Hot off the Arab press

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

Eilat Ink Flag521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eilat Ink Flag521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel’s presenting humous, felafel and Palestinianstyle embroidered dresses to US President Barack Obama as Israeli when he arrives for his visit this week is just another attempt to steal Arab identity, Arab culture and heritage, scholars say. Palestinian poet Murad Al Sudani said that Israel has been trying to fake an identity for itself for the past 60 years by erasing the original identity and heritage of the Palestinian people. Representatives of a Lebanese industrial organization said that Israel steals Lebanese Arabic dishes – like felafel – and says they’re Israeli.
While Obama’s visit is not expected to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table, Israel has prepared a special Jewish agenda for the president. Obama is scheduled to visit Jewish religious centers and Yad Vashem, the central archives of all kinds of information about the history of the Holocaust that killed millions of Jews around the world.
Israeli stewardesses from El Al airlines might welcome Obama wearing dresses with Palestinian-style embroidery, as if the embroidery were Israeli. Palestinians and Lebanese are engaged in a cold war with Israel to prove that humous and felafel are Arab foods by trying to make the largest piece of felafel and the biggest plate of humous on record.
Israeli sources reported that the Israeli authorities are planning to build a canal linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean amid speculation that the new canal will compete with the Suez Canal, as the distance between the port of Eilat and the Mediterranean is quite similar to the size of the Suez Canal.
The new canal, which will be named “Ben-Gurion,” will consist of two independent routes, and Israel will set up hotels, restaurants and nightclubs alongside it.
The Egyptian threat to cut off diplomatic relations if Israel proceeds with plans for the canal didn’t stir up much concern in Israel, as relations are already almost nonexistent. A military threat is not considered likely because Israel knows it can deter the Egyptian army, and Jordan would not interfere on this issue. As for the project’s security needs, Israel will install surveillance equipment along the canal, which the Suez Canal lacks. Israel agreed with three American banks on a $14 billion loan at 1% interest over 30 years. Thus, Israel will build the canal via lowinterest loans while earning what is estimated will be more than $4 billion from it annually.
LEARNING FROM THE JEWSAl Ayyam, Ramallah, March 17
The Israeli colonial program has three important elements. The first is the Israeli advantage in political, economic, technological, scientific and intelligence issues compared to the weak Palestinian capabilities in these areas. The second is the influential Jewish communities in Europe and America and the vital role they play there in lobbying for Israeli interests. The third element is the US-Israeli strategic alliance based on the mutual security and strategic interests between the two parties. This strong relationship has created a US umbrella of protection for Israel’s security, intelligence and diplomatic policies, with Israel benefiting from America’s global influence.
Palestinian decision-makers need to acknowledge the Israeli capabilities and work toward improving the Palestinians’ global position. Palestinians should learn from the Jews of the world and pay attention to what they are doing for Israel so that they can do the same in the Palestinian diaspora and places to which they were exiled. After all, the Palestinians have an important element that the Israelis lack: the justice of their cause.
AN EGYPTIAN CLAIM TO REGAIN EILAT Maan News Agency, Bethlehem, March 17
Egyptian lawyer Othman Hifnami has filed a claim with the attorney-general seeking to regain the Um Al-Rashrash area, known as Eilat and occupied by Israel. The protest is directed against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, a few of his previous advisers, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amer and the Egyptian ambassador to Turkey for not moving to reclaim the area. The claim is that these people didn’t make an effort to proclaim Eilat as the “Egyptian area occupied by Israel in 1967,” adding that international maps and documents provide that the area is Egyptian.
Hifnami claims that the area was Christian before Israel Judaized it.
Every now and then we hear stories from Israel that reflect the growing religious intolerance there.
An interesting story occurred almost a year ago, when men in the community of Beit Shemesh spat on an eight-year-old girl, protesting that her modest dress was not modest enough for them. These incidents can be compared to Islamic hard-liners in some of the Arab countries surrounding Israel, and show an effort by these Israelis to impose sectarian religious restrictions on women. The high birthrate among ultra-Orthodox Jews will only add to their growing political weight and signals what will likely be growing intolerance in Israel. A state based on ethnicity or religion creates one that serves specific ethnic groups’ sectarian agendas. These sectarian agendas were the reason the state didn’t intervene when the Israeli girl was attacked. The recent arrest of the women at the Western Wall and other similar incidents show the similarity between the religious fundamentalists in Israel and their counterparts in Islamic countries.