Media Cheat Sheet 02/01/2012

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

Iran launches another satellite news network, more embarrassing revelations as humanitarian observer team’s Syria report is leaked, and Russia finally feels some heat for giving diplomatic cover to Assad.

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Israel and the Palestinians

 Juxtaposing these two headlines tells me that A) All politics is local, and B) the words gesture and concession have different nuances — the wire services would not use them interchangeably:

  1. AFP: UN leader to seek settlement concession ‘gesture’ from Israel
  2. AP: Israeli government offers gesture concessions to settlers

Salam Fayyad’s popularity ratings are nosediving thanks to rising costs and tax increases. The NY Times finds Ramallah blaming Israel for the tight times:

Mr. Fayyad’s goal is to reduce the Palestinian Authority’s current budget deficit of $1.1 billion, and balance the budget, his government says. In 2011, the Palestinian Authority received $750 million in aid from foreign donors, and it does not expect to receive more than that this year, leaving Mr. Fayyad to try to make up a $350 million shortfall . . . .

The more common view in the West Bank is that with Israel fully controlling about 60 percent of West Bank land as well as the borders, Israel or the donor nations should pay for economic failures, and the Palestinian people should not have to shoulder the cost.

Picking up on the Jerusalem mufti’s call of death to the Jews last week, the Christian Science Monitor examines  “religious trash talk” by Palestinians and Jews, calling it a “trend” that is “going mainstream.” I blogged the story, explaining why it effectively mitigates Palestinian incitement.

Hurriyet columnist Mehmet Ali Birand weighs the pros and cons of Turkey hosting Hamas HQ — some of the points he raises had not occured to me. Spoiler alert:

I don’t understand what we will gain by entering such a quagmire up to our throats.

Iranian Atomic Urgency

Tehran’s appealing to Latin America with a new 24-hour news channel in Spanish. At HispanTV’s launching, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi delivered the money quote — in Spanish, no less.

Media has the power to shape the global public opinion, a capability that military power lacks,” he said.

More details on HispanTV’s launch at the Miami Herald. A satirical Times of London staff-ed (paywall) anticipates the programming:

10pm Iran’s Got Dictators: Similar to Britain’s Got Talent, except that all the stage acts compete to flaunt their expertise in the field of despotism.

10.30pm Question Time: Clips of gentle chats with foreign detainees in Evin prison, dispelling the myth that it is a hotbed of brutish interrogation.

Worth reading: An intelligence report to Congress says Iran is more willing to carry out an attack against the US on American soil. Eli Lake examines what the carefully worded testimony means.

They don’t make inspectors like they used to:

 Arab Spring Winter

The Arab League’s disgraceful humanitarian observer mission has been suspended, but embarrassing revelations continue. A copy of the team’s report was leaked to Foreign Policy:

Regrettably, some observers thought that their visit to Syria was for pleasure,” wrote Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa Al-Dabi, the chief of the Arab League monitoring mission.

Among the problems noted in Al-Dabi’s report (pdf)

  1. Many monitors were unqualified for the mission.
  2. Infighting among the observers.
  3. An acute shortage of personnel and equipment.
  4. Syrian misinformation campaign directed at the mission.

AP takes note of humor being employed against the regime, ending 40 years of a “culture of self-censorship, fear and paranoia.” One of the more popular expressions of dissident satire online is Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator.

In one episode, Beeshu competes against Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi on “Who wants to Kill a Million,” a play on the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Russian stonewalling against UN action in Syria ain’t winning Moscow any love.

Fists flew on talk TV as a Lebanese supporter of Bashar Assad duked it out with a Syrian opposition activist. Backstory at YNet and the Daily Star.

CNN: Sinai Bedouins released 25 Chinese hostages.

Worth reading: New Hope for Egypt’s Pioneering Journalist

Rest O’ the Roundup

The Israeli-Arab cyber war continues: Two Palestinian news sites, Wafa and Maan News, were knocked offline. More at AP and Maan.

(Image of Fayad via YouTube/MuhaddithDotOrg, money via Flickr/RambergMediaImages)

For more, see yesterday’s Media Cheat Sheet.


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