Media Cheat Sheet 10/10/2011


• I’m starting off with a great Wall St. Journal staff-ed (click via Google News) about the “Cinderella story” of Daniel Shechtman’s chemistry research:

Today, Mr. Shechtman’s observations have been fully validated and quasicrystals are beginning to have commercial applications. But his story is a reminder that a consensus of scientists is no substitute for, and often a bar to, great science. That’s especially so when the consensus hardens into a dogmatic and self-satisfied enterprise.

That last sentence also nicely describes 200 Swedish academics calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

• Mira Sucharov (Huffington Post) weighs in on recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Responding to Sari Nusseibeh, Sucharov (an associate professor of poli-sci at Ottawa’s Carleton U.) looks at the issue through the lens of “fairness” and “ultimatum games.” Related reading: State of the Jews vs. State of Denial.

David Harris (Huffington Post) responds to Nicholas Kristof:

Respectfully, the Israeli people don’t need lectures on the imperatives of peace. After 63 years, I assure you, they understand what the absence of peace means far better than you and I do.

But they also know, to borrow a phrase from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro in another context, that “the press’s misunderstanding was merely the wish’s predilection to be father to the thought.”


• The Daily Telegraph‘s Mary Riddell breaks out the violins for “forgotten Gaza.” Joining her in the strings section are David Miliband and other figures associated with Save the Children.

This dispatch doesn’t acknowledge Hamas’s role in flushing Gaza down the drain, or the possibility of leaving via Egypt. I was more distracted by Riddell’s plethora of over-dramatized lines that are more appropriate for a dour Save the Children fundraising appeal:

  • “The occupants of Abdullah’s house are as gravely scarred as its facade.”
  • “The Arab Spring has not percolated the permafrost of Gaza’s political winter.”
  • “But neither education nor skill can counter the curse of being born in Gaza . . .”
  • “Here in Gaza everything is rationed, except hope.”

There’s also an issue of fauxtography. The Telegraph illustrates the story with a recycled 2009 Reuters image. I don’t object to file photos per-se, but this is misleading. What does it say about Gaza’s hopelessness and the Telegraph that the paper didn’t (or couldn’t) get original, current images of what’s supposed to be pervasive poverty?

A Palestinian girl sleeps in front of a house, destroyed during the three-week offensive Israel launched last December, in the northern Gaza Strip October 16, 2009. The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday endorsed a U.N. report that accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, passing a resolution that singled it out for censure without referring to wrongdoings by Hamas. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem October 17, 2009

For a for a fuller response to the Telegraph’s agitprop, see The Wretched Scandal of Reporting From Gaza.

• Senior Fatah official Tawfik Tirawi calls the US is Palestine’s number one enemy. The Jerusalem Post adds:

Fatah hasn’t thrown the rifle aside,” Tirawi told thousands of university students during a rally in Hebron.

Church of the Nativity

• Palestinian officials told Reuters once they have UNESCO membership, they’ll start off with a push for Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity to be declared a World Heritage site.

Aside from Bethlehem, the Palestinian Authority has listed ancient pilgrimage routes and the West Bank towns of Nablus and Hebron among 20 cultural and natural heritage sites which Taha said could also be nominated as World Heritage Sites.

• Hamas is requiring foreigners entering Gaza to apply for a visa. This AP snippet is an understatement:

The rules, posted on a Hamas website late Sunday, will apply mostly to aid workers and activists. A separate set of procedures for foreign journalists is still being completed.

The rules could make it difficult for international charities to function in Gaza. Many groups are barred from contact with Hamas because the U.S. and EU considers it a terrorist group.

I daresay the reality Hamas is creating in Gaza is closer to actual statehood than the PA. At what point would the UN opt for a three-state solution and recognize Gaza as an independent state before the West Bank?

Memri: The UAE claims it has enough evidence to prosecute and execute the mysterious tennis racket-carriers who killed Hamas weapons dude Mahmoud Mabhouh.

Arab Spring

• Colonel Riad al-As’aad, who now heads the Syrian Free Army, is planning guerrilla attacks against Assad regime “in apparent connivance with his Turkish protectors.” While several Syrian embassies were stormed in Europe, The Independent writes:

Colonel As’aad lives under constant guard by Turkish security officials in Turkey’s Htay province.

• Christians and Muslims clashed in Cairo’s worst sectarian violence since Mubarak’s ouster. This morning, AP put the death toll at 24.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people, blame the country’s ruling military council for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak’s ouster . . .

The Christian protesters said their demonstration began as a peaceful attempt to sit in at the television building. But then, they said, they came under attack by thugs in plainclothes who rained stones down on them and fired pellets.

See Tim Marshall’s sobering assessment at Sky News.

• Proof that letters to the editor are much more civilized: Tunisian police thwarted 200 Salafists who attacked a TV station after that aired Persepolis, a film about the Iranian revolution they claim is offensive to Islam. AFP writes:

“After we aired ‘Persepolis’ on Friday, there were messages posted on Facebook calling for Nessma to be torched and our journalists to be killed,” Karoui said.

More at BBC.

Asharq al-Awsat paints a dismal state of affairs at one of Gaddafi’s chemical weapons factories.

Rest O’ the Roundup

• American public opinion is expressed right here in this recent Daily Show video that was forwarded to me.

Palestinians are portrayed as unreasonable in negotiations, apt to use violence, and quick to accuse Israel of occupation. Israelis are portrayed as provocative, expansionist and relying on Biblical passages as proof of land ownership. And it’s all cleverly packaged in 3:38.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
West Bank Story – Challahfax vs. Halalifax
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

• Lebanon’s top army commander, General Jean Kahwagi, is in the US with the dubious task of obtaining continued military aid. Two problems complicate his mission.

The first is that UN Security Council resolution 1701 prohibits non-governmental organizations (that includes political, social welfare, religious, terrorist and Iranian proxy parties like Hezbollah)  from being armed, yet Hezbollah — which controls 21 of 30 seats in the Lebanese cabinet — ain’t disarming. And the second? I’ll let retired Gen. Elias Hanna do the talking. He told the Daily Star:

The retired general wondered how Lebanon could demand arms from the U.S., at a time when the country’s political factions have yet to agree on a national defense strategy.

“We are silly . . . what if they gave us tanks – which they won’t do – and then we decide on a defense strategy which does not rely on tanks?” he asked. “You have to have a strategy because an idea can connect goals to means. We haven’t yet decided on the goals and the strategy, so how are we asking for the means?”

This is one example of what can happen when a multi-ethnic state goes haywire. Do you really expect Israelis to be gung-ho for a one-state solution after reading articles like this?

• As if the surviving members of the Fogel family don’t have enough to contend with. Now, they’re being taunted by relatives of the murderers who came to harvest olives on Itamar.

The settlers claimed that the Palestinians shouted “We’ll Fogel you” and drew their fingers across their necks indicating slaughter.

• The UNRWA and other leftists are upset that Israel sought to import lulavim (palm fronds) for the upcoming holiday of Sukkot. Israel Matzav explains why they’re all being “more pro-Hamas than Hamas” on this.

• Today’s wishful thinking: IRAN: Commander labels U.S. protests as “American Spring”

(Church of the Nativity image via Flickr/myhya)