Thursday, February 14, 2008

Meanwhile, Where Readers Pay Attention...

The assassination of Mughniya (who's name, by the way, is pronounced sort of like Murniya), is local news around here, and it's part of a long and ongoing story. Which is a partial explanation why Haaretz - roughly parallel to the NYT or Guardian in their home towns - has so much more to say than the others. But note that what the paper has to say is not merely chat and gossip; much of it is far more informative than what they others have to tell, far more complex, and far more aware of what is at stake for the various players. Israel's detractors at home and abroad love to tell that the Israeli public is misinformed, not to say mind washed, by its parochial and biased media. In general, the opposite is true. Any degree of parochial bias needs to be compared to the superficial ignorance of the vaunted external observers.

Here's the basic report a-la-Haaretz. It is roughly the counterpart of the only reports that appeared in the other papers.

Shmuel Rosner looks at the event from various Americano-centric perspectives, for he sits in Washington and follows American stories.

Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff discuss Israeli motivations, if Israel did it, including who in the region can be expected to pick up which message. Amir Oren looks at the man, Mughniya, and also tries to understand what the decision says about the Israeli decision makers.

Zvi Bar'el looks at the implications for various Arab players. Yossie Melman tells about the preparations required for such an operation, and then discusses the pros and cons, since there will most likely be a bloody revenge somewhere down the road. Israelis have been debating this question for years, with no clear answer, since some assassinations prove successful in retrospect while others don't.

Finally, Omer Barak gives us a glimpse into the daily drudgery that goes into preparing such an operation.

You begin to see why I consistently state that the Israeli public is vastly better informed than most in the West (or elsewhere) when it comes to sovereign citizens discussing and deciding on matters of war and peace. They aren't more intelligent, nor even necessarily right (and anyway, they often don't agree amongst themselves), but they have a reasonable good grasp of the issues, in a way most other publics don't. Why, in Israel you can even trust the media to give a reasonably educated description of what's happening - a novel idea if there ever was one.

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