March 29, 2015

Letting the Iranian Ayatollahs Slide

“When the Supreme Leader of Iran is continuing, in the middle of these negotiations…to make statements like 'death to America,' how is that not problematic for you? …why are you just willing to let that, let it slide, basically, and you are holding the prime minister of Israel to comments that he made and has since changed?”

In her non-direct answer to Matt Lee’s question, State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki seemed to enact the very problem the AP reporter had just identified:

“…our relationship with Israel is abiding; it’s strong; it’s a security relationship; it’s one that we’re committed to. Do we have disagreements on some issues, like how we should proceed with preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon? Yes. Have we – can we – do we believe that it isn’t possible to just forget what the prime minister says when it’s conflicting with past precedent and past policy for some time? Yes…”

Lee tried to get Psaki to talk about the contrast between reaction to the words of an ally talking, during a heated, democratic election, about his country’s situation vs non-reaction to words like “death to America” spoken by leaders of the country currently negotiating--with the US--for nuclear weapons. But Psaki continued in the same vein:

“…even if there is a deal, it doesn’t mean we let slide or forget, whether it’s the comments or more important the actions – state sponsor of terrorism, their human rights record…But we also feel that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is not only in our interests, it’s in the interests of the international community…”

The implication here seems to be that negotiating with Iran about their nuclear weapons program is disconnected from considering or responding to their leaders’ words and actions. This seems to leave us simply ignoring the plain meaning of their words.  

By contrast, although Netanyahu clarified, or changed, his last minute campaign statement, the Israeli leader’s words apparently are always relevant.  Except when they are not, as in: we don’t accept his clarification.
A day after the election, Netanyahu reiterated that he continues to hold the same views as those he has expressed since his speech at Bar Ilan University in 2009.  There, he voiced his support for a demilitarized Palestinian state next door to the Jewish state, whereas in the last moments of the campaign, in what seems to have been a ploy to get votes away from some of the smaller parties, he contradicted this position. 

Politicians’ electioneering aside, journalist Matt Lee raises an important question. 

How is it that even while they are directly calling for the destruction of the US, Iranian leaders are not to be criticized or taken at their word, yet any statement by the freely elected prime minster of Israel, a close American ally, is under continual, negative scrutiny?

At the same time, Netanyahu’s consistent and persistent warnings about Iran’s nuclear program may be in the process of being ignored.  The upcoming “deal” has been described by an Israeli official as an “incomprehensibly” bad agreement that leaves thousands of centrifuges in place and puts no restraints on Iranian backed terrorism.

March 09, 2015

Terror Attack in Israel? CNN Can't Find the Words

                                                                                                                                                                     photo: Thomas Coex, AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, a Palestinian man rammed his car into five Israeli border policewomen and then ran over an Israeli riding a bicycle on Shimon HaTzadik Street near a light rail station in Jerusalem. The attacker got out of his car assaulting the pedestrians with a knife before police stopped him by shooting at him. The victims were taken to the hospital with moderate to light injuries and the attacker was also taken to the hospital. One other person was treated for shock.

CNN’s headline:

"Driver hits Israeli border police, authorities call it terror attack"

According to CNN, itself, Israelis aren’t the only ones who call it an attack.  The short article includes this:

"Hamas applauded the attack.
'Hamas movement blesses this heroic act and considers it a natural response to the Occupations (sic) crimes,' Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman posted on Facebook."

Of course, even more difficult for CNN is the term, terror.

During this November’s spate of terror attacks in Jerusalem, CNN reported in an outlandish manner on the brutal killings at a synagogue in the Har Nof  neighborhood. Their first headline read “Deadly attack on Jerusalem mosque” and their follow up story changed the headline to “4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem,” simply counting the killers who had hacked the rabbis to death among victims.

For news from Israel it’s usually most reliable to go directly to Israeli news sources, for instance to Times of Israel or Ynet News.  In their stories, you not only get the actual details about the attack but other connected information such as the fact that this street was “also the site of a November 5 hit and run terror attack that killed one border police officer and injured 13 others. The area has seen no less than five terror attacks this past year.”

By contrast, the only other information included in the CNN article is a seemingly gratuitous reference to the number of Palestinians killed during this summer’s conflict.

CNN used to call itself “the most trusted name in news” and it’s good to know that this slogan has been retired.

Now they call themselves “America’s best news team” but many American outlets did a better job than CNN reporting from Jerusalem this week.