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Monday, November 28, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Sunday, November 27 (which actually came in long after I went to sleep last night).
1) Revolutions pit the Lexus vs. the olive tree

In his latest column about the "Arab Spring" (which as InstaPundit notes, doesn't seem so "springy" these days), In the Arab World, It’s the Past vs. the Future, Thomas Friedman pays tribute to ... himself:
But the weight of their history is so heavy. The new Lexus-like values of “democracy,” “free elections,” “citizen rights” and “modernity” will have to compete with some very old Olive Tree ideas and passions. These include the age-old civil wars within Islam between Sunnis and Shiites, over who should dominate the faith, the heated struggle between Salafists and modernists over whether the 21st century should be embraced or rejected, as well as the ancient tribal and regional struggles playing out within each of these societies. Last, but not least, you have the struggle between the entrenched military/crony elites and the masses. These struggles from the “past” always threaten to rise up, consume any new movement for change and bury “the future.”
I guess this reference to "Salafists and modernists" is his way of warning about the Muslim Brotherhood. However, until now he has been mostly quiet about the Islamist threat to Egypt.

For example in the previous paragraph Friedman wrote:
Outsiders often underestimate just how much these Arab youths are determined to limit the powers of their militaries as a necessary step for achieving true democracy. What you see in Egypt today are young people from across the political spectrum and classes who are willing to join forces, break ranks with their own parties and return to Tahrir Square to press for real freedom. This is a generational rupture. It is the old versus the young. It is the insiders (the adults) versus the outsiders (the youth). It is the privileged old guard versus the disadvantaged young guard. These young Egyptians, and Syrians, who have stopped fearing their military masters, are determined to unleash a true transformation in their world. We should be on their side.
Implicitly here, he seems to be saying even the Islamists would "join forces ... to press for real freedom."

So how would Friedman explain this? Cairo rally: One day we'll kill all Jews (via memeorandum):
Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen, as well as Palestinian guest speakers, made explicit calls for Jihad and for liberating the whole of Palestine. Time and again, a Koran quote vowing that "one day we shall kill all the Jews" was uttered at the site. Meanwhile, businessmen in the crowd were urged to invest funds in Jerusalem in order to prevent the acquisition of land and homes by Jews.
Throughout the event, Muslim Brotherhood activists chanted: "Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, judgment day has come."
Speaking to Ynet outside the mosque following the prayer, elementary school teacher Ala al-Din said that "all Egyptian Muslims are willing to embark on Jihad for the sake of Palestine."
So is the voice of the Lexus or of the olive tree?

Just saw this tweet from Shadi Hamid.
I'm at a Salafi "meeting" in Tahrir Sq. The speaker has an ipad and is quoting Dale Carnegie.
Maybe it isn't the Lexus vs. the olive tree; but how effectively the "olive tree" uses the "Lexus."

2) Sauce for Peace Now

After five members of the Fogel family were butchered by terrorists earlier this year, the Washington Post reported:
The Fogel family chose to live a routine life in Itamar. Their murders put them in the limelight. The regular incitement against Israelis and Jews was largely ignored by the media attention but could be seen as emblematic of the extremist challenge to Israel's existence, the peace process and the unlearned lessons of the Ze'evi assassination.
Actually, that's not what the Washington Post reported.

Rather, the Washington Post reported today that In Israel, concerns about stifling of dissent:
Ofran, 36, who prefers to work quietly in Peace Now’s unmarked office, was thrust uneasily into the limelight. The graffiti threats, following a similar incident at her home in September, generated intense media attention and were seen as emblematic of the extremist challenge to Israeli democracy and the unlearned lessons of the Rabin assassination.
The article, written by Joel Greenberg is presented strictly from Peace Now's perspective. There's something odd about this.
Addressing a rally in Tel Aviv marking the anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, Ofran said that the latest rightist initiatives in parliament were part of an attempt “to silence public debate,” and had inspired violence and threats against dissenters.
“What some people do to us on the street with spray paint and threats, parliament and the government are trying to do to us by legislation,” she said.
There is something ironic about complaining about the stifling of dissent at a public rally. Towards the end of the article, Greenberg quotes Ofran again:
“Our focus is Israeli public opinion, to constantly raise the issue for debate, so that journalists will report it and people will talk about it,” Ofran said. She added that while the graffiti threats against her were unsettling, they had not intimidated her from carrying on with her work, though she is keeping a more watchful eye on her surroundings.
Note how careful she is here. She's claiming that her main goal is to influence Israeli public opinion. It's one way of sidestepping the issue of European funding.

