Welcome to everyone reading my cheat sheet for the first time. I used to write an in-house digest for the HonestReporting staff assessing the news, trends in coverage and other items of interest.
We decided to share all that with you. You want to be well-informed but you have limited time to find the pearls in all the news, commentary, blogs, Twitter, etc. You need a cheat sheet for all that.
So be sure to visit Backspin’s home page each day. I’m reading the news so you don’t have to. Here’s everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel.
• The peace process took an unexpected twist with an open-mike gaffe featuring Presidents Sarkozy and Obama expressing their feelings for Benjamin Netanyahu.
The conversation then drifted to Netanyahu, at which time Sarkozy declared: “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.” According to the report, Obama replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
The remark was naturally meant to be said in confidence, but the two leaders’ microphones were accidently left on, making the would-be private comment embarrassingly public.
The communication faux pas went unnoticed for several minutes, during which the conversation between the two heads of state – which quickly reverted to other matters – was all but open to members the press, who were still in possession of headsets provided by the Elysée for the sake of simultaneous translation during the G20 press conference.
I liked Daily Telegraph blogger Nile Gardiner’s response:
The president’s shameless mocking of a major friend of the United States whose nation faces the biggest threat in its history, is an embarrassment for the leader of the free world and hardly an example of “smart power”.
Last but not least, Jonah Goldberg wants to know why the press corps covered up the gaffe.
• Congress unblocks $200 million in PA security funding. Details at the JPost.
• Blessed are the peacemakers . . . and Roger Cohen:
Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict begins with accepting that there is no just outcome, none. Enough Jews and Arabs have died trying to prove the rightness of their cause. Imperfect compromise is the only way out of the spiral.
Seems to me, the diplomatic rifts, funding issues, and blowback we’re seeing so far were all pretty predictable — and yet the PLO deliberately chose antagonistic unilateralism over negotiations anyway.
• Bradley Burston worries about what the words, “Death to Israel,” mean to progressives:
It should matter that the Islamic Jihad, Iran’s direct foothold in Palestine, knows precisely what Death to Israel means. As does Iran.
What is this country that Julio Pino and Robert Breeze believe deserves to die? They may think they know Israel. They may think this is one huge, Arab-loathing, mass-murdering, land-thieving plague of an illegitimate entity.
It is certainly easier on the political conscience to see us this way.
But if progressives cannot see Israelis as people, if they — we — cannot summon up the same compassion and concern for unarmed combatants on both sides of a battle front, it’s time they checked their ideology for holes.
(Image via Richard Millett)
• Daniel Crovitz on UNESCO:
Unesco is a reliable reminder that there is little accountability for U.N. actions or inactions. We can be amused by the antics of an agency like Unesco that has no serious duties. It’s harder to be as sanguine about the IAEA. History teaches that matters of life and death are too important to be delegated to the U.N.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Amir Nachumi, one of the IAF pilots who flew over Osirak in 1981, told The Daily Beast‘s Dan Ephron that an attack on Iran is risky — but doable.
“I can tell you that in ‘81 the most crucial and difficult part was the decision itself. It’s not the execution of the mission, it’s the decision to go there,” Nachumi said in the interview. “I guess today it’s the same. The decision is much more difficult than the operation.”
• Not only are Israelis publicly debating whether to strike Iran, they’re debating whether to publicly debate it. Whatever the government’s intentions, as CNN‘s Kevin Flower puts it, international discussion puts Iranian nukes back in the spotlight. And the LA Times wonders if the public discussion complicates a possible attack:
Israel prides itself on avoiding public airings of divisions over military matters, usually displaying a united front to the world when it comes to its security . . . .
Many officials say such issues should not be subject to open discussion. Israeli strikes against nuclear facilities in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 were carried out without warning.
Such a debate needs to be clear about four things.
First, it needs to abandon the conceit that there is a third way between allowing Iran’s nuclear drive to proceed effectively unhindered or to use military force to stop it . . . .
Second, the debate must recognize that time is no longer on the West’s side . . . .
Third, a debate needs to weigh the inevitable unforeseen consequences of a military strike against the all-too-foreseeable consequences of a nuclear Iran . . . .
Finally, any debate must take into account what the West can do to hasten the regime’s demise.
• According to Sam Segev’s analysis in the Winnipeg Free Press, all the talk about a strike on Iran has backfired because Meir Dagan wasn’t in the loop:
Despite these public moves, at no time was there any intention to create the impression of an immediate unilateral Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The purpose of this war of nerves was to create an atmosphere for the Security Council to impose harsher sanctions against Iran. It was hoped that the threat of an Israeli strike, combined with the findings of the international watchdog, would convince Russia and China to support harsher sanctions.
