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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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P 191026Z AUG 09
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SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

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SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
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1. Mideast

2. U.S.-Israel Relations

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Key stories in the media:
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The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Israeli diplomatic source as
saying yesterday that U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is well
aware that the Netanyahu government has not approved any new
building starts in the West Bank since taking office on March 31.
According to the newspaper, the source was signaling that a de facto
settlement freeze has already been in effect for more than four
months. The Jerusalem Post also quoted some right-wing ministers as
saying any construction freeze must be brought to the cabinet for a
decision. Media cited an announcement by the PMQs bureau that no
agreement has been reached on a cessation of construction projects.

Leading media reported that yesterday President Obama told reporters
during his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: QThere has
been movement in the right direction.Q The President was referring
to reports that Israel has stopped approving new construction in the
West Bank, as well as to the growth of the Palestinian economy and
improvement in security. President Obama was quoted as saying: "All
of this is creating a climate in which it's possible for us to see
some positive steps and hopefully negotiate towards a final
resolution of these longstanding issues. It's going to require a
lot of hard work, and the United States is committed to being a
partner in this process." Mubarak said: QWe are speaking in a good
manner and we are moving into the right direction," though he
stressed that it was essential for talks between Israelis and
Palestinians to begin. "If negotiations start, this will lead to
the Arab states to support the peace process and to move it forward,
because I can tell you that the Arab people are fed up with the
length that this issue has taken, and the issue of the displaced
people," he said. "So I believe if the two parties sit down, this
will lead to have Arab states support moving the peace process
forward." The Jerusalem Post noted that MubarakQs comments
contradict the Obama administrationQs insistence that Arab nations,
as well as Israelis and Palestinians take steps from the outset to
help create conditions for productive negotiations to occur.
Leading media quoted a spokesman for President Mubarak as saying
that President Obama that he intends to present his Middle East
peace plan next week. Media quoted White House Press Secretary
Robert Gibbs as saying: QI do not know of any specific plan that the
United States will present at that time.Q Maariv quoted diplomatic
sources in Jerusalem as saying that President Obama is examining the
possibility of holding a three-way summit meeting in New York in
September with PM Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud
Abbas.

HaQaretz reported that senior Western diplomats and Israeli
officials told the newspaper that the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) is hiding data on Iran's drive to obtain nuclear arms.
The sources were quoted as saying that the IAEA under
Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei was refraining from publishing
evidence obtained by the organizationQs inspectors over the past few
months that indicate Iran was pursuing information about
weaponization efforts and a military nuclear program. ElBaradei,
who will soon vacate his post, has said that the agency does not
have any evidence that suggests Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
But the sources told HaQaretz that the new evidence was submitted
to the IAEA in a classified annex written by its inspectors in the
Islamic Republic. The report was said to have been signed by the
head of the IAEA team in Iran. The classified report, according to
the sources, was not incorporated into the agency's published
reports. The details, they said, were censored by senior IAEA
officials at the organization's Vienna headquarters.

All media reported that yesterday the Israeli Foreign Ministry
responded angrily to a story in Sweden's largest circulation daily,
Aftonbladet, that accused IDF soldiers of abducting Palestinians to
steal their organs, saying this was a grotesque throwback to the
blood libels of the Middle Ages. Israel's embassy in Stockholm is
expected to issue a sharp denunciation today. In the story,
headlined "They plunder the organs of our sons," and accompanied by
a gruesome photograph, Palestinians are quoted as saying IDF
soldiers kidnapped their sons and stole organs. The article makes
reference to the recent arrests in New Jersey of several U.S. Jews,
including rabbis, for a number of alleged crimes, including
brokering the sale of organs for transplant.

Major media reported that yesterday Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev promised President Shimon Peres that Russia will review a
decision to sell Iran S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. Peres told his
Russian counterpart that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be a
"flying death camp." The two leaders met in the Russian President's
summer residence in the Black Sea town of Sochi. Medvedev also
noted that Russia opposed selling weapons that violate the "delicate
Middle East balance", and that it had no intention of changing this
policy. Medvedev also referred to negotiations between Israel and
Syria, saying he believed Syrian President Bashar Assad was ready
for direct peace talks with Israel. Peres responded that Israel is
ready to engage in direct talks with Syria without preconditions, so
long as Damascus stops supporting Palestinian terrorist
organizations and Hizbullah. Peres also slammed the denial of the
Holocaust by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a disgrace for
the entire Iranian people. Peres was also quoted as saying that
although Ahmadinejad had on several occasions denied the mass murder
of European Jews by the Nazis, the Israeli leader had hopes for
peace between Israel and Iran.

