Iran, Iran and… Iran
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Hebrew media review

Iran, Iran and… Iran

Speeches at the UN General Assembly are top stories, including ones that haven’t happened yet

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN General Assembly (photo credit: AP/Jason DeCrow)
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN General Assembly (photo credit: AP/Jason DeCrow)

After a quiet Yom Kippur, with all news outlets in Israel silent, the Thursday papers go berserk reporting on the 67th United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City that took place the day before.

Sure there was a twin car-bombing at the Syrian army headquarters in Damascus, but that only makes it to Page 8 of Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz, and Page 7 of Israel Hayom. That four guards were killed and 15 wounded by the rebel strike while top brass were gathered inside makes it to Maariv‘s page 4.

The speeches that gained the most press in Israel were those of US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It came as little surprise that Israel Hayom reports on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the UN before it happened.

Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth share the same headline about Obama’s speech: “No red lines.” Although the president addressed the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, Maariv reports that sources in Jerusalem were disappointed by Obama’s speech.

The paper writes that although Obama did not set a deadline for Tehran, “he definitely sent it an assertive message” by saying “make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” and that the US “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Maariv also mentions Obama’s assertion that time remains for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The remainder of Obama’s half-hour speech, pertaining to condemnation of religious violence that manifested itself in Benghazi, the deteriorating situation in Syria, and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, finds no mention in Maariv’s report.

Yedioth Ahronoth provides a full translation of Obama’s speech and gives a point-by-point breakdown of the president’s address. Regarding the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Obama said that “the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace.” The paper interprets this as Obama “attacking those who didn’t work enough to advance a peace agreement — and it’s possible to see criticism of Netanyahu and [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas in this.”

Dan Margalit writes in Israel Hayom that Obama’s speech was “alright” and “as expected from an election year, there were no breakthroughs in his words, nor was there an admission of mistakes.”

“Indeed, his speech did not include ‘red lines,’ but he did reiterate and set that the US must prevent Iran’s ‘nuclearization,’ and that is important even if it was said before,” Margalit writes.

Margalit concludes that “Obama is so involved in these [US presidential] elections, to the point that his speech sounded as if he asked to do the minimum, and in terms of this he is ‘not in his right mind,’ for better or for worse.”

Regarding Ahmadinejad’s vitriolic speech at the UN on Wednesday, Haaretz reports that the Iranian president lashed out against the “continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation” and the “arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass-destruction by the hegemonic powers.” In all, the paper devotes a mere two paragraphs to Obama’s speech, two to Ahmadinejad, and the bulk of the story to Netanyahu’s upcoming speech.

Israel Hayom similarly devotes more than half of its full-page coverage of the UN General Assembly speeches to Netanyahu, and the remainder to Obama. Ahmadinejad is given a few paragraphs on the next page, along with a photograph of the New York Post’s front page calling him a “Piece of Sh!t.”

Israel Hayom deems the fact that Netanyahu is bringing his wife and son along, and that he attended Yom Kippur prayers at a synagogue on Hovevei Zion Street in Jerusalem’s Talbiyeh neighborhood with President Shimon Peres, first paragraph material. It reports that Netanyahu said in a letter he published on Wednesday that the UN General Assembly “will hear our response” to Ahmadinejad’s statements.

The prime minister further stated that “I will act in every way in order that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” and that history proves that everyone who has wanted to “erase us from the map has failed in their mission.”

According to Israel Hayom, Netanyahu is scheduled to deliver his speech to the General Assembly at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, or 7 p.m. in Israel.

Haaretz’s main story reports that an internal Foreign Ministry document maintains that the increased sanctions on Iran imposed by the US and the EU in recent months “have caused far more damage to the Iranian economy than previously believed and have sparked additional domestic criticism of the regime.” In light of this, the Foreign Ministry has been working to convince the EU to impose another round of sanctions against Iran.

The paper speculates that Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s comments earlier this week that there will be an “Iranian Spring” akin to the Arab Spring in the coming year came in light of the sanctions’ impact on Iran’s political and economic stability.

“There is more and more domestic resentment there. This will again build up in advance of elections for the [Iranian] presidency. The Iranian leadership is also feeling this and is therefore escalating its rhetoric,” Liberman said.

According to Haaretz, evidence of the economic impact is that the Iranian rial has dropped 50% in value, Iran’s oil exports have dropped 50% in the last year, the economy lost $40 billion in oil revenues, and the price of basic commodities has increased drastically.

Gideon Levy’s op-ed in Haaretz was titled in Hebrew “Caracal Pussy” and was more tastefully translated into English as “Israel’s IDF heroine, a symptom of male chauvinism.” He argues that the female soldier who killed a terrorist on the Egyptian border last week has been over-glorified by the IDF and the press precisely because she’s a woman.

Despite the fact that “they allow women to take part in the game in one of the IDF battalions,” inequality in the military remains, he says. “The route to gender equality is still long and painful, the discrimination is still at its height, but we have S. from Caracal as winning proof of a bogus equality.”

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