Mindless in Gaza

An editor at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz bemoans how the Israeli media covers violence in and from Gaza as “two unrelated chronicles.” Oded Even Or writes: ” The overall ‘hostilities match’ is divided into separate narratives – one is devoted to listing incidents of violence directed at Israel, and receives page one placement, and the other tracks Israeli violence directed at Gaza – which, if reported at all, is buried somewhere deep in the newspaper and far from public attention.” This distorts the public’s views about Gaza and leaves Israelis unable to make much sense of violence originating from the territory, which Or accurately characterizes as “blowback.” The Israeli public ends up thinking “the Palestinian militant factions in Gaza are the embodiment of primal evil, and that their actions are motivated by hatred of Israelis and are unrelated to Israel’s actions.”

Or is right of course but it’s obvious that even he doesn’t know just how right he is. Israelis are, for the most part, oblivious to what happens in Gaza and Or is no exception.

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Nuclear Deal with Iran: The Wrong Defense

Most sensible people allowed themselves to breathe a sigh of relief when Iran and six other countries announced their agreement on key parameters of a nuclear deal. It was no surprise to discover that Israel and the Republicans in the United States did not belong to this category of sensible people. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk promptly declared “that Neville Chamberlain got a lot more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman got out of Iran,” referring to a top State Department negotiator. Ignoring that a deal reduces the chances for a US-led military attack on Iran, Kirk nonetheless maintained that lifting sanctions (as the deal would require) “dooms the Middle East to yet another war” and it would all end “with a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran.”

Kirk wasn’t alone in his frustration. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who once compared organized workers to the Islamic State, declared that “Obama’s dangerous deal with Iran rewards an enemy, undermines our allies and threatens our safety.” Walker doesn’t explain how a deal that limits Iran’s nuclear capacities, subjects them to international inspection, and reduces the risk for another war in the Middle East manages to do all of that. For Walker, Kirk, and others the contents of the nuclear deal are simply not relevant, which makes sense considering some of the sources of their funding. The are only interested in depicting Iran as an irredeemable evil requiring a military response. As Walker put it, “The Islamic Republic of Iran — the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — is on the march throughout the Middle East.” Not to be outdone, Texas Senator and presidential-hopeful Ted Cruz said that the Obama administration “doesn’t understand the people they are dealing with. They support death and suicide.”

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