Israeli readers woke up this morning to a deafening, orchestrated drumroll, with the headlines of all four Israeli dailies beating out a steady call for war. The soloist of this dubious ensemble was Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit, who was given prime-space on top of the Haaretz to interview Defence Minister Ehud Barak, hilariously presented as an anonymous but senior "decision-maker". Noam picked out the important bits of today's papers in general and the interview in particular in his post earlier today. I just wanted to dwell briefly on the style of the Barak interview and the role Shavit, still seen…Read More... | 14 Comments
The top stories in all Israeli dailies this weekend discuss a coming strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Thirty-seven percent of Israelis think President Obama would stop Iran from developing a bomb, while only 29 percent doubt it. The front page headlines in all major daily papers in Israel deal with the increased likelihood of a war with Iran. Yedioth Aharonoth has an important expose: the paper's diplomatic correspondents, Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, report that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has gathered senior army generals twice (the latest meeting took place at Mossad headquarters) in order to obtain their support for…Read More... | 7 Comments
One of these lazy, sunny days, we're likely to hear on the news that Israel has just bombed Iran. The question of whether Israel will soon attack Iran is one of those things where your senses completely deceive you. The more Israeli politicians and generals talk about it, the closer it seems, and the more fearful you become - but the bombast is a good sign that it's not about to happen because if it was, they wouldn't be talking about it so loud for Iran to hear. No, it's when the rhetoric has quieted down, when things seem too peaceful for a war to just suddenly break out - when…Read More... | 32 Comments
The unequal dynamic in the negotiating room guarantees that neither peace nor justice will come out of direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said this week that without a complete settlement freeze, talks with Israel will not resume. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that "Abbas has turned his back on peace with Israel." Both statements, it seemed, were directed at international listeners, those who still repeat every now and then the mantra that "direct negotiations are the key to resolution of the conflict." In fact, right now, direct negotiations are the exact recipe…Read More... | 35 Comments
I noticed that whenever an Israeli pundit wants to show that there is something shady or untrustworthy about the White House's policy, he calls the president by his full name. This one is from Ari Shavit, a top columnist for Haaretz (my bold): Weak leadership and a lack of moral clarity continue to characterize Obama. Instead of leading the Arab world to a good place, he’s being dragged along with it to a bad one. (...) The summer of 2011 is the summer of Barack Hussein Obama. If he does not stabilize the Middle East this summer, a regional avalanche…Read More... | 6 Comments
One of Israel’s prominent pundits subscribes to conspiracy theories, and has strange views of the Arab world. Every time I make the mistake and read yet another article by Ari Shavit – the great bloviator of Israeli pundits – I later wonder why I did this to myself again. For the past few months I forced myself to let it slide, ignore the pompous ranting. Thursday’s column was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Let’s fisk (*) it. To avoid the charge he is being partial to Arab autocrats, Shavit beings his article with: there is no doubt -…Read More... | 3 Comments
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