Maariv reported that Iran has lodged a complaint with Turkey about
recent joint U.S.-Israel-Turkey naval maneuvers in the
Mediterranean.

HaQaretz quoted Brig. Gen. Noam Tibon, the commander of the IDFQs
Judea and Samaria [West Bank] division, as saying in a memo he wrote
three months ago that using IDF soldiers to enforce law among the
Jewish population in the territories, especially during the
evacuation of illegal outposts, might lead soldiers and even
commanders to refuse orders. The memo, distributed to commanders of
units operating in the West Bank, states that every unit might have
a "bottom third of soldiers and commanders with difficulties," who
would require "individual follow-up and conversations." The memo
calls on battalion and company commanders to draw "clear red lines"
regarding refusing orders. The document also suggests commanders
not assign soldiers connected to outpost residents to evacuations,
calling for "a sensitive policy toward commanders or soldiers with
family or social relationships in the evacuated population."

Media quoted visiting former U.S. presidential candidate Mike
Huckabee as saying yesterday that the two-state concept is
Qunrealistic.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday the liberal Jewish lobby
J Street, which defines itself as a Qpro-Israel, pro-peace
organization, announced that it would be launching field operations
around the U.S. to encourage grassroots activists to become involved
in shaping local debates on Israel and U.S. Middle East policy.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency launched a fundraising appeal this week, asking for $181
million for humanitarian relief in Gaza ahead of Ramadan, which
begins in four days.

HaQaretz, Maariv, and The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli
scientists from the Weizmann Institute have demonstrated that DNA
from blood and saliva samples used to incriminate or exonerate
suspects can be faked.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli political right is
mounting a lat-minute attack to prevent the election of Qleftist
Supreme Court candidates.

The Jerusalem Post quoted the Association for Civil Rights in Israel
as saying that the sate has demolished some 130 hoses in
unrecognized Israeli Bedouin communities since 1967.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Ben-Gurion-University scientists
have been working with colleagues from the Hashemite University of
Jordan and the University of Colorado at Boulder on desalination
projects.

Major media reported that billionaire Lev LevievQs Africa-Israel
Company, an international holding and investments group with
extensive interests in the fields of real estate, construction and
infrastructure, energy, and other related industries, will post a
1.4 billion-shekel (around $350 million) loss for the second quarter
of 2009.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

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

I. "Cause for Concern"

Veteran journalist and television anchor Dan Margalit wrote in the
independent Israel Hayom (8/19): QHolocaust deniers are out,
anti-Semites and Jew-haters are in. The most popular newspaper in
Sweden, Aftonbladet, carried a huge article saying that IDF soldiers
kill Palestinians and then trade in their organs. How much time
will pass until [far-left HaQaretz Palestinian affairs
correspondent] Amira Hass and her friends demand an unbiased inquiry
under U.N. sponsorship?.... Sweden has never been friendly toward
the state of the Jews, ever since its neutrality in World War II and
up to Folke BernadotteQs attempt to rip the Negev away from Israel.
The Hungarian-Swedish Jew-saver Raul Wallenberg was the exception,
not the rule. But the phenomenon, which is liable to develop in bad
directions, is not limited solely to Scandinavia. Right now these
outbursts of hatred appear marginal, as lacking significance, as
non-credible -- just as Holocaust denial seemed at the beginning
until it became a major problem. There is good reason to be
concerned. There are good reasons to wage a war to the end against
anti-Semitism, while it is still small.

II. "Thinking outside the QPR BubbleQ"

Columnist Michael Freund, who was an assistant to Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu during his first term in office, wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (8/19): QContrary to
conventional wisdom, Israel is doing quite well in American public
opinion. Even with the regularly-scheduled bombardments directed
against its image, support for the Jewish state has proven to be
fairly inelastic and durable among wide swathes of the American
populace. Obviously, this does not mean that Israel and its
supporters can rest on our laurels, kick back and relax. There is
still plenty of work to be done in terms of rebranding Israel's
image so that it is not constantly associated with war, conflict and
turmoil. But it does underline an important point: most of us live
in a hasbara [public relations] bubble, where we are so consumed by
the minutiae of each and every event and how it is reported or
distorted that we often lose sight of the forest for the trees....
At the end of the day, what really counts is the Qbig picture,Q the
themes and narratives that take hold in the public's mind when (and
even if) they think about the Jewish state. It is there that Israel
and its supporters need to devote more of their time and energy. So
letQs start focusing a little less on yesterdayQs Washington Post,
and more on how to position Israel and improve her brand name in the
future.

