Monday, July 20, 2009

Ziosweat Israel International Media Monitoring (July 12-19, 2009)

Sources Monitored: CNN, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, BBC News, The Associated Press, Reuters

The Iranian Threat and the Disputed Presidential Election After-Math:

Recent intensification of coverage of Israel’s preparation for a potential war with Iran continues to hit the international media. The Associated Press (AP) reports on a successful Israeli anti-missile live fire test, while The Times reports that two Israeli missile class warships on Tuesday sailed through the Suez Canal 10 days after an Israeli submarine capable of launching nuclear missile strikes also sailed through the Suez Canal.

Ziosweat Analysis: The reason behind the sudden increase in exposure of the Israeli Defense Forces’ activities in international media may be directly linked with failing U.S. policies in Iran. President Barack Obama has preached about “exhausting diplomatic efforts” since his campaign, and continues to do so. Since the widespread police and militia brutality against the election protesters in Iran, the world and the U.S. public are starting to understand that perhaps these are not the kind of leaders that you can have constructive, diplomatic talks with. So far the Iranian leaders (Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) have not implied in any way a halt to their nuclear ambitions or an interest in serious talks with the Obama Administration. Moreover, “if Obama now spoke with Ahmadinejad, it would be as if he were granting legitimacy to an oppressive and violent regime.“ Yaakov Katz, a journalist for The Jerusalem Post continues, “This is where Israel comes into play. Biden can use Israel to threaten Iran that if it doesn't settle down at the negotiating table, who knows what the Netanyahu government might do.” Katz mentions U.S. Vice President Biden because Biden has recently said in an ABC interview that “Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.”

Troublesome news from both the AP and Haaretz state that Iran could have a nuclear bomb within six months. Al Jazeera and AP articles analyze U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s address to the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington on Wednesday. Her address was described by Al Jazeera as a “strong message to Iran, saying it is running out of time to engage in dialogue over its nuclear programme to avoid further isolation or even military action.”

Political instability continues to be the theme in Iranian news, as a key Iranian cleric, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani warned Iranian leaders and called on Friday for the release of people arrested after last month’s disputed presidential election, CNN reports. He warned: "The system cannot lose them. If the system reproaches them they will come back to us." The Guardian published an article revealing Iran’s next move: intimidation, as Iranian police officers publicly hanged 13 “convicted terrorists” in south-eastern Iran this week. Ian Black, the Middle East editor for The Guardian writes: “Analysts believe this spate of executions is meant to assert the regime's authority amid the worst unrest Iran has seen since the 1979 revolution.”

IDF Soldiers’ claims of irregularities during Cast Lead

This week there has been widespread international media focus on a group of (unidentified) IDF soldiers who claim that there were “irregularities” during the operation Cast Lead in Gaza six months ago. These anonymous soldiers claim that Palestinians were used as human shields, CNN reports, or that there were “no clear red lines” (AP). Al Jazeera, who also covered the scoop stated that “the Israeli military has rejected the criticisms leveled against it, saying in a statement the they were ‘based on hearsay’.”

Ziosweat Analysis: Besides what a small group of unidentified people are claiming, it is an indisputable fact that the IDF is one of the world’s most moral armies. More on this coming up on Ziosweat. The reason such loose accusations (no information whatsoever was provided about the so-called “irregularities” or the people involved) receive so much international media attention is because of its clear bias to report news that shed light on Israel in an unflattering way. I have heard this phenomenon in first person from a local journalist who is one of the first people international media contacts in the event of a story in the West Bank or Gaza. He said to me that if there was an IDF soldier shouting at a Palestinian it is possible that CNN would send a helicopter to cover the incident. But if there are public executions of several Arab journalists in the middle of a public square in Ramallah, international journalists do not view it as an adequate story.

Lebanon: Hezbollah Explosion, Rearming

International media widely reported on an explosion of a two-story building that held Hezbollah arms cashe in southern Lebanon on Wednesday. The UN called it a “serious violation” (AP) while Haaretz reported that the UN learned of the Hezbollah arms cache months ago. The New York Times noted how this incident is “evidence of Hezbollah’s rearming” and how “this epitomizes the problem that we are facing in south Lebanon,” Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, head of the Israeli military’s operations branch, said in a telephone briefing for foreign journalists. “This non-state terror organization is growing and becoming a semi-military organization. It poses a major threat to the state of Israel.”

