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Monday, October 24, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Monday, October 24.
1) Some say ...

A number of AP dispatches on Yahoo! News have the following sentence:
Some say they want to put their violent pasts behind them and move on with their lives, now that the celebrations marking their release have faded.
My guess is that many more feel like this (thanks to DG and CAMERA)
Older and grayer than the 20-year-old who was sentenced to life in prison for murder, Abu Amrin was one of 477 Palestinian convicts released Tuesday in the first step of a 1,027-for-1 exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. About 80 miles away in a coastal Israeli city north of Tel Aviv, embittered father Zeev Rapp, 66, sat at home and watched the television in disgust. In 1992, Abu Amrin stabbed Rapp's daughter Helena, 15, in the heart as she was on her way to school. Now he was walking free with other smiling prisoners, flashing victory signs and kissing the ground. ...
The remarks from the stage and elsewhere included no signs of regret. Abu Amrin, for example, defended his stabbing of the Israeli schoolgirl nearly 20 years ago. "Just as they have children and girls, so do we, and it's our right to kill all those who came to kill our women and children," he said of the apparently random attack, which took place as Helena was walking to a bus stop.
or like this (h/t Elder of Ziyon):
"A would-be Palestinian suicide bomber freed by Israel in the prisoner swap for soldier Gilad Shalit told cheering schoolchildren in the Gaza Strip the day after her release on Wednesday she hoped they would follow her example. " I hope you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs," Wafa al-Biss told dozens of children who came to her home in the northern Gaza Strip.
or this:
Gaidi, who is now a member of Islamic Jihad, claims to also have killed another man, Abraham Abu Ghosh. Gaidi now brags that it only cost three shekels to buy the knife that killed three Israelis.
2) It wasn't always like this

Israel National News reports that Turkey refused aid from Israel (and others).
Turkey rejected on Sunday offers of aid from dozens of countries after earthquakes hit the eastern Van province. Israel was among the countries ready to aid the Turks.
Nor was this the first time:
Israel offered aid to Turkey in March of 2010 after an earthquake struck the eastern part of the country. At least 57 people were killed in the quake, which measured 6 on the Richter scale, and there was widespread damage. Turkey refused the Israeli aid offer.
Iran has similarly refused Israeli aid after and earthquake. But in 1999, the New York Times reported:
Amid the scenes of horror and death that have afflicted this city since the earthquake last week, the brightest sign of life is a field hospital operated by doctors and nurses from the Israeli Army. Eight babies have been born here since the quake. One boy was named Israel, and one girl is called Ziona. Their names are symbols of how firmly the earthquake has sealed the alliance between Israel and Turkey. ''God bless the Israelis,'' said one new mother, Serap Balcioglu, whose child was born blue and seemingly lifeless but was revived by an emergency team at the hospital. ''They're taking beautiful care of me. What would we do without them?''
Erdogan would rather have his people die.

3) How popular is Hamas? Following on a report two weeks ago in the Christian Science Monitor, Time Magazine (via memeorandum) reports that Hamas isn't all that popular in Gaza.
When the islamist movement known as Hamas first took control of Gaza in 2006, the family of Ahmed Ayyash, a third-year engineering student at the Hamas-controlled Islamic University, gave the party their full backing. Like a solid plurality of Palestinian voters, they thought the Islamists would provide clean government, in contrast to the corruption-riddled Fatah that had ruled for years. Then Ayyash's mother applied for a teaching job. She was offered it immediately: to the Hamas official who interviewed her, all that mattered was that her husband knew people in the new government. A principled woman, Ayyash's mother turned down the job because, he says, "it was through wasta." That's Arabic for connections, and in Gaza it symbolized everything that was wrong with the old administration, everything Hamas claimed to oppose. "This was their slogan at election time, to end the wasta," Ayyash recalls. Ayyash lost faith in the Islamists early, and in the six years since, he's been joined by many other Gazans who complain that Hamas' patronage politics favors the few while the majority suffer.
This is key. Hamas despite some discrete examples of good governance, was (and is) as corrupt as Fatah. There's a lot wrong with the Time article (given that it's written by Karl Vick that's no surprise), such as:
How did Hamas lose Gazan hearts and minds? Not the way you might think. Few Gazans blame Hamas for the most damaging events that have happened on its watch: the siege, the trade embargo, the three-week Israeli military assault in late 2008 and early 2009 that killed 1,400 residents and left tens of thousands homeless. Israel's efforts to drive a wedge between Hamas and its supporters have consistently failed: Gazans reliably side with Hamas over Israel. But they are less forgiving of Hamas for Gaza's international isolation, the pariah status the Islamists defiantly embraced when the West withdrew aid because of Hamas' terrorist activities. In an enclave so difficult to leave, the isolation "makes you feel that you're a less-deserving human," one young blogger says.
I don't believe that anything Israel did was designed to "drive a wedge between Hamas and its supporters," but to protect itself from terrorism. The "isolation" in the second paragraph, is secondary to the corruption. How will average residents of Gaza feel when they see that Hamas spared no expense in releasing Shalit and welcoming terrorists? I also don't buy that Netanyahu was motivated to make the deal in order to undermine Abbas. No doubt that was a benefit; but not a lasting one. I think that Aaron David Miller had it mostly right (h/t HR's Mideast Cheat Sheet):
But now that it is done (or almost so), what exactly does it all mean? First, let's not have any illusions here: The deal for Shalit was self-contained; it offers no first phase of a broader political deal between Israel and Hamas, no Act I in some kind of modus-vivendi play with a happy ending to break open the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There was an opportunity and Netanyahu took it along with the risks involved.

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