Bibi Goes to Washington

Posted: May 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The NYT editorial from May 11th dealt with the much anticipated Obama-Netanyahu meeting that will take place this Monday, May 18th. It seems that while in Israel Netanyahu was able to reestablished his credibility before entering his second term as Prime Minister, the US media – and this probably goes for many Washington officials as well – still holds the image of the old Bibi. The NYT’s editorial demonstrates this well:

In his video speech to […] the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Mr. Netanyahu said he wants peace with the Palestinians. He even committed to negotiations “without any delay and without any preconditions.” But it rings hollow. He has resisted - and his foreign minister and unity government partner, Avigdor Lieberman, has openly derided - the two-state solution that is the only sensible basis for a lasting settlement that could anchor a regional peace.

“Hollow”? The best public speaker we ever had? That hurts. And there’s more:

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Netanyahu’s Daily Paper, Courtesy of the Richest Jew on Earth

Posted: April 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

israel-hayom

Talking to none-Israeli friends, I am often asked about the political affiliation of Israeli publications, or of certain reporters. So I have decided to dedicate a few posts to the Hebrew media, with an emphasis on the political role it plays (I don’t know the Israeli Media in Arabic and Russian well enough to comment on it).

I will start with a new and unique phenomena: A paper that was established to promote the interests of a specific politician, one Benjamin Netanyahu.

There are other major papers in the West which are known to support political parties or a certain ideology – but I don’t know of any paper that was launched with the intent to gain political influence, to promote one persons’ campaign to power, and doesn’t even attempt to make profit.

Israel Hayom is a free daily tabloid in Hebrew, established in 2008. Its Publisher is the American multi billionaire Sheldon Adelson, “the richest Jew on earth”, who made his fortune in the Casino business in Las Vegas and Macao. The paper has a circulation of 255,000 copies on weekdays, and currently has no Weekend edition. According to the January 2009 TGI poll, Israel Hayom is read by 23.2 percent of the Jewish public, which makes it second only to the tabloid “Yedioth Ahronoth”. The paper’s chief editor is Amos Regev. Israel Hayom has a web site in Hebrew that presents the paper’s printed edition in PDF format.

Sheldon Adelson, the owner on Israel Hayom (the name means “Israel Today” in Hebrew) is a known supporter of the Republican Party, George W Bush and Benjamin Netanyahu. Adelson never hid his discontent with the Israeli media, which, he often claimed, is biased to the left and not appreciative enough towards Netanyahu.
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The Camp David Casualties

Posted: March 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Shlomo Ben Ami, Israel’s Foreign minister and Internal Security minister under Ehud Barak, was interviewed this weekend by Maariv (in fact, I edited this article). Ben Ami, who took part in the failed Camp David summit between Barak, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat, has retired from politics and now heads the Toledo Peace Center. Talking from his office in Spain, he had some warm words for Barak, Ehud Olmert, and most notably, Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he described as a “very intelligent, knowledgeable and brave politician”.

And that’s what he had to say about the peace process:

“There is no such thing as a ‘peace process’ anymore. The idea of two states for two people is irrelevant and unattractive both to us and to the Palestinians… Hamas doesn’t want the two states solution. The Palestinians have reached a very similar situation to ours: they don’t believe that Abu Mazen will bring peace, and they think Hamas will do a better job. We don’t believe that Bibi or Tzipi (Livni) will bring peace as well. And we are all right.”

Q: who then will bring peace?

“We should let the Palestinians have their national unity government, Fatah with Hamas, overcome our emotional barrier, and negotiate with both. It was very foolish not to agree to that in Mecca. I’m not sure that Hamas will oppose (negotiations). Sometimes I think the problem will be with the Fatah.”

And later on:

Q: what shall we talk about with Hamas?

“We should talk about ending the occupation and establishing a Jordanian-Palestinian state in the West Bank… an agreement with a state like Jordan can be maintained. They have order, discipline and real state administration. The Palestinians never had their state, they remain an anarchic movement with no direction, no patron, that’s why it is so hard to reach an agreement with them”.

It is almost unimaginable that Jordan will take the Palestinian state on its tiny shoulders, and on top of all things, accept Hamas as its partner. It will bring only trouble to the fragile kingdom. It seems that much like Ehud Barak and the rest of the Camp David casualties, Ben Ami is so disappointed with the Fatah, that he prefers to negotiate with anyone else. The only problem is that there is no one else. Not really. Whether we like it or not, there is no real alternative to the two states solution.

(On one thing I do agree with Ben Ami: that we have to talk to Hamas. It’s only appropriate. After all, we got our own Hamas elected as well).


Gilad Shalit

Posted: March 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

These past few days I’ve been watching “John Adams”, HBO’s TV series about the life of the 2nd president. In chapter 5 President George Washington consults Adams on the signing of the Jay’s Treaty, which secured the US nutralitie in the war between Great Britain and revolutionary France.

As they discuss the issue, the president and the vice president look outside the window on the mob demanding the United State will take side with the newly formed French Republic. The “nice” thing to do was to help France, which fought with the US in its war against the British. Washington decided not to. And in chapter 6 we learn that Adams’ unpopular refusal to let the Quasy-War deteriorate into a full-scale one with France has cost him his re-election.

I don’t know how accurate the series is, but its creators have recognized what makes the difference between a good politician and a good leader  – the leader’s ability to rise above the moment and “do the right thing”. Nothing else matters. He can change his mind regarding things he said during his campaign, not keep his promises and even lie. As long as when the moment comes, he does what’s right.

In Israeli politics right now, this right thing would be to approve the prisoners exchange deal with Hamas, and get Gilad Shalit back home.

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Rememeber Gaza

Posted: December 15th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

Regardless the identity of the next PM, it is clear that the Gaza problem will wait for him (or her). Nobody will take on a military operation against Hamas, which might turn into a version of the second Lebanon war, so close to the election.

What awaits to be seen, is whether Ehud Olmert will use his last days in office to sign a deal for the release of POW Gilad Shalit. I hope he does. He’s not up for re-election, so he can pay the price. The government will surly approve any deal to that cause. There will be a few votes against from right-wing ministers, but such ministers will most likely make sure their votes aren’t decisive. Nobody wants this issue on their conscience (or political image), it’s just a question of the political price of releasing several hundreds Hamas members from prison.

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The Bush Doctrine

Posted: December 1st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

Last week, Ehud Olmert paid his last visit to Washington as Prime Minister. There he met another unpopular politician on his last days in office – President George W. Bush.

The meeting itself was unimportant – unless both leaders discussed a surprise attack on Iran, which seems very unlikely – but it did reveal something about the president’s views, and the damage he is leaving behind him.

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The Downfall of the Left

Posted: November 17th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: The Left | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Haaretz daily paper ran a special feature [in Hebrew] this weekend on the collapse of the Israeli left wing. The two major left parties, Labor and Meretz, are expected to get between 15 and 20 MKs together (out of 120) in the general election on February 10th. It will be an all time low: this coalition (under different party names) ruled Israel since it’s independence in 1948 till 1977, and was almost always part of all governments since.
As recently as 1992, Labor and Meretz got 56 seats together, and were able to form the second Rabin government. For better or for worst, it was these political forces which built this country. So what went so wrong?

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