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Mideast Media Sampler – 04/30/2013 – New York Times running interference for Obama on #Syria

Mideast Media Sampler – 04/30/2013 – New York Times running interference for Obama on #Syria

1) The proof?

Yesterday I noted
that the New York Times seemed eager to relegate an article about the administration’s reluctance to believe that Assad had employed chemical weapons to the ash heap of history. In a new editorial, Ill-considered advice on Syria, the New York Times view has changed a bit. Why?

In today’s editorial, the editors write:

The failure to act now could be misread by Mr. Assad as well as leaders in Iran and North Korea, whose nuclear programs are on America’s radar. But Mr. Obama should only act if he has compelling documentation that the sarin gas was used in an attack by Syrian forces and was not the result of an accident or fertilizer. The Financial Times reported the evidence is based on two separate samples taken from victims of the attacks.

With the civil war in Syria now in its third year and the death toll at more than 70,000, the situation has deteriorated. Mr. Assad remains in power, sectarian divisions have intensified and fleeing refugees are destabilizing neighboring countries. Most worrisome, jihadis linked to Al Qaeda have become the dominant fighting force and, as Ben Hubbard reported in The Times, there are few rebel groups that both share the political vision of the United States and have the military might to push it forward.

Unlike last week when the Times dismissed any proofs of Syrian chemical usage, this week the paper’s editors are less certain that the evidence can be ignored. Still they’re insistent that there isn’t enough to justify American involvement. What’s more? The New York Times is concerned that helping the rebels will strengthen those affiliated with Al Qaeda. (The New York Times never harbored any doubts about the Muslim Brotherhood. Implicitly, it appears that the New York Times reflects the view of the administration – as observed by Barry Rubin – that sees Al Qaeda, alone, as a threat to America but not less militant Islamists.)

Still the Times is correct that it hurts American credibility if the President declares a “red line” and then refuses to act on it.

Of course, there are ways to try to evade that.

2) The terrorist on the motorcycle

If you recall, the first strike of November’s Pillar of Defense offensive, was the killing of Ahmed Jabari as he rode on his motorcycle. Now Israel, has hit another terrorist riding on his motorcycle.

The New York Times reports Israeli Airstrike Kills Palestinian in Gaza:

The Israeli military described the target in Gaza, Haitham al-Mishal, as a “key terror figure” who manufactured and traded in weapons, including rockets and explosive devices, and worked with all the militant organizations in the Gaza Strip. The military added that Mr. Mishal had been involved in the firing of rockets at the southern Israeli resort of Eilat earlier this month, although Palestinian officials said he was a police officer.

It was the first Israeli strike against a militant in Gaza, the Palestinian coastal enclave, since a cease-fire ended eight days of fierce cross-border fighting in November. It remains to be seen how Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, and other groups there will react.

The AP also reported:

After months of relative calm, the truce has begun to unravel. Palestinian militants have sporadically fired rockets into southern Israel in recent weeks. The Israeli air force has responded with strikes on training sites and suspected weapons storage sites in Gaza. Until Tuesday, there had been no casualties.

Always reliable, Meryl Yourish offered an incisive critique of the way the AP framed the story:

Boom. And the AP, of course, plays up the airstrike as a far more serious “test” of the truce that Hamas is supposed to be abiding by. The rocket attacks? Well, they’re always explained away as something out of Hamas’ control, done by Salafi terrorists. And then, when the Salafi terrorists are taken out, the AP publishes a sympathetic story about the grieving family members at the funeral.

3) Israeli stabbed to death

The Jerusalem Post reports:

An Israeli was killed in a terror attack at the Tapuah junction in the northern West Bank on Tuesday morning, when he was attacked by a Palestinian man at a hitchhiking spot at the junction.

The Palestinian terrorist came up from behind the victim, identified as Evyatar Borovsky, and then stabbed him in the chest, Judea and Samaria Division Capt. Barak Raz told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

This Ongoing War provides
some background information:

YNet’s report reminds us of a previous stabbing at the same location in January 2013 (we wrote about it here). Then, the victim was a teenage boy who survived with light to moderate injuries. The attacker, a terrorist in his twenties from Ramallah, was apprehended.

The IDF security checkpoint near Tapuah Junction was removed at some point in recent months. Haaretz quotes Gershon Mesika, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, saying this morning that security-related incidents (their reporter means to say acts of terrorism) at Tapuah Junction “have recently increased five-fold”. There’s evidently a connection but Haaretz refrains from stating it.


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You mean that O’bammy’s RED line has faded to Pink and continues to “evolve?”

Nothing new here folks…

“… was not the result of an accident or fertilizer.”

That is an incredibly silly statement. Perhaps they are confusing pesticides as fertilizers. But even then the ignorance on display is so advanced as to make one think it willful.

Yes sarin gas in an organophosphate, and is similar to certain types of pesticides, but if the authors had bothered to read even the basic details as outlined in Wired they might further recognize that liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry will not confuse the two substances.

And calling any sarin exposure accidental is entirely akin to saying that John Wilkes Booth’s derringer ‘just went off in his hand.’

    David Gerstman in reply to ThomasD. | April 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Thomas – you realize that you’re talking about a New York Times editorial, where ideology is more important than stubborn things like facts.

We are so screwed.

Charles Curran | April 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Let me see if I understand our policy here. It’s OK if he kills another 70,000 of his people, as long as he doesn’t use gas? Why was he so quick to bomb Libya, and two years into this he is still undecided . Pink is his color.

LukeHandCool | April 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm

There’s a not-so-fine line (as in miles wide) between a serious leader drawing a red line and Obama kinda, sorta sketching one out.