Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Week - Sensible on Syria; Lazy lines; Neither doom nor gloom

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Sensible on Syria

Israel's attack on a Syrian weapons convoy generated considerable interest on ABC Radio.

Radio National's "Breakfast" (1/2) spoke to Ehud Yaari via telephone in Israel.

Yaari told Fran Kelly that Israel attacked a convoy carrying weapons that would give Hezbollah capabilities such as the "Yakhont coast-to-sea missiles that could threaten, for example, the Israeli gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean."

He also said that the Assad regime accused anti-government Islamist rebels in Syria of co-responsibility for the Israeli attack, "a collusion, which does not exist, of course."

Hours later, on "The World Today", Simon Santow interviewed former CIA operative Robert Baer. In an unaired section of the interview only accessible on the ABC website, Baer admitted:

I don't often take the Israeli position, but right now, they've got a mess on their border and a lot of sophisticated weapons, and they don't know whose hands they are going to fall in.

And so that any opportunity they have to destroy these things - they're going to do it.

And the idea that advanced surface-to-air weapons getting to Hezbollah, who'd be able to use them and, you know, be able to hide them, is crossing a red line for the Israelis.

Lazy lines

The reports on the strike prompted some lacklustre headlines.

The Herald Sun (1/2) ran with "Israel attacks" - mercifully leaving out an exclamation mark at the end.

The Townsville Bulletin opted for "Israeli jets hit science sites near Damascus".

Of course, the words "science sites" should have been framed in single quotation marks.

As the statement attributed to the Syrian government in the article itself made clear - referring to the targets as "centres for scientific research responsible for enhancing the resistance and self-defence...on the outskirts of Damascus" - it was hardly Syria's version of the CSIRO.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph report (1/2) on the strike was one of the few to note that Hezbollah is "committed to Israel's destruction" and "has fought several wars with Israel, most recently in 2006".

Neither doom nor gloom

On the Conversation website (29/1) AIJAC policy analyst Or Avi-Guy offered a rare and sensible alternative to those commentators who decried the supposedly parlous condition of Israeli democracy prior to the elections:

Once their initial concerns had not materialised, critical commentators were faced with a problem- if Israel is not shifting to the right, on what grounds could they base their claim that the Israeli public rejects the two-state solution?
A new criticism is now levelled at the Israeli - that Israelis are to blame for the ‘death' of the two-state formula because they voted according to socioeconomic issues and interests, with the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations not prominent on the platform of most parties....
If those who mourn the two-state solution were ever real supporters of such an outcome, they would be seeking ways to promote and support it, instead of interpreting any development in Israel as yet another alleged nail in its coffin.

- Allon Lee

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