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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Reuters’

Egyptian Government: No Deal with Muslim Brotherhood

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Egyptian presidential media adviser Ahmed El-Muslimany has denied a report by Reuters that the government offered the Muslim Brotherhood ministerial posts, to release several of its jailed members and to unfreeze the group’s assets as part of a deal to end the political crisis, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.

Reuters reported earlier, citing a military source, that the offer was made in exchange for the Brotherhood to end their sit-in protests.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its allies have been holding two large sit-ins in Cairo and Giza demanding former president Mohamed Morsi to be reinstated and have held daily rallies to voice their demands since June 28.

On July 3, the Egyptian military deposed Morsi and established a political roadmap in cooperation with the opposition, which calls for constitutional amendments, parliamentary and presidential elections.

Reporter Alan Elsner Leaving Pro-Israel Group for ‘Ideologically Better Suited’ J Street

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The Israel Project is a bi-partisan pro-Israel messaging organization with close relationships to many people spread across the Israeli political spectrum and with liberal centrist pro-Israel Democrats in the U.S. government.

TIP is perhaps best known for its polling and messaging efforts to improve Israel’s image with the public, and the helicopter rides they offer foreign journalists stationed in Israel, so that the size of the country, especially in comparison to its hostile neighbors, is understood.

In what has been a stable yet rapidly-expanding organization, several changes have recently taken place at TIP that surprised the somewhat inbred pro-Israel world.

First, TIP’s ubiquitous founder and president left – for good this time  – but perhaps far more shocking, the former number two at TIP has joined J Street.  Whereas TIP is focused on helping Israel improve its image throughout the world, many consider J Street to be the source of more harm to Israel’s image than just about any other organization, and certainly more than any other organization which claims to be pro-Israel.

TIP was founded ten years ago by three women, one of whom became the president and remained in that position until this summer.  Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi was a communications and political consulting strategist as well as a former operative with the Democratic National Committee until she launched TIP.  After ten years, TIP grew to an organization with staff of more than 80 and with offices in three different cities – including Jerusalem – and an annual budget of up to $11 million.

The TIP Board came up with a new strategic plan last year, and Laszlo Mizrahi had already decided it was time for her to move on.

The board’s strategic plan was to scale back the enormous worldwide focus – TIP was not only working on pro-Israel messaging in the United States but was also working with Israeli, Russian, Spanish, British, German, Arabic and Chinese press to improve Israel’s image.

One former employee told The Jewish Press that it was hard to justify spending lots of money to improve relations with Russian and Chinese journalists, given that the press is tightly controlled by the government in both of those countries.

The search to find a new TIP president and executive director concluded when former American Israel Public Affairs Committee spokesperson Josh Block agreed to sign on.  Block’s mandate included a more tightly focused agenda – concentrating on the U.S. market where results are more likely and more quantifiable.  He also took the helm when the nature of the media messaging was shifting, with a stronger emphasis on digital engagement – twitter, Facebook and other social media.  The nature of these changes – not in message but in delivery – meant TIP was going to become a leaner machine.

Alan Elsner, the former number two at TIP,  saw the writing on the wall and left the organization earlier this fall.  Elsner had been a journalist with Reuters for more than 30 years, but retired from that job two years ago.  In a move that surprised some, Elsner joined TIP and was its senior communications director during his two year stint.

Elsner told The Jewish Press that he first met Laszlo Mizrahi while he was Reuters’ political correspondent.  At that time Laszlo Mizrahi was what Elsner called a DNC “operative,” and she had been a source for him.  Over the years the two maintained a friendship, and after Elsner left Reuters, Laszlo Mizrahi asked him to join TIP.

Taking a position at a hasbara organization is something few journalists would deign to do, especially one coming from an organization like Reuters.  But while some folks expressed surprise when Elsner went to TIP, he said that because he was “retired” from journalism, he was finally able to do what he really wanted.  And Israel has always been important to Elsner.

