Monday, June 18, 2012

Soccer Dad's MidEast Media Sampler, 6/18/12

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

1) Duranty's heir

From a Q & A with New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick about the Egyptian election:

Q. I have seen reports of virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hate speech at rallies of presidential candidates. Could you please let us know about these activities which appear to be highly disturbing.
A. A concerned citizen in New York asks about campaign rally rhetoric about Israel and possible anti-Semitism. I have not seen or heard any slurs against Jews on the campaign trail, and I do not think that has figured in the campaign in any way. Israel is a more complicated issue. All the leading candidates have pledged to respect Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. But Egyptians — secular and liberal or Islamist — are deeply hostile to Israel. The overwhelming feeling here is that Israel has failed to live up to its end of the Camp David accords leading to the peace treaty because it has not recognized a Palestinian state and instead allows settlements to continue on territory envisioned as part of that state. An episode last summer fired up the hard feelings anew because Israeli war planes killed a handful of Egyptian security officers inside the border when Israel was pursuing some suspected terrorists; Israeli officials initially refused to apologize and Egyptians stormed the Israeli embassy. But eventually Israel apologized, pledged an investigation and the situation calmed down.
So most candidates have sought to balance their commitments to the peace (which is popular) and some criticism of Israel (which most here consider an enemy.)
It may be interesting to note which candidates are most hostile to Israel. Not the Islamists. Mohamed Morsi and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh are relatively positive about the importance of the peace. By far the most hostile to Israel and even the treaty is Hamdeen Sabahi, a Nasserite socialist with support from Egypt’s secular-liberal and cultural elite.

From MEMRI, Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi Launches MB Candidate Muhammad Mursi's Campaign, May 1, 2012:

Ceremony leader : Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews.
Come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas.
From the eyes of all Jews...
Come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas.
Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews.
Come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas.
Forget about the whole world, forget about all the conferences.
Brandish your weapons... Say your prayers...
Brandish your weapons... Say your prayers...
And pray to the Lord.
From the eyes of all Jews...
Come on, you lovers of martyrdom...
Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews.
Come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas.

Kirkpatrick denies the presence of antisemitism, and even answers that, if it does exist, it's not an important part of the campaign. And to deflect any blame from the Muslim Brotherhood he mentions Hamdeen Sahabi, who is even more anti-Israel than they are.
Then he inserts his own judgments that it isn't Jews that are hated in Egypt, but Israel, and Kirkpatrick seemingly supports the objections to Israel. ("overwhelming feeling here is that Israel has failed to live up to its end of the Camp David accords") He doesn't mention that Egypt got the entire Sinai back from Israel. And he effectively blames Israel for chasing ("suspected"!) terrorists who had infiltrated Israel last year.

2) The pattern of reporting

In February, Ismail Haniyeh visited Egypt. Fares Akram, the Gaza correspondent for the New York Times reported In Break, Hamas Supports Syrian Opposition:

But the remarks were almost as significant for where they were made: in Cairo, at Al Azhar Mosque.
During the years in which Syria supported Hamas, Egypt’s leaders were hostile to the group, treating it as a despised relative of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was also tagged an outlaw and banned. So Mr. Haniya’s remarks in Egypt served as another measure of how much has changed since popular uprisings began to sweep the region, removing President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and now trying to topple Mr. Assad.
Mr. Haniya’s comments confirmed a distance between Hamas and Damascus that emerged several weeks ago when the group’s leadership abandoned its longtime base in Syria as the environment there became more violent. The remarks, which were seen as the group’s official position because of Mr. Haniya’s role, reflected a progressively deeper split with Mr. Assad. Hamas also recently allowed residents of Gaza to stage protests against Mr. Assad and in support of the uprising.

Haniyeh's statements are presented as a sign that Hamas was abandoning its extreme positions; that it was rejecting Iran. (This has less to do with an moderating than with a Sunni rejection of its former Shi'ite patron. That was enabled by support from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.)

But Elder of Ziyon noted that that wasn't all Haniyeh talked about at Al Azhar:

Haniyeh continued, saying,"Our hope is not only the independence of Palestine, but the independence of the Islamic nation [where we will] put an end to the current situation of political wilderness, cultural and foreign interference and encroachment of the Zionists."
He said that there was a Zionist plot for the Judaization of Jerusalem which wrested it from the Arab and Muslim world it belongs to, calling on Muslims to support Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.
Hundreds of congregants chanted in response, saying, 'Khaybar Khaybar oh Jews, the army of Mohammed will return," and "We, sons of Hassan al-Banna .. Islam! Islam!" (Hassan al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.)

A video of the speech has been posted with translations.

The language of Haniyeh does not differ significantly from that of the Muslim Brotherhood.

