Yediot Aharonot analyzes yesterday\’s IDF drill. The author believes that "Israel made it clear that it has more than a humanitarian interest in the fate of Syria\’s internal unrest and that provocative Iranian escalation within a neighboring country will find Israel ready and prepared for any scenario," and adds: "This message is increasingly important in light of reports that the Syrians have drilled the use of the chemical weapons at their disposal, in the presence of the Iranians who are in their country as Assad\’s guests." The paper lists the challenges currently facing the regime in Tehran ("As Iran\’s growing investment in Syria meets with increasing criticism both within and beyond the region, its economy is being run into the ground, staggered by the power of the sanctions against it. Iran is approaching the point where it will lose co! ntrol over the galloping inflation in the country and the accelerated devaluation of its currency"), and contends that "The Israeli signal in the Golan Heights is another component that Tehran will have to consider well as it goes about Syria providing cover for Assad\’s crimes against humanity."
Ma\’ariv discusses the plight of the Middle East\’s Christian communities and says that "The shrinking process for Christian communities in the region has been accelerated as a result of the \’Arab Spring\’ and is liable to lead to the disappearance of these communities just like the Arab world\’s once flourishing Jewish communities." The author notes: "That Christians, who are threatened by Islamic extremists and frustrated by a lack of opportunity at home, are looking for better lives abroad is not a new phenomenon," and reminds his readers that "Today, Christians constitute 5% of the population in the Middle East, down from 20% 100 years ago." The author believes that "The rich history of Christianity in the region is not enough to ensure its future," and adds that "While Islamist parties are not an automatic threat against Christians, given events of the past 18 months in the Middle East, there are reasons to worry." The pap! er concludes: "Regarding minority rights, Israel has also not reached the desired level; it can and must do more to serve as an example vis-à-vis the maintaining of its Christian communities."
Yisrael Hayom comments on the uproar in the Islamic world against the film \’Innocence of Muslims\’ and notes the stream of anti-Jewish propaganda in many Arab, especially Palestinian, media outlets. The author notes that Jews "have not stormed or set ablaze Palestinian legations abroad," and asks: "Have Muslim personalities condemned the insults and generalizations hurled at the Jewish People?" The paper says that "It seems that this racist media phenomenon in some of the content of the Palestinian media is usually ignored," and reminds its reads that the Palestinian Authority uses The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to portray the Jews as "being involved in a conspiracy to rule the world." The author concludes: "We have good reasons to be insulted, no less th! an those who murdered US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. But our conclusion must be completely different."
The Jerusalem Post mourns the passing of “iconic Palmah songwriter and Israel Prize laureate (1983) Haim Hefer, who passed away on the second day of this new year.” The editor believes that “His absence serves to underscore how much more impoverished our culture has become since the days of the legendary Founding Fathers and of the homegrown generations of literati that followed hot on their heels – just before and after the establishment of the state,” and maintains that while we may never again see a generation of giants like the one to which Hefer belonged, we mustn’t consider their strength of mind obsolete: “We need their stirring resilience to bolster our own fortitude in the face of the tempests raging relentlessly all around us.”
Haaretz announces that after 19 years “the Oslo process has hit rock bottom.” Intended to pave the way towards the end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state, the current stalemate serves only to increase Palestinian disappointment with “the occupation, settlement expansion and the standstill in the peace process.” The editor believes that “The frustration from the unripe fruit of peace is undermining the position of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who is trying to quash any attempt to renew the terror attacks against Israelis,” and concludes: “The idee fixe that preferred the status quo to a peace initiative already exacted a heavy price from Israel 39 years ago. Alarmingly, this destructive idee fixe is returning.”
[Efraim Halevy, Yoel Guzansky and Yaakov Ahimeir wrote today’s articles in Yediot Aharonot, Ma\’ariv and Yisrael Hayom, respectively.]