Even With Bibi and Barack In D.C., the News Does Go On Here In Israel – It Just Doesn’t Get Covered
Obama and Bibi, Bibi and Obama. He said, she said. That is how this week seemed to play out, in Washington. First came Obama’s State Department speech, in which he called on Israel to retreat to indefensible borders (the so-called 1967 borders, which in reality are the 1949 armistice lines), followed by a public spat between the two leaders at a White House press conference the next day. Then we had Obama at AIPAC followed by Netanyahu at AIPAC – it was Bibi doing what Bibi does best, speaking in public, in English, making Israel’s case – and by the way, his message was excellent. And finally, Bibi in front of a joint session of Congress where similar to AIPAC, his delivery was worthy of a standing ovation, but in my opinion his message was disappointing (Fatah is now in bed with Hamas, and refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish State and we are willing to turn over “settlements” to “Palestine?” You must be kidding!).
Despite all the happenings in D.C. life went on as usual here in Israel. The only difference is that all the news that may have made the front pages, both here and abroad under normal circumstances, were relegated to internal page small articles, blurbs splattered throughout, or even near total media silence.
Here is the perfect example: according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 68% percent of “Palestinians” support suicide attacks. Yes, while “peace in the Middle East” is this week’s catchphrase (yawn), nearly seven in ten adults living under the control of our “partners” in the Palestinian Authority, justify sending their children to blow themselves up in Israeli towns in defense of Islam (see the last paragraph of the Pew report). Sounds like headline news to me since the PA has time and time again promised under various accords to root out terrorism, and to start preaching reconciliation, and not hate, when it comes to Israel. Alas, a quick review on Google News shows that hardly anyone covered this important news item.
Another newsworthy item, which editorial only allocated a few hundred words to report, was tucked away on a sidebar on page 3 of the Jerusalem Post. Military correspondent Yaakov Katz writes that the Israeli Defense establishment has decided to allow a battalion of PA security personnel to travel to Jordan to train under US auspices for deployment throughout Judea and Samaria. Following training of this group there will be a total of 4,000 armed PA militiamen/policemen/soldiers running around Arab-controlled towns in those areas. But wait a second, if the purpose of the training was for the PA to crackdown on the Hamas terrorists, and Fatah has just signed a unity deal with Hamas, why is it even fathomable to think that Fatah is going to use their guns on their new unity partners?
In addition, Israeli father and worshiper Ben-Yosef Livnat, the nephew of Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat was murdered by a member of the PA security forces just last month while returning from prayer at Joseph’s Tomb. So once again we have a situation, as was the case in 2000, when the “intifada” or Oslo War was launched, in which PA gunmen turned their weapons on their joint patrol comrades in the IDF. Is it sane to allow more Arabs with guns to wander the streets today? Obviously not, and in a normal news cycle I’m assuming this story would draw a bit more attention.
And last but not least, it was reported that the US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg (who?) arrived in the region to talk, you guessed it -peace.
But the story here was the statement released in anticipation of his visit. In a press release issued by the State Department, it was noted that Steinberg would be in the region visiting “Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank.” Hmm, is Steinberg visiting one country or three? The State Department along with the mainstream media, anti-Israel activists, and general ignoramuses, have for years broken off the “West Bank” from Israel, but this release was unique in that the State Department also cut Jerusalem out of the State. While denying that there was a change in policy, a quick analysis by the Jpost’s Herb Keinon proved that the word “Jerusalem” has never under this administration been given a status separate from the rest of the country (as least in statements issued, but my passport still indicates that it was issued in “Jerusalem” but doesn’t identify a country. Go figure). The point is that just a few outlets touched this potentially major development.
So Barack and Bibi, Bibi and Barack, time will tell if this week’s festivities will lead to measurable changes in the Middle East vis-à-vis the Israelis and the Arabs. But while they spoke, and spoke, and spoke again, the region didn’t wait to produce important headline stories, even though the press stayed silent.