Following the incident the AP reported later in the week that Lebanese villagers threw stones at U.N. peacekeeping troops, lightly injuring 14 soldiers, in an attempt to prevent an investigation near the site of the recent explosion. AP continues, “under the U.N. resolution, a 13,300-member U.N. peacekeeping force from 28 nations was deployed along Lebanon's border with Israel to help 15,000 Lebanese government troops extend their authority into the south for the first time in decades and create a buffer zone free of Hezbollah fighters.”

Ziosweat Analysis: This so-called U.N. peacekeeping troops is one of the biggest security liabilities in the modern history of peacekeeping. Three years after the war ended with Hezbollah, they have now managed to rearm from about 3,000 rockets to almost 50,000 rockets that now have the capabilities of reaching most of Israel, including Tel Aviv. Right under the nose of over 13,000 U.N. troops. This was highlighted in an article published earlier this month by Maariv with the headline “Hezbollah can hit Tel Aviv with 600 rockets daily, for 60 days.” Hezbollah has claimed that their goal is to reach 1,000 rockets daily, for 60 days.

Jewish Settlements

Ziosweat Analysis: One of the biggest issues since U.S. President Obama took office earlier this year has been the Jewish Settlements in the West Bank. No other topic receives such diverse coverage in the international press. Most coverage condemns the continuous building of settlements, while domestic coverage tries to, as always, focus on the real obstacle to peace which is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State and the threat of a nuclear Iran.

A prominent journalist who explains this issue with both clarity and blatancy is Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli-Arab journalist with a Palestinian mother. He says, “I wish the settlements were the problem” because it can be solved by the Israelis. If settlements were the problem, he argues, then Gaza would now be at peace. After all, the Israelis pulled out in 2005. But the result has been war — war among the Palestinians, war with Israel. “The real obstacle to peace is not a Jew building a settlement but the failure of the Palestinians to have a government. Is there a partner on the Palestinian side for peace talks? No.”

Moreover, Mr. Abu Toameh accurately claims that the “high-profile controversy over Israel's policy of building new homes for Jewish settlements has in fact facilitated Hamas's mission.”

Palestinian Leadership: Hamas, Fatah, PA, PLO

The Jerusalem Post reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated last Sunday his refusal to resume peace talks with Israel unless Binyamin Netanyahu's government accepted the two-state solution and agreed to freeze all construction in the settlements in the West Bank. One week later the newspaper reports that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad has made a fresh appeal to the United States for a plan and a timetable aimed at resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. "I call anew on the United States to come up with a plan and a timetable for its application that will contribute to put an end to Jewish settlements and Israeli offensives, and lead to serious negotiations," Fayad was quoted by AFP as saying on Saturday.

In foreign media BBC News reported last Monday a direct response to Abbas’ demands for resuming peace negotiations. Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Mr Abbas “was not exactly legitimate” and was therefore in no position to make demands on the Israeli leadership. Mr. Lieberman also rejected a call by outgoing EU foreign policy Chief Javier Solana for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state if Israel and the Palestinians fail to reach a peace agreement by a certain deadline.

"With all due respect to Solana, he's about to retire ... and we should not overstate the importance of his statement," Mr. Lieberman said.

An article published by The Jerusalem Post last Sunday reinforced Mr. Lieberman’s statement. Written by a well-respected Arab-Israeli journalist, Mr. Abu Toameh reports that Egypt has decided to temporarily suspend its efforts to mediate between Hamas and Fatah after the two rival parties rejected Cairo's latest proposals for ending the conflict.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, said that the Egyptian team did not bring new proposals for solving the conflict…He said differences over the status of the Palestinian security forces and the possibility of forming a joint Hamas-Fatah police apparatus in the Gaza Strip were among the main reasons for the mediation efforts' failure. The two parties have also failed to resolve their differences on most of the outstanding issues, such as the political agenda of a unity government and holding new presidential and parliamentary elections, Ahmed said.

CNN submitted an article and video (from the archives of PMW) regarding a kids TV-show that praises Gaza mom’s suicide bombing.

The Jerusalem Post also reports on the first Qassam rocket to be launched at Israel in over a month.

