Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction
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JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
2. U.S.-Israel Relations
Key stories in the media:
HaQaretz published the results of a survey conducted over the past
days among Israelis by Dialog:
- The majority of the public -- 57% -- supports the view of MK Shaul
Mofaz of Kadima, who published a plan earlier this week, in which he
called for dialogue with Hamas under certain conditions. Inside
Kadima the idea has tremendous support by some 72 percent of the
party's voters. But even 53 percent of Likud supporters back the
idea. The poll shows that the left is breaking apart and that Likud
is moving to the center. HaQaretz comments that it seems that Mofaz
knew that he was marching on solid political ground when he included
this radical article in his plan.
- The survey was carried out toward the end of Netanyahu's visit to
Washington this week. HaQaretz says that the lessons the PM
experienced at the hands of the White House left no scars in the
hearts of the average Israeli. The vast majority of those asked
said that the White House's attitude toward Netanyahu was
"reasonable." Just a quarter of those asked claimed that the
attitude of the White House toward Netanyahu was humiliating.
According to HaQaretz, there are two possible ways of interpreting
this: either that the emotional way with which the politicians and
the media received the fact that Netanyahu went to the White House
late in the evening in a van does not affect the general public or
that the public believes that Netanyahu deserves what he got.
HaQaretz remarks that the former is probably correct: The emotional
discussion over the circumstances of the meeting between Netanyahu
and U.S. President Barack Obama stayed in the political-media
world's court and the street did not form its opinions apart from
- In general, the results of the survey are favorable to Netanyahu.
A great majority blames Mahmoud Abbas for the impasse in the peace
process with the Palestinians. The overall level of satisfaction
from Netanyahu continues to be positive, as it was five months ago,
after 100 days in government. Also with regards to his suitability
to the post of prime minister, he leads Tzipi Livni, who is second,
by a significant margin: 43 percent for Netanyahu and 27 percent for
- FM Avigdor Lieberman continues to be seen negatively; also
unpopular is Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. The average Israeli
is angry and dissatisfied with Labor and its leader, DM Ehud Barak.
Not long ago, Barak was the most popular minister in the government
by a substantial margin. Netanyahu has now surpassed him. Since the
last survey, held in mid-June, Barak lost 20 points in popular
support. In June, 29 percent were dissatisfied with Barak's conduct
and now that number has increased to 44 percent.
HaQaretz reported that Israel has suspended its efforts to have
Gilad Shalit released until close to the PA elections in January
HaQaretz reported that the Foreign MinistryQs written goals do not
even mention the word QPalestinians.
Yediot cited Kadima chair Tzipi LivniQs objection to Shaul MofazQs
peace plan. She reportedly disputes MofazQs willingness to speak to
Hamas, against which Israel enlisted the entire world.
The Jerusalem Post and other leading media reported that French
President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to urge Syrian President
Bashar Assad to open direct talks with Israel when the two men meet
in Paris today. Israel Radio reported that in an interview with the
French daily Le Figaro, Assad called President Obama the weakest
among the Mideast mediators. Major media reported that yesterday
the Prime Minister's Office denied reports that Netanyahu had
relayed a message to Assad that Israel is willing to cede the Golan.
However, HaQaretz quoted diplomatic sources in Jerusalem saying
yesterday that Netanyahu is also examining the possibility that
France will replace Turkey as a mediator between Israel and Syria.
HaQaretz also reported that over recent weeks IDF Chief of Staff Lt.
Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has privately expressed his support for the
resumption of diplomatic talks with Syria.
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that settler leaders are conducting a
PR campaign in the U.S.
The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday QIsrael and the
international community signaled new optimismQ after PA officials
indicated that elections scheduled for January would not go ahead.
Leading media reported on a clash that took place this morning in
the northern Gaza Strip between IDF troops and suspected terrorists.
Israel Radio quoted Palestinian sources as saying that a
Palestinian man was killed and several others were arrested.
Israel Radio reported on a small protest against President Peres and
Israel in Sao Paulo, where posters portrayed him as Hitler. On the
other hand the radio reported that Brazilian legislators, including
those of Arab origin, warmly welcomed Peres; Israel Radio reported
that PeresQ entourage expects larger demonstrations in Argentina.
HaQaretz reported that Judge Richard Goldstone told the daily
yesterday that President Shimon Peres' remarks criticizing him were
"specious and ill-befitting the head of the State of Israel."
