Media Cheat Sheet 02/09/2012February 9, 2012 14:13 by Pesach Benson
Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Rumblings of a possible “intrafada,” the NYT takes a stab at understanding US-Israel differences over Iran, and Turkey’s bypassing the UN to push for an international summit to address Syria.
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Israel and the Palestinians
• YNet senses the rumblings of an uprising against the PA leadership itself — I’d call it an intrafada. The issues? Salam Fayyad’s unpopular austerity measures, the grim state of the PA economy, and a shortfall of aid pledges. This has all the makings of a perfect storm.
It may not be too late for the U.S. to tell the Palestinians that they cannot bring a terrorist organization into government while continuing to expect American money and sympathy. But that would require sharp and public statements from Mrs. Clinton and President Obama of the kind they have used to rebuke Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Administration likes to tout itself as the best friend Israel has ever had. Its attitude toward Palestinian “reconciliation” is a test of that boast.
• Maan News: Palestinian officials claim Gaza’s 72 hours away from a “severe electrical crisis” if more fuel isn’t allowed into the strip.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• The NY Times tries to make sense of the differences between Israel and the US on the urgency of Iran’s atomic agenda. There’s a lot to chew on. And the clock ticks on . . .
The difference of opinion over Iran’s nuclear “immunity” is critical because it plays into not just the timing — or bluffing — about a possible military strike, but the calculations about how deeply and quickly sanctions against Iran must bite. If the Israeli argument is right, the question of how fast the Iranians can assemble a weapon becomes less important than whether there is any way to stop them.
Meanwhile, a Washington Times staff-ed weighs in on the matter, concluding:
From Israel’s point of view, because Mr. Obama is facing a tough re-election challenge, he might be compelled to back its play on Iran rather than appear weak and ineffective. Mr. Netanyahu has never believed in leading from behind.
• The Int’l Atomic Energy Agency’s due to release a harsh report on Iran’s nuclear program. Haaretz writes:
The upcoming follow-up report from the IAEA will apparently include new details about the effort by Tehran to develop a nuclear warhead for a ground-to-ground missile.
• US officials tell NBC News that assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists were bumped off by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) — with Mossad financing and training.
For the United States, the alleged role of the MEK is particularly troublesome. In 1997, the State Department designated it a terrorist group, justifying it with an unclassified 40-page summary of the organization’s activities going back more than 25 years. The paper, sent to Congress in 1998, was written by Wendy Sherman, now undersecretary of state for political affairs and then an aide to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
The report, which was obtained by NBC News, was unsparing in its assessment . . .
The alleged involvement of the MEK in the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists provides the U.S. with a cloak of deniability regarding the clandestine killings. Because the U.S. has designated the MEK as a terrorist organization, neither military nor intelligence units of the U.S. government, can work with them.
• Walter Pincus (WashPost) looks at what Israeli and American strikes on Iran might look like.
• The WSJ reports that Turkey’s bypassing the UN and ambitiously pushing for an international summit “to coordinate Syria policy between Middle East and world powers and press Mr. Assad to step aside.” Meanwhile, a Boston Globe staff-ed (paywall) channels its inner Ankara, calling on the US to do just that.
• Refugees fleeing Homs shared with AP their harrowing tales of shelling, snipers, and tanks:
“You’ll be shot dead, if you go out,” Samar Rahim, 32, told The Associated Press in this Jordanian farming town along the Syrian border, one week after she fled Homs with her family. “Snipers are firing at anyone in the streets. That’s why we left everything behind.”
Rahim and other refugees interviewed by the AP described living in fear, hunkering down inside their Homs and desperately trying to protect their young children.
• Latest revelation from Assad’s emails leaked to Haaretz: Martin Indyk tried to arrange for Bill Clinton to meet Bashar Assad in 2009.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• AP visits an exhibition of never before seen documents and items from the Mossad’s capture of Adolf Eichmann. There are new details about the mission that “made the Mossad,” but this snippet had me thinking, Only in Israel.
Even so, the exhibit was initially intended to remain classified, but “the Eichmann story is so strong that we just couldn’t keep this one to ourselves.”
• The BBC defends censoring out the words “Free Palestine” from a performance by rapper Mic Righteous. The Jewish Chronicle writes:
The corporation originally said its production team had edited the song to “move away from any potential claim of not maintaining due impartiality”.
Last week, the BBC Trust said it was satisfied that the BBC’s decision to reject a dozen complaints from pro-Palestinian campaigners had been correct.
But the Trust admitted the handling of the issue had been “over-cautious” and that the corporation was now “looking to learn from the way the matter had been handled”. It is likely the song will be played in full in future, with “contextualisation”.
Here’s the BBC Trust ruling in full (pdf).
(Image of clock via Flickr/followtheseinstructions)
For more, see yesterday’s Media Cheat Sheet.