Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Tuesday, December 4.
1)Outstanding with omissions
Scott Wilson wasn't a very good Israel correspondent for the Washington Post, but his front page Tunnels between Gaza and Egypt are back in business since cease-fire in Sunday's paper is excellent.
The business of Rafah is the tunnel network that circumvents the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and business once again is booming.
There's an important point here too:
For Israeli leaders, who are seeking assurances since the recent
cease-fire that Hamas be prevented from restocking its potent weapons
arsenal, the thriving return of tunnel commerce poses a daunting
Since leaving Gaza seven years ago, Israel’s military has lost its
on-the-ground ability to stop tunnel smuggling. Since the cease-fire,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought guarantees from
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that he will do more to prevent the
illegal trade into Gaza — a diplomatic negotiation between uneasy
neighbors that in the past has proved fruitless.
Hamas security officials who monitor the tunnels — and collect
“taxes” from the merchants who buy the imports — say at least 50 were
collapsed along one busy mile-long stretch alone. Diggers think that
hundreds of tunnels span the border.
Hamas monitors the tunnels. When reporters write that "Hamas largely
upheld the ceasefire," they ignore this. If Hamas was serious about
ceasefires, it would prevent arms from reaching other terrorist groups
since it controls access to Gaza's tunnels.
There are, two significant omissions here. As Wilson noted above, Israel
"...lost its on-the-ground ability to stop tunnel smuggling." Part of
this was a concession Israel made to American pressure to cede control
of the Philadelphi corridor.
Though I couldn't find a specific report about this pressure, the Post reported Rice Mediates Gaza Disputes:
Two senior administration officials traveling with Rice said
agreements appeared possible within days to dispose of rubble from
dismantled settler homes and how to transfer greenhouses and other
settler assets to the Palestinians. But Buttu said the Palestinians were
opposed to a U.S. plan to use aid money intended for Palestinians to
buy the greenhouses.
Note that the administration view was that "both sides were posturing."
History, unfortunately, showed that Israeli concerns were justified.
Wilson ought to have included a mention of this.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under rules set by the
State Department, said both sides were posturing as they tried to
negotiate broad understandings in advance of Israel's withdrawal.
"Coordination is a nice word for what is in effect a negotiation," with
both sides wary of making compromises, one official said.
The U.S. officials said Rice's role was to listen to the concerns of
both sides and try to identify misunderstandings or
mischaracterizations. Rice said she sometimes provides "an answer if one
does not appear self-evident to each of the parties."
Later in the recent article Wilson reported:
Of primary concern to Israel are the weapons — missiles, small arms and
explosives — that military officials say have arrived in Gaza from Iran,
Sudan and Libya through the tunnels.
This is important as it shows what Rachel Corrie was doing. When Rachel
Corrie was killed, the Washington Post's Molly Moore reported 23-year-old Dies In `Regrettable Accident':
Bahrawi points toward clusters of apartment buildings, their walls
pocked long ago by Israeli shrapnel. Many of the tunnels, he said, have
secret extensions that end out of sight. Those are the ones used to
smuggle materials that Israel is not meant to see.
A 23-year-old American woman protesting the demolition of Palestinian
houses in the Gaza Strip was killed Sunday by an Israeli military
bulldozer that crushed her body as she crouched in its path, according
to witnesses from her pro-Palestinian organization.
Moore portrayed Corrie and her associates as "protesters." What they
were doing was interfering with Israeli efforts to discover tunnel
entrances that they weren't meant to see.
Rachel Corrie, a college student from Olympia, Wash., was the first
international protester to be killed during the 30-month conflict
between Israelis and Palestinians here, although some protesters have
been injured, arrested or ordered out of the country by Israeli
Wilson could have noted that anti-Israel activists had, in the past,
interfered with Israeli efforts to uncover these tunnel entrances.
Last week the Post's public editor argued that a picture of Palestinian
man mourning the loss of his son was newsworthy. Absent context, the
picture was pure propaganda. The Post's article on tunnels helped
provide some of the missing context.
2) The New York Times's vengeful screed
The editors of the New York Times criticize Mr. Netanyahu’s Strategic Mistake:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel seems determined to
escalate a crisis by retaliating against the Palestinians after the
United Nations General Assembly voted to elevate Palestine to observer
Note that the editorial begins with the premise that a crisis already
existed on account of President Abbas's appeal to the UN last week, but
it refuses to criticize Abbas for trying to build international pressure
against Israel outside of negotiations.
Instead of looking for ways to halt a downward spiral, Mr. Netanyahu on
Monday defiantly dug in on his plans to build 3,000 more housing units
in contested areas east of Jerusalem and in the West Bank, and to
continue planning a development in the most contentious area known as
Israel also announced that it was withholding $100 million in tax
revenues that it has collected from the Palestinian Authority, which is
financially strapped. The moves would impose devastating penalties on
the only officially recognized representative of the Palestinian people
and could doom the chances for a two-state solution because building in
the E1 area would split the northern and southern parts of the West
Bank. Such measures are puzzling after Israel disparaged the United
Nations vote as insignificant.
Why is the withholding of tax revenues a "devastating" penalty? Is it
because in the nineteen years since the Oslo Accords were signed Arafat
and Abbas have failed to foster a functioning economy? And no, building in E1 won't "split" Palestinian territory.
The New York Times, by the way, described the UN vote as a significant
diplomatic defeat for Israel. The move was insignificant in the sense
that it is unlikely to change anything. It was, however, a significant
breach of the premise of the Oslo Accords - that peace would be achieved
through unilateral negotiations.
The minor implicit criticism of Mahmoud Abbas at the end of the
editorial doesn't make up for the support the New York Times has given
to Abbas's efforts to get what he wants outside of negotiations. Aside
from generally favorable coverage in its news section, the New York
Times allowed Abbas an op-ed in May 2011 in which he stated his goal of
using international institutions against Israel. The Times never
repudiated or criticized the op-ed.
I can understand the argument Netanyahu needlessly angered a number of
allies. Yet the outrage expressed by the United States and the Europeans
demonstrates a hypocrisy associated with the peace process. Palestinian
leaders can forsake the premises of Oslo and suffer no political
consequences or opprobrium. Israel can act within its rights, but if the
Palestinians object, find itself relentlessly criticized.
Labels: Binyamin Netanyahu, Gaza, Middle East Media Sampler, New York Times, Palestinian state RIGHT NOW syndrome, smuggling tunnels, Soccer Dad