Everything you need to know about the weekend coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Two papers use Christmas to take gratuitous swipes at Israel. Two former White House advisors urge more pressure on Iran. And Hamas wants to join the PLO.
‘Tis the Season to Bash Israel
• This is one disingenuous Times of London dispatch. Nothing in Sheera Frenkel’s report indicates that Palestinian Christians are effected any differently by settlements than other Palestinians.
It’s just a cheap shot tied to the holiday season.
The headline could just as easily have said Palestinian gays, elderly, entrepreneurs, musicians (fill in your choice) “choked” by spread of Israeli settlements. If you want to know what’s really choking Palestinian Christians, just look at the Palestinian Authority.
• Here’s some really ugly spin from The Guardian:
If he were to come, Jesus would’ve been shot by Palestinians on a dark, lonely road somewhere between Nazareth and Bethlehem.
• Here’s a photo essay you’ll (hopefully) only see at Maan News: Santa Joins West Bank Wall Protest
Israel and the Palestinians
• Jerusalem Post: Hamas and other rejectionist groups to join reconfigured PLO. Meanwhile, in an interview with AP, Martin Luther Mashaal Jr. touts the joys of popular resistance. But this comment spoils the mood:
“As long as there is an occupation on our land, we have the right to defend our land by all means, including military resistance,” he said.
• Ismail Haniyeh’s leaving Gaza for the first time since 2007 and AP doesn’t blame Israel:
Haniyeh has been confined to Gaza, in part because of tensions with Egypt.
• PLO’s ultimatum to Quartet: if no progress on peace talks within a month, we resume unilateral statehood bid. According to the LA Times:
The quartet -– the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -– had given the Palestinians and Israel until Jan. 26 to submit proposals for borders and security.
The Palestinian Authority has submitted its proposal, but Israel has said it will submit its proposal only at the negotiating table. The Palestinians insist that there will be no negotiations before Israel stops all settlement activities, a move that does not appear imminent.
• UNESCO cut funding for a PA magazine praising Hitler. AP coverage.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
Kroenig acknowledged that a military operation in Iran is not an “attractive prospect,” but explained that it is within the US’ power to minimize the anticipated effects . . . .
Kroenig warned that waging a cold war against Tehran, aimed at containing its nuclear capabilities, is “a costly, decades-long proposition that would likely still result in grave national security threats.”
• The Arab Spring has Christian communities in Syria, Egypt and Iraq all worrying about a tyranny of the Islamic majority. The Christian Science Monitor writes:
“It doesn’t take into account that democracy for us is a little bit frightening because a lot of forces in society are opposed to non-Islamic entities like ours.”
• Maan News picks up on reports that Russia’s mulling asylum for Assad:
Quoting Israeli sources, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Sunday that Farouq Al-Shara met with foreign minister Sergi Lavarov and proposed that al-Shara temporarily replace Assad after he leaves Damascus for Moscow until elections are held.
Sources in the Kremlin, meanwhile, confirmed al-Shara’s visit, Maariv reported, but they provided no details.
• Here’s a worrisome question from The Daily Beast‘s Dan Ephron: Is Bashar Assad more likely to let his chemical weapons stockpile fall into Hezbollah’s hands, or fire them at Israel in a last-ditch blaze of glory?
• A pair of car bombs in Damascus killed 44 and injured 150 more. See NY Times coverage.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Over at The Guardian, Rachel Shabi has so many bees in her bonnet, you’d think that all 7 million of Israel’s citizens were a persecuted minority.
• According to a study cited by All Facebook:
Israelis spend more time per person on social media than people in any other country, yet the percentage of Israel’s population that uses the technology doesn’t rank in the top ten.
Meanwhile, the U.S. ranks first for having the largest percentage of the population using social media, yet the country doesn’t make the top ten for the amount of time spent per person using the technology.