Ziosweat Analysis: As opposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mr. Abbas paradoxically rejects to resume peace negotiations. I say paradoxically because Mr. Netanyahu has everything to offer Mr. Abbas, whereas Abbas has nothing to offer Netanyahu. As seen from previous articles, Mr. Abbas barely controls half of the Palestinian population after having fled the Gaza Strip after Hamas out-gunned Fatah. Moreover there seems to be no progress made between Hamas and Fatah, so who would Netanyahu actually hand the Palestinian state to? Certainly not Hamas who will never recognize Israel’s right to exist (and are very open about it). How about Fatah and Mr. Abbas? Once the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be joined by a thin strip of land cutting Israel in half, won’t history repeat itself and Hamas will overthrow once again a weak Fatah? If the status quo remains, this is certainly the assumption of most Middle Eastern experts and governments.

So what does the “not exactly legitimate” leader of the Palestinian people? He knows he cannot handle a Palestinian State today, and therefore rejects talks based on a completely new issue (or excuse?): the total freezing of Jewish Settlements. An excuse to refuse peace talks handed to the Palestinian leadership by Mr. Obama. While the Obama administration increases the pressure on Netanyahu to accept a two-state solution and a total freeze on settlements, the Palestinian leadership can sit back and enjoy the show. Why should they offer anything they don’t want to give up when the Americans will do the dirty work (negotiations) for them?

These articles clearly show that President Obama has (unintentionally) given the Palestinian leaders another ace up their sleeve.

While Palestinians are killing each other over power, money and territory, spreading hate propaganda via kids TV shows, firing Qassam rockets at Israeli civilians; apparently the real obstacle to peace is the Jewish father isolating his garage so his mother can move in with the family.

Financial Coverage

There was promising international financial coverage this week as Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer told Fox News, “Israel remained relatively free from severe damage in the worldwide financial crisis and stands to be one of the world’s safest places for investors.” Fischer noted that several foreign companies, such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Google have recently opened production and development centers in the Jewish state. “Americans tend to be very concerned about pictures on TV of the violence. In terms of capital investment, exporting and importing, that part of business is relatively easy. [Israel has] a highly-skilled work force that’s highly motivated. It’s an exciting place, but most impressive is the talent and the interesting people.”

Sports – The 18th Maccabiah Games

International media briefly covered the opening ceremony of the 18th Maccabiah Games that will include almost 8,000 athletes from 56 countries. The New York Times published an article about one of the U.S. Olympic gold medallists, Jason Lezak, the swimmer who finished the relay that allowed Michael Phelps to break the all-time gold medals count in the same Olympic Games. Lezak chose the Maccabiah over the World Championships in Rome, justifying his decision by saying “This is the perfect time in my career to do something like this…Finally I’ve gotten to a point in my career where I have done enough.”

Immigration (Aliyah)

One of the underlying reasons behind Israel’s success as a Jewish State over the past 60 years is largely due to its ability to handle mass immigration. This issue continues to receive favourable domestic and international coverage.

The Jerusalem Post reports on The Immigrant Absorption Ministry celebrating a milestone by helping its 30,000th newcomer find a job in Israel. Claudia Katz, the director of employment in Immigrant Absorption Ministry was quoted saying "We have a 76% success rate [employment of 12 consecutive months]. Roughly 38,350 people have been admitted to our centers, out of which slightly over 30,000 have found jobs. The project costs NIS 12 million a year at a cost of NIS 3,130 per immigrant and is the most cost-efficient employment program in the ministry." She showed that government income from taxes generated by workers placed by the centers came to well over NIS 1 billion.

International media reports that “Israel may admit 3,000 Ethiopia migrants if Jews” (Reuters) and that “around 2,000 French Jews to move to Israel this year” (Agence France Press). Earlier this month Haaretz reported that Israel expects to absorb 15 percent more new arrivals this year compared to last year. This would be the first year of an increase in rate of Aliyah, after years of decline in immigration.

Other Categories

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was mentioned extensively in international media as he invited Abbas for peace talks (The Financial Times), reaffirmed that “Palestinian recognition of Jewish state [is] ‘key’ to peace,” (The Jerusalem Post) and is considering to speak to the United Nation’s General Assmbly in September which will be attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Arutz Sheva)

Barack Obama coverage has been relatively limited this week, even though he starred in a feature article for The Financial Times, “The Middle East chess game Obama needs to win.” The Jerusalem Post reported that the U.S. is gaining ground (partly as a result of Obama’s well received June 4 speech in Cairo) among the Arab public following a survey where approximately half of the Arabs questioned agree that “if Iran does not accept new restrictions and more international oversight of its nuclear program, the Arabs should support stronger sanctions against Iran around the end of this year.”

