Hot off the Arab press

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

PHOTOGRAPHER TAREK MUQADAM takes pictures of supporters of Lebanese Olympic skier Jackie Chamoun, who caused a controversy in the country after footage of her posing topless was released online. (photo credit: REUTERS)
PHOTOGRAPHER TAREK MUQADAM takes pictures of supporters of Lebanese Olympic skier Jackie Chamoun, who caused a controversy in the country after footage of her posing topless was released online.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel: The absence of the left-wing camp
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, February 14
Israel uses both the carrot and the stick to deal with the Palestinians, who are awaiting US Secretary of State John Kerry’s plan. Al Jazeera anchor Muhammad Kreshan suggests that Israel is annoyed at Kerry’s proposal, but amid fears of growing international isolation, the Hebrew state can’t simply can’t reject Kerry’s ideas. Israel wants to shift this annoyance to the Palestinians, holding them accountable for the expected failure of the Kerry peace efforts. The wide spectrum of politicians’ views divides Israelis in the face of the serious American pressure.
In light of the absence of voice of the left wing in Israel, the political Right attacks Kerry’s ideas, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is busy trying to keep his government’s coalition intact. Israelis are vague as to the elements they would accept and reject in Kerry’s plan. On the other side, the Palestinian position is very clear and constant.
Both parties will face the decisive moment soon, and the Palestinian leadership is exercising wisdom while facing major obstacles, including continued settlement building and Israeli attempts to delegitimize Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The alternative Israeli plan to deter the peace talks
Al-Istiqlal, Gaza Strip, February 17
The sexiest topic in Israel now, especially among those not affiliated with the right wing, is drafting an alternative plan to confront the expected failure of the Kerry negotiations. The plan is based on a phased disengagement coordinated with the US and the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli scholars have always claimed that there is no Palestinian partner ready to strike a peace deal. They argue that Abbas doesn’t represent the majority of his people, and discuss the lack of trust between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. However, Israelis know planning is important to counteract international blame if the negotiations fail. Most importantly, Israel wants to keep the Zionist dream alive by securing Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, and counter-attack any claims that the two-state solution is fading.
The alternative plan might make temporary solutions permanent and at its core, doesn’t really contradict the right-wing views. The Israeli plan will keep the occupation but camouflage it with a nicer face, in the form of easing some of the restrictions on the Palestinian people and economy.
The American conditions on Egypt’s rule
Mesr Al-Arabiya, Cairo, February 17
The Americans restructured Egypt militarily, economically and socially. Now, says writer Mohammed Saif al-Dawla, they are restructuring Egyptian political life, by stating how to participate in the government.
The most important condition for any Egyptian to enter the political arena is to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and coexist with it. Peace, as we all know, is another term for “Israel’s security,” so the basic commitment for any party governing Egypt should be “Israel’s security is a strategic option.”
We expected that the longtime American conditions would fade away after the Egyptian revolution in 2011. The revolution dropped all restrictions on forming new parties, but the major political parties self-imposed these conditions. Either out of fear or in collaboration, the parties raced to reassure the US that Israel is safe. Despite all the differences in Egyptian political life, not one battle was directed against the Camp David peace treaty. As one Israeli commentator said sarcastically, “Egyptians seem to disagree on everything, except having peace with us.”
Israel counters boycott through technology
Press Net, Beirut, February 17
Prime Minister Netanyahu is confident that the world’s need for Israel’s advanced technology will protect it from the pro-Palestinian calls to boycott Israel.
Netanyahu claimed that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is “organized by bloggers and intellectuals” and “is a new form of anti-Semitism” that aims to delegitimize Israel.
Indeed, Netanyahu said that all major companies need three things, “Israel’s technology, Israel’s technology and Israel’s technology,” boasting that the power of entrepreneurs will ease all attempts to boycott Israel. News filled the Israeli press about Google and Japanese company Rakuten’s declarations of buying Israeli-made apps and technologies.
However, the BDS movement is growing worldwide, with companies declaring their divestment from Israeli and settlement projects. This, despite the claims, is an Israeli fear. Accordingly, Finance Minister Yair Lapid expressed fears of American and European penalties if the peace talks fail.
A semi-naked woman exposes politics in Israel
Al-Akhbar, Beirut, February 14
Writer Bassam al-Tayara condemned writers and politicians who criticized Lebanese athlete Jackie Chamoun, a participant at the Sochi Olympic Games who caused a furor in Lebanon after topless photos of her on the slopes appeared. Tayara says that someone had to defend Chamoun after the skier faced such a tough campaign.
In a country where politicians fight over power and positions while not being able to form a government, a controversial photo unified all the diverse positions. It is a major dilemma when writers and journalists forget about the country’s problems like corrupt ruling parties, killings, bombings and robberies.
Did those people consider the athlete’s budget in the Olympics? Did they know that her posing for an Australian magazine could have been for financial reasons, in order to help her follow her dreams? In the press, posting nude attracts readers – and the only way this was acceptable was by posting the photo alongside a condemnation.
The politicians’ nudity and the country’s difficult situations are what shames us – not Chamoun.