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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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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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Major media led with a statement made yesterday by Syrian President
Bashar Assad in a meeting with Spanish FM Miguel Moratinos that
Israel is pushing the Middle East toward a new war. The media
reported that Assad was responding to DM Ehud BarakQs comment on
Monday that the stalled peace process with Syria could bode ill for
the future of the Middle East and even lead to comprehensive war.
Media quoted Syrian FM Walid Muallem as saying that Israelis Qknow
that war at this time will come to your cities.Q The media
highlighted PM Benjamin NetanyahuQs expression of sorrow over
AssadQs remarks. HaQaretz quoted Netanyahu as saying on Tuesday
during talks with Moratinos that he did not share Moratinos' belief
that Syria was ready to leave Iran's orbit. "I have seen no
evidence whatsoever of what you are saying," the PM was quoted as
saying. This morning leading media reported that FM Avigdor
Lieberman, who spoke before a business forum at Bar-Ilan University,
warned Assad Qin unprecedented wordsQ that should he attack Israel,
he stands to lose not only a war but also his grip on Syria. The
media cited LiebermanQs amazement at the way Syrian leaders
responded to DM BarakQs moderate statements.


The Jerusalem Post led with a demand by Knesset members to
investigate the New Israel Fund (NIF), in the wake of last FridayQs
article in Maariv that sympathetically cited the NPO Im TirtzuQs
allegation that NIF was at the basis of the Goldstone ReportQs
blaming of Israel. (The Knesset decided to set up a special
subcommittee to inquire into the matter of contributions to Israeli
NGOs from foreign governments and organizations.) NIF President
Professor Naomi Chazan was quoted as saying in an interview with
Israel Radio that Im Tirtzu is engaged in anti-democratic NIF
bashing. The radio also cited the Israeli Arab human rights group
Adalah as having Qbecome one of the major human rights organizations
in the world.

The media quoted PM Netanyahu as saying in his address to the
Herzliya conference yesterday: QI have reason to hope,
realistically, that in the next few weeks we will renew the peace
process with the Palestinians, without preconditions.Q However,
NetanyahuQs main message to the conference was an emphasis on
strengthening Jewish and Zionist education and values.

HaQaretz reported that last week in Washington an Israeli Foreign
Ministry delegation met with American officials, including Assistant
Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael
Posner, and President Barack Obama's adviser on human rights,
Samantha Power. The U.S. reportedly suggested to Israel that easing
the Gaza blockade would help counter the fallout from the Goldstone
Report. In another development, Yediot reported that Judge Richard
Goldstone recently told Yale University students that the U.N. is
unfair toward Israel.

Maariv revealed that for the past two years an Israeli and a
Palestinian team has been discussing the borders of a future
Palestinian state at the James A. Baker III Institute for Foreign
Policy in Houston. The newspaper reported that the teams have come
up with three alternatives.

Leading media reported that yesterday the Jerusalem Municipality
announced that Mayor Nir Barkat had agreed to carry out a court
order to evacuate and seal Beit Yehonatan, a seven-story
Jewish-owned structure built without the proper permits in the East
Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Nonetheless, in his response to
State Attorney Moshe Lador, Barkat made it clear that he was
carrying out the order under Qprotest and heavy criticism,Q and that
while the city would act on the matter of Beit Yehonatan, more than
200 Arab-owned homes in Silwan built without the proper permits
would be evacuated and demolished as well.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a paper prepared for Chief PA
Negotiator Saeb Erekat calls for a one-state solution alternative to
the two-state solution. The newspaper cited the hope of senior
Fatah official Nabil ShaQath that his trip to Gaza yesterday will
spark a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. This is the first visit by a
senior Fatah official since the Hamas takeover of the Strip in
2007.

Israel Radio reported that yesterday Palestinians fired two rockets
at Israel. No casualties were reported. The media reported that
yesterday another barrel filled with explosives washed ashore on the
Palmahim beach south of Rishon Lezion. The police urged the public
not to visit the beaches at this time. In other news, media
reported that residents of southern Israel, including Labor Knesset
Member and former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, a Sderot resident,
are vowing to rise up against the decision not to deploy the Iron
Dome missile system.

The media reported that yesterday Iran successfully conducted a
ballistic test. Commentators noted that the new missiles could
reach targets in Europe or even the U.S.

The media reported that a few hours after making a pro-Zionist
speech to the Knesset plenum, Italian PM Silvio likened the
suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza to that of the Jews during the
Holocaust. Berlusconi was talking at a press conference with
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Israel Radio reported that an Egyptian court punished two senior
Egyptian journalists for holding contacts with Israeli officials.
The radio construed that Culture Minister Farouk Hosni instigated
those moves.

