Middle East News: World Press Roundup

NEWS: An Israeli artist explores issues about boundaries and identity. The CSM looks at how a hoax about stoning a dog spread across the news media. Israel’s Foreign Ministry thinks that less than two thirds of the UN General Assembly will vote for Palestinian statehood. Israel destroys Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley. The Red Cross demands proof from Hamas that a captured Israeli soldier is still alive. Saudi Arabia pledges $70 million for housing in Gaza. EU officials say Palestinians may not approach the UN in September. Analysts speculate Hezbollah might start a war with Israel to protect the Syrian government. Pressure mounts on Palestinians not to go to the UN. COMMENTARY: Dmitry Shumsky says national narratives shape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but are always hanging. Asaf Romirowsky says Jordan is an important ally of Israel. Larry Derfner suggests ways of combating racism at Israeli soccer matches. Susan Hattis Rolef says Israel needs a policy to deal with its Palestinian citizens. Paul Danahar says the atmosphere for peace is poisoned. The Forward is appalled Israeli politicians are again debating “who is a Jew?” Faisal Al Qasim says Israel is happy to deal with impotent Arab autocrats. Michael Jansen asks why Israel cares so much about more Gaza flotillas. Alon Ben-Meir asks if the API is still viable. Amira Hass says the Palestinian police need to operate freely in more of the occupied territories.

Artists Investigate Identity and Boundaries in Extraterritorial Waters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Alice Pfeiffer - June 22, 2011 - 12:00am

The legal term “ex-territory” historically refers to being outside the physical borders of a country and beyond its laws. Today, a project by two Israeli artists has found life in extraterritorial waters off Israel using a floating gallery and conference space as a forum for questions of boundaries and identity. The project was conceived in 2009, when two artists in Tel Aviv — Maayan Amir, 33, and Ruti Sela, 36 — were looking for a neutral space to screen a compilation of films by various artists in the Middle East.

Did a Jerusalem court really sentence a dog to death by stoning?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Eoin O'Carroll - (Analysis) June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Have you heard the one about the dog who walked into a rabbinical court? Here's how the BBC reported it: A pooch made its way into a beth din in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim. One of the judges, believing the dog to be the reincarnation of a now-deceased lawyer whom the court had cursed some two decades earlier, sentenced the dog to death by stoning, and ordered that the sentence be carried out by children. The dog escaped before the sentence could be carried out. Dog-lovers have filed a complaint against the court.

Israel surveys support for Palestinian state
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's foreign ministry estimates under two-thirds of UN member states will recognize a Palestinian state declared in September, and is launching a campaign to keep the number down, Israel Radio reported Thursday. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed his department to survey the 192 countries in the United Nations, and send Israeli parliamentarians to nations who are yet undecided, the broadcast noted. The study said 118 nations would support the bid.

Jordan Valley families left homeless
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
(Analysis) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

"The big soldier wouldn’t speak to me. He just said ‘This is my job, sit down and shut up’," the newly homeless Ralia Darraghmeh, a diabetes sufferer in her sixties said of the one of the crew who had come to demolish her home Tuesday morning. She was sitting alone, crying in Khirbet Yarza, a tiny Bedouin hamlet, as her tin home was taken down by order of Israel's Civil Administration, which governs planning and permit issuing in the 60 percent of the West Bank categorized as Area C under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

ICRC demands Hamas provide proof Shalit is alive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Alertnet
June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The International Red Cross called on Hamas on Thursday to provide proof that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive nearly five years after his capture by Palestinian militants. In an unusual public appeal, the independent aid agency said Shalit's family had a right under international humanitarian law to be in contact with their 24-year-old son, held incommunicado since his capture on June 25, 2006.

Saudis give $70m for Palestinian housing in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
June 22, 2011 - 12:00am

A U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia is contributing $70 million for new housing units in the Gaza Strip. Israel has authorized construction of the 1,200 new homes and 18 badly needed schools in Gaza, in what would be one of the largest housing projects in the seaside territory in years. Israel, which controls the cargo crossings into Gaza, has largely banned the entry of construction materials into the coastal strip since Hamas militants seized control in 2007. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

EU's Ashton to Haaretz: UN vote on Palestinian state not a done deal
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, says she is not sure that there will be a vote in the United Nations in September on recognition of a Palestinian state and that the wording of the resolution is still uncertain. "It will depend very much on what the resolution says as to how the international community in general and the EU in particular, votes," Ashton told Haaretz in an interview this week in her office in the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Hezbollah may fight Israel to relieve Syria
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
(Analysis) June 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group is preparing for a possible war with Israel to relieve perceived Western pressure to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its guardian ally, sources close to the movement say. The radical Shi'ite group, which has a powerful militia armed by Damascus and Iran, is watching the unrest in neighboring Syria with alarm and is determined to prevent the West from exploiting popular protests to bring down Assad.

