Hot off the Arab press

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

al-Aqsa gunmen at Arafat Jaradat funeral 521 (photo credit: DARREN WHITESIDE / REUTERS)
al-Aqsa gunmen at Arafat Jaradat funeral 521
A-Quds Al Arabi, London, March 2
After the decision of the Friends of Syria Group, an international diplomatic collective of more than 90 countries and bodies convening periodically on the topic of Syria outside the UN Security Council, to transfer $60 million to the Syrian opposition, it wasn’t surprising to find that the people of one Damascus neighborhood, the home of the first spark of the revolution, consider the group dishonest. The disappointment of those living inside Syria is understandable, as their priority is saving lives.
However, the priority of the Friends of Syria, especially the Western states, is protecting Israeli security. The American assistance to the Syrian National Coalition opposition should have been rejected. The US and Russia disagree over everything regarding Syria, but they share a mutual enemy: the Islamic Jihadi groups. The last meeting of the Friends of Syria, held in Rome after news was leaked of Jordanian training of Syrian opposition forces, declared war on these groups. Training is aimed at preventing the Islamists from ruling Syria or acquiring chemical weapons to use against Israel. In the eyes of the West, the main problem in the Syrian situation is the future of Israel, and that justifies the anger of the Syrian people.
Al Hayat, London, March 5
In a decision described by some observers as the “peak of apartheid,” the Israeli Transport Ministry provided Palestinian workers with special buses to travel to their jobs in Israel this week after settlers complained that having Palestinians aboard their buses poses a security threat. Women for Civil Disobedience condemned the legalization of separate bus service for Jews and non-Jews, while other local human rights groups protested that introducing separate buses for Palestinian workers in the West Bank is similar to the actions used by the apartheid South African regime.
Unlike official statements, bus drivers said the Palestinians were asked to leave the mixed buses and use their own. The Machsom Watch (Women Against the Occupation and for Human Rights) organization documented one incident in which 30 Palestinian workers were asked to disembark from a bus and walk to a nearby police station. Some 30,000 Palestinians go to work in Israel daily.
Al Sharq Al Awsat, London, March 4
While some might think the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in an Israeli prison after being held for just a few days is a minor story, Jaradat’s death might be the beginning of a new chapter in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israeli authorities say Jaradat died of a heart attack, but the investigation into just how he died will take a few weeks – a delay Israel hopes will make people forget the case. Palestinians believe he was tortured to death, which set off West Bank turmoil.
Jaradat isn’t the first prisoner to die in Israeli jails, but his death comes in the midst of changes in the world. He seems to be the face of the third intifada.
The second intifada took place 13 years after the first one erupted, and it is now 13 years since the beginning of the second intifada. Killing a detainee after six days of detention is unacceptable and has led hundreds of Palestinians to clash with the IDF in what may be the beginning of a third intifada. This latest chapter in Palestinian life will prove that Palestinians are here to stay.
Al Ayyam, Ramallah, March 3
Gaza’s Education Ministry’s decision to permit students to study Hebrew alongside English is an important academic, political and national decision. Palestinian- Israeli relations makes the interaction between the parties a must, and learning Hebrew can boost coexistence and be a way for the Palestinians to achieve their rights. If Palestinians view Israel as the enemy, then learning their enemy’s language can help Palestinians get into the Israeli head and make people understand the just rights of the Palestinian people. If they see Israelis as neighbors, then learning the language will help both parties work together for a better future.
Some Israelis can also be friends. Like all nations of the world, Israel has moderates and extremists, and some of the Israelis have humanitarian morals despite the fact that there are also racists among them. Palestinians should look out for good Israeli people and treat them as friends, and they should strive both to achieve equality and to end racism and occupation. The decision to permit the learning of Hebrew in school was a political one that will help those people who look forward to stable lives and ending injustice.
Dozens of revolutionary party members recently gathered to perform the world-famous “Harlem Shake” dance in front of the Muslim Brotherhood Bureau in Egypt. Participants chanted slogans against President Mohamed Morsi and what they called the tightening grip of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule over the government and presidency.
Participants said their dance was aimed at sending a cheeky message to this effect to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Some of the dancers wore panda or Mickey Mouse masks or masks of the Black Block opposition group.
An Islamist activist apologized for a “Harlem Shake” video that included a number of Muslim Brotherhood members. Ahmed Mughayer said viewers found the video shocking and inappropriate and he removed it from YouTube after members of the Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood parties criticized its appearance there.