Over the past few days, several media described the reported plight
of Palestinian Christians in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Israel Hayom reported that the U.S. will build the new QpitQ -- the
underground IDF command -- in the Kirya compound in Tel Aviv.

Yediot reported that the Israeli Embassy in Berlin has protested
over the characterization of Jaffa as a QPalestinian ghettoQ by the
German producers of the film QAjamiQ Q the Israeli contender for
best foreign film at the Academy of Motion pictures.

Yediot reported that the City of Beverly Hills will soon name a
street after Dr. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism.

HaQaretz reported that a U.S. grandson of Holocaust survivors has
purchased the diary of notorious Auschwitz physician Dr. Joseph
Mengele.

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1. Mideast:
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Block Quotes:
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I. QLook for the Iranians

Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote on page of the
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/4): QIsraelQs
repeated calls for calm to Syria continue to fall on deaf ears. The
Syrians do not believe us.... [Bashar Assad] would remain
unconvinced ]by tips from Israeli intelligence that Israel has no
bellicose plans against Syria].... From remarks [made last week by
National Security Advisor James] Jones it can be surmised that the
ones inciting the Syrians are the Iranians. Confronted with the
American threat, Iran is now posing its own, all too concrete,
threat: if you upset us, we can set the entire Middle East on fire.
Fanning the flames up north increases as the date of sanctions
approaches.... With one hand the Americans are planning to tighten
the rope around IranQs neck, and with the other to brace for an
Iranian military response. The Iranians are well aware of the
American deadline. This is why their responses are becoming more
and more extreme. On the one hand they suddenly display moderation,
saying that they would be willing to have their uranium enriched in
some other country, but at the same time they are making public
displays of ballistic missiles and sending threats in every
direction. And the Syrians and the Lebanese? They are pawns on
IranQs chess board.... There is no real Israeli threat to Syria.
The trouble is that in our region virtual tensions -- if not treated
carefully -- may become, overnight, all too real.

II. QSyria Now

Senior commentator Ari Shavit wrote on page one of the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/4): QThere will be no dramatic breakthrough
on the Palestinian track in the near future, so a breakthrough on
the Syrian track must be initiated. The problem is basically
political. Peace with Syria has no party and no leader. And it has
no libido. Oddly, the remnants of the Israeli left relate to peace
with Syria like some kind of stepchild. Their passion is for the
Palestinians, not the Syrians. The ardent courting is all aimed at
the disinterested Palestinians. Even today, Israel is expending most
of its peace-seeking energy on a useless effort to cajole the wrong
neighbor. The time has come to reset the system and change course.
To forestall the evil rising in the east, every effort must be made
to enter a dialogue with Syrian President Bashar Assad. To avert a
horrendous war, not a stone on the road to Damascus should be left
unturned. To offer hope to the Middle East, the prospects held out
by the secular regime in Syria must be exhausted. It may be that at
the end of the day, the Syrians, too, will turn their backs on us,
but every day that goes by without an effort to reach peace with
Syria is a day marked by criminal negligence.

III. QObama Is Weak: and That Is Bad for the Jews

Conservative columnist and former senior IDF officer Yaakov Amidror
wrote in the independent Israel Hayom (2/4): QIsrael has many
reasons to regret the fact that the U.S. President has been
weakened. The fact that he will find it more difficult to enforce
his view on the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not
make up for the loss of American ability in other spheres. It may
be that even the President realizes the danger of an image of being
weak and the report on the deployment of missiles in the Persian
Gulf as well as the decision to get weapon sales to Taiwan approved
should be seen in this light. These two events were reported as a
signal to all those rejoicing in his weakness in the world. Will
the White House also want to signal, in the Palestinian matter too,
that it should be taken into consideration more than its weakness?
Time will tell.

IV. QShalit Is Disappearing

The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/4): QIt
seems the Prime Minister is being motivated by considerations of
honor, which he fears will be decimated if he accedes to all of
Hamas' demands. Netanyahu is still a prisoner of his former
opposition to freeing any terrorist, as well as of the fear that he
will be held responsible for any future terror attacks. Honor is
indeed a fundamental consideration in any act of state. But the
Shalit deal is not an Qact of stateQ -- it is a humanitarian
necessity. Failing to carry it out will actually undermine the
state's honor in the eyes of its citizens. Moreover, when Netanyahu
places the ball in Hamas' court, he is eradicating the last vestiges
of his own honor. After all, he conducted negotiations with Hamas
and made huge concessions to the organization. But in the end he
could not find the courage to complete the deal. Shalit must not be
allowed to disappear into a mist of empty verbiage. This soldier,
who has already been in captivity for three and a half years, cannot
serve as a living monument to Israel's national pride. The price of
such an Qimage victoryQ over Hamas is liable to prove higher than we
can bear.
V. QDaydreaming