Goldstone was responding to PeresQ characterization of him as a
Qsmall manQ out to hurt Israel. He was also quoted as saying, "I do
not believe that any nation should protect another nation blindly.
I would prefer to see the United States furnish reasons for
criticizing the report. The U.S. has supported our call for
credible investigations by Israel and by the Gaza authorities,
whether the PA or Hamas.Q Goldstone was quoted as saying that
criticism of his report was a classic case of Qattacking the
messenger.Q Leading media reported that former PM Ehud Olmert spoke
out against the Goldstone Commission during a ceremony unveiling a
9/11 memorial in Jerusalem.
The media reported that yesterday the Jerusalem District Court
indicted QJewish terroristQ Yaakov Teitel. The indictment included
14 charges. Teitel said upon arriving at the court: "It was a
pleasure and honor to serve my God. God is proud of what I have
done. I have no regrets." According to the indictment, Teitel
decided while still a resident of the U.S. to target Palestinians to
avenge terrorist attacks against Israel.
Asked about the alleged e-mail exchange surrounding a possible
commemoration of Meir Kahane at the Knesset, the spokesman of the
U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was quoted as saying in comments to Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe that it is not unusual for American officials to ask
questions relating to their counterpartsQ plans. The daily
conjectured that this is not the first case of the U.S. intervening
in IsraelQs affairs, as in the case of the Golan referendum.
Israel Radio quoted the London-based Al-Hayat as saying that during
his talks with PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, Sarkozy advocated
diplomatic talks with Tehran, while Netanyahu did not rule out
military action against Iran.
HaQaretz reported that during a three-week coast-to-coast lecture
tour in the U.S. last month -- following the accepted practice of
former prime ministers -- Ehud Olmert was stunned to find an
America where the dominant discourse was Palestinian, with
unprecedented hostility to Israel and growing indifference to its
continued existence as a homeland for the Jewish people. Olmert
has spoken at hundreds of universities over the past 20 years.
HaQaretz ran a feature about Col. (res.) Ben Tzion Gruber from the
settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, a Qone-man self appointed PR
command unitQ who has crisscrossed the U.S. Q even before Operation
Cast Lead Q explaining the unique way the IDF conducts itself in its
war against Hamas terror.
The Jerusalem Post quoted senior Israeli defense officials as saying
that Israel is likely to demand that it be allowed to participate in
the production of the F-35 aircraftQs ordering.
Yediot reported that former U.S. President Bill Clinton and
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as five
Congressmen, three U.S. Senators, three senior advisers in the Obama
administration, and the Deputy Secretary of State, will be among the
guests of the Sixth Saban Forum that opens tomorrow in Jerusalem.
Former U.S. security official, Hillary Mann Leverett, who is Jewish
and once served in the U.S. Embassy inTel Aviv, was quoted as saying
in an interview with HaQaretz that Washington must build relations
with Tehran if it wants to succeed in the region.
HaQaretz reported that Oranim, an organization that publicly split
from Birthright israel-Taglit a few months ago, plans to bring its
first 120 participants from abroad next month. Prior to the split,
Oranim was Birthright's largest subcontractor, having brought some
50,000 young Diaspora Jews to Israel for visits. Birthright, which
has brought approximately 220,000 Jews to Israel for 10-day visits
since its inception in 2000, is a joint venture between the Israeli
Government, major American Jewish donors, and the Jewish Agency for
Israel. It mainly sets policy and raises funds, which it then
funnels to various smaller groups that recruit the students and
organize the trips. HaQaretz quoted Oranim's director, Shlomo (Momo)
Lifshitz, as saying he split from Birthright over its demand that he
stop urging trip participants to immigrate to Israel and marry other
Jews. He said that both these suggestions irritated the American
donors, including major Jewish federations.
Yediot correspondent Eldad Beck reported from northern Iraq.
The USSTRATCOM Command Chaplain, Rabbi (Col., USAF) Brett Oxman, was
quoted as saying in an interview with HaQaretz that one must learn
to work in a multi-faith, pluralist environment.
Yediot reported that there has been a sharp increase in enlistment
in combat units by young Israeli men. Conversely, 27% of youth are
not drafted at all.
Maariv and other media reported that the Government dropped the
planned drought tax but that the price of water is soaring.
