Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Soccer Dad's Mideast Media Sampler 8/16/11‏

Today's sampler and analysis of Mideast media content from my pal Soccer Dad:

1) Executed on August 15

I follow a website Executed Today. Yesterday was the anniversary of the executions of Soraya M in 1986 and of Atefah Rajabi Shaalaleh in 2004. Both were executed in Iran. The former, about whom a movie was made, was accused of adultery by a husband who had grown bored with her and the latter was a 16 year old accused of "crimes against chastity." Both cases are notable not because of the tyranny of the central government but of the power that devolved to petty (though malevolent) local tyrants who were remove inconvenient people with official sanction.

Also on August 14, 1949, Husni al-Za’im, President of Syria was executed. I don't know if it's the fate of his predecessor or the current trial of Hosni Mubarak, but Bashar Assad must be worried that unlike his father (to quote Sherlock Holmes to Count Sylvius) his own exit is more likely to be perpendicular than horizontal, and that is why he unleashed the force of his army on his own people.

More recently, Ruyati Binti Satubi, an Indonesian worker in Saudi Arabia was beheaded for killing her employer.

Ruyati Binti Satubi, a household worker from West Java, was executed for murder after she confessed slaying the man who had contracted her. The Indonesian migrant, who has three children, said she killed her employer because she was denied permission to return to her native land.

Media in Indonesia and elsewhere indicated that Ruyati Binti Satubi had been subjected to other forms of abuse while working in the Saudi home, located in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. Neither the Indonesian authorities nor her family was informed of the death sentence until after it was carried out, an action for which the Saudi regime apologized to Jakarta. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wrote in protest to Saudi King Abdullah after the execution, and the Indonesian authorities followed up with the moratorium on exporting laborers, enforced visibly at airports and through contracting agencies.

Most of the Indonesians who go to work in Saudi Arabia are paid unofficially and have no rights.

2) More on the Israeli protests

Stephen Farrell of the New York Times reported Israeli Leader Vows Fiscal Reform but No Quick FixesAs Israel’s social protest movement spread beyond Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday tempered a promise to find “concrete solutions” to demonstrators’ concerns with a warning that the global financial crisis precluded quick change.

“We know one thing: We want to find solutions that are economically sound,” he said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “For if we end up bankrupt or face economic collapse, a reality in which some of Europe’s leading economies find themselves in today, we will solve neither the economic problems nor the social ones.”

The article reports on the views of some of the protesters and that Netanyahu has appointed a commission to look into the issues.

Ha'aretz issued a press release, Alternative experts panel vows to address Israel's 'unacceptable' economic policy

The alternative team of experts who will draw up a new socioeconomic policy, separate from the panel established by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, presented themselves for the first time at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Monday.

The team, put together by the leaders of Israel's social protests, is made up of some 60 academics and public figures, and is divided into nine sub-units. Their work will be coordinated by Prof. Avia Spivak, former deputy Bank of Israel governor, and education professor Yossi Yonah of Ben-Gurion University.

These experts have no domestic authority. But they will appeal to the elites in Europe and the United States. No doubt at least one will find a hospitable home on the op-ed page of the New York Times in an attempt to generate international support against the government (but not so much for the policies they espouse).

Jonathan Speyer (via memeorandum) wrote about Israel's Alinskyites

This population is not a crowd of freeloaders. Rather, they are the patriotic and responsible young individuals and families on whose commitment the survival and flourishing of Israel depends.

They are the young medical resident who works unimaginable hours for a tiny salary, week after week, interspersed by long stretches of army reserve duty. They are the clinical psychologist, who spends her weekends volunteering at a special project to help children in the north still traumatized by missile attacks in the Second Lebanon War. These are two examples of people I know. And there are many thousands more like them.

There is no danger that this public will follow the likes of Ilani and Green for very long or accept their radical stances on other issues. But the need to address these subjects remains vital. Israel’s educated, socially responsible middle class is the country’s backbone. They must be able to raise families, pursue their professions with dignity, and have a decent standard of living.

Sol Stern writing at City Journal gives a more positive outlook:

Yet it is just as fair to note that the country’s spectacular economic growth, built largely on added-value exports and a high-tech boom, has left many Israelis behind. This is glaringly evident in Tel Aviv, bursting at the seams with new luxury buildings, renovated and gentrified neighborhoods, a thriving tourist industry, and a reputation as one of the word’s great “fun cities.”

The unprecedented increase in the value and price of housing has occurred at the same time that an ever-increasing number of young Israelis want to live in Tel Aviv and won’t settle for anything less. Since the law of supply and demand is unforgiving, this has led to astronomically higher rents for those young people. This is the ground on which Daphne Leef and her generation met the housing crunch and took to the boulevards. Their pressure on the Netanyahu government to expand the supply of housing and break up the extractive monopolies (such as the dairy producers) is not only legitimate; it could also help Israel become even more of an economic and political miracle.

Despite those protesters who want more government involvement, I agree with Stern that the solution to the economic problems likely lies with a government retreat from the economy; not further intervention.

Lynn at In Context looks at many of the forces in play and concludes

Any number of reports on these protests cite the increasing difficulty of finding affordable housing for young couples. As I recall, that was a problem back in the 70s as well. In fact, at that time it was common for newly married urban Israelis to wait a year or more before they could even think about moving into their own space (unless, of course, they were willing to relocate to a development town) and then a few more months before they could hope to have phone service. (Almost) everything old is new again. But back then, people didn't complain nearly as much. This says both good and not-so-good things about the path Israeli society has taken in the last thirty years.

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