Not being privy to the top-secret Israeli-American consultations, and long an opponent of a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran, Meir Dagan — the former Mossad chief — sharply attacked Netanyahu and Barak for their planned adventure against Iran.
Dagan told editorial writers in several Israeli dailies that Iran is still years away from nuclear capability.
• Western nuclear experts tell Haaretz Iran could be ready to build an atomic bomb “within months” if it wants.
• Amir Taheri asks, Would Iran really press the nuclear button?
• Katherine Butler insists the Arab Spring reaching Iran is Israel’s best hope for peace.
• Uri Dromi wonders what Rabin would make of the situation?
• Professor Andrew Cohen hopes deterrence will contain a nuclear Iran.
• Mary Riddell’s Jewish conspiracy garbage graces the pages of the Daily Telegraph. I’ve never said this before, but what a waste of pixels. Sheesh.
• The NY Times updates the situation in Homs, where the Syrian army “lays siege to an unbowed city.” Interesting that the NYT illustrates the story with this Reuters image. Are the Silwan Rules of Photojournalism playing out in Syria now?
• The Syrian opposition is renewing calls for foreign intervention to protect the civilians of Homs and also declare the city a disaster area. According to CNN, 12 civilians, including two girls, were killed in Homs on Monday.
• Don’t you hate it when you have a revolution, and then the MSM’s “Good Guy” rebels become the new “Bad Guys?”
This Daily Telegraph dispatch describes rebels stealing property, armed clashes between militias, gunmen refusing to lay down their weapons, wide-scale witch hunts for collaborators, detentions, private prisons, regional and tribal rivalries, and general lawlessness.
One formerly enthusiastic revolutionary, watching a group of young gunmen at a checkpoint, couldn’t help being gloomy.
“You have to wonder, is this how failed states start out?” he said.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• After Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in May, 2000, an estimated 6,500 Lebanese affiliated with the Southern Lebanese Army, an Israeli-allied militia, fled to the Jewish state to avoid Hezbollah retribution and arrest for collaborating. In recent days, the Lebanon’s government has offered to repatriate the SLA families, though the militia’s members would remain open to prosecution.
Now, the Daily Star says that the SLA refugees have issued an ultimatum of their own:
“We will give them two months, until year’s end, after which we will resort to international courts to demand amnesty and to guarantee our financial and moral rights if our repatriation did not take place in an honorable way,” said a letter issued by Lebanese refugees in Israel.
• At the US Supreme Court, lawyers debated the issue of US passports saying Jerusalem vs. Jerusalem, Israel. The Washington Post was on hand:
The justices seemed to indicate in their questioning that the executive branch had the upper hand, although perhaps not to the extent that the Obama administration thinks.
Legal eagles can see more on Zivotofsky vs. Clinton at SCOTUSblog (yes, the Supreme Court blogs too).
• Gotta like Jonathan Kay‘s take on David Heap, the Canadian flotillista kvetching about his treatment in Israeli detention:
From the title of his blog on the left-wing site rabble.ca – “I write from cell 9 in the Apartheid State of Israel” – you’d think he was Martin Luther King, Jr. with a Twitter feed. But even by his own self-aggrandizing account, his clash with Israel’s infamous storm troopers left him “basically OK.”
But “basically OK” doesn’t get you on the front pages. So now a Toronto Star writer has gassed out the story by reporting that Heap’s friends and family are “outraged,” “scared” and “worried” by his “brutal” treatment.
• AP looks at the status of women in Israel. Amy Teibel’s use of the word “segregation” strikes me as a loaded term.
• The Knesset is once again debating limitations on foreign funding of non-governmental organizations that work in Israel. The Jerusalem Post writes:
According to the bill’s text, its purpose is to stop foreign governments from influencing “the political discourse, character and policies of the State of Israel.”
“This bill is not meant to harm social organizations,” the bill reads. “It is meant to stop the involvement of foreign countries in Israeli politics through support for political NGOs.”
• The size of Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves is expected to rise following further testing.
• Fans of Rick Sanchez will be happy to know he’s in Israel now with a delegation of Latino journos.
• The Columbia Journalism Review discussed the future of news with some media personalities I respect: Clay Shirky, Jeff Jarvis, Dan Gillmor, and Jay Rosen.