I. QA Glass of Wine Will Do
Senior columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/13): QIt is not peace plans that are
lacking in the Middle East, it is the courage to sign them, the
political power to pass them and the ability to meet their terms on
the day after. Mofaz offers the Palestinians a state within
provisional borders that will include 60 percent of the West Bank's
area. An identical proposal, or more generous, was made by Ehud
Barak to the Palestinians and the Americans. The Palestinians
rejected the proposal out of hand: they said that with Israel,
temporary is permanent. After them, the proposal was rejected by
the Americans. Mofaz is optimistic: he will persuade the Americans
and they will persuade the Palestinians. If Fatah is not convinced,
we will go to Hamas. Meanwhile, in the general diplomatic tedium,
he manages to make headlines. The only plan that should worry
Netanyahu's government at present is the plan of Palestinian Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad. Fayyad proposes a process: the Palestinian
state will be established without permanent borders. It will deal
in building institutions for two years. In conjunction with this,
it will negotiate with Israel. If the negotiations do not give rise
to an agreement, the issue will be turned over to the U.N.
institutions. The Security Council will reach a resolution on the
content of the arrangement, including borders. The U.S. will not
impose a veto. The outcome will be a unilateral solution under the
auspices of the U.N. The Security Council will not send U.N. troops
to impose the terms of the agreement upon Israel. It is enough for
it to decide. If Israel does not cooperate, the ostracism process
will begin. Within a short period, Israel will be a pariah state.
It will surrender: it will have no choice. Fayyad has no real
influence on the Palestinian street. Abu Mazen is moving away from
him.... The Obama administration preferred to adopt the positive
part of Fayyad's plan. Building national institutions is good.
This is something that Israel and the European Union also agree to.
Fayyad is credible, serious and professional. He must be helped.
Only by negotiations, Netanyahu said to Obama this week. The
Israeli attempt for an unilateral move, in the disengagement from
Gaza, ended in failure, and this is how the Palestinian attempt will
end too. Israel will respond to every unilateral move with a
unilateral move of its own. The ones to gain will be Hamas, and
indirectly, Iran. We mustn't give up.
II. QPalestine Now
Columnist and former Meretz Party Chairman Yossi Sarid wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/13): QBoth sides have a right
to act unilaterally. Abbas owes it to his people, to himself, and
to us. This week, there were reports that Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu finds this possibility very scary, and he expects the
Americans to nip it in the bud. But his nightmare is our only
chance for an end to the occupation in our time. When he declares
independence, Abbas should call upon the Jews living in the state of
Palestine to preserve the peace and to do their part in building up
the new country as full and equal citizens, enjoying fair
representation in all of its institutions. David Ben-Gurion would
not have been upset by such a pretty act of plagiarism from his
Declaration of Independence. And thus, Abbas will become the
Palestinian Ben-Gurion.... This week, I phoned Abbas, after not
having spoken to him for at least four years. I told him everything
that I am writing now. I also told him something else: What
happened to the wall in Berlin 20 years ago, and to apartheid a few
months later, would also happen to the occupation: it will collapse,
even if attempts are made to reinforce it with nails.
III. QAn Israeli Ambassador in Riyadh
Yehezkel Dror, Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, who served on the Winograd Commission of
Inquiry into the Second Lebanon War, wrote in Ha'aretz (11/13):
QIsrael is in need of a new diplomatic paradigm. Time is not on our
side. QManagingQ the conflict based on the concept of Qmore of the
sameQ will not do. No interim arrangement featuring Qa kind of
Palestinian state on a portion of the territory of Judea and Samaria
[i.e. the West Bank]Q will prevent the constant erosion of Israel's
situation. That is also the verdict with respect to the QMofaz
Plan,Q which continues to focus on the Palestinian issue, with the
added element of Qopening the road to diplomatic arrangements and
regional peace,Q instead of thinking first about a regional
framework.... The Israeli peace plan must be shaped to meet the
interests of the rulers of the moderate Arab states, as well as
Asian Islamic states and the superpowers, led by the United States.
It should be based on the Arab peace initiative but with changes....