At the end of the article Ofran shows her contempt for Israel's public at large:
While Israelis of most political persuasions have come to realize that settlements will have to be evacuated as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, there is little faith that such an agreement is possible, Ofran said. In the meantime, she argues, settlement expansion makes a two-state solution to the conflict progressively more difficult.
“Most of the Israeli public is apathetic about this issue and has despaired of peace,” Ofran said. “This terrible despair enables settlement to continue. It’s not that the public supports it. The public just doesn’t care enough.”
Ofran, is identified as being 36. In other words her entire adult life has been post-Oslo. Israel withdrew from territories in 1995 (most of Judea and Samaria), 2000 (southern Lebanon) and 2005 (Gaza). Each of these withdrawals was followed by an increase in terrorists attacks against Israel. Israelis haven't "despaired" of peace, but they are skeptical that what Ofran and her organization promote will bring peace. It hasn't so far. But Peace Now lacks the self-awareness to question their certitude about how to bring peace even if their own prescription has failed time after time.

Finally, it's worth noting that towards the end of the article Greenberg reports:
Aharonovitch, the public security minister, told parliament that the threats against Ofran and Peace Now were under “vigorous investigation” and that a suspect had been arrested.
A suspect in the Peace Now attacks was arrested three weeks ago. As is the case with anyone who threatens someone else he should be prosecuted and if found guilty, punished accordingly. This is old news. Unless one wants to claim that the government's actions are encouraging the violence. (I would argue that the opposite is true. If those who oppose Peace Now's activities are trying to find legal ways to expose its agenda, it gives hoodlums less reason to attack them.) Clearly that's what Hagit Ofran and Peace Now want to do. That Greenberg does it too, exposes his reporting as activism.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see an official Peace Now statement on the Fogel murders. Here's what I found:
"This attack is horrifying. We strongly condemn it. We hope that the Israeli and Palestinian security forces will act to find the perpetrators," Said Debra DeLee, APN's president and CEO. "The leaders of the Palestinian Authority acted appropriately by immediately and unequivocally condemning the attack, and Prime Minister Netanyahu appropriately warned Israeli settlers against acts of retribution," DeLee added.
Despite the strong language in the beginning, the praise Abbas was generous (and misplaced), given that his words were spoken on Israeli radio, not in the Palestinian media, which were rife with incitement before the murders.

But scanning the few comments left at the site, once included the following sentiments:
As for the settlers, they are all land stealing bastards. What they may think is of no interest to me.
When the Israelis steal land from the Palestinians, the Palestinians fight back and are called terrorists.
There were other offensive comments, but this was the worst. I understand that no organization can prevent louts from posting comments. But for an organization that is now complaining about incitement, to let such a comment (and similar ones) stand without comment is hypocritical.

3) More on 'pinkwashing'

Israel Matzav links to an article by Yossi Klein Halevi about two Palestinian gay men who fled to Israel to avoid persecution. This shows how silly Sarah Schulman's assertion, "Homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West Bank since the 1950s, when anti-sodomy laws imposed under British colonial influence were removed from the Jordanian penal code, which Palestinians follow" is.

