Media Summary

Judge Richard Goldstone reconsiders report

The main item of Israel-related coverage in the UK media today is the statement by Judge Richard Goldstone, in which he partially retracts the conclusions of the Goldstone Report into Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The Guardian runs an op-ed by an Israeli journalist arguing that despite the partial retraction, the Goldstone report has served to change Israel’s behaviour in Gaza. The Independent and the Times note that the government of Israel intends to begin a campaign for the annulment of the Goldstone report. The Times, Financial Times and Daily Telegraph report on Syrian attempts to crack down on popular unrest. The Financial Times also notes that Arab leaders have been left incredulous by the outbreak of revolts in the Middle East. The Times notes that Adel Safar, a former agriculture minister, is to form a new government in Syria. The Daily Mail profiles Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian dictator. The Times and the Daily Telegraph note new revelations suggesting Prime Minister Winston Churchill was targeted for assassination by the Lehi (‘Stern Gang’), an extremist Zionist group in the 1940s. The Daily Mail publishes a letter noting Israel’s readiness for territorial compromise. 

Events in Syria dominated Israel-related coverage in the UK media over the weekend. Several papers noted the attempt by the Syrian authorities to crack down after continued protests on Friday, and the deaths of a number of demonstrators. The Times noted increasing support for the opposition in Syria. The Sunday Times had an additional piece on the declining public image of Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad because of the regime’s harsh repression of protests. The Guardian on Saturday also had an article on Asma al-Assad. Reuters and BBC Online noted the appointment of Adel Safar, currently Syrian Agriculture Minister, as the new prime minister. The Sunday Times ran a piece on the activities of an Alawi militia linked to the Assad family in Syria. The Sunday Telegraph, Observer and BBC Online on Sunday noted demands from the government of Israel for the annulment of the Goldstone Report into Operation Cast Lead, following statements by Judge Richard Goldstone that the report would have been different if he had known at the time of its writing what he now knows. BBC Online reported the deaths of three Hamas gunmen in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza over the weekend. News of the World on Sunday noted that the Hamas men had been suspected of planning to kidnap Israelis during the upcoming Passover holiday. The Sunday Express ran a piece on a new Israeli ‘tourism for peace’ initiative. The Daily Express, Independent and Daily Telegraph on Saturday noted that a Palestinian terrorist who plotted to blow up an Israeli jet with 375 passengers on board in 1986 and is now jailed in the UK has taken a step closer to release. The Financial Times on Saturday reported that the Indian government has banned all trade that could benefit Iran’s nuclear programme. The Daily Telegraph had an article which references the Stuxnet computer virus, reported to have caused damage to Iranian nuclear facilities. The Observer on Sunday noted the support of a number of Israeli authors for a campaign to prevent the deportation from Jerusalem of an Arab bookseller. The Sunday Telegraph reviewed a new book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by a US writer who grew up partially in Jerusalem. The Guardian ran a piece on Saturday which noted author Gillian Slovo’s support for a boycott of Israel. The Times on Saturday also reviewed a new play by a British writer about British Jews and Israel.

In the Israeli media today, all papers focus on the article by Judge Richard Goldstone, in which he partially retracts the conclusions of the Goldstone report. Haaretz quotes Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who together with other ministers is calling for the UN to rescind the report. The paper has additional articles on Hamas’s vow of revenge following the killing of three of its members in an IAF airstrike over the weekend, and Israeli efforts to press the UN to cancel a new flotilla due to head for Gaza. The Jerusalem Post contends that Goldstone’s partial retraction will make a similar future probe less likely Ynetnews also has a piece suggesting that Goldstone’s latest statement will lessen the judicial risk for IDF soldiers travelling overseas. Maariv has an article looking into the background of Goldstone’s decision to publish his retraction of some of the conclusions of his report. The paper suggests that this decision reflects Goldstone’s dissatisfaction at the ‘political’ use made of his report by the UN Human Rights Committee. The Jerusalem Post quotes Military Intelligence Head Aviv Kochavi on the attitudes of Egyptian presidential candidates to the peace treaty with Israel. Ynetnews reports on the effect of the revolt in Syria on the Syrian regime’s relations with Turkey. Ynetnews notes Israeli government approval for the expansion of the settlement of Nofim in the West Bank. All papers also cover the planned strike of medical doctors in Israel.