Alan Elsner grew up in England, but his parents eventually moved to Israel.  Elsner lived in Israel for eight years, and served in the Israel Defense Forces from 1981-82.  His sister and brother-in-law still live there, in the south, near Beer Sheva, as do their four sons.  Elsner is a child of a Holocaust survivor, and one of the books he wrote is about his father’s experience during World War II, “Guarded by Angels.”

Laszlo Mizrahi – who told The Jewish Press that she had no comment for this article – developed the TIP style of not criticizing either journalists or Israeli government officials for doing the wrong thing, but instead to offer material and resources to the former and information and polling data to the latter, to help achieve the desired results – a more positive image for Israel.  TIP does not create Israel’s message. Instead, TIP helps to package Israel’s message – either through changes in word choice, context or emphasis – so that the global audience is less likely to have its feathers ruffled – or its prejudices kick in.

Elsner, on the other hand, says he now understands that his personal style and ideology is better suited to J Street.

Echoing a statement released by J Street when Elsner accepted the new position as its senior communications director this week, he told The Jewish Press, “accentuating positive messages about Israel, while it can be useful, ultimately is not going to get Israel to where it needs to go.”

Unlike TIP, J Street is not interested in helping Israel deliver its message with better packaging. J Street has its own idea of what Israel’s message should be, and is perfectly happy delivering its own message to rather than for Israel.  That message is that there must be a Palestinian State and any efforts that get in the way of creating that result – and their primary focus for criticism is Israel – is destructive and should be treated accordingly by the U.S. administration.

So what should Israel be doing? According to Elsner, “Israel should find a way to get back to the peace process.”  He said, “continuing to build settlements, just eating up land where the Palestinian State is going to be established” takes everyone further away from a solution.

When asked what message he has for Israel, Elsner’s response was not surprising.  He said, “the only way to safeguard Israel as a democratic, Jewish state is to reach a peace agreement with the ‘Palestinians’ so that they have their own state, that has to be the priority.”

Elsner continued, “Israel cannot take positions that make it [the 'Two State Solution'] more difficult, and Israeli politicians are making short term choices for political reasons, ones that always outweigh the long term good of the nation.”

Elsner criticized the recent announcement approving a stage in the process of construction in the area known as E-1 by Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Some former colleagues described Elsner as a “Bibi hater.”

“There should be room in the discussion for those who want to pursue a real peace process and who value dialogue above settlements,” is the way J Street, and also Elsner – now publicly – frame the issue.

When asked whether he thought it was acceptable for a future Palestinian State to forbid Jews from living there, Elsner’s response echoed what the J Street crowd calls “Jewish out of bounds talk,” i.e. they claim it is not acceptable to speak harshly about the “settlements.”  In this instance, when it is suggested that those who push the Two State Solution are actually promoting a Judenrein state, the suggestion is balked at, turned away from, but ultimately never addressed head on.

In an effort to draw out Elsner on this concept, The Jewish Press reminded him of the tragic story of Koby Mandell, the 13 year old Jewish American-Israeli boy who, with his friend Yosef Ishran, was bludgeoned to death in 2001 by Arab Palestinians in the wadi outside of his home in Tekoa, in the Judean desert.

The Mandell family moved to Tekoa in the wake of the Oslo Accords.  They believed peace was truly going to break out between Jews and Arabs, and when they moved to Tekoa, according to Koby’s father, Rabbi Seth Mandell, they really did not know whether the land would be part of Israel or of a Palestinian State, and they didn’t think it mattered.

Elsner’s response – while perhaps not intentionally harsh, and certainly not intentionally ironic – was that lots of blood has been spilled on both sides, and that there was an excessive level of naivete many years ago that no longer is as prevalent.

Since announcing his new position, Elsner said he has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, especially from his friends and relatives in Israel.

How he lasted two years in senior leadership at The Israel Project is the real mystery.

 

Hamas Already Repairing Gaza’s Smuggling Tunnels, Preparing for Next War

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Reuters reported on Friday that the Rafah smuggling tunnels, pummeled by the IAF over 8 days, in an area described as resembling a moonscape, are already being rebuilt.

