Everything you need to know about the weekend coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Turkey’s “purchasing” Hamas, the Pentagon gears up for Iran — and why are Washington’s top lobbyists suddenly dropping lucrative Egyptian contracts?
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Israel and the Palestinians
• As Abbas deep-sixes peace talks, the Christian Science Monitor reports a resurgence in support for the one-state solution among the limited left-wing talking heads quoted.
• Simply sick: PA television aired a program praising Hakim and Amjad Awad, the two cousins responsible for the Fogel family massacre. More at Haaretz.
UPDATE 8:50 pm: Here’s the video.
• There’s an upcoming BDS conference at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s already drawing the ire of commentaries published in places like the Philadelphia Inquirer, Harvard Crimson and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. Ali Abunimah wrote a counterpoint in the Inquirer.
• Guy Bechor’s commentary in YNet sparked some buzz for describing how deeply in trouble Hamas is. Iran has cut off the money spigot, and neither Jordan nor Egypt are willing to allow the group to relocate its HQ from Damascus.
On a final note, Hamas won momentary global glory as result of the so-called blockade on Gaza. Yet now, when the siege is no longer in place with the border crossing to Egypt open to people and goods, how will the organization survive on the public relations front? This may be the worst problem faced by a group that lives off anti-Israel slogans and now finds itself crashing against the rocks of reality.
Meanwhile, Khaled Mashaal visited Jordan today, and all he got was a lousy t-shirt. Jordan won’t let the terror group relocate there.
Problem ain’t just with the UN. After visiting Gaza, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore called for Israel to end its blockade.
• Elliott Abrams: Turkey “purchasing Hamas from Iran” ain’t good news for the peace process:
In my view, Turkey’s support for Hamas makes peace a far more distant prospect. Israel will not negotiate with a PLO whose leadership includes the terrorists of Hamas. And Turkey does not appear to be demanding profound changes in Hamas as the price for its support. So far, then, this move appears to have a great deal to do with Erdogan’s search for power and influence, and Hamas’s search for a substitute for Iran and Syria–and nothing to do with a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Does anyone remember a time when the Palestinians owned their own national movement? Where have you gone, Yasser Arafat?
• According to the JPost, the Palestinians have a created a civil guard (unarmed) to protect their mosques from settlers. They really need to protect their mosques from other Muslims, but who wants to be politically incorrect about that?
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Time quotes an IDF official saying that an Israeli strike on Iran would only set their nuclear program back a few months. A meaningful strike must set back the program by a minimum of two years.
• Washington Post: The Pentagon is rushing to refit the USS Ponce to become a “commando mothership” and deploy it to the Mideast.
• The Pentagon has also concluded that it’s largest conventional bomb — the massive ordnance penetrator — won’t be able to penetrate some of Iran’s fortified, underground nuclear sites. The army brass is asking Congress for more bucks for their 30,000 lb. bang. A lot of news services picked up on the WSJ, which wrote:
Should a decision be made to use the MOP as currently configured, it could cause “a lot of damage” to Iran’s underground nuclear facilities but wouldn’t necessarily destroy them outright, Mr. Panetta said.
“We’re developing it. I think we’re pretty close, let’s put it that way. But we’re still working at it because these things are not easy to be able to make sure that they will do what we want them to.”
• An Israeli Heron UAV said to be capable of reaching Iran crashed in Israel during a test flight. More at the JPost.
• I was moved by this National Post infographic about the 6,375 Syrians killed since the uprising began in March.
• The Arab League suspended its observer mission in Syria. Reuters updates the situation.
• Five Iranian hostages captured by the Free Syrian Army were moved to Lebanon, according to The Lede. The rebels say the five are members of the Revolutionary Guards, while Iran insists they’re electrical workers.
• The lobbyists strike back: Three of Washington’s top lobbyists are no longer working for Egypt’s government after American volunteers for pro-democracy NGOs were prevented from leaving the country. Politico broke the story.
The tipping point for the high-profile lobbyists appears to have been the no-fly order instituted by Egyptian authorities that has prevented as many as 10 American and Europeans, including the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, from leaving Egypt. Other elements of the Egyptian government, not the military, appear responsible for that decision. But the end result is a real risk of damaging what has been a longstanding alliance that is important to both Egypt and the United States in the Mideast.
More at the NY Times.
• Stepping Out of the Shadows is an apt headline for the Sydney Morning Herald’s look at the Muslim Brotherhood. The issue? Transparency and where the Brotherhood gets its funding from:
”We don’t give the numbers,” he says matter of factly. ”In the Mubarak era, it was very dangerous to give numbers or lists of members because it was very easy to arrest these people.
”Maybe, after a while, we will announce all of these things.”
Rest O’ the Roundup
• A high level official in Israel’s security establishment gave a briefing for a group of reporters. John Lyons (The Australian) says the official who will named gave everyone something to chew on in terms of developments in Gaza, Egypt and Syria. But the refusal to take questions on Iran was a deafening silence.
• Worth reading: The WSJ interviews Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai about how the city became the kind of hip hi-tech hub a lot of European cities want to emulate. Hizzoner is modest about his “If You Build It They Will Come” approach:
Make the city a place where the sort of people who run start-ups will want to be. Most digital media entrepreneurs are young, countercultural and attracted to cities that are vibrant, diverse and international. As he proudly said in his presentation, one-third of the city is under the age of 35, and there is one bar for every 200 residents.
That Israel is a start-up heavyweight is without doubt. A recent report commissioned by the city identified 600 start-ups in Tel Aviv/Yafo.
• The LA Times took Israel’s temperature and records a case of election fever.
• Ugly blog post in The Independent.
• LA Times: Israeli hackers are studying Arabic to upgrade skills, and Berlitz is happy to help:
The Berlitz class, a sort of Arabic-for-hackers 101, includes the alphabet and recognition of key words such as “Ministry of Interior Affairs,” “national bank” and “government,” one teacher told Maariv. “This will save us time locating government companies, banks and enemy country government bodies,” the student said.
Mira Mines, a top Berlitz executive, was quoted in the report as saying that the school was glad to take part in the national effort and “help hackers deter anti-Israeli elements from attacking Israel in the future.”
• Twitter announced that it now has a system in place to
censor “withhold” certain tweets in certain countries. MarketingLand says there’s no reason to hit the panic button. NPR’s Ubertwitterer Andy Carvin points out that regimes most threatened by dissident tweets will just block Twitter anyway. Poynter and The Lede round up more of the conversation.
For more, see Thursday’s Media Cheat Sheet.