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Dear Friends,

Although the 2 items below are ones that I hope that you will read, this is also a trial.  I wanted to send them last night, but couldn’t find the commands.  Am doing better, but still have lots to learn.  Hopefully these will come out ok at  your end of things. One positive aspect of all this for me is that it keeps my mind on technicalities instead of what is happening on the ground.  Well—maybe not positive, but in a sense a relief.  Hopefully by this evening or tomorrow at the latest will get the hang of this thing and get back to work as usual.

Meanwhile, have a good day/evening

Dorothy

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1,02:03 04.12.11

Israeli journalists are censoring themselves

Israeli journalism’s dereliction of duty began long before now, and before we declare war on those outside who would do us harm, we should first look deep within.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israeli-journalists-are-censoring-themselves-1.399390

By Gideon Levy

Hundreds of Israeli journalists will gather in Eilat today for their annual professional conference. They have little to be proud of. It’s true that threats hang over this conference, the threat of politicians to injure journalistic freedom, the threat of the economic crisis to harm the media and the threat of technology to eliminate print journalism, but Israeli journalism’s dereliction of duty began long before this frightening twilight hour. And what they face today is entirely their own fault.

Before we declare war on those outside who would do us harm, we should first look deep within.

For many years, until just recently, Israeli journalism enjoyed great liberty. Military censorship contracted significantly; unacceptable institutions like the Editors’ Committee effectively ceased to exist and the pressures placed on journalists were negligible.

In addition, most branches of the media were in good shape economically. It is ironic that Israeli journalism is falling down on the job precisely in such excellent circumstances. Come the day of reckoning it will be found wanting for these years of blindness, complacency and extreme nationalism.

Israeli journalism censors itself to the point of harm. Part of it has become a means of entertainment while inciting our more base passions. Part of it now appeals to emotions, not reason, and deals with trivial rather than important issues, taking part in the campaigns of denial and obfuscation. No one asked this of it, it did so on its own. It often turned propagandist, too. Journalism hasn’t been conscripted. It signed up itself.

The journalistic tom-toms were beating before the most recent wars, calling in unison for another ferocious assault. The media lined up in support of every war, offering no criticism. That came only afterward, when it was too late to repair the damage. Israeli journalists authorized nearly every transgression, and many forgot the difference between public diplomacy and journalism.

The images the world saw of Operation Cast Lead, for example, were not the ones shown to Israelis. Some of the military correspondents liken themselves to spokesmen. Nowhere else in Israeli journalism is criticism of the establishment so lax.

The version of events offered by the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Office is always victorious and often the only version available. Its delegitimization campaigns against such organizations as Breaking the Silence and Anarchists Against the Wall received full cooperation from the media. No Israeli journalists have been allowed into the Gaza Strip for five years, and no one utters a word in protest.

Israeli journalism is the senior partner to the delegitimization campaign against the Palestinians; it is the most important tool for maintaining the occupation. It isn’t an issue of right and left, it is a betrayal of its purpose. It broadcasts false fears, from “all of Gaza is booby-trapped” on the eve of Operation Cast Lead to “Iranian weapons are smuggled through the tunnels” to the lie of calling that one-sided assault a war.

Israeli journalism adopts every military euphemism in the book and collaborates with the distortion of reality. There’s nothing like Israeli journalism when it comes to saving people from moral qualms over what is being done in their name.

Journalists serve unholy goals with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, too: When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas presented his borders proposal to the Quartet last week, it was barely reported. Israeli journalism swallows whole the government’s claim of there being “no partner” for talks, and to hell with the truth.

It called the Mavi Marmara activists “terrorists” and labeled the Gaza-bound aid flotilla a “threat.” Any justified criticism of Israel is immediately branded as anti-Israeli, not to mention anti-Semitic.

Any “friend of Israel” is a friend of wars and the occupation. Israeli journalism practices the religion of the military and sanctifies the ritual of death. The same is true for social issues: It practices the rites of the rich (until recently) and turns away from need.

