Media Cheat Sheet 10/31/2011

Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel.

Gaza violence continues to dominate the news, Palestinians get UNESCO membership, Tunisia issues a warrant for Suha Arafat’s arrest, and more.

Gaza Heats Up

• Good AP snippets:

Most of the violence this weekend has been between Israel and Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed group that is considered even more extreme than Hamas. Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for attacks from Gaza, and there is little doubt that Hamas’ control — when it wants to exercise it — is strong . . . .

The latest round of violence was set off by a rocket attack last Wednesday by Islamic Jihad. The group said that attack was meant to mark the 16th anniversary of the assassination of its founder by Israel.

So now you know who started it: straight from the horse’s mouth.

• Today’s Bungled Headline Award went to the Daily Telegraph.

It could just as easily have gone to the Christian Science Monitor or San Francisco Chronicle, but I saw the Telegraph first and that was that. Here are the Monitor and Chron headers respectively:

You have to read their articles to find out the militant was part of a group of terrorists preparing to launch rockets at Israel — after the truce went into effect.

• Ron Ben-Yishai (YNet News) addresses “Why Islamic Jihad, and why now?”

Islamic Jihad and the Iranians estimate that Hamas intends to rest on its laurels at this time and make use of the political assets acquired through the Shalit deal. The Jihad is concerned that to that end, Hamas would maintain a lull in fighting that would allow it to reinforce its rule, build up its military power, reconcile with Mahmoud Abbas and nurture its ties with the new regime in Egypt. Through its attacks on Israel, the Islamic Jihad leadership aims to prevent this development and set the future agenda in the Strip.

 Tim Marshall (Sky News) raises similar questions, pointing out:

The message to Egypt is ‘you need to deal with us too’ and to the Palestinian people ‘We are the true resistors’. The message to Israel? – Forget the Shalit deal- it’s business as usual.

• Before publishing this post, the Jerusalem Post reported another Palestinian rocket landing south of Ashkelon this afternoon. No casualties reported.

• For further analysis of Big Media’s coverage of the Gaza violence, see HonestReporting’s latest critique: It All Started When Israel Fired Back . . . Again!

Peace Process

• UNESCO grants full membership to the Palestinians. According to CNN:

As the vote took place at the group’s meeting in Paris, applause broke out after some countries voted in favor of the bid.

There was laughter in the room after Israel voted no.

Israel’s reconsidering its cooperation with the organization.

Asharq al-Awsat and Haaretz look at Abbas’s plans to dismantle the PA, and force Israel to reoccupy the West Bank if there’s no breakthrough in peace talks. Responsibility for health, educational, tourism and security would be transferred to Israel. There’s a certain irony I elaborated on earlier today in all this.

• Helluva commentary in the LA Times about US-Israel ties, especially detailing how Israel actually advances American interests. After touching on matters like joint military efforts, counter-terrorism, homeland and aviation security, missile defense technology, intelligence cooperation, it concludes:

. . . Israel’s substantial contributions to U.S. interests are an underappreciated aspect of this relationship and deserve equal billing to shared values and historical responsibility as rationales for American support of Israel.

AFP: Arab League already examining other options if UN statehood push fails.

Arab Spring

Suha Arafat: Wanted by Tunisia

• The Arab Spring has sprung back on Yasser Arafat’s widow. Tunisia issues arrest warrant for Suha Arafat:

The allegations go back to a 2006 business deal, when Suha Arafat had a fallout with former first lady of Tunisia over the establishment of an international school in Tunis, AFP quoted Tunisian newspapers as saying.

• Jonathan D. Halevi raises big concerns about the rise of Libyan Islamists, their commitment to democracy, and some of their questionable foreign support. Did Libya deceive the West?

• Libyan PM confirms presence of two chemical weapons sites. CNN coverage.

AFP: The Syrian army’s mining the border with Lebanon.

Rest O’ the Roundup

Elliott Abrams on the status of Christians in the Middle East:

So while Christians are thriving in Israel they are under intense pressure in many neighboring Muslim countries. Europeans, and American enemies of Israel like the famous professors Walt and Mearsheimer, most often attribute American support for Israel to the “Jewish lobby.” But American Christians know more about the Middle East than these supposedly sophisticated critics, and are aware of the fate of their coreligionists. They see Christianity free to grow in Israel, and faced with violence and suppression nearby. They see Christians free to worship in Israel but fleeing all too many Arab lands. There’s no need for complicated political science analyses here, much less bigotry: those seeking to understand why American Christians overwhelmingly support Israel should study the treatment and the fate of Christianity in the Middle East.

• The UNRWA suspended a school teacher for inappropriate extracurricular political activity; students and employees are responding with a five-day walkout. AFP writes:

Hindi was suspended for three months in September after organising a union activity which was attended by a large number of officials of the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Palestinian territory, Gaza sources said.

• Terror victims’ NGO to publish online database of Palestinian terrorists to deter future prisoner swaps. The Jerusalem Post writes:

The head of Almagor, Meir Indor, believes by connecting the names of the terrorists to the specific terror attacks they committed, the public will be less likely to support prisoner swaps in the future.

The JPost adds that the database will be up on Almagor’s web site this week.

• Despite the exposure of an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US, Tehran calls for a calm hajj.

 How the heck can 97,000 Iranian pilgrims denouncing Israel and the US at every opportunity ease Saudi-Iranian tensions?

• The Huffington Post published an excerpt from a new bio of Ariel Sharon, written by his son, Gilad.

• Last but not least, I’m glad Ilan Grapel hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Grapel’s back in New York City, where he was told the Mets won the World Series while he was in prison.

(Photo of Mecca by Ali Mansuri)