.”
• The Times of London (paywall) discussed cyber terror with Haifa University’s Professor Gabriel Weimann:
Terror groups have become increasingly interested in cyberwarfare because it can be carried out cheaply, from a variety of locations and with little equipment.
Whereas hackers are currently targeting websites by flooding them with demands and forcing them to temporarily shut down, a more sophisticated attack could involve taking over a website or an entire online system and forcing it to act differently.
“If someone would not hijack planes but sabotage the control system of airports like JFK imagine what would happen? This is a case of cyberterrorism,” said Weimann.
• Michal Toiba (Israel HaYom) raises questions about how helpful Israeli hackers have been with their recent counter-attacks.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Another bad day for the BDS movement: Ukrainian officials ready to facilitate investment projects with Israel.
• Heh: Chief Wikileaker Julian Assange wants to launch his own TV talk show, but AP doesn’t inspire confidence:
“To be true to his image, he would have to make his proposed show subversive; and that might not appeal to many would-be guests.”
WikiLeaks said that the show would begin airing in mid-March, although how the show will be produced and who will carry it are open questions.
It’s not even clear Assange will be free to host the show. He’s currently fighting extradition to Sweden . . .
For more, see Tuesday’s Media Cheat Sheet.