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Cablegate: Lebanon: Media Reaction - December 16, 2008

O 161043Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3786
NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA PRIORITY

UNCLAS BEIRUT 001757


STATE FOR NEA/ELA - IRWIN, NEA/ELA - LAWSON, NEA/PPD, R,
INR/R/MR, INR-PARENT,
NSC - ABRAMS/RAMCHAND/YERGER/MCDERMOTT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL KMDR OPRC KPAO KISL KPAL LE
SUBJECT: Lebanon: Media Reaction - December 16, 2008

Atmospherics:
-------------

The shoe-throwing incident continued to dominate lead stories,
editorials, and cartoons. The press also highlighted Hizballah
Secretary General Nasrallah's call for a series of activities in
order to lift the siege against Gaza.

Reports noted that Nasrallah's move is the first "public" support
for Hamas and reflects Hizballah's feeling that the situation in
Gaza is dangerous and Hamas should not be left alone. One
editorialist also noted that Nasrallah's call for Egypt to open the
Rafah Crossing is a position that is not only meant to help the
Palestinians, but also to exert pressure on Egypt which has tensed
relations with Iran.

Selected Headlines
-------------------

"At Last Salary Increases Have Been Ratified; Hale in Beirut to
Prepare for Elections..." Pro-Syria Ad-Diyar

"An Election Bazar at the Parliament" Independent Al-Balad

"Nasrallah Calls on People to Make a Move: Blockading A Million and
a Half People is a Crime" Pro-Syria Ad-Diyar

Block Quotes:
-------------

"Arab Thought and Meditation in the Al-Zeidi Shoe," an editorial by
Jihad El-Zein in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (12/16):

"...The shoe of an Iraqi journalist has become the first -- or
perhaps the only -- symbol for change in the Arab world that was
proposed by the neo-conservative class in the United States and
adopted by Bush. ...The flying shoe towards this extraordinary
target represents the peak of Arab political two-tracked thought:
rejection of change in the Arab world coming through American tanks;
and, failure to embark upon this change by the Arabs themselves.
...This shoe has become a symbol for millions of Arabs in societies
full with people who are not working, and who put on old shoes and
adopt radical thoughts. ...If we have to be fair, however, this
shoe should have been a Palestinian shoe. ...President Bush's
biggest sin was to leave behind the peace settlement between Israel
and the Palestinians. ...He also sabotaged a possible settlement
between Israel and Syria. ...Arab 'shoe though' i.e., the Arab's
failure to come up with their own project for change, will
nevertheless digest this 'great incident' because the language of
Arab anger is ready to celebrate. ...This new 'Baghdadi' phenomenon
- which is the Arab 'no' without an Arab project - should be
studied. ...The problem is that it will only be studied in advanced
universities outside of the Arab world - and a number of these
advanced universities will definitely be in the United States."

Sison

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