Media Cheat Sheet 12/06/2011December 6, 2011 18:50 by Pesach Benson
Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Fallout continues from a trio of American diplomatic slaps at Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood has to navigate between its criticism of Camp David, Salafist demands, and economic realities. And what’s with Sheikh Nasrallah’s rare public appearance?
• Saudis signal they’re going to join the nuclear arms race. AFP quotes former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal:
“Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran . . . therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons,” Faisal told a security forum in Riyadh.
The Israel reference is a polite fig leaf. For years, the world has assumed the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons, but only now are the Saudis talking about acquiring them.
• Here’s one defeatist Sydney Morning Herald op-ed. The US might as well now sacrifice Israel for peace with Iran and get it over with:
As Iran becomes stronger, it becomes more important for those with vital interests in the Middle East to get along with it. For America, a stable long-term future for the Gulf is going to be impossible unless the US and Iran can get on better together. That means giving Iran more political space. Not easy.
For Israel, it means all the compelling arguments against compromise with its neighbours run up against the cold, unsentimental logic of power. Iran’s nuclear program is just one, very important, reflection of the fact that time is not on Israel’s side.
But the mullahs aren’t getting more political space among the Aussie powers-that-be. The same SMH reports Australia’s adopting more sanctions against Iran.
• The Prime Minister of the United Arab Arab Emirates isn’t worried about Iranian nukes. But Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum comments to CNN don’t reassure me:
“What can Iran do with a nuclear weapon?” Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, asked. “For example, will they hit Israel? How many Palestinians will die? And you think if Iran hits Israel, their cities will be safe? They will be gone the next day.”
• The US confirmed it lost an advanced Sentinel drone over Iran. The LA Times writes:
Peter W. Singer, author of “Wired for War,” a book about robotic warfare, said it’s not new to have drones downed in enemy territory, but the RQ-170 represents the next generation of drone aircraft.
“It carries a variety of systems that wouldn’t be much of a benefit to Iran, but to its allies such as China and Russia, it’s a potential gold mine,” Singer said.
• These two articles are even more thought-provoking when you juxtapose ‘em:
• Richard Baehr (Israel HaYom) wonders about the three slaps Israel took from Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta and Howard Gutman — particularly the timing:
My guess is that the administration is concerned that the U.S. public is seeing pictures and reading stories about what is going on in Egypt that are not consistent with the warm and fuzzy view of the Islamist takeover that the administration prefers. The administration thinks Egypt will be another Turkey, a model for the Muslim world. In other words, Egypt’s leaders will be good Islamists, unlike those in Iran or al-Qaida. Bashing Israel serves both as a distraction from Egypt’s brave new world, in case this is not selling domestically, and also as an outreach to the Islamic world, something Obama really cares about.
But if your reaction to this threesome is “Sticks and stone can break my bones but headlines cannot hurt me,” think again after seeing this related Christian Science Monitor header:
• The Guardian botches Israeli geography:
Many Palestinians see this as part of a strategic plan to close a ring of Jewish settlements that would cut East Jerusalem off from the West Bank. By stretching down to the Jordan valley, an expanded Ma’ale Adumim would also bisect the West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.
I blogged how The Guardian’s Geographically Clueless.
• Haaretz: Critics claim that plans for a national park adjacent to Mount Scopus are a “ruse” to prevent the development of two Palestinian neighborhoods.
• AFP picks up on Israel demolishing two illegally built Palestinian homes in eastern Jerusalem. Earlier today, I blogged why Razing Awareness of Home Demolitions is an example of the over-reporting of Israel.
• Tariq Alhomayed: The Muslim Brotherhood will have a difficult predicament juggling the interlocked issues of the spiraling economy, Camp David accords, and Salafist demands:
They are now facing issues that could spoil their enjoyment of power, because if the Muslim Brotherhood applies the ideas they have long promoted, this means that they will lead Egypt towards wars and bankruptcy. On the other hand, if they modernize their attitudes and adopt a more rational line – two of the requirements necessary for those who want to rule – this will mean a blow to their credibility and will also push them towards a fierce battle with Egypt’s Salafists.
• When it comes to Israeli fears about the Arab Spring turning into an Islamic Winter, Time‘s Karl Vick gets it:
Said Efraim Karsh of King’s College London: “Islam remains the strongest identity framework in Egyptian society in particular, and in Arab society generally. The Arab national dictatorships that were layered over this basic Islamic identity for the past 80 years were but a thin veneer of repression. With the fall of these dictatorships, what remains is the core Islamic underpinnings of society, and these will now come to the fore. Consequently, no democratic structures,processes or values are likely to emerge in the Arab world for many generations.”
Hard views, but essentially mainstream in Israeli society . . .
Instead, the talk is of hardening perimeters, hunkering down and perhaps stockpiling ammunition. Israel’s entire defense posture is based on peace treaties with the neighbors on its longest borders — Egypt to the west and Jordan to the east. Until this year, the border with Egypt was considered so benign that large stretches of it remained unfenced.
• BBC: Ambassador Robert Ford is returning to his post in Damascus today.
• Here’s a really weird AFP headline:
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Sky News went to town over a pair of stone throwing incidents,with photos of the concrete block and large rocks that struck unfortunate motorists. Their headline even used the word “terror.” But the incident was in Essex, not Israel. Terror only happens in the UK. (Hat tip: This Ongoing War)
• Noam Shalit says his son never went on a hunger strike. Haaretz writes:
“He was in such a deteriorated physical state that they had to connect him to an IV. It wasn’t the result of a hunger strike, but of an array of factors having to do with the conditions of his imprisonment, such as a years-long lack of daylight.”
• Hezbollah boss Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah made a rare public appearance in Beirut. Memo to Assad: He looked more tanned and nourished than Gilad Shalit, which proves you can have a cushy life in hiding.
Marking the Shiite commemoration of Ashura, Nasrallah spoke in person to a frenzied crowd of tens of thousands in his stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburbs for only a few minutes, joking: “Don’t go away, I’ll be right back on that screen” before being whisked away by nervous-looking bodyguards.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs already looks ahead to Hezbollah After Assad.
• The only reason this is a story for The Lede is because the media boss said this openly. State-controlled media bosses throughout the word — including the West Bank and Gaza, feel the same way:
The new president of China’s largest television network, the state-run organization known CCTV, drew fire over the weekend from Chinese press advocates and others online over comments urging journalists to drop their pretensions of professionalism and submit to being mouthpieces of the government.
What an outrage. Finally the mainstream media tells the truth about something, and the reporter is forced to apologize.