Media Cheat Sheet 10/5/2011

Yesterday, I began blogging the daily media roundups I already prepare for the HonestReporting staff’s in-house use. It covers a lot of the issues, trends in coverage, and developments I see in the course of the day.


• Brett Schaefer (National Review) says US should withhold funds from UNESCO if the organization accepts the PA’s request for full membership.

My two cents: they’ll join UNESCO and push for a provocative declaration about the status of the Temple Mount irrespective of Congress. As Schaefer points out:

The United States does not have a Security Council veto at its disposal to block Palestinian membership in the organization.

• I liked this Times of London staff-ed’s take on Tzipi Livni and the war crime warrant reform. There’s a paywall, but here’s the key snippet:

Applying war crimes legislation across state boundaries is a civilising feature of modern politics. The issue is too serious to be appropriated and traduced by anti-Israel campaigners. The Times criticised Israel’s military tactics in Gaza; we exposed its use of white phosphorus despite official denials. But Israel must defend itself against terrorism. These are not issues remotely comparable to, say, the genocidal crimes for which Radovan Karadzic is on trial at The Hague.

• The Sydney Morning Herald gave Isi Liebler op-ed ink to respond to ex-PM Malcolm Fraser’s rant.

• Jonathan Tobin (Commentary) responds to Sari Nusseibeh’s take on Israel as a Jewish state:

If the phrase “Jewish state” sticks in the craw of such a worldly intellectual, there seems little hope ordinary Palestinians will be able to accept it.

Elliott Abrams fisks away too.

• Nice student commentary in the Indiana Daily Student on the Palestinian statehood push.

The Independent‘s Rupert Cornwall on Congress cutting aid to the PA:

But support of the Jewish state is omnipresent on Capitol Hill, where positions on the Middle East conflict are often more uncompromising even than those of the Netanyahu government.


• The Security Council will discuss the Palestinian statehood bid on Friday. That’s the day before Yom Kippur, which guarantees no chance of an Israeli response till Sunday. AP writes:

Nigeria’s Ogwu told reporters Tuesday that the U.N. experts, from all 15 council nations, will meet “in a transparent manner” and “at a rational pace.”

“I want to assure you that we will neither be stalled nor be stampeded,” she said.

Does the scheduling reflect a desire in Turtle Bay to stampede Israel?

• Assad threatens to fire missiles on Tel Aviv if NATO attacks Syria. The Jerusalem Post writes:

During a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmad Davutoglu Assad allegedly threatened: “If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than 6 hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv.”

According to the report, Assad also reiterated that Damascus will call on Hezbollah to launch such an intensive rocket and missile attack on Israel.

“All these events will happen in three hours, and in the following three hours, Iran will attack the US warships in the Persian Gulf and the US and European interests will be targeted simultaneously,” Assad said, according to FARS.

• Claudia Rosett (National Review) reports that Judge Goldstone’s back. He’s chairing a private panel of cronies vetting candidates for six judgeships soon opening up at the International Criminal Court. What a revolting development . . .

Rest O’ the Roundup

• At The Guardian, Jon Ronson continues his investigation into the hoax gay flotilla video. Today, he interviews Latma TV‘s Caroline Glick and Shay Attias of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy, among others.

I can’t decide what’s the bigger stretch: that the government might have actually pulled off the hoax, or that the government couldn’t possibly have pulled off the hoax

• Iran’s vendetta against the BBC makes old Israeli gripes seem like nothing. BBC executive Peter Horrocks accuses Tehran of targeting the families of Beeb employees. He writes at The Editors blog:

The second category of direct action by Iran is aimed not at our audience but the BBC’s own staff. Many of our Iranian employees who live in London are fearful to return to their country because of the regime’s attacks on the BBC. But although those journalists are beyond the direct reach of their government they are now subject to a new underhand tactic.

Iranian police and officials have been arresting, questioning and intimidating the relatives of BBC staff. We believe that the relatives and friends of around 10 BBC staff have been treated this way.

Later in the day, The Lede expanded on this.

• Israeli diplomat Dan Arbell was dismissed from his job in the Washington embassy for leaking information to journalists. Details at Haaretz.

• Lebanese cabinet minister Ali Hassan Khalil claims in newly published memoirs that Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were killed during an Israeli bombardment and not during the Hezbollah kidnapping raid. Lebanon’s Daily Star adds:

The minister did not say why the allegation was not revealed earlier but described the incident as one of the biggest secrets of the 2006 war.

But the Israel says a forensic investigation of the kidnap site and an examination of the returned bodies “correspond to an ambush on the ground, not an aerial bombing.” More on that point at the Jerusalem Post.

• If you want really short and simple reassurance that an Israeli won a Nobel Prize (for chemistry), a terse Bloomberg News is for you. If you’re more comfortable in the fast lane of  maverick Israeli science and quasicrystal patterns in atoms check out Reuters. In any event, congrats to Prof. Daniel Shechtman.

CNN introduces us to Irena and Olga Lansky, a mother/daughter combo trying to qualify together for spots on Israel’s Olympic track and field squad.

• Will Israel attack Iran? Tony Karon (Time) reads the latest tea leaves.

• If you’re among the people out there wondering if Lauren Booth, our 2008 Dishonest Reporter honoree, was born Jewish, wonder no more. Booth herself clears the air and shares additional choice thoughts about Israel and the Jewish people at IsraellyCool.

Arab Spring

McClatchy News points out that the civilian death toll from NATO air strikes in Libya is still a very big question mark:

On one hand, regime propagandists were notorious for exaggerating or inventing such incidents to tarnish the image of the revolutionary forces, whose success in toppling Gadhafi relied heavily on NATO air support.

On the other hand, experts on civilian casualties of war say that even the most surgical strikes run the risk of killing innocents. It’s worrying to some humanitarian workers that NATO hasn’t compiled figures for alleged civilian casualties or sought investigations at sites such as Majar.

“There’s a huge problem in general with data in Libya, but in particular with response to civilian casualties caused by NATO, because there’s no boots on the ground,” said Kristele Younes, who visited the Majar site this week on a fact-finding trip for CIVIC . . .

During the Gaza war, the IDF’s turnaround time in releasing its info about civilian casualties was sometimes exasperating, but their explanations and stats were forthcoming. Could you imagine the outrage if the IDF didn’t bother keeping track of the information?

• I was wowed by this headline in The Independent:

Saudi police open fire on civilians as protests gain momentum

Reuters: A senior Syrian Colonel flees to Turkey, becoming the highest ranking military officer to desert army.

• China and Russia veto Security Council resolution condemning Syria. More at BBC.