Israel will be ready to express sorrow over Palestinian suffering,
without taking responsibility for it, and will contribute
proportionally and symbolically to a comprehensive regional
resolution in the Middle East and a comprehensive global solution to
the refugee problem. All of this would only come about in return
for peace agreements with most of the Arab states, agreement which
would be clearly reflected in reality through the presence, for
example, of an Israeli embassy in Riyadh, a city which is an Islamic
religious center, and where the puritanical Wahhabi sect of Islam
developed. This would constitute a major ideological-psychological
and cultural-religious turning point in the conflict. Such a shift
is worth far-reaching concessions on Israel's part.
2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
I. QAre We with Obama, or What?
Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in the
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/13): QPresident Truman
recognized Israel two hours after the state was declared, over the
objections of his secretary of state, Gen. George Marshall.
President Kennedy approved supplying Israel with Hawk anti-aircraft
missiles. President Johnson approved the supply of jet fighters,
and opened the White House to our leaders. It is doubtful that
without America's support Israel would have attained its current
status. It is not only because of the presidents, but also because
of the political influence of America's Jews, their high voting
rates and their generous financial aid to candidates. A year after
the electrifying election of President Obama, his goals have not
been achieved: not the reduction of unemployment, nor the end of
military involvement in Afghanistan, nor the neutralization of the
Iranian threat. People are still wondering if his deeds are as good
as his words. They used to say about Ariel Sharon that he was fun
to be around, but as far as Obama is concerned, all we know is what
we can see, and there's no certainty he will show the same intimacy
some of his predecessors had with Israel's leaders. A great deal
depends on whether we help him achieve his goals.
II. QWhat If Obama Betrays Israel?
Editor-in-Chief Amnon Lord wrote in the nationalist, Orthodox Makor
Rishon-Hatzofe (11/13): QThe relevant image in the relations between
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack
Obama is that of a date with a hologram. Every meeting between the
two, like this week, looks like a crisis. Has Israeli done anything
that made the man in the White House believe that there is a cause
for a crisis? Or is it because the darling from the Muqata [Mahmoud
Abbas], who spends his weekends in Amman, has decided ... to
resign.... The problem is that Israel has no one it can trust in the
White House -- with the possible exception of Dennis Ross.
III. QTime to Learn Spanish
Dr. Yoav J. Tenenbaum, a lecturer in the diplomacy program at Tel
Aviv University, wrote in Ha'aretz (11/13): QThe United States is a
strategic asset to Israel. And America's Hispanic population is a
strategic asset within a strategic asset. It's like a Russian
nesting doll: inside the largest doll are successively smaller ones,
similar in appearance and form, which must be accorded special
attention.... Although it is appropriate for Israel to cooperate
with Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the U.S. in devising a
strategy aimed at the Hispanic population, it must also shape such a
strategy as part of its own foreign policy. Israel should lead and
not be led. To begin with, Israeli diplomats should initiate a
serious dialogue with Hispanic opinion shapers including
politicians, communal and religious leaders, journalists, artists,
writers and businesspeople. This dialogue must not just have a
concrete short-term objective: The diplomatic horizon should extend
well beyond the day-to-day affairs of state. This dialogue --
conceived and conducted in Spanish, by fluent Spanish-speaking
Israeli diplomats, preferably of Hispanic origin themselves could
have a different outcome than one conducted in English or broken
Spanish by diplomats with whom the Hispanic interlocutor has no
common heritage, no matter how capable and intelligent they might
be. American Hispanics have not been known for hostility toward
Israel; they lack the same critical aloofness that exists among
parts of the African-American population. The basis for a
constructive, indeed friendly, dialogue exists.... The influence of
Hispanic communities can also transcend the borders of the United
States. Devising a separate, coherent, diplomatic strategy
vis-a-vis a minority population per se may not be a common feature
of foreign policy. However, considering the strategic importance of
the Hispanic minority in the United States, and its ever-increasing
presence and influence in the socio-political life of the country,
it is not too soon for Israel to take such a step.
Columnist Shmuel Rosner, who was HaQaretzQs correspondent in
Washington, wrote in the popular, pluralist Maariv (11/13): QAround
two years ago the Pew Research Center reported that Muslim-Americans
are Qlargely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with
respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and
Westerners around the world.Q But they sometimes create great
embarrassment, such as the one caused this week when it turned out
that the Fort Hood murderer was in contact with radical elements,
advocated the discharge of Muslims from military tasks, made shrill
statements, and was neither arrested nor discharged. U.S.
intelligence failed again.