Pressure mounts on Palestinians to abandon U.N. statehood gambit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Leslie Susser - (Analysis) June 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The pressure on Mahmoud Abbas to back down from plans to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in September is intensifying. Squeezed by a combination of concerted American pressure and intense Israeli diplomacy, some top Palestinian leaders are urging the Palestinian Authority's president to drop his September plan. Abbas, however, says he still intends to go ahead with the U.N. move, unless key international players can get serious peace talks going before then.

The historical truth behind the Israeli-Palestinian narratives
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Dmitry Shumsky - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

In his article "Truth, not narrative," (June 17 ), Prof. Shlomo Avineri calls to separate nationalist narratives from historical truth when presenting the events of the Nakba (the Palestinian "catastrophe" that occurred when Israel was founded ). He says that on the one hand, there is the Israeli-Zionist narrative regarding the Jewish people's connection to its historic homeland and the Jews' miserable situation, while on the other hand, there is the Palestinian narrative, which regards the Jews solely as a religious group and Zionism as an imperialist phenomenon.

Jordan remains stabilizing factor, Israel committed to helping monarchy survive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Asaf Romirowsky - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

President John F. Kennedy once said that those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable. As a case in point, the so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East has now spread to the traditionally stable country of Jordan, a historical ally of the United States and Israel.

How to stop Israeli soccer racism
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Larry Derfner - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Here’s a suggestion on how to stop racism at Israeli soccer games – the chanting of “death to the Arabs,” the hooting of monkey sounds at black players, all that stuff: Film it and show it to the world.

Wanted: A policy on our Arab citizens
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Susan Hattis Rolef - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Labor MK Avishay Braverman has initiated a private member’s bill that, if passed, will result in youngsters who do full military/ national service being paid a salary, which will be deposited in their names for academic or professional studies afterward. The salary, at differential rates depending on the type of service performed, will be paid as of the second year of service, and even at its lowest rate will be enough to pay for a full three years of tuition at one of the universities.

Off the record: Poisoned atmosphere in Mid-East peace efforts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Paul Danahar - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

"If you're going to crucify yourself, don't do it on a small cross." An interesting metaphor particularly when it is addressed to the prime minister of Israel. This advice, I'm told, was from US Vice President Joe Biden to Benjamin Netanyahu. It was a little while ago, but there's been no sign since of the PM wandering around the Jerusalem forest looking for tall trees. The message from his speech to the US Congress last month suggested he's not ready for self-sacrifice yet. There were no concessions to US President Barack Obama or the Palestinians.

‘Who Is a Jew?’ Again?!
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
(Editorial) June 22, 2011 - 12:00am

On the emotional, bedeviling issue of “Who is a Jew?” in Israel, there’s been a small but welcome move toward Jewish reconciliation and an infuriating roadblock put in the way of further progress. First, the good news, because that’s a precious commodity on this subject. After months and months of negotiations, the Ministry of the Interior agreed that the Jewish Agency for Israel will now take the lead role in verifying Orthodox conversions as they relate to granting automatic Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

Arab autocrats suit Israel perfectly
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Faisal Al Qasim - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Never take Israeli criticism of Arab dictatorships seriously. It is just for media consumption. In actual fact Israel would hate to see Arab dictators go as they suit it best. That is why the Israeli, together with the Iranian and other Arab lobbies are working constantly hard these days behind the scenes to prop up endangered despotic Arab regimes.

International flotilla, again
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Boats participating in the latest international flotilla to challenge Israel’s siege and blockade of Gaza are set to gather in the eastern Mediterranean next week and attempt to make the passage to the strip in spite of threats from the Israeli navy to block the way.

Is the Arab Peace Initiative still viable?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Alon Ben-meir - (Opinion) June 22, 2011 - 12:00am

In 1973, Israel's Foreign Minister Abba Eban famously stated that “Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Today, however, this phrase is more aptly attributable to Israelis than to the Palestinians. It is clear that Israel is missing a historic opportunity now to capitalize, at least in principle, on the contents of Arab Peace Initiative (API), which offers full normalized relations with the entire Arab world in exchange for the return of the territories captured in 1967 and a negotiated two-state solution.

The truth behind another Israeli expulsion trick
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - (Opinion) June 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Of all places, it is in Azzariyeh, east of Jerusalem, that one can really learn to appreciate the activities of Palestinian law-enforcement authorities in cities like Ramallah and Nablus. In those cities, Palestinian security forces are seen as authority figures who are trying to protect and serve Palestinian citizens, not just as extensions of Fatah or subcontractors of the Israel Defense Forces or the Shin Bet security service.

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