Monday, July 23, 2012

Soccer Dad's Mideast Media Sampler, 7/23/12

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

1) The necessity of "occupation"

In The Levy report and the "occupation" narrative Dore Gold writes ( via Daily Alert):
At the end of the day, there is a huge difference in how a compromise will look if Israel’s negotiating team comes to the peace table as “foreign occupiers,” who took someone else’s land, or if they come as a party that also has just territorial claims. If the Palestinians are constantly fed the “occupation” narrative by the international community, their propensity to consider making a real compromise, which is critical for any future agreement, will be close to nil. In fact, this false narrative only reinforces their mistaken belief in the delegitimization campaign against Israel as an alternative to seeking a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
If, prior to 1993, someone said that Israel would cede significant land to the Palestinians over the next decade and would experience increases in terror and international isolation; many would respond that then it wouldn't be a good idea. In fact Israeli concessions haven't brought the peace many expected.

One response is to understand this and show sympathy for Israeli reticence to make further concessions to an unreliable partner.The other response is to insist that another reason exists for Israel to continue making concessions and that not making them will be even more disastrous than the consequences of making them and suffering more violence and betrayal. That is the importance the "occupation" narrative and its related "demographic" threat. Without them there would be no rational reason for Israel to continue pursuing peace with the Palestinians until the Palestinians changed their views of Israel. The occupation narrative and the demographic threat are fundamental beliefs of those who value the peace process over actual peace.

2) The proper response

In PostScript: Stay calm. The procedure is well-known, Hirsh Goodman writes (via Daily Alert)
Now we have yet another cycle of international terror being directed against Israelis, this time as manifested on Wednesday, when an Israeli tourist bus was attacked in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas, an extremely popular destination with Israeli youngsters in particular. Seven people were killed and dozens injured, and both the prime minister and the Israeli intelligence services were quick to finger the Iranians and Hezbollah as behind the attack.
So it’s time for more surgery, not panic or demonstrative responses. As Israelis we have lived with these problems for years, and if it’s not the Palestinians, or the Red Brigades, so it’s the Iranians and Hezbollah. The tools available to those who fight international terror today are infinitely better than those available to Yariv way back when, and as opposed to having to work behind the backs of friendly countries, Israel now enjoys unprecedented international cooperation in the war on terror.
Many attempts to attack Israelis on foreign territory have been foiled in recent months. This one “succeeded.” There will always be holes in the net. Burgas was bound to happen.

3) Not just two sided

In the initial report about the terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the reporters for the New York Times wrote:
Mr. Netanyahu convened security consultations after the bus explosion, which he called a “terror attack in Bulgaria.”
“All signs point to Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement. He and other Israeli officials noted that the explosion came on the 18th anniversary of a bombing of an Argentine Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds, an attack for which Argentine prosecutors have blamed Iran.
Bellicose adversaries, Israel and Iran have a long history of accusing each other of terrorist attacks. Iran, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has sometimes referred to Israel as a Zionist plague on the Middle East, has blamed Israeli agents for a string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists over the past five years, for which Iran has vowed revenge.
Note the balance. The words "bellicose adversaries" and "accusing each other" set up a moral equivalence between Israel and Iran. These words also serve to suggest that Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, are primarily threats to Israel.

MEMRI, however, found a threat on Hezbollah's website - against the United States - last week:
The official Hizbullah website, along with the Iranian weekly Panjereh (, published an infographic titled "Hormoz [sic] Straits– A Choke Point In the Hand of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps]."[1]
The infographic simulates an attack on a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz using IRGC missiles, including the Nasr (3 ton cruise missile with anti-ship capabilities), Zafar (short range radar guided missile fired from swift watercraft), Khalij-e Fars (solid fuel ballistic missile with a range of 300 km), Saeqhe (a missile with a range of 300 km), Tondar (a ballistic missile fired from land), Qader (a cruise missile with a range of 200 km, designed for aircraft and watercraft), Noor (A surface-to-sea or sea-to-sea missile with a range of 170 km), and Kowsar (a surface-to-sea, sea-to-sea, and air-to-sea medium range, radar and TV guided missile).

There is an unfortunate tendency in the media to treat threats against Israel in an evenhanded fashion ("Israel blamed ... Israel's enemy blamed"). This obfuscates the true nature of many of Israel's enemies as well as the reality that many of Israel's enemies hate (and threaten) the United States too.

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