Dr. Matti Steinberg, who served as has adviser to two heads of Shin
Bet, wrote in HaQaretz (2/4): Q[In a HaQaretz article last month,
former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Meron] Benvenisti saw the QFuture
VisionQ document formulated by prominent Israeli Arab intellectuals
as an exemplary expression of Qparity of esteem,Q but in fact what
they advocate is neutralizing the Jewish nation's capability of
self-determination in a binational state. They would achieve this
by demanding a veto right over any government decision affecting the
Arab population -- in other words over everything, because all
decisions affect them. When I pointed this out at an academic
conference and explained that the document would ultimately lead to
mono-national Arab-Palestinian rule, an Arab Israeli academic told
me in private that they were demanding a veto right to protect me,
as an Israeli Jew, when I become part of a national minority in a
single state. It's a pity that this academic, an advocate of a
binational state, did not summon up the courage to say this openly
in public. It's an even greater pity that Benvenisti wishes,
probably unconsciously, to draw us either consciously or
unconsciously into this booby trap.

VI. QGive Responsibility back to Jordan

Middle East affairs commentator Dr. Guy Bechor, a lecturer at the
Interdisciplinary Center, wrote in Yediot Aharonot (2/4): QIsrael
did Jordan a favor in 1967, when it severed it from the troubles of
the Palestinians in the West Bank, just as it did Egypt a favor when
it severed it from Gaza. This Israeli stupidity has to end, and
right away. The Jordanians, of course, are alarmed by the
possibility of having to handle Palestinian affairs, just as the
Egyptians became alarmed and did everything so that Israel not leave
Philadelphi Road -- but there is no evading this. The tiny
Palestinian state will not be viable unless it has a direct and
clear connection to Jordan, where already there is a solid
Palestinian majority, and the crown prince himself is half
Palestinian. How can Israel go about this? By opening the Allenby
crossing to a direct Jordanian-Palestinian connection, without
Israeli involvement.... The time has come for Israel to stop doing
the dirty work for the Jordanians, just as it has stopped doing it
for the Egyptians.

VII. QWar Stories Our Daughters WonQt Tell Us

Liberal columnist Larry Derfner wrote in the conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (2/4): QI think everyone knows why the
soldiers who talk to Breaking the Silence [the NGO which collects
mostly anonymous testimony from soldiers serving in the territories]
remain anonymous: because if their identities were known, theyQd be
pariahs in this society -- Goldstones on a smaller scale.... We can
go on brutalizing the Palestinians. Inadvertently, we can go on
brutalizing our daughters and sons, too. We just canQt do it in
silence -- which is what gives me hope.

VIII. QSilvio Caesar

Columnist Nadav Eyal wrote on page one of the popular, pluralist
Maariv (2/4): QOur politicians bestowed an emperorQs honor on
Berlusconi and did just about everything short of flinging roses at
his feet, but such disappointment: just as the Italian Prime
Minister crossed the Green Line yesterday, he sided with the
Palestinians -- and even with comparisons made between Gaza and the
Holocaust. Roman pragmatism, you see. Most of the time Berlusconi
is a friend to Israel, however such a fact fails to change other
facts, some of which even more important. The first of these is, of
course, the problematic character of Berlusconi himself.... The
world really doesnQt tolerate him; his political and financial
accomplishments are mediocre at best, but the people love him. Our
politicians gaze at Berlusconi and are certainly jealous; Silvio is
their role model.


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2. U.S.-Israel Relations:
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Block Quotes:
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QObama's Lobbying Law of Unintended Consequences

Washington-based columnist Douglas Bloomfield wrote in the
conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/4): QU.S. President
Barack ObamaQs call for tightening restrictions on lobbying could
have an unintended impact on Jewish organizations and other
nonprofit groups working on behalf of a wide range of public
interest causes, including the elderly, the poor, the environment
and the hungry. The proposals in ObamaQs State of the Union address
to Qrequire lobbyists to disclose each contactQ with Congress or the
administration on behalf of a client will create an avalanche of
paperwork for the small groups that can least afford it. More
useful would be more detailed reporting by public officials -- and
spouses -- of their sources of funding and assets.... The politics
of disclosure could discourage volunteers from working for
charitable causes if they fear theyQll be attacked by the
incumbentQs political opponents as influence peddlers engaging in
questionable activity, which is the way the President made lobbying
sound. The key to the success of public-interest advocacy is a
well-informed, motivated grassroots network of citizen lobbyists.
Turning them into targets for gotcha politics is unhealthy for our
democracy.

CUNNINGHAM

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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