Hot off the Arab press

A short roundup of what citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

Protest for Palestinian prisoners (photo credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
Protest for Palestinian prisoners
(photo credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
A Moroccan organization supporting the Palestinian cause called upon its government to halt normalization efforts with the Jewish state after news that a governmental center funded the production of an Israeli film. In a statement, Labor for Palestine held the Moroccan government responsible for funding a film for Israeli director Hanna Azoulay Hasfari. In its 2012 activity report, the Moroccan Cinema Center stated that an Israeli film was made in Morocco. The organization described the funding as a new chal- lenge put in front of the Moroccan people at a time when the successive governments claimed they are against normalization with the Zionists. The organi- zation condemned the managers of the center and considered support for the movie to be a crime that aims to use art as a way to force normalization, which is seen as a national betrayal. The statement condemned the Islamist ruling party in Morocco and held them responsible for what they called an invasion of the Moroccan beliefs and an attempt to beautify the “ugly face of the occupation.”
As clashes between the Israeli army and angry Pales- tinians escalate in the West Bank, and speculation of a possible third intifada arise, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found himself in a real test. Serious, bold and perhaps painful steps are needed from him in an attempt to navigate the impasse suc- cessfully. These steps are needed more as the visit of US President Barack Obama to the region next month approaches. While Israelis want to use the visit to dis- cuss the Iranian nuclear file, they are not interested in having the Palestinian issue at the forefront of the topics. Netanyahu was surprised to face a security threat from the Palestinians who have been demon- strating in support of their detainees in a hunger strike. Transferring Palestinian tax revenues withheld by Israel, and inviting a Palestinian doctor to the autopsy of prisoner who died in an Israeli jail – meth- ods known as “goodwill measures” – show that Israel is not serious about facing the real core of the Pales- tinian anger and might not succeed in preventing a possible eruption.
WHO RULES ISRAEL? Al Doustour , Amman, February 23
Former Israeli officials exposed severe corruption in Israel, especially in the era of Benjamin Netanyahu, explaining how corruption charges involving high state officials were closed. Eldad Yaniv, an attorney who worked in the Prime Minister’s Office from the 1990s until recently, revealed these atrocities. Israel’s main story is of former foreign minister Avigdor Liber- man who, Yaniv says, was not the real foreign minis- ter of Israel, but rather, Jewish Austrian millionaire Martin Schlaff was. Yaniv adds that Schlaff was linked to corruption charges since 2003 and was reputedly involved in bribery. An Israeli unit found Schlaff guilty of transferring millions of dollars to Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Liberman. Schlaff refrained from supporting Ehud Barak, who had a hand in the outbreak of the second intifada, because the unrest in the region harmed Schlaff’s economic interests. Yaniv exposed that Arthur Finkelstein, Netanyahu’s electoral campaign chief, was behind the killing of Ahmed Jabari, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, even when Jabari was about to sign a truce deal with Israel. In the mind of Yaniv, killing Jabari was an attempt to win 10 seats worth of voters that otherwise would have gone to the Jewish Home party. This is how Israel, which claims democracy, is actually ruled.
OBAMA’S DATE WITH HISTORY Al Quds , Jerusalem, February 24
Despite the strong pressures imposed on him from the supporters of Israel in the United States, US President Barack Obama should know that he, the president of the most powerful nation in the world, will define his place in history in his next visit to the region. Unlike many US presidents, Obama is aware of what needs to be done in the Middle East, as he noted in his famous words in the 2009 Cairo speech of which he should be reminded: “The situation of the Palestinians is intolerable. America will not turn its back on the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to achieve dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” As Obama said, the two-state solution serves Israeli, Palestinian and American interests and it is time that Obama fulfills his promise. American pressure can stop the capture of settlers and religious extremists over the Palestinian lands. Will Obama deliver a speech at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv? Does he dare to say to the Israelis that their actions are risking the relationship with the US?
The head of the International Islamic Union of Muslim Scholars, Sharif Shehata, condemned a tweet by an Islamic sheikh in Saudi Arabia that prevents married couples from being nude in front of each other. Sheikh Ali Rubai tweeted that cou- ples who take all their clothes off during inter- course invalidate their marriage contract. Accord- ing to Rubai’s fatwa, whoever exposed himself to his wife is supposed to remarry her because they both conducted an act that led to divorce. Sheha- ta questioned the legality of this fatwa, saying it has no basis in the Islamic religion and described it as “odd and harmful to Muslims.” In a state- ment, Rubai denied making this statement and warned of fake Twitter accounts bearing his name that aim to sabotage the image of Islam. Another fatwa linked to Rubai said that a visit to the pyra- mids in Egypt is illegal in Islam