Fresno Zionism writes:
The New York Times will apparently print anything that is anti-Israel no matter how stupid or illogical — viz. Roger Cohen, Thomas Friedman, and Nicholas Kristoff — or authored by terrorists, like op-eds by Hamas official Ahmed Yousef. Today it gave its anti-Zionist pulpit to Sarah Schulman, an activist from Jewish Voice for Peace, the only Jewish organization to make the ADL’s list of the top ten anti-Israel groups in the nation.
Legal Insurrection writes:
Every time one thinks it is impossible for Israel haters to come out with a more bizarre justification for hating Israel, someone comes up with an even more bizarre justification.
Today’s exhibit is City University of New York Professor Sara Schulman, who is feverishly anti-Israeli to the extent of advocating the boycott of Israeli universities based on the standard Islamist-Leftist accusation of Israeli Apartheid.
Daled Amos writes:
... maybe it is Sarah Schulman herself who is guilty of pinkwashing--abusing the term for her own agenda and whitewashing the persecution of gays in the Muslim world.
And finally, Elder of Ziyon, makes this devastating observation:
Since the critics define Israel this way, they assume that Israel defines itself this way as well. If Israel exhibits any whiff of charity, or liberalism, or kindness - it is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover for its genocidal, racist ways. The idea that Israel has both good and bad parts, or that different Israelis (outside the enlightened anti-Zionist variety) can ever do something different or orthogonal to their real goal of oppressing Arabs, is simply not possible. If some Israelis start a charitable organization it is not because they actually want to help people, but because they want to cover up their constant crimes. Kindness and morality are not possible, so any examples must really be sophisticated manifestations of Israel's inherent evil.
To these sick people, it is literally impossible for Israel or Israelis to do anything admirable outside the context of the conflict. The conflict is everything. To them, Israel itself is defined by its own desire to rid itself of Arabs. Any counter-proof is readily dismissed as nothing more than PR. The concept that most Israelis are just trying to live their lives like everyone else, and that they might even be nice, normal, relatable people, must be combated. If Israelis are perceived by the world as human beings, their message of Israeli criminality gets diluted - and that must be fought. Anything that could blunt the demonization of the Jewish state is by definition as evil as the Jewish state itself is.
This is hate, pure and simple. It is the exact opposite of the liberalism these haters profess. It is the bigoted stereotyping of an entire people and their democratically elected government in order to twist reality to reflect their own visceral loathing.
This reminds me of a cartoon from Mad magazine many years ago. (The details are from memory, so they may not be exact, but the point stands.)

The feature was titled "You can't win with a bigot." In one series, two waiters are discussing a party dining at their restaurant. One says to the other, "They're cheap Jews. Bet they won't tip." The next scene shows the second waiter exclaiming, "Wow, what a generous tip." The first one responds, "Well what do you expect, they own all the banks!"

The Schulman op-ed had all the sophistication of the bigoted cartoon waiter. There is no virtue that Israel has that can't be portrayed as a vice. The problem is less a hack like Shulman, than that the once prestigious New York Times stoops to publishing such hate filled drivel.

4) Speaking of "pinkwashing"

In a followup to his post on "pinkwashing," Prof. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection notes a new medical therapy originating in Israel. At the end of his post, he writes:
You don’t see Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the Mullahs in Iran using all their medical breakthroughs for propaganda purposes.
I believe that his point is that closed societies aren't generally known for medical breakthroughs that benefit all of mankind. (Apartheid era South Africa is the obvious exception because of heart transplants.)

This brings me to a great story I saw last week. I know that this a press release and not officially "news" (though sometimes the difference is hard to tell these days.) Israel's Save a Child's Heart writes about the Ethiopian orphan saved by SACH now saves children:
A [27] year old man, Yared Worde, arrived in Israel on Sunday November 20th for a very special visit; this is Yared’s first visit to Israel since his life was saved in 1999 by Save a Child’s Heart at the Wolfson Medical Center.
Born in 1984, Yared was an orphan who lived on the streets of Addis Abba scrounging for food and basic existence. When he was twelve, he was diagnosed as having rheumatic heart disease. Yared’s doctor referred him to the Save a Child’s Heart program and he was brought to Israel where he underwent life saving heart surgery.
Today Yared is the Director of “Saint Yared School” in Addis Abba, a school that fights poverty through education and provides education to the city’s poorest and unprivileged children.
By the way, when you look at the results, can you guess where the largest share of children saved by this organization come from?

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