Media Week – McDonald’s harm; Palestinian racing story the pits; Highly speculative speculation

McDonald’s harm

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Hamish McDonald (Jan. 21) came away from a recent visit to Israel with the view that the country’s “old liberality” is being whittled away by the right and the ultra-orthodox.

The latter, he wrote, “are 20 per cent of the population, breeding three times faster than more secular Jews.” In fact the ultra-orthodox are 11 per cent of the Jewish population.  He also wrote that they “are spilling out into the lands occupied since 1967, whittling down the territory held out to the Palestinians for their future state.”

Wrong again. Settlements themselves take up no more than 1-2 per cent of the West Bank, a fact Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accepted as true last November 3 on Arabic Radio As-Shams.

McDonald is unaware, unimpressed or unaccepting of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s ten-month building freeze in the West Bank and de facto freeze in east Jerusalem in 2010, writing, “he’s been able to apply only suspension of settlement in the West Bank”. McDonald suggested a one-state formula is the inevitable solution to the conflict. Maybe McDonald should have asked the Palestinian leaders he met why they failed to accept Israeli offers of statehood made to them in 2000 and 2008?

Palestinian racing story the pits

Ruth Pollard (Age/Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 21) profiled a group of female Palestinian racing drivers in the West Bank but still managed to throw in a number of gratuitous digs at Israel.

Pollard suggested their interest in the sport was caused by Israel’s military occupation and checkpoints that, according to the Age but not the Sydney Morning Herald version, are erected each month to “obstruct Palestinian movement in the West Bank”.

Alas, no mention was made that checkpoints are a necessary response to prevent terrorism nor how Israeli security ensures the Palestinian Authority does not fall prey to a Hamas coup as happened in Gaza in 2007 which would probably guarantee the end of female motor racing.

Despite the difficulties, Israel hasn’t stopped the women from competing or training overseas, and Noor Daoud, who has an east Jerusalem identity card, lost her Israeli licence for driving at 200 km/h on an open highway. Daoud won an Israeli competition held in Eilat last December.

Highly speculative speculation

Although no one has admitted involvement in the bombing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan, Marie Colvin and Uzi Mahnaimi in the Australian (Jan. 16) presented an atmospheric recreation of the last hours of his life that was based on “a source who released details, impossible to verify”. Perhaps if an anonymous source provides unverifiable details, it is the responsibility of journalists not to publish them until they can be verified? The pair wrote: “a young scientist in Iran’s controversial nuclear program, got dressed at his home in the northern suburbs. The events of this last hour of his life could have come out of a spy film. Small groups of Israeli agents were watching key points in the Iranian capital. Their target was Roshan. They would be dead themselves if they were caught. For Israel it was a classic assassination mission.”

Allon Lee