Hebrew media review

The sump of all fears

After Iran is hit by a rare IS attack, the Israeli press dances wildly between horror, schadenfreude and trying to understand the murky quagmire of terror alliances

Iranian policemen evacuate a child from the parliament building in Tehran during a terror attack, June 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / FARS NEWS / OMID VAHABZADEH)
Iranian policemen evacuate a child from the parliament building in Tehran during a terror attack, June 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / FARS NEWS / OMID VAHABZADEH)

A fake image of the Tel Aviv city hall lit up with the Iranian flag floating around Facebook Wednesday illustrates perfectly Israel’s reaction to a deadly terror attack in Tehran, which vacillated drunkenly in the large gap between snot-nosed schadenfreude over a country that supports terror and genuine horror and concern.

“Terror hit by terror,” reads Yedioth Ahronoth’s somewhat nonsensical headline on its news story, calling it a “deadly confrontation between two of Israel’s biggest enemies.”

In Israel Hayom, Iran expert Menashe Amir calls the attacks “painful and humiliating,” asserting that it was just as bad for the regime as September 11 was for the US. But he also manages to spot a silver lining, saying that the attacks “could be an encouraging sign for opponents of the regime inside Iran, who are aiming to overthrow the regime.”

Haaretz notes that if the attack is indeed the work of the Islamic State it would be the Sunni group’s first attack in the Shiite country, though the Revolutionary Guards were quick to blame not Islamic State but Saudi Arabia. Former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror writes in Israel Hayom they needed to do that in order to counter the narrative that IS is on its heels.

Indeed much of the coverage in all three papers centers around trying to untangle the web of various alliances in the region and who supports which terror group and why one would attack another.

In Yedioth, Ben-Dror Yemini writes that the Sunni vs. Shiite paradigm isn’t as simple as it seems here.

“There is also a paradox. Since Iran, the same Iran, is allied with groups like IHH, the Turkish group behind the Mavi Marmara, and also Hamas. Both of them have contacts both with Iran and Islamic State and/or al-Qaeda and/or their proxies,” he writes. “Thus Iran helps those that help those who attacked it yesterday. Logical? It’s a bit hard to find logic when talking about these groups. This is a quagmire, which brings suffering to all comers.”

Taking it even further, Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el surmises that the attack could end up putting some even stranger alliances together, like the US working with Iran against Islamic State.

“This approach could shake up Saudi Arabia, which initiated the Arab boycott on Qatar with the excuse that the latter is supporting terror and cooperating with Iran. If Iran now becomes a state that fights terror, the case against Qatar will also fall apart,” he writes. “Perhaps yesterday’s attacks will serve as a launching pad for a new reconciliation initiative with the kingdom as part of the diplomacy war against terror.”

Qatar itself may be the king of strange alliances, a country that has forged ties with Israel, Hamas, Iran, the US, really anyone with a buck. They even let in Yedioth correspondent Orly Azulay, who sends in a dispatch from Doha that is mostly filled with people not really knowing what is going on or why.

“The tensions in the region worry me,” she quotes a woman named Asma, returning after a year studying in the US, saying. “It seems the leaders are bored so they are arguing about stupid stuff. Our country is safer than Finland. We have natural riches. Nobody lacks a thing. So I hope this war of egos ends because it’s a shame to destroy the pearl of the Gulf.”

In Britain, the country’s fate will be set Thursday not by sheikhs dripping with oil but regular voters. Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer, reporting from the working class town of Derby, writes that the election won’t be decided in London or Manchester but smaller places where people’s’ minds aren’t made up.

“I don’t trust politicians generally but I can’t bring myself to even think of voting [Jeremy] Corbyn,” he quotes one such undecided mother of two. “I’m still not sure what I’m going to vote. I’ll sit tonight on Google and check their positions thoroughly. I’m leaning toward the Conservatives but May really hasn’t made a good impression.”

Even if London and Manchester won’t decide the vote, the terror attacks that happened there will cast a shadow on the polling, which is the angle taken by Israel Hayom under the headline “High tension election.”

The paper’s Eldad Beck notes that with Theresa May dropping in the polls, the Tories are “in a panic” and their tabloids have begun pushing the line that Corbyn supports terror.

“The Sun showed pictures of Corbyn speaking at a pro-Palestinian rally in 2002, during which Islamists called to gas Tel Aviv and shoot missiles at the city,” he writes, in his own media roundup. “According to the tabloid, the same radical Muslims are connected to those who carried out the terror attack near London Bridge.”

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