The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Baby Elephant-Rabbit?)

A rabbit apparently gave birth to a tiny elephant in Jenin...

There are always some very interesting stories in the news everyday; every morning when I go through my Google reader and check out the headlines from around the world, there are always some surprises.  Today was no exception.  So let’s take a quick look at some of today’s finest examples of journalism.

Israel has Its Faults, But Apartheid Isn’t One of Them by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post

Cohen is and always has been quick to come to Israel’s defense and, of course, there is nothing wrong with that.  He is also quick to label anything and anything as anti-Semitic.  His latest target is Jimmy Carter, the Financial Times and every university:

But anti-Semitism is not so easily dismissed with others. This is “Israeli Apartheid Week” on campuses across the world, and it is clear that what furiously animates many of the protesters are not legitimate grievances but imaginary ones. Israel is not above criticism and the Palestinians have their case, but when that case is constructed out of lies about the Jewish state, it not only represents a wholly unoriginal cover of some old anti-Semitic ditties but also denigrates the Palestinian cause. It does not need lies.

He also mentions an article in the financial times that uses the term apartheid and once again slams Jimmy Carter.  To his credit Cohen – in a move very unCohen-esque – laments that Israel has become ‘tone-deaf to legitimate criticism’ and implies that the country should have done more to cooperate with the Goldstone report.

However, Cohen’s article is at best disingenuous.  His argument is that Israel proper is not an apartheid state, so it is impossible to label Israel rule in the West Bank as apartheid.  Even though the West bank is not technically part of Israel, Israeli racist policies are certainly in effect.  Simply because Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank and slowly and illegally grabbing Palestinian land that will eventually be incorporated into Israel proper and not officially annexing it does not mean that Israel is innocent.

Turkey to US: You Wouldn’t Like Us When We’re Angry by Joshua Keating in FP Passport

Apparently the US is contemplating a resolution that would acknowledge the events between Turkey and Armenians in the early 20th century as genocide.  Whether it was genocide or not, an American official decision would seriously damage relations between Turkey and the US.  As relations between Iran and the West continue to disintegrate, as Israel seems to be on the threshold of war with everyone and as Syria continues to remain close with Iran, a Western friendly Turkey is necessary.

Keating notes that the decision will probably never be made officially, but the mere fact that a Turkish delegation had to come to Washington to lobby against it is bad news.  Turkish support is vital for continued back-channel communication with most of the Middle East, as well as the draw down in Iraq and success in Afghanistan.

US Can’t Afford Military Aid to Israel by josh Ruebner in the Huffington Post

When President Obama was creating the budget for the 2011 fiscal year, he promised to cut all programs “that we can’t afford and that don’t work.”  Does military aid to Israel count?  The US plans to send over $3 billion in military aid to Israel in 2011, enough to provide “364,000 low-income households with affordable housing vouchers, or to retrain 498,000 workers for green jobs, or to provide early reading programs to 887,000 at-risk students, or to provide access to primary health care services for more than 24 million uninsured Americans.”

Ruebner goes on to note that many of the weapons that the US sends to Israel are used in ways that run contrary to US interests.  US weapons are used to continue to illegal occupation in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza.  Ruebner concludes:

If U.S. weapons were going to Israel for a good purpose, then perhaps a coherent guns versus butter debate would be appropriate. However, Israel repeatedly misuses U.S. weapons to commit grave human rights abuses against Palestinians who are forced to live under its illegal 42-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

As the West Woos Syria, Assad Aligns Himself with Iran by Avi Issacharoff in Haaretz

[tweetmeme] With a new American ambassador soon to head for Damascus and Secretary of State Clinton potentially heading to meet with Assad, it is clear that the West is trying to find cooperation with Syria.  At the same time, Assad recently hosted a meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah leader Nasrallahh and Hamas leader Haniyeh.  Issacharoff seems surprised that this courtship by Washington has not led Assad to immediately drop Iran and its support for the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance groups:

It is true that overtures from the West could keep Syria from giving itself wholly to Iran. And persuading Syria to negotiate with Israel could even significantly weaken its axis with Tehran and might neutralize the threat of regional war. But with the Damascus summit, Assad is signaling unease over American and French attempts to woo him and, moreover, that he has no interest in reopening talks with Israel. Ahmadinejad has been to Damascus before, of course, and Bashar has visited Tehran. But the presence this time of Hamas and Hezbollah hints at more than the usual show of deterrence to Israel and the West.

But the meeting in Damascus should have been expected.  After Israel threatened Iran, Syria and Lebanon (while continuing its illegal blockade of Gaza), Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran faced a common threat and made a defensive pact.  Unfortunate for the West, yes, but unexpected?  Not at all.  Furthermore, the US attempt to create goodwill with Damascus is only half-hearted.  There are many in Washington and Israel that oppose the confirmation of Robert Ford as the new American ambassador and, historically, the US has not been the best ally for Syria.

Continued rapprochement with Syria is undoubtedly a good thing that will bear fruits in the long-term.  But without a true open-hand to Syria, one can’t expect Assad to immediately drop its current allies that are helping deter what seems to be an aggressive Israel (see: Lieberman, Avigdor).

Issacharoff also tries to make the argument that by continuing its relationship with Iran, Hamas is becoming more radical.  This is ridiculous.  By attending the meeting in Damascus, Hamas is simply continuing its current policy, not drastically changing it.  In fact, since its legitimate election in 2005, Hamas has become decidedly more moderate – still not an Israeli ally, but a far cry from its stance in the early years of the century.

The article is yet another effort to paint the Damascus-Tehran-Hamas-Hezbollah group as an alliance that will tear up the Middle East.  By advocating a cooling between Damascus and Washington Issacharoff is implying that Washington should accept a far more hostile stance towards Syria – something that is not in American interests and something rather atypical of a Haaretz article.

Report: US Tells Lebanon Can’t Stop Israeli Strike by Roee Nahmias in Ynet News

Nahmias reports that the US has told Lebanon that the Americans are unable to convince Israeli not to strike Lebanon and Hezbollah.  This announcement comes after Senator John Kerry said that Israel would not strike Iran without American consent.  Different countries, yes, but the same idea.  If Israel won’t strike Iran without American consent they won’t strike Lebanon either.

By striking Hezbollah, Israel would need to confront Iran, Syria and Hamas as well – a hypothetical that would bring major war to most of the Middle East.  Considering the pact between the Arab countries, and the consequences of a strike against Hezbollah, Israel would certainly need American approval to avoid a major backlash in Washington.

Jenin Teen Says Rabbit Gave Birth to Tiny Elephant in Ma’an News

A 19-year-old rabbit raiser in Jenin said he was “shocked and terrified” when his newest animal gave birth to what he described as a tiny baby elephant on Sunday.

“I was concerned when I saw a black baby elephant next to nine white baby rabbits,” Alawna told Ma’an, adding that the creature died only five hours after it was born. He said he was baffled as to how the elephant was produced.

WHAT!?!?!  See the photo above

Photo from Ma’an News

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One thought on “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Baby Elephant-Rabbit?)

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