The list goes on. The media can also claim many accomplishments, such as courageously investigating numerous scandals and fighting steadfastly against corruption and the threats to democracy. But at the end of the day, at the end of the years of darkness, we are at least partly responsible for more than a few of the ills that are now rising against us to silence us.

===============

2  Haaretz

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Israel has responsibilities as a U.S. ally

Obama and his team clarify what it means when they say that Israel is an ally, a close ally: it must take into account American interests, and in alliances, the obligation is mutual.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-has-responsibilities-as-a-u-s-ally-1.399387

By Amir Oren

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak received a loud slap from Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration. Speaking at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy (at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. ), Panetta took a stance clearly opposing their position on the Iranian nuclear issue, and Netanyahu’s negotiations freeze toward the Palestinians, which Barak failed to melt. The former head of the CIA praised his former Mossad counterpart, Meir Dagan, a bitter rival of the two. Sitting in front of Panetta as he spoke was their main rival in the upcoming elections for the Knesset, Tzipi Livni.

Panetta’s Italian origin emerged during his speech in the use of colorful language, repeating three and four times “Get back to the damned [negotiating] table,” a call to Netanyahu and Abbas. His language was particularly blunt when he diverted from the written speech, prepared by his staff, ditching diplomatic jargon and enunciating what’s really bothering him and his president.

Yesterday he had the wording prepared, key parts of which – with dos and don’ts for Israel – had been disseminated in advance. There were also improvised responses and Q&As, which set aside the refined formats and captured Obama’s stance in a few words: Do not bomb Iran because you will undermine an essential interest of ours. Return to dialogue with the Palestinians – in other words, make more concessions than Netanyahu has so far agreed to. Improve your relations with key countries in the region: Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. Consider yourselves, along with the necessary operational measures, as part of the region that is finally moving toward democracy.

In recent weeks, senior administration officials were keen to give Israel the title of “ally.” Two weeks ago National Security Adviser Tom Donilon described Israel as “our closest ally in the Middle East,” and Barack Obama said last week, during a fund-raiser among the Jewish community in New York, that “no other ally is more important than Israel.” Part of this is an effort to compete with the language of Republican candidates in the race for the White House. In practice, it is a loaded statement, placing on Israel duties along with the rights that are granted with it.

During the first decades of its existence, Israel dreamed of a move closer to the Americans, from just a “friend’ to the status of “ally.” In the 1980s, Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush finally granted this status. For the Americans, this is not an empty word. They went to two World Wars alongside allies. They then established contractual alliances around the world, first and foremost with NATO. Every alliance limits the freedom of action of the President and may embroil his country in some foreign adventure, contrary to the warnings of George Washington in his farewell address, and requires the approval of the Senate. Only in terms of security assistance do Israel and other Asian countries have the status of “a main ally which is not in NATO”; not really a Ph.D., just an honorary doctorate.

Now comes Obama and his team responsible for defense. They also care about his reelection, and clarify what it means when they say that Israel is an ally, a close ally, in the region and in general. A close ally has responsibilities. It must take into account American interests, especially when it is defined as “essential.” In alliances, the obligation is mutual. There are allies who contribute forces to a joint mission, in order to assist in a substantive way, or just symbolically; and there are those whose active involvement is problematic and therefore their role is to avoid action, in order not to make things complicated. An ally is not the boss; it does not drag the U.S. behind it.

The basic assumption of Obama and Panetta is diametrically and publicly opposed that of Netanyahu and Barak. The regime in Tehran is determined to go nuclear, but is in the process of becoming weaker from abroad and at home. An Iranian bomb will block this trend and undermine regional stability, which is a security asset for Israel. The joint aim, of preventing a nuclear Iran, does not justify the means which is so desired by Netanyahu and Barak, certainly not before an election test for themselves and Obama.

Panetta is demanding that, for now, for a year, they make do with economic and political pressure. There can be no clearer message to the Israeli leadership and, no less, to its voters.

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