This speech took place several weeks after an earlier visit by Haniyeh to Egypt in which he made common cause the Muslim Brotherhood. Barry Rubin wrote at the time:

Haniyeh described Hamas as the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. Referring to their alliance Haniyeh said, “Our presence with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity.” It certainly does since Hamas will enjoy the Brotherhood’s full support in its anti-Israel activities including the use of violence and, probably, in the event of any future war with Israel.

Then after Egypt's legislative elections, Kirkpatrick reported Islamist Victors in Egypt Seeking Shift by Hamas:

The intervention in the Palestinian issue is the clearest indication yet that as it moves into a position of authority, the Brotherhood, the largest vote getter in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, intends to both moderate its positions on foreign policy and reconfigure Egypt’s.
Brotherhood officials say that they are pulling back from their previous embrace of Hamas and its commitment to armed struggle against Israel in order to open new channels of communications with Fatah, which the Brotherhood had previously denounced for collaborating with Israel and accused of selling out the Palestinian cause. Brotherhood leaders argue that if they persuade the Palestinians to work together with a newly assertive Egypt, they will have far more success forcing Israel to bargain in earnest over the terms of statehood.
“Now we have to deal with the Palestinian parties as an umbrella for both of them, and we have to stand at an equal distance from each,” said Reda Fahmy, a Brotherhood leader who oversees its Palestinian relations and is now chairman of the Arab affairs committee in Egypt’s upper house of Parliament. “Any movement of the size of the Muslim Brotherhood, when it is in the opposition it is one thing and then when it comes to power it is something completely different.”

The Muslim Brotherhood's outreach to Fatah isn't a sign of moderation. It is trying to get Fatah to reconcile with Hamas and (presumably) to have Hamas be the senior partner. This isn't about getting Israel to negotiations but to legitimize Hamas. Kirkpatrick apparently feels this is a sign of moderation and a good thing.

3) The trend of terrorism

In January, Ehud Ya'ari observed that the Sinai was now a "new front" that Israel had to consider from a military standpoint. The tribes there were sympathetic to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

At first, last August's terror attack from Egypt appeared to be an isolated incident. The events of the past few days suggest that more is to come.

The New York Times reports in Israeli Workers Attacked at Border With Egypt, 1 Dies:

Israel experts have warned that cross-border attacks by militant groups operating there could drag Israel and Egypt into confrontation and seriously undermine the decades-old peace treaty between those countries. Early on Saturday, two rockets landed in open areas in southern Israel that were presumed by Israel to have been fired from the Sinai Peninsula.
"We see here a disturbing deterioration in Egyptian control in the Sinai,” Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said on Monday. “We are waiting for the results of the election. Whoever wins, we expect them to take responsibility for all of Egypt's international commitments, including the peace treaty with Israel and the security arrangements in the Sinai, swiftly putting an end to these attacks."
In the past, Israel has blamed Palestinian militant groups in Gaza for having orchestrated attacks from across the Egyptian border and such incidents have spiraled into fighting across the Israel-Gaza border with rounds of Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket fire against southern Israel.

The careful language here is incredible. "[C]ould drag," "Israel has blamed," and "have spiraled into fighting," (if the terror attacks were not responded to, that wouldn't be "fighting?") obfuscate a sustained campaign against Israel.

More details of today's attack (and less obfuscation) are available at the IDF Spokesperson's blog.

Throughout the morning, Israeli civilians living in the area were on high alert. There was speculation that a third terrorist had infiltrated into Israel and was planning further attacks. Residents of the area were told to stay in their homes and not send their children to school. Roads in the area, including Route 12, were closed to civilian traffic.
Once IDF forces in the area determined that there was not a third suspect, the roads were reopened and local residents were permitted to leave their homes. It is possible that part of the terrorist squad remained on the Egyptian side of the border.
In addition to the terrorist attack on the Israel-Egypt border, a rocket landed in southern Israel overnight — and two more struck the morning before. More than one million Israelis live under the daily threat of rocket attacks in southern Israel.

Barry Rubin observes:

At any rate, we are now at the beginning of Egypt’s involvement, directly or indirectly, in a new wave of terrorist assault on Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt, a likelihood made less probable perhaps by the military’s dissolution of parliament, this offensive will enjoy official support. Even if the army remains in control, the Brotherhood and Salafists will use their considerable assets to back this new insurgency war.
The ultimate scenario would be if Hamas decided to renew a large-scale offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip using rockets, mortars, and attempted cross-border attacks. Egyptian Islamists would send volunteers and money. The Egyptian army would not be scrupulous in stopping the smuggling of weapons, terrorists, and money across the border. As Egyptian fighters are killed in the Gaza Strip the hysteria in Egypt would escalate.
In such a scenario, the army would also allow Hamas to have military bases and headquarters on Egyptian territory, where Israel could not attack them. Indeed, this is already happening. And the Egypt-Israel border would not be protected from cross-border attacks.

Now that terrorist actions are matching the rhetoric of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, maybe the New York Times will start paying attention. Maybe, but not likely.

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