Ultra-Orthodox protests in Jerusalem: The Associated Press reports, “In recent weeks, ultra-Orthodox Jews and authorities have clashed repeatedly over a decision by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to open a municipal parking lot on the Sabbath. Ultra-Orthodox Jews oppose the idea because driving is forbidden on the Sabbath. Police and ultra-Orthodox protesters have clashed nightly since Tuesday, and smoldering trash cans and broken glass still littered Jerusalem streets Friday after overnight battles.”

Gilad Shalit – 1,121 Days and Counting: The Jerusalem Post reports, “Hadas ends first round of Schalit talks in Cairo” after last weeks announcement by Egyptian President Mubarak that Schalit was in good condition and expressed hope he would be released soon. A Hamas official later dismissed Mubarak’s comments as “wishful thinking.”

In other news: “The Legal Assault on Israel is Gathering Speed,” The Jerusalem Post; “Saudis Step Up Efforts to Repair Syria Ties,” The Wall Street Journal; “Britain Says Israel Misused U.K. Arms,” The Wall Street Journal; “Fugitive U.S. white supremacist captured in Israel,” CNN; “World Bank to give Palestinians $33.5m in aid,” The Jerusalem Post; “PA suspends Al-Jazeera in West Bank,” The Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera; “Saudis Step Up Efforts to Repair Syria Ties,” The Wall Street Journal.

Monitoring Results (19/7/2009) and Sources Referenced:

*To find these articles copy and paste the title (and source) to Google News or Yahoo News.

The Iranian Threat and The Disputed Presidential Election After-Math:

  • “Analysis: Is the PM shifting the Obama administration's attention from the Palestinian issue to Iran?,” The Jerusalem Post, By Yaakov Katz (6/7/2009)
  • “Diplomats: Iran has means to test bomb in 6 months,” The Associated Press, By George Jahn (17/7/2009)
  • “Analysis: The nucleus of an opportunity,” The Jerusalem Post, By Helit Barel (12/6/2009)
  • Israel anti-missile system passes live fire test,” The Associated Press, By Steve Weizman (15/7/2009)
  • Israel to hold missile test in US,” Al Jazeera (15/7/2009)
  • ”Report: Israel preparing Iran attack,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency (16/7/2009)
  • Iran names new head of atomic energy body,” Reuters (17/7/2009)
  • Clinton warns Iran on engagement,” The Associated Press, By Matthew Lee (15/7/2009)
  • “US tells Iran 'time running out',” Al Jazeera (16/7/2009)
  • “Execution of 13 for terror attacks reveals Iran's next move: intimidation,” The Guardian, By Ian Black (16/7/2009)
  • “Clashes as key Iranian cleric warns leaders,” CNN (18/7/2009)

IDF Soldiers’ claims of irregularities during Cast Lead

  • “IDF soldiers give testimonies to counter Gaza war crimes claims,” Haaretz, By Cnaan Lipshiz (16/7/2009)
  • “Report claims Israelis used Palestinians as human shields,” CNN, By Kevin Flower and Paula Hancocks (15/7/2009)
  • “Israeli soldiers: 'No clear red lines' in Gaza war,” The Associated Press, By Steve Weizman (16/7/2009)
  • Israel troops speak out on Gaza war,” Al Jazeera (15/7/2009)

Lebanon: Hezbollah Explosion, Rearming

  • “Israel Sees Evidence of Hezbollah’s Rearming in Explosion,” The New York Times, By Ethan Bronner (15/7/2009)
  • Israel informed UN of Hezbollah cache months ago,” Haaretz, By Barak Ravid, Zvi Bar’el, Amos Harel and Jack Khoury (19/7/2009)
  • Israel: Lebanon blast shows Hezbollah stocking weapons,” CNN (15/7/2009)
  • “IDF: Hizbullah hiding rockets in homes,” The Jerusalem Post, By Yaakov Katz (15/7/2009)
  • “UN says south Lebanon weapons cache a violation,” The Associated Press, By Zeina Karam (15/7/2009)
  • “Lebanese stone UN peacekeepers, injure 14, The Associated Press, By Bassem Mroue (18/7/2009)

Jewish Settlements

  • "Arab Writer: Obama Focus on Settlements Benefits Hamas," Arutz Sheva, By Hillel Fendel (9/7/2009)
  • "How to Achieve a Lasting Peace," The Washington Post, By Ehud Olmert (17/7/2009)
  • "Defending the indefensible settlements," The Guardian, By Richard Silverstein (13/7/2009)
  • U.S. tells Israel to halt East Jerusalem building,” Haaretz, By Avi Issacharoff (19/7/2009)
  • “Abbas: Israel not respecting int'l law with settlement building,” The Jerusalem Post and AP (18/7/2009)

