Σάββατο, 3 Ιανουαρίου 2009

"happy" New Year ........ but,..save Haaretz !!

Amos Schocken, publisher of Israeli newspaper "Haaretz."

Haaretz a Newspaper Without a Country
Christoph Schult
Its lonely fight against the occupation of the West Bank made Israeli newspaper Haaretz internationally famous. At home, the paper is fighting for survival.The irreverence of the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz is visible from the first moment a visitor enters the paper's editorial headquarters. There in the foyer hangs an open pig's carcass, looking just as it would in a slaughterhouse. This one, however, is reproduced in pieces of candy -- red ones for the muscles, and yellow for the innards. The building's doorman is on hand to help interpret this installation. The sculpture, he says, is like the land of Israel itself: "Beautiful on the outside, rotten on the inside."
Amos Schocken, publisher of Israeli newspaper "Haaretz.""The land" is also the translation of the name Haaretz, and the newspaper's problems are indeed linked with those of the country. What the paper offers in abundance -- a willingness to compromise with the Palestinians -- has once again become a fairly unpopular stance in Israeli society. One floor down from the foyer is the conference room. It's a windowless space and looks a bit like the nerve center of a war cabinet. This afternoon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is here to visit the newspaper. What follows is a vigorous exchange of views. On one side is the country's most critical editorial department; on the other, the politician who has shifted the traditionally left-wing Labor Party to the right, to the point where Barak's opinions sometimes seem to hardly differ from those of nationalist Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the center-right Likud Party.Barak, a retired general, presents himself as a hardliner and quickly wears the journalists down. The louder he speaks, the more the editors lose any desire to ask him questions. The minister bellows. He pounds his right fist on the table. Even the croissant he casually stuffs into his mouth can't stop the flow of his words. In the end, the editor-in-chief observes with some bewilderment "that just now we didn't interrupt you for 20 minutes."
Struggle for Survival
And so the contemplative Left has again lost to the noisy mainstream. It's a symbol for the newspaper's struggle to survive in its ever-more-lonely position as a well-respected daily. Abroad, Haaretz is known for its strong position against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Its English-language Web site registers a million users each month. At home, however, only 66,000 Israelis buy the paper.
Founded in 1919, the paper was acquired in 1935 by Salman Schocken, a businessman who had fled Nazi Germany, where he had owned a department store chain and a publishing company. From 1939 on, Schocken's son Gustav shaped the paper's liberal, left-wing bent. Schocken's grandson Amos has been chief executive of the Haaretz group since 1990.
His father, says Amos Schocken, 64, was still able to take more interest in the editorial aspects than in the finances of the paper. But times have changed, the founder's grandson says: "The paper has to make money." And that's not easy. In 2006 the family sold 25 percent of its shares in the newspaper to Cologne-based publisher Alfred Neven DuMont. At the time of the sale, Schocken handed the new investor a sheet of paper outlining the newspaper's editorial principles. The German publisher read the list and then pointed to the last item: "'Haaretz supports efforts to achieve peace with Israel's Arab neighbors." That, DuMont said, is especially important.The only problem is that actively advocating peace negotiations is a fairly unpopular position in Israel at the moment. Shortly after the end of the Six Day War in 1967, Haaretz was already promoting the return of the occupied territories in exchange for peace. With the 1994 Oslo Accords, majority Israeli opinion also began to swing in this direction. But the happy marriage between the newspaper and prevailing public opinion didn't last long. With the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000 and the accompanying suicide attacks in Israeli cities, the land and "The Land" once again went their separate ways.Subscribers began to abandon the paper in droves. The most common reason given by readers who canceled their subscriptions was one journalist, Gideon Levy, the country's most radical commentator. Once a week in his "Twilight Zone" column, Levy writes about the fate of Palestinians. He writes about taxi drivers whose vehicles were destroyed by Israeli soldiers or about a man whose wife was delayed at a checkpoint while having an acute heart attack for so long that she died. "If we change this newspaper's DNA," Levy warns, "we won't survive."

The Israeli army has entered the Gaza Strip as it escalated its offensive on the eighth day of operations.A column of tanks entered the besieged territory though the Beit Hanoun crossing shortly after nightfall on Saturday, as the Israeli cabinet said it had called up about 9,000 reservists as part of its preparations.Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera's correspondent on the Israeli-Gaza border, said that he had witnessed the movement of tanks and armoured vehicles in the area.Hamas has vowed to defeat the Israeli army following the invasion.
Reservists mobilised
Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minster, said: "Our aim is to force Hamas to stop its hostile acitivities against Israel and bring about significant change."We have carefully weighed all our options, we are not war hungry but we should not allow a situation where our towns are constantly targeted by Hamas