“As you can see there is complete destruction, the tunnels are all destroyed because of the missiles. We will rebuild them and bring in food, flour lentils and sugar and building material such as cement and metal so that the people can break the siege on Gaza,” Mohamad Omar told Reuters on Friday while his friends were busy clearing up their camp.

A Rafah tunnel that has been bombarded by the IAF will be re-dug this week.

A Rafah tunnel that has been bombarded by the IAF will be re-dug this week.

The Rafah border crossing with Egypt, like the crossings to Israel remained closed to traffic most of the day Friday.

Local workmen said the IAF attacks destroyed more than two-thirds of the cross-border tunnels which are used to bring in cement, fuel, food, and the rockets and mortar shells used against Israeli civilian enclaves only a few miles away.

“We are trying to fix the tunnel in order to return to our normal life which we need the tunnel for work. It costs a lot but what can we do, we have to fix it. For example this tunnel of ours which has been hit it will cost no less that 40 thousand dollars to fix,” Mohamad Aladwan said.

According to Reuters, none of the tunnel workers interviewed said they had handled military materiel, and all of them said they were dedicated to bringing through only harmless consumer goods and medical supplies.

US Blocks UN Security Council Statement Condemning Israel

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The United States on Tuesday blocked a U.N. Security Council statement condemning violence between Israel and Gaza, calling the statement a “fail[ure] to address the root cause” of the battle, namely missile attacks by Hamas.

Reuters reported that Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the UN said the statement would not assist the “de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities.”  She expressed US concern that “by failing to call for the immediate and permanent halt to rocket launches from Gaza into Israel, this press statement failed to contribute constructively to those goals,” and that  “as such, we could not agree to this statement.”

Russia has responded by vowing to push through a resolution rather than a statement, though the US would be expected to veto the move.

Shekel Drops After Assasination

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Reuters is reporting that the New Israeli Shekel has hit a two-month low in the wake of Israel’s assassination of Hamas Military chief Ahmad al-Jaabari.

A dealer from  Israel Discount Bank, Dan Biro, told Reuters that the drop was more than had been expected.

Iran Claiming Oil Deal with Egypt

Monday, September 10th, 2012

The Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) was quoted on Monday by Reuters as stating, in the name of Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi, that Iran is negotiating to sell oil to Egypt.

The Iranians have been saying time and again, especially since the new round of Western sanctions set in on July 1, that they are negotiating to sell oil to several new buyers, but would not name.

According to Reuters, a spokesman for Egypt’s oil ministry refused to comment on Qasemi’s remarks.

Since the fall of President Mubarak, relations between Egypt and Iran have been improving, and last month President Muhamed Morsi visited Tehran – first Egyptian leader to do so since 1979.

Egyptian Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal told Al-Ahram earlier in September that he had no objection to importing Iranian crude oil, to be processed in Egyptian refineries.

But such an Egyptian move will likely not receive the blessing of the Obama White House, nor of the U.S. Congress.

Egypt has been receiving just under $2 billion in U.S. foreign aid, but the Obama Administration has repeatedly promised a significant increase in some aspects of the aid package over several years, as well as completion of an agreement between Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In short, like Israel, Egypt stands to lose a great deal by annoying the Americans.

Iran Doubled Uranium Enrichment Centrifuges

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Iran has doubled its production of uranium enrichment centrifuges at one of its underground facilities.

The expansion, reported by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, comes amidst mounting pressure from the West and increased talk of a preemptive attack by Israel, which believes Iran has a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

The number of enrichment centrifuges at the Fordow plant, which is located deep inside a mountain, has more than doubled, rising to 2,140 from the 1,064 believed to be there in May, according to Reuters.

The IAEA released the report on Thursday, which included details on Iran’s having demolished of buildings and sterilizing the Parchin military complex, according to Reuters. Such efforts would make it harder for international investigators, if and when they are allowed access, to detect the nature of nuclear research efforts there.

Tehran repeatedly says that its nuclear activity is for a domestic energy creating program and peaceful research.

Talks between IAEA representatives and Iranian delegates resumed last week at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iran-doubled-uranium-enrichment-centrifuges/2012/08/31/

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