Palestinian Leadership: Hamas, Fatah, PA, PLO

  • “Abbas says he won't meet Netanyahu,” The Jerusalem Post, By Khaled Abu Toameh and Haviv Rettig Gur (12/7/2009)
  • “Israel FM queries Abbas authority,” BBC News (13/7/2009)
  • Egypt calls off Hamas-Fatah mediation,” The Jerusalem Post, By Khaled Abu Toameh (12/7/2009)
  • “Kids TV praises Gaza mom's suicide bombing,” CNN, By Paula Hancocks (16/7/2009)
  • “PLO calls estranged leader Qaddoumi 'deranged',” The Jerusalem Post, By Khaled Abu Toameh (15/7/2009)
  • “Fayad calls on US for new plan to promote peace talks with Israel,” The Jerusalem Post (19/7/2009)
  • “Palestinians fire Kassam after long lull,” The Jerusalem Post (16/7/2009)

Financial Coverage

  • “Fischer: Israel One of World’s Safest Places for Investors,” Arutz Sheva, By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (19/7/2009)
  • “June CPI shocks with 0.9% leap,” Haaretz, By Tal Levy and Moti Bassok (17/7/2009)

Sports – The 18th Maccabiah Games

  • "Drawn to Israel for Maccabiah Games," The New York Times, By Dina Kraft (11/7/2009)
  • "Israel stun Russia to reach Davis Cup semis," CNN (11/7/2009)
  • "NBA Hall-of-Famer says games in Israel forged his Jewish identity," Haaretz, By Steve Klein (18/7/2009)


  • "Immigrant employment centers mark successful decade," The Jerusalem Post, By Ron Friedman (19/7/2009)
  • "Around 2,000 French Jews to move to Israel this year," Agence France Press (16/7/2009)
  • "Israel braces for influx of new immigrants this summer," Haaretz, By Jonathan Lis (5/7/2009)


  • Britain Says Israel Misused U.K. Arms,” The Wall Street Journal, By Charles Levinson and Alistair Macdonald (14/7/2009)
  • “Fugitive U.S. white supremacist captured in Israel,” CNN (14/7/2009)

Benjamin Netanyahu

  • “Netanyahu invites Palestinian leader for peace talks,” The Financial Times, By Dina Kraft (13/7/2009)
  • “Netanyahu: Palestinians could achieve more if they cooperated,” Haaretz, By Barak Ravid (15/7/2009)
  • “Netanyahu: Palestinian recognition of Jewish state 'key' to peace,” The Jerusalem Post (12/7/2009)
  • “Netanyahu Considering UN Speech,” Arutz Sheva (16/7/2009)

Barack Obama

  • “The Middle East chess game Obama needs to win,” The Financial Times, By Philip Stephens (16/7/2009)
  • “Analysis: 'Arab street' polls: US gaining ground, Iran losing,” The Jerusalem Post, By David Pollock (12/7/2009)
  • U.S. Agrees to Resettle Palestinians Displaced by Iraq War,” The Wall Street Journal, By Miriam Jordan (17/7/2009)

Ultra-Orthodox protests in Jerusalem

  • “Authorities hope court deal will end ultra-Orthodox protests,” CNN (17/7/2009)
  • Jerusalem court and ultra-Orthodox reach deal,” The Associated Press, By Steve Weizman (17/7/2009)

Gilad Shalit – 1,121 Days and Counting

  • Hadas ends first round of Schalit talks in Cairo,” The Jerusalem Post and Associated Press (14/7/2009)

The West Bank and Gaza

  • West Bank boom,” The Jerusalem Post, By Khaled Abu Tomaeh (17/7/2009)
  • “Signs of Hope Emerge in the West Bank,” The New York Times, By Ethan Bronner (16/7/2009)
  • “IMF: West Bank economy can grow if Israel eases up,” The Associated Press (15/7/2009)
  • “World Bank to give Palestinians $33.5m. in aid,” The Jerusalem Post, By Tovah Lazaroff (14/7/2009)
  • “PA suspends Al-Jazeera in West Bank,” The Jerusalem Post, By Khaled Abu Toameh (15/7/2009)
  • Al Jazeera West Bank ban 'revoked',” Al Jazeera (18/7/2009)