Egyptian unrest and US media bias *updated*
An interesting partial interview with MJ Rosenberg of Media Matters talking about the US double standard regarding how democracy is viewed in the Arab world vs. Europe.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
As if to prove MJ Rosenberg’s point, the NYT ran a story yesterday focusing on what the turmoil in Egypt means for the U.S. and Israel. And while it would be silly to pretend there aren’t ramifications, there is a danger in sending the wrong message to the Egyptian people- we want to make sure that the protests continue to be about their legitimate economic and democratic interests and NOT make it about U.S. and Israel’s needs/wants. Obviously the U.S. will be discussing such things behind closed doors, but now would be a good time to let the Egyptian people know we are unconditionally on their side and that we respect their desire to choose their own leaders for their own reasons.
As I said in a post below, the events in Egypt are all the more reason for the Israelis to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians- they might find themselves less isolated in the region and less dependent on despots in the region if a two state solution were actually in the works.
From the NYT:
Obama administration officials have been on the telephone almost daily with their Israeli counterparts urging them to “please chill out,” in the words of one senior administration official, as President Obama has raced to respond to the rapidly unfolding events.
But the crisis raises many questions about how the United States will navigate its relationship with Israel — in particular the balance between encouraging the development of a democratic government in Egypt and the desire in Washington not to risk a new government’s abandoning Mr. Mubarak’s benign posture toward Israel.
Israeli government officials started out urging the Obama administration to back Mr. Mubarak, administration officials said, and were initially angry at Mr. Obama for publicly calling on the Egyptian leader to agree to a transition.
“The Israelis are saying, après Mubarak, le deluge,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator. And that, in turn, Mr. Levy said, “gets to the core of what is the American interest in this. It’s Israel. It’s not worry about whether the Egyptians are going to close down the Suez Canal, or even the narrower terror issue. It really can be distilled down to one thing, and that’s Israel.”
A White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said on Friday that administration officials were reassuring the Israelis that “we fully understand Israel’s security concerns, and we’re making clear that our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.”
Daniel Shapiro, a White House Middle East adviser, met on Tuesday with American Jewish leaders, and Mr. Obama talked to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Sunday.
But administration officials must also balance support for Israel against the real desire among many Egyptians — and others on the Arab street — for an end to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank. “The situation tends to highlight Israel’s strategic value to the United States as a stable and unequivocal ally in a very unstable region,” said Michael B. Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington. He added: “The situation does reinforce the need for security guarantees, regarding a future Palestinian state, because we see how the current situation in the Middle East can change very rapidly.”
Supporters of Israel in the United States have been focusing on playing up the dangers they see as inherent in a democratic Egyptian government that contains, or is led by, elements of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, which opposes Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
In an e-mail on Friday to reporters and editors, Josh Block, a former spokesman for AIPAC, the influential Jewish-American lobbying organization, suggested “questions to ask the Muslim Brotherhood & Their Allies.”
American Jewish leaders have also been voicing uneasiness about Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the atomic energy agency who is also part of the opposition to Mr. Mubarak.
Malcolm I. Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group, said that in his work as a nuclear watchdog, Mr. ElBaradei covered up Iran’s nuclear weapons capability in the reports issued by his agency.
“He is a stooge of Iran, and I don’t use the term lightly,” Mr. Hoenlein said in an online interview on Sunday with Yeshiva World News. “He fronted for them, he distorted the reports.”
I’m sorry, but the behavior of the U.S. Israel Lobby is highly questionable and hypocritical. If anything, the situation in Egypt argues for rapprochement between Israel and some of her Arab neighbors but that can only happen with a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our actions speak louder than words- we unconditionally support Israel and thus we shouldn’t have to reaffirm our commitment to their security every time we say the word “Israel.” They know we are committed to their security and as an American I find it a bit insulting that the U.S. seems to be put on the defensive about it.