Media Cheat Sheet 11/02/2011

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

Shortly before publishing today’s cheat sheet, media reports came up of a two-boat flotilla of ships travelling from Turkey to Gaza to break the blockade. One ship is Irish, the other Canadian. It’s a developing story. Details at the JPost.

I would’ve expected Gazans to send a flotilla of earthquake aid to Turkey to bust Ankara’s initial stubborn refusal to accept any international assistance.

Statehood Push and Pushback

• In response to the Palestinian push at UNESCO, Israel to expedite construction projects in eastern Jerusalem, Maale Adumim and Efrat, freeze tax transfers to the PA, revoke the VIP status of senior Palestinian officials, restrict UNESCO activities in Israel and cut off funding to UN agency. More at the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz.

• The BBC renders its own legal ruling on settlement activity. Here’s the categorical statement, in their own words:

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

Earlier in the day, I expanded on the Beeb’s fallacy.  Later on, I noticed that The Guardian‘s Harriet Sherwood issued her assenting opinion:

Settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under international law.

• A really dumb LA Times staff-ed praises Palestinian unilateralism because their statehood strategy doesn’t hinge on blowing up Israelis.

In past decades, Palestinian nationalists thought they had to hijack planes or blow up Israeli civilians in order to attract international attention. Some still do, but moderate leaders are lately discovering that the path to recognition might lie instead through the United Nations . . . the Palestinian switch to a diplomatic strategy represents progress.

As I blogged earlier, while UNESCO approved Palestinian membership, half of the PA not governed by Abbas spent the week firing rockets at Israel, killing Moshe Ami and making Ashkelon the Next Sderot.

• A Chicago Tribune staff-ed slams UNESCO:

What does UNESCO’s mission have to do with the Palestinians’ quest for a state? Nothing.

The Palestinians’ bid was pure political theater, symbolism without substance. The vote brings the Palestinians no closer to establishing their own state. And the people UNESCO serves are out $80 million a year. Everybody loses.

• According to The Independent, the expedited settlement activity’s taking place on

. . . West Bank and East Jerusalem, land earmarked by the Palestinians for a future state.

Not exactly. Maale Adumim, Efrat, and Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem are land that is expected to stay under Israeli control in a final peace deal. As Nicholas Kristof put it:

Every negotiator knows the framework of a peace agreement — 1967 borders with land swaps, Jerusalem as the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states, only a token right of return . . .

Canada cuts off “voluntary payments” to the UN body. A Globe & Mail staff-ed opposes the UNESCO vote and the cash cut off:

This mess is the work of 107 countries – such as France – which voted for Palestinian membership and of 52 more that stood on the sidelines. Only 14 opposed this short-circuiting of international diplomacy. Canada should be content to have done the right thing, without doing further harm to UNESCO.

Does the G&M really believe 107 countries are capable of cleaning up the mess train wreck they collectively created?

• Hackers managed to cut off most phone and internet access in the West Bank and Gaza for several. According to Maan News, attacks came from 20 countries, at a rate of one million attacks per second. It’s not clear if the hacking was related to the UNESCO vote. Elizabeth Flock has more background and links.

•If you’re wondering exactly which countries voted for, against or abstained at UNESCO, check out UN Watch’s breakdown.

Khaled Abu Toameh and Aviel Magnezi dismiss Abbas’s threats to dissolve the PA.

• See more related staff-eds in the Washington Times and NY Daily News.

Arab Spring

• I found this CNN dispatch and video from the Sinai both brave and disturbing. As if it wasn’t dangerous enough for Sudanese refugees trying to reach Israel, Sinai lawlessness has made it even more dangerous. Bedouin tribesmen kidnap, murder, enslave, torture and rape refugees.

Unidentified corpses are simply buried outside the El Arish cemetery under heaps of trash.

• Might Gaddafi’s London property become a bargaining chip for Jewish assets? According to the Hampstead and Highgate Express (via Point of No Return), a $10 million mansion is making for valuable leverage:

Political forecaster Dr Saul Zadka is lobbying the government to consider holding onto Libyan assets until an agreement is reached to hand back Jewish assets seized when Muammar Gaddafi came to power . . . .

Dr Zadka, who organised the original storming of the mansion earlier this year, said: “This house should not be unfrozen until the new government in Libya will address the past when Gaddafi confiscated Jewish properties in Libya.

“Jews at that time were oppressed and murdered and this property and other assets can be used to broker a deal for compensation.”

You know, the Assads are also liquidating foreign property, and Syrian Jews also seek restitution. Just a thought . . .

Elliott Abrams on the discovery of another likely Syrian nuclear site:

The discovery of additional Assad regime nuclear work should put an end to the foolish arguments that that regime was a source of stability in the region.

• Al Jazeera’s leveraging its coverage of the Arab Spring to get a long-sought foothold with US viewers. Al Jazeera English is now available for Chicagoland cable viewers:

Amjad Atallah, AJE’s Bureau Chief of the Americas, says American viewers began watching AJE’s live webstream to keep track of the protests, bumping up the channel’s online traffic by 2500 per cent.

(Via Romenesko)

• Officials are laying the groundwork for returning the Israeli ambassador to Egypt after a mob attacked the Cairo building two months ago. Details at Haaretz.

AP: The Egyptian junta appears to be digging in for longer-term rule as it turns on the protest movement. More Egyptian gloom and doom at the NY Times.

