Media Cheat Sheet 10/09/2011

Here’s today’s assessment of media coverage, issues and trends. I go through the papers so that the HonestReporting staff (and now you too) don’t have to.


• Must-read: Amir Taheri (Asharq al-Awsat) persuasively asks if Palestine is a nation or a cause. He points out that neither Fatah nor Hamas describe themselves as “national” movements, then writes:

The subtext is that the Palestinians are, at most, “a people” but not a nation. They are regarded as part either of a larger, and mythical, Arab “nation” or an even more problematic Islamic Ummah.

Wedded to leftist or Islamist ideologies, Palestinian political formations systematically rejected the concept of the nation, the backbone of modern statehood.

• Is it really in Israel’s interests for the US to defund UN organizations that support Palestinian statehood? If you think yes, then think again, says Zvika Kriger (The Atlantic).

• Tim Marshall (Sky News) raises an important point about the Galilee mosque attack in a spot-on analysis:

Whereas neo-Nazi attacks in Europe are not blamed on the country in which they occur, the burning of the Galilee mosque will be used by Israel’s enemies as a stick with which to beat the country. No matter that the Israeli political class more or less closed ranks in condemning this week’s attack, the headline ‘Mosque Burnt in Israel’ is what will be remembered.

• Nice New Hampshire Union Leader staff-ed inspired by Charles Krauthammer. Bottom line:

Unless and until the Palestinians formally accept the right of Israel to exist, Israel would be insane to even sit down at the table again. And Americans would be crazy to desert them.

Robert Fisk‘s last column from Israel describes picking up a settler hitchhiker in Hebron, a visit to the Temple Mount, even touching on the Mufti’s relationship with Hitler:

Gold and green are the colours of paradise, so I was told – I can believe it – and then, across the Esplanade, I was shown the Carrara marble aisles which that old trickster, Mussolini, gave to the holiest mosque in Palestine, and I remembered, of course, the Grand Mufti and his trip to Nazi Germany, and his visit to Hitler, and I recalled my student days, researching his speeches and his appeals to send the Jews of Europe to the East. . .  Did he know?

• Kasim Hafeez describes to the Jewish Chronicle how we went from being a brainwashed anti-Semite to pro-Zionist. Believe it.

The Guardian (print edition) gave op-ed space to a UK barrister who rages at the UK’s revised arrest warrants law.

Haaretz‘s Amira Hass is on a Canadian speaking tour. Rick Salutin (Toronto Star) caught up with with her to discuss the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement):

She is not an all-out boycott backer. For one thing, “As an Israeli, I cannot boycott Israelis.” But she’s also a complex thinker who sees contradictions and double standards: “If you boycott Israel, why not boycott its backers like the U.S. and Canada?” There’s a Cassandra quality to her, spotting the idiocies on all sides.


• Thumbs up to the Times of London for an infographic on UNESCO and Israel that gets the Temple Mount and other contested holy sites right.

• Security Council experts met on Friday to discuss how to handle the Palestinian statehood bid. AP describes a bureaucratic yawner:

Diplomats said experts from all 15 security council nations on the admissions committee met behind closed doors to discuss how to proceed with their review of the Palestinian bid. They planned to meet again next week, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the session was private.

See also Time.

• The Israeli navy’s boosting its presence in its offshore drilling area south of Cyprus. According to the Famagusta Gazette:

The increase in military operations, which includes fighter jets and war ships patrolling near to Nobel offshore drilling rig, is designed to send a message to Turkey that “they are not the gatekeeper of the Mediterranean.”

Politico picks up on a poll of regarding Obama’s handling of US-Israel relations:

Nearly two thirds — 63 percent — told Quinnipiac University pollsters that the president should be a strong supporter of Israel. But those surveyed were divided on how Obama has dealt with Israel, with 39 percent saying he is a strong supporter of the country and 40 percent disagreeing.

• Jerusalem municipality okays 11 new apt buildings in what AFP describes as “the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the annexed east of the city.”

• Two Palestinians confessed to throwing the stones that killed Asher Palmer and his infant son. Maybe it’s just me, but BBC coverage is fixated on the settler angle, as if it mitigates stone-throwing:

And the Beeb’s conclusion?

The settlements are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Their presence is a major obstacle to peace talks as the Palestinians insist Israel freeze settlement building before renewing negotiations.

Syrian Uprising

• Signs of squirming? The Daily Telegraph says the Assad family’s liquidating its overseas properties.

• According to UN figures picked up by the NY Times, 2,900 Syrians have died since the uprising began.

• It’s time for the UK to expel Syria’s ambassador. So argues Michael Weiss (Daily Telegraph).

• Syrians are using Facebook to expose Assad’s citizen snitches. The Guardian writes:

Facebook now hosts dozens of sites run by Syrian activists on which the names, addresses and photos of suspected informers are posted.

Residents can use the sites to report a suspected awainiyya in their neighbourhood and site administrators say they then monitor the suspect’s behaviour before outing them.

Rest O’ the Roundup

HonestReporting Canada scored some points with the Globe & Mail. The paper agreed to implement new editorial protocols to ensure that inflammatory remarks like Gerald Caplan’s op-ed don’t get a platform.

• At a meeting of the IAEA, the head of Iran’s delegation was caught on camera sitting in the Israeli delegate’s seat. I liked IsraellyCool‘s take, so check out the photo and relevant links there. ‘Nuff said.

Anwar al-Awlaki

• The NY Times obtained a secret White House document detailing the legal justifications for killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the American Al-Qaidanik blown up by a drone in Yemen.

The legal analysis, in essence, concluded that Mr. Awlaki could be legally killed, if it was not feasible to capture him, because intelligence agencies said he was taking part in the war between the United States and Al Qaeda, and posed a significant threat to Americans, as well as because Yemeni authorities were unable or unwilling to stop him.

Funny, but this was Israel’s justification for its  maligned targeted assassinations of Palestinian terrorists (who weren’t Israeli citizens).

Maan News updates the latest on the closed military trial of four Salafists accused of killing Italian ISM activist Vittorio Arrigoni.

• Martin Fletcher (Times of London paywall: see Fox News for full article) obtained documents suggesting that Iran’s Bushehr reactor is a Chernobyl waiting to happen:

It claims that Bushehr, which began operating last month after 35 years of intermittent construction, was built by “second-class engineers” who bolted together Russian and German technologies from different eras; that it sits in one of the world’s most seismically active areas but could not withstand a major earthquake; and that it has “no serious training programme” for staff or a contingency plan for accidents.

The document’s authenticity cannot be confirmed, but nuclear experts see no reason to doubt it.

Iranian readers won’t sleep any better.

Memri wonders why the Taliban’s Twitter accounts haven’t been shut down.

The fact that the Taliban is active on Twitter is not a sudden development. Over the past year, media outlets including CNN, FOX, Guardian UK, Mashable, The Atlantic, MSNBC and others have all reported on this.

What is surprising is that these Twitter accounts, which serve the Taliban’s propaganda efforts against the U.S. and coalition forces, have not been shut down.

• Despite Prof. Shechtman’s Nobel Prize, Israelis are fretting the country losing a qualitative edge to university budget cuts and brain drain. The Christian Science Monitor (Josh Mitnick) picks up on the ivory tower angst.

• How do you repent and gain atonement for posting nasty online talkbacks you now regret? See an apropro response at YNet News.