Today’s Top Stories

1. While Europe expresses it anger at settlement activity, Washington’s rather quiet. According to Peter Beinart, that’s because the Obama administration’s strategy towards Israel is “benign neglect.”

So instead of confronting Netanyahu directly, Team Obama has hit upon a different strategy: stand back and let the rest of the world do the confronting. Once America stops trying to save Israel from the consequences of its actions, the logic goes, and once Israel feels the full brunt of its mounting international isolation, its leaders will be scared into changing course. “The tide of global opinion is moving [against Israel],” notes one senior administration official. And in that environment, America’s “standing back” is actually “doing something.”

2. You don’t think media coverage was a factor, do you?

UK Anti-Semitism Doubled After Gaza War

3. The Independent reports that the military chiefs of several countries secretly met — at David Cameron’s request — to plan out how to train and protect Syrian rebels:

There is also a growing belief among the Western backers of the opposition that intervention in some form is necessary now to influence the future political shape of Syria. Jihadist groups among the rebels, some like Jabhat al-Nusra linked to al-Qa’ida, have steadily gained in power and influence because of their access to weapons and money coming from the Gulf states putting more secular groups at a severe disadvantage . . . .

Britain, France and the US have agreed that none of their countries would have “boots on the ground” to help the rebels. The training camps can be set up in Turkey. However, the use of air and maritime force would, in itself, be highly controversial and likely to lead to charges that, as in Libya, the West is carrying out regime change by force.

Israel and the Palestinians

EU to Israel: Treaties with Israel only apply to pre-’67 lines.

A diplomatic source told The Jerusalem Post that he feared some of the language in the council statement was placed there to lay the groundwork for labelling and possibly banning settlement products in the future.

Michael Tomasky’s worth reading: Meshal’s Speech and the Progressive Conundrum:

But I ask you how any progressive person can fully support a movement like Meshal’s. Granted, the world doesn’t always offer us clean choices. We must prioritize, and the clear priority here is opposing occupation and working to end it.

But secular liberal people must also have the fortitude to demand that leaders of the occupied move away from destructive positions like Meshal’s, which just make for a downward spiral to nowhere.Too often in the history of the postwar era, the left in the developed world has let its hatred of imperialism and occupation prevent it from seeing and denouncing the problems within the movements around the world it has supported.

Contrast Tomasky with the Daily Telegraph‘s Matt Hill. With eyes wide shut, Hill concludes his apologetics thusly:

Giving Hamas a chance to exercise real power in Gaza would empower less extreme elements who advocate a rapprochement with the Palestinian Authority and closer ties with moderate regional powers like Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. In this way, Israel could begin a process of nurturing the group’s pragmatic strain, coaxing it towards compromise and legitimacy and eventually leaving its diehard militants on the margins – just as the world did with the PLO in the 1980s and 90s.

Many Israelis had similar hopes when we withdrew from Gaza.

According to an analysis in The Scotsman, Khaled Meshaal’s Gaza trip “effectively turned the international boost for Hamas into political capital for himself.”

Did the presence of press photographers tie the hands of Israeli soldiers on patrol in Hebron?

A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists has me wondering: Might Palestinian Press Freedom Gain From the UN Statehood Vote?

Eden Hazard

Another soccer star denies signing a petition that called for UEFA sanctions against Israel. This time, it’s Chelsea forward Eden Hazard. According to the Daily Mail:

However, it emerged yesterday that Hazard had not contributed to the petition. His agent John Bico said: ‘Eden never speaks about his political opinions and he certainly never signed anything.’

Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba had earlier strongly denied endorsing UEFA stripping Israel of the tournament.

Drogba had been one of the marquee players listed along with Hazard as having done so on the website of former Tottenham striker Frederic Kanoute.

Joel Pollak wonders why the UN is hosting an art exhibit depicting Palestine as all of Israel.

The US is selling $647 million of munitions to Israel to replenish IDF stocks after Operation Pillar of Defense. The sale includes bunker busters that could hit Hamas’s underground facilities, but Bloomberg News adds:

The move “does not appear intended to transfer any new capability that Israel could use against the most hardened sites of Iran’s nuclear program,” Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst for the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, said in an e-mailed statement.

Iranian Atomic Urgency

Sudanese rebels accused Khartoum of making a secret agreement to with Tehran to set up an Iranian military base on the Red Sea. Israelis, Saudis, and Egyptians won’t like this. According to the Jerusalem Post:

By extending its naval presence as far as Sudan and the Red Sea, Iran would gain several advantages, including in regards to combating Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden but also in gaining control over the Red Sea shipping route, part of the channel through which Iran ships arms to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. An Iranian naval presence in Port Sudan would also upset Iran’s Sunni rival Saudi Arabia, located just across the Red Sea.

Arab Spring Winter

Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl on Syria:

A slightly more likely scenario is that the West will get lucky and Assad’s regime will soon collapse in Damascus. In the resulting vacuum, the coalition will gain recognition from the outside world, and most of the rebel forces and Syria will follow the shaky path of Libya, with a weak government coexisting with a panoply of militias — some of them allied to al-Qaeda. The difference is that any spillover of terrorists and weapons will affect not Mali, but Israel, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.

Egyptians talked to the NY Times about Islamic vigilante thuggery against Mohammed Morsi’s opponents.

The abuses, during a night of street fighting between Islamists and their opponents, have become clear through an accumulation of video and victim testimonies that are now hurting the credibility of Mr. Morsi and his allies as they push forward to this weekend’s referendum on an Islamist-backed draft constitution.

Frida Ghitis weighs in on the latest from Egypt.

Rest O’ the Roundup

Facebook shuts down Taliban recruiting account:

In fact, the most intriguing part of the now-defunct page may be the people who “liked” it. Regardless of your motive, identifying yourself as the “friend” of a known terrorist organization takes guts — or fervor, or social media ignorance, or some combination of the three.

More details at the LA Times, which broke the story.

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