x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Jazeera blamed for 'anti-Israelism'

A study conducted by an Israeli research centre calls on the country to better develop its public relations resources to deal with ongoing challenges to its sovereignty.

A new Israeli study conducted by the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, found that Arab media outlets, especially Al Jazeera, and international organisations, including the United Nations, have been leading an insidious incitement and boycott campaign against Israel, reported the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi. The study said that despite the damage that this drive has caused to Israel - leading to trade and cultural proscriptions on Israeli goods and academics - the issue has not been included in the Israeli government's agenda as yet.

Israel's lack of diverse public relations bodies to conduct the international "media battle" and the absence of a politically informed media strategy in the country make this outcome all the more drastic, the study reported.  "Al Jazeera is waging a comprehensive media war on Israel," the newspaper quoted the study as saying. "The goal behind it is to entice all the Arabs to further support the Palestinians, and more specifically to back Hamas. The television network spares no effort in portraying the Palestinians as the main victims."

The research team urged the Israeli government to realise that Israel is not merely subject to sporadic "anti-Israel" campaigns stoked by occasional developments. The country rather sits in the bull's eye of a deliberate and systematic project to undermine its legitimacy as a state.

"I'm not sure whether the US president Barack Obama is simply the unluckiest American president or is it the nature of his job to take the blame for all the problems that loom over his tenure," wrote Abdulrahman al Rashed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat. Mr Obama has inherited two big wars, was greeted by the severest financial crisis in US history and arrived right on time for Iran's nuclear zero hour. "The president is also ear-deep in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A busted oil duct is now more of a threat to Mr Obama than Iran's nuclear reactors."

And here comes one of his top military generals, Stanley McChrystal, to add some gloom to the rampant grimness. In a move widely considered to be a show of insubordination, Gen McChrystal's snide criticisms of high-profile members of the Obama administration, including the president, as reported in one of America's most popular magazines earlier this week, diluted already scarce positive energy to carry through the US strategy in Afghanistan. In the Middle East, where affections are typically short-lived, Mr Obama has lost many supporters for failing to push the peace process any further. "One really wonders if Mr Obama's failure in our region is due to his many domestic preoccupations or to his overly soft style of handling the regional players."

Since the Nakba in 1948, Lebanon has been hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees who now number about 450,000, but due to the country's limited area and multiple sectarian situation, the national debate over the civil rights of refugees remains a thorny issue, wrote Adnan al Sayed Hussein, a Lebanese minister, in the opinion pages of the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej. "If some Lebanese officials believe that the clampdown on the livelihoods of refugees will push them to leave the country, they're wrong. Some of them may immigrate, as many Lebanese citizens do in search of jobs overseas when opportunities at home are slim, but the social misery that the refugees live through leads them to rebellion, delinquency and perhaps terrorism."

It is unacceptable that refugee camps in Lebanon lack in drinking water, sewage drains and reliable electricity. "What transpired in the last parliamentary session on June 15 regarding the civil rights of Palestinian refugees bespoke the frailty of our political and social life. Lebanon's public image has been damaged over this issue to the point that we've become a model for the negligence of refugee rights." Of course, it is Lebanon's sovereign right not to grant citizenship to all refugees, and it is also its duty towards preserving the Palestinians' right of return, but civil rights for all refugees are an unequivocal obligation.

The acerbic derision in recent statements by the US army general Stanley McChrystal to Rolling Stone magazine, lampooning his boss the US president Barack Obama and members of his administration, tells us quite a bit about the dead end that awaits the US forces in Afghanistan, noted Satei Noureddine in the comment pages of the Lebanese newspaper Assafir. As the US is losing young soldiers, precious funds and strategic prestige in the Afghan quicksand, the Taliban and al Qa'eda can now proclaim the approach of their holy victory over America.

"True, an officer's insubordination to the president is quite an exceptional occurrence in a time-honoured democracy where the military is under the command of the civil authority." But Gen McChrystal's disdainful tone gave a stark picture of the shenanigans backstage in the Pentagon and the White House as to who or which institution will be scape-goated to carry around the shame of the US's imminent defeat in the Afghan war.

Gen McChrystal may have lost his job, but he surely has sparked questions about Mr Obama's presidency and the US administration and shed a dismal light on US failures on the international front. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi @Email:aelbahi@thenational.ae