• Turns out Gaddafi was pen pals with a Brooklyn Jew. The NY Post picks up on the the story Louis Schlamowitz’s correspondence with the Brother Leader and other Mideast leaders. Whoda thought?

He said the correspondence did cause headaches for him with the CIA, which sent agents a few times to quiz him about the notes, as well as those from Khomeini.

But once he’d pulled out his photo album and they saw it was a hobby, they backed off, he said.

Alarmist Media

• According to the Times of London, Turkey and Israel are headed for major battle over Mediterranean gas exploration. I can’t what’s more alarmist: the article’s tone, or the illustration they chose — a painting of the Battle of Preveza.

The Battle of Preveza

Turkey is hurtling towards a major showdown in the eastern Mediterranean with Israel and Cyprus as it steps up gas exploration in the increasingly tense region, diplomats, ministers and politicians from across the region have told The Times.

Ankara has sent warships to protect vessels searching for hydrocarbons south and east of Cyprus; dispatched fighters that have infringed the island’s airspace, and is flying surveillance aircraft along the coastal waters of Israel and Lebanon.

The dispute threatens to pit Turkey, a Nato member, against Cyprus’s protector and fellow Nato country Greece, and to drag in Israel, Syria and Iran.

On a somewhat related note, Andrew Krepinevich (WSJ via Google News) points out that it’s not as difficult as you’d think for terrorists to strike at undersea energy infrastructure. The American targets he notes could just as easily be Israeli.

• The JCPA outlines some Hezbollah plans for the next war with Israel. They’re training to hit Israel with 10,000 missiles at the war’s outset, capture the Galilee, practicing with “smart” Iranian weapons, and more.

• I don’t know what prompted this CNN report on the “demographic time bomb,” but it certainly highlights why Israelis are absolutely opposed to a one-state solution.

Not everyone agrees with the Demographic Time Bomb theory, most notably Yoram Ettinger. He sat down with Newsweek to crunch numbers last year. Regardless, here are 6 Arguments Against the One-State Solution.

Obama’s Israel Problem

• Douglas Feith (WSJ via Google News) ain’t happy that some American Jewish organizations are covering President Obama from criticism for his handling of the Mideast. Israel should be a campaign issue:

These organizations exist in large part to defend the Jewish state from unfair criticism, pressure and attacks. But they are defending President Obama from well-grounded charges that he has subjected Israel precisely to that.

If the AJC and ADL want to defend Mr. Obama straightforwardly, they could do so. They might argue that his record on Israel is not unremittingly hostile. They could try to balance some of the healthy features of the U.S.-Israeli relationship—for example, the continuation of defense cooperation—against the bad parts. But it’s not a strong argument, which explains why they are claiming to uphold a venerable (though previously unheard of) principle of unity that precludes criticism of a president’s position on Israel.

• Politico notes that the window is closing on any possible fence-mending trip to Israel for President Obama:

Obama travels to France, about a five-hour flight from Israel, for the opening of a conference Thursday of the world’s largest economies. And next week, he leaves on a nine-day trip to Hawaii, Indonesia and Australia. The winter holiday season is typically off-limits for foreign travel . . .

The White House wants to reserve a trip for a time when the president can advance the peace process, according to people familiar with administration thinking, but there is no immediate prospect of a breakthrough. And once the calendar ticks over to 2012, a presidential trip to Israel could be viewed as an overtly political exercise, further dampening the likelihood of a trip.

• In an interview with AP, Condi Rice blames the breakdown in peace efforts squarely on President Obama:

“I do think focusing on settlements in that particular way was a mistake,” Rice said. “The parties then were able to have a reason not to sit down.

Rest O’ the Roundup

• Having trouble trying to make sense of Big Media’s Mideast buzzwords, shorthand and jargon? Dr. Yasser Dasmabebi has a Guide for the Perplexed that’ll have you in stitches.

• Do you think there’s a message for Iran in all this? Israel test fired a missile capable of reaching Iran, the air force had a drill for long-range attacks, and Bibi seeks cabinet support for a strike on Iran.

• The president of the U. of Charleston returned from a mission to Israel involving a dozen other university presidents. Ed Welch shared his thoughts on the trip with the Charleston Daily Mail:

Although he doesn’t think Israeli schools have much to learn from UC, he says he would not mind recruiting students from the country to come to Charleston.

“By the time they finish their time in the military, they know and realize the realities of the world, including if you aren’t talented you will not be successful,” Welch said.

The wheezing you just heard was the sound of academic boycotters trying to catch their breath . . .

• Glad to see AP got the Gaza rocket chronology right:

The sudden spike in violence began when militants in Gaza started firing salvos at Israel late last week, and Israeli retaliated with airstrikes.

• The Durban Daily News rounds up reaction to Judge Richard Goldstone’s NY Times commentary debunking Israel apartheid.

The blowback — from the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Dugard, and PLO flunky Francis Boyle — is predictable enough. ‘Nuff said.

Julian Assange

• WikiLeaks guru Julian Assange loses appeal against extradition; will be sent to Sweden to face rape charges. More at The Guardian, which doesn’t bother disclosing its relationship with Assange. See also the NY Times, which acknowledged its prior association.

• This Harrisburg Patriot-News commentary on the Gilad Shalit swap sums up a lot of my feelings about the exchange.

(Image of US flag via Flickr/psovart. Image of Julian Assange via Epsen Moe)