III. "FatahQs Gauntlet"

Far-left Palestinian affairs correspondent Amira Hass wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/19): QIt is only natural that
people subject to foreign domination seek other means of achieving
independence in the spectrum between armed struggle and peace talks.
Therefore, it is logical that Fatah declared at its congress that
it is not giving up other legitimate forms of struggle (boycotts,
acts of popular resistance against the settlements) alongside the
negotiations. The question this begs is whether this can become
more than mere words.... Neither the Palestinian Authority, which is
an institution concerned with maintaining its existence, nor Fatah,
which is concerned with maintaining its huge achievement, have dared
to expand the popular protests against the separation fence, of
which they boast, into a real popular revolt.... The schizophrenia
of being both a government and a liberation movement (as it defines
itself) is one of Fatah's most salient characteristics. Can Fatah,
which sees the PA as a huge achievement, manage to pick up the
gauntlet of popular resistance that it itself threw down?

IV. "When the Left Strays Too Far from the Center"

Former Ambassador to the U.S., former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and former Minister of Defense Moshe Arens wrote in Ha'aretz (8/19):
QWhat happened to the Labor Party? For many years it was the major
political organization in Israel, and in later years one of the
country's two large parties. But now it is a shrunken wreck of a
party. The answer to this question lies in the old maxim about
politics in democratic countries -- don't stray too far from the
political center.... The Labor Party has moved too far left to
remain a serious contender in Israeli elections.... It is
interesting how quickly the Republicans recognized the need to
reposition themselves after the Goldwater defeat, as did the
Democrats after the McGovern defeat. These are the political
reflexes that are needed to succeed in politics. The Labor Party
seems to lack these reflexes. What is needed, in addition to
ideology, is a realization that the voter may be right after all,
and that without his or her support, one cannot succeed in politics.
Nature abhors a vacuum. And into the political vacuum created by
the shrinking of Labor jumped the new Kadima party, cannibalizing
much of what was left of Labor.... Whether [Kadima] will succeed in
making a permanent place for itself on the political scene is still
open to debate. But here lies the opportunity for a revival of the
Labor Party. Unless they can move toward the center, they will
continue on the path toward the scrap heap.

V. QA Black Flag

Zuhair Andrawus, Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic-language Ma'a
al-Hadath, wrote in Maariv (8/19): QThe day is not far off when
Israel will demand to carry out the following equation: the settlers
for the Palestinians in Israel [i.e. the Israeli Arabs]. The rift
between the Jewish state and the Palestinians in Israel is growing
larger. Therefore, the Palestinians in Israel must take immediate
steps within Israeli law in order to prevent a second Nakba and move
from a passive to an active state. In 1981 the prime minister at
the time, Menachem Begin, gave order to prevent the Palestinians
from holding an Arab conference in Israel for QsecurityQ reasons.
Now our leaders have a national and moral responsibility to hold the
conference in order to launch our struggle against the policy of the
racist government. The conference must determine new tools for the
struggle such as civil disobedience, which the American philosopher
John Rawls described as public, nonviolent, conscientious activity
that is usually carried out in order to bring about a change in the
law or in government policy.

--------------------------
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
--------------------------

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

QIntellectual Terrorism

Columnist and former IDF Intelligence chief Shlomo Gazit wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (8/19): QThree recommendations were
made [in the wake of Israeli intelligenceQs mistakes at the time of
the Yom Kippur War]: 1) Intellectual modesty: Never present your
assessments and policy as God-given truths. DonQt block; donQt
prevent a different thought and the presentations of a different
view. 2) Encourage pluralism; persuade several persons to voice
their assessments and to propose policies. 3) Encourage those with
dissenting views to present a different assessment.... The [Israeli
Foreign MinistryQs] policy is based on gagging people and choking
all different thoughts.... The response to the cable [by Israeli
Consul-General in Boston] Nadav Tamir constituted a clear message to
hundreds of Israeli diplomats. This is a warning: This is sheer
intellectual terrorism. WeQll all pay the price for this in the
future.

MORENO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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