Bracing for the fallout
Hebrew media review

Bracing for the fallout

As an Iran pact edges closer, the press envisions a hellish period of American flags waving in Tehran, a world sympathetic to the ayatollahs and maybe some nuclear winter

US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, center, meet with foreign ministers and representatives of Germany, France, China, Britain, Russia and the European Union during the current round of nuclear talks with Iran, being held in Vienna, Austria July 10, 2015 (Carlos Barria/Pool via AP)
US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, center, meet with foreign ministers and representatives of Germany, France, China, Britain, Russia and the European Union during the current round of nuclear talks with Iran, being held in Vienna, Austria July 10, 2015 (Carlos Barria/Pool via AP)

The emerging nuclear agreement with Iran looms over the Israel press Monday morning like an alien mothership hovering above a defenseless city. And though negotiators may insist that they come in peace, in Israel at least some journalists are sure the officials in Vienna have their phasers set to kill.

Those rushing into their fallout shelters will want to grab a copy of Israel Hayom along the way. The tabloid, true to form, is the most hysterical of the three major dailies over the impending deal – plastering “historic mistake” in threatening black and yellow across its front page.

The paper isn’t much more forgiving on the inside, starting with the headline “They caved on everything” next to a picture of a ballistic missile launching, and that’s for its news story on the Iran talks, which is accompanied by an oh-so-subtle sidebar recalling the failed deal the US negotiated with North Korea.

If that’s the news coverage, one might expect the analysis to contain the all the solid reasoning of a typical YouTube comment, and the paper does not disappoint.

Commentator Boaz Bismuth continues the motif of WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE BECAUSE OF OBAMA, setting his phaser to “sarcasm you might hear from a 14-year-old girl who’s been told she has to go on vacation with her lame-o family.”

“They said yesterday that the powers and Iran are expected to announce the deal today. They told us 98% percent is already in the pocket. Oh wow. We’re falling off our chair. What a great diplomatic achievement,” he whines. “Too bad Obama already got the Nobel in 2009. Can we give him another one?”

The other two dailies, Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth, are less focused on Obama and more on Tehran and the celebrations planned there for the when the deal finally comes through. Given the list of concessions Iran is getting – according to Yedioth – it’s little surprise the ayatollahs are looking to party hearty.

According to the paper, the powers will lift the arms embargo on Iran, give up on surprise inspections at nuclear sites, only make Tehran stop nuclear research activities for a couple of years, and make sure the UN doesn’t bring up any of those pesky human rights violations or Iran’s support for terror groups and butchers like Bashar Assad.

In exchange, Iran will agree to not nuke Israel. Just kidding. Iran would never agree to that. Instead the Islamic Republic will stop trying to build a bomb for 10 to 15 years, agree to enrich a little bit less uranium, let international inspectors into the nuclear sites it admits to having and allow the West to lift sanctions in stages rather than all at once. A total win-win.

In a passage that would have been dismissed as total gibberish just a few years ago, the paper reports that Iranian authorities are expected to let the country’s people celebrate the deal in style, including the possibility of using the red, white and blue for something other than kindling.

“It’s assessed that the Iranian regime will ask that the celebrations around the deal be expressed openly, and that the Revolutionary Guards, who will be closely following the celebrating youth, will not meddle, even if they start to wave American flags,” the paper reports.

While Tehran is getting its party on, lawmakers in seven capitals will have to begin the torturous process of getting the deal ratified – or not. Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el notes that the Iranian parliament seems ready to accept the deal, while Tehran has laid the groundwork for the world to blame Washington, and especially Congress, if anything goes awry.

“The public and political leadership in Iran are waiting with bated breath for the official announcement. The Iranian delegation to the negotiations even won praise from more than 200 members of parliament for its ‘strong stand in the face of the exaggerated demands of the other side’ – a clear sign that the Iranian parliament is already prepared for the agreement,” he writes. “Meanwhile, Iran has adopted a public diplomatic strategy intended to point a finger at the West, especially the United States, if a last-minute obstacle prevents the signing. The Iranian parliament has adopted a law requiring the government to safeguard Iran’s interests and rights in the nuclear realm, but it is in fact the US Congress that will be judged by international public opinion and not Iran.”

In Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit says given all the unknowns in the deal, it’s hard to see American lawmakers on either side of the aisle throwing their full-throated support behind it.

“The nuclear agreement Obama is so eager to sign looks to senators from both parties as riddled with bullet holes,” he writes. “Too many gaps, too few Iranian commitments to keep them from building a nuclear bomb. In the absence of a compelling reason to support the deal, Obama has begun declaring that the deal with the ayatollahs is the essence of his time as president.”

Lucy in the sky with lasers

Those looking to seek shelter from the coming nuclear winter among the mountains of the Negev wilderness will be happy to know that the flight down south will now have less of a chance of being blown out of the sky by terrorists from Sinai’s branch of the Islamic State (or mini-Iran, if you subscribe to the Netanyahu school of terror equivalence).

Yedioth reports that planes to Eilat are being outfitted with anti-missile technology called SkyShield, amid jitters after Islamic State-sworn militants staged a massive attack in the Sinai two weeks ago. The paper writes that the system has been affixed to planes in a pod below the belly for several days now.

“The system includes four sensors that allow it to find, identify, track and finally disrupt the path of any missile fired at the plane,” the paper writes. “When a missile is shot toward the plane, it is picked up by an infrared sensor. The sensors follow the missile until it gets within the right range and then shoots out a laser at it.”

If you noticed a lack of coverage about Palestinians in recent days – with news overtaken by Iran and Islamic State – it’s not just a newspaper thing, writes Moshe Arens in Haaretz’s op-ed page. The paper’s token righty – a former foreign minister — posits that the Arab world’s once united front on the issue is crumbling under the weight of these other pressures leaning hard on the region. The end result, writes Arens, is that Israel is suddenly not the regional bogeyman it once was.

“The Arab anti-Israel front which existed for over 60 years is in the process of disintegrating. The rulers of major Arab countries are finding shared interests with the State of Israel. Support for the establishment of a Palestinian state may continue to exist in Washington, Brussels, and at the UN, and among the Israeli opposition, but it is losing support in much of the Arab world,” he writes. “Israel has enemies in the Middle East but it is also gaining friends in the Middle East. These friends may prefer to meet their Israeli counterparts in back alleys, but you can be sure that these meetings are taking place with increasing frequency.”

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