Hot off the Arab press

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

ARTIST AKRAM Sweidan decorates a mortar shell in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus on Tuesday. (photo credit: REUTERS)
ARTIST AKRAM Sweidan decorates a mortar shell in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus on Tuesday.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The war’s bills
Al Ghad, Amman, May 25
Once again, Israeli public opinion awaits the yearly argument about the war budget, says writer Barhoum Jaraysi.
The army demand of increasing the budget faces a governmental objection. The result is already known: the army will get everything and more as long as the Israelis feel security is the only savior to their existence. The army’s budget approaches $17 billion annually, excluding the annual American support of $3 billion, which makes it compromise a big portion of the government’s budget.
However, a series of Israeli studies showed that the bill of war and cost of occupation and settlements, paid by several ministries in different forms, increase the security cut of the budget to 45 percent. Military officials will start announcing that they are ceasing military training amid new security threats that will end by increasing the army’s budget. So long as the fear of the other is planted in the Israelis’ heads, they will keep paying the bill thinking they are protecting themselves.
Netanyahu and Bennett ’s cantons
Al Quds, Jerusalem, May 24
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu insists on proving that he doesn’t have any vision for a just solution. His interest is to keep occupying large parts of the West Bank and cram the Palestinians in ghettos and cantons besieged from all fronts. Netanyahu’s procedures in the West Bank remind us of the apartheid regime in South Africa where black people suffered a historic injustice for decades, albeit with differences between the two cases. Not so different from Netanyahu is the hard-line Economy Minister Naftali Bennett who called for the annexation of area “C” to Israel.
Netanyahu’s rabbis, extremists and settlers are calling for more settlement expansion and continuing the occupation and the Judaization of Jerusalem. All the extremists in Israel should know that Palestine was recognized by the international community and any annexation won’t be recognized. All decisions of confiscation and settlement construction are considered illegal in the eyes of international law.

Israel’s divide-and-rule policy

Al Masa’, Manama, Bahrain, May 22
Pro-Israel propagandists have long claimed that Palestinian Christians are persecuted by their Muslim nationals rather than by Israel. Despite the lack of evidence, this allegation seems to always come to the surface prior to Christian events. When some Christians voice criticism of the so-described ill-Muslim treatment, all media decide to cover the issue. The voices of the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Christians are, however, ignored by those whose agenda is to divide Palestinians along religious lines. One can pinpoint human rights abuses here and there in Palestine, but there is no evidence that it targets the Christian community. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has described such claims as exaggerated lies. Most Palestinian Christians say that Israel is to blame for their plights and desire to emigrate. Less than 1% spoke about being afraid of Muslims while the rest criticize the lack of security and stability they feel under Israeli rule. Israel’s Knesset passed a law distinguishing between its Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens, identifying the latter as a non-Arab minority group.

Israel and Hamas

Dar Al Khaleej, Abu Dhabi, May 22
A potential important diplomatic development is ongoing in the Middle East, represented by Washington’s tendency to deal with the expected Palestinian unity government. Such progress would be a valuable step that could help reduce the US lack of credibility and respect in the region. If the US and the EU practice pragmatic diplomacy, this will severely isolate the Israeli government internationally. One of three scenarios are then to be expected: Israeli public opinion could force a new general election to validate or throw out the current rightist government; Israel could provoke some new military crisis with the intention of showing the world that Hamas’s inclusion in the Palestinian government only leads to violence; or the third option is for Israel to punish the Palestinians by squeezing the occupied territories even more than usual. The Palestinians have the right to keep exploring any opportunity for a fair, negotiated peace agreement.
Egyptians combat harassment
Al Ahram, Cairo, May 25
Egyptian NGOs launched a week-long campaign to combat sexual harassment against Egyptian women.
During the week, workshops were organized in different cities targeting civil society and media personnel to spread awareness of fighting sexual harassment. The campaign will also be holding male-only sessions to demonstrate how men can also avoid harassment. The campaign kicked-off with a biking event in the chic Cairo district of Zamalek. Observers say the deteriorating security conditions have resulted in an increase in harassment because abusers fear no punishment. Another factor to be blamed – according to officials – is a new trend of Egyptian movies, which mostly portrays women as a tool to seduce men. Such films are seen to be a bad influence of women and children because it might lead them to use seduction as a lifestyle.