Everything you need to know this weekend’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Will Israel give the US advance notice of a possible attack on Iran? And why does a Haaretz cartoon have UNESCO officials worried about incitement?
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• According to the Daily Telegraph, Israel refuses to seek an American green light or even give the White House advance notification for a possible attack on Iran. It seems Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak didn’t go as hoped:
Once all but a handful of trusted staff had left the room, Mr Panetta conveyed an urgent message from Barack Obama. The president, Mr Panetta said, wanted an unshakable guarantee that Israel would not carry out a unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations without first seeking Washington’s clearance.
The two Israelis were notably evasive in their response, according to sources both in Israel and the United States.
“They did not suggest that military action was being planned or was imminent, but neither did they give any assurances that Israel would first seek Washington’s permission, or even inform the White House in advance that a mission was underway,” one said.
Meanwhile, Canada’s defense minister Peter MacKay wants to stay in the loop with his Israeli counterparts . . .
• Mysterious explosion kills 17 Iranian soldiers including a senior Revolutionary Guard commander. The Revolutionary Guards said the blast was an accident which took place at arms depot, but opposition groups say the site was a missile base.
• The Economist’s cartoonist Kevin Kallagher catches my fancy:
But The Economist‘s staff-ed displays an amazing cognitive dissonance: It’s not too late to put hope in international sanctions — but if that doesn’t work, Israel should rely on the US to deter Iran:
If Iran does not halt its nuclear programme, its rulers should expect their country to be treated as an international pariah. That means not just pushing for more serious sanctions, but also stepping up the covert campaign to disrupt Iran’s nuclear facilities. It also means preparing for the day when Iran deploys nuclear weapons. To that end, America must demonstrate to its allies who feel threatened by Iran—not just Israel, but Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states too—that its commitment to extending nuclear deterrence to them is as firm as it was to Europe at the height of the cold war. America must also be willing to make available to its allies advanced ballistic missile defences.
That’s an easy call for the paper to make from the relative safety of London. Israel’s a small country and even one nuclear missile hitting Israel would be catastrophic (for Jews and Palestinians).
• An ADL-commissioned poll says 57 percent of Americans support an Israeli strike on Iran.
• Former Iranian president (now living in exile) suggests 14 ways to hasten Iran’s democratization without war or sanctions. The list reads like sanctions to me though . . .
• UNESCO filed a formal complaint with the Israeli delegation over a cartoon in Haaretz (!) it says incites violence against the education, science and culture organization. I blogged 5 Reasons Why UNESCO’s Pique With Haaretz Cartoon is Hooey.
• Following his open mic gaffe, Nicholas Sarkozy tells World Jewish Congress he always defended Netanyahu, and will “soon” visit Israel to make nice. This Jerusalem Post snippet makes my antennae twitch:
Sarkozy told the Jewish leadership he felt that Israel had lost the media war and had failed to make its case to the international community that it wanted peace, according to the sources.
• Dennis Ross is resigning from his White House advisor/envoy duties. The NY Times writes:
“The peace process, the issue Dennis really cares about, has a closed-for-the-season sign on it,” said Aaron David Miller, a former peace negotiator who worked with Mr. Ross in the Clinton administration. “No wonder he’s leaving.”
But with the diplomacy frozen, Ross’s departure is not a diplomatic problem for the White House; it is instead a problem for the Obama re-election campaign. For Ross was the only official in whom most American Jewish leaders had confidence.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Ross plans to return to his desk at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.”
• Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin weighs in on “price tag attacks.”
• Israeli officials told Reuters they’re accelerating the installation of anti-missile defenses on Israeli airliners because of all the anti-aircraft rockets looted from Libya. See the WSJ for more on the Libyan arms free for all. Here’s a related video by Elbit Systems explaining MUSIC-C:
• Worth reading: I hate Israel, but I also hate Nabil Elaraby
• The Arab League voted to suspend Syria. You have to read the fine print to see that the suspension goes into effect Wednesday — to give Assad time to
implement reforms save face. More at the LA Times.
• Aaron David Miller‘s pessmistic about America and the Arab Spring.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• One of the Palestinians released for Gilad Shalit is going on a hunger strike — because the PA’s not taking care of her health treatment. Amal Jumaa has cancer in the uterus, as well as breathing and urinary complications. Maan News writes:
On Thursday, Jumaa wondered aloud if the Palestinian Authority wanted her die, asking why they didn’t leave her in jail to hasten the process.
Jumaa — a hermaphrodite affiliated with Fatah — was behind bars because Israeli security foiled Jumaa’s plans to blow herself up in Tel Aviv with a 15 kg bomb back in 2004. She subsequently had a hysterectomy in an Israeli hospital. So ironic: the people she sought to kill wound up treating her, while the PA probably wants to see her die and be a martyr with an asterisk.
• Following up on the Russell Tribunal, Point of No Return notes that many Arab regimes began enacting “apartheid” laws against their Jews well before 1948. We’re talking about Jews being deprived of citizenship, educational restrictions, forced conversions, exclusion from public service jobs, travel bans, and anti-Jewish violence — some of which was as early as 1920.
The above measures excluding and marginalising Jews, says Shmuel Trigano, were triggered not by Zionism, but pan-Arabism. They would have occurred in any case as a result of rising xenophobia, even if Zionism had never existed.
. . . Anti-Jewish measures cannot therefore be interpreted as an ‘understandable backlash’ to the creation of Israel.
Even if they were a reaction to Zionism, such collective punishment can never be justified against innocent citizens far from the battlefield, many of whom were non- or anti-Zionist Jews.
• Odd indeed: The LA Times looks at religious-based “gender segregation” in Israel without talking to any haredi women.
• A donor withdrew a £1 million pledge to Oxford, accusing the institution of an academic cover up. The Sunday Times of London (paywall) writes:
In May, Sheikholeslami revealed that another Oxford student had admitted he was paid by Hashemi, the second son of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Iranian president from 1989 to 1997, to write the application . . .
Although there is no suggestion that Oxford received funding from Hashemi or Iran, the case risks reigniting the row over some top universities courting favour with Middle Eastern regimes.
• My favorite media issues blogger, Jim Romenesko, is leaving the Poynter Institute over an issue of how he incorporated other peoples’ writing into his own. Romenesko’s one of the good guys and bloggers are rallying around him — but what’s done is done. See the Columbia Review for a roundup of reax, plus a response from Erika Fry, whose email to Poynter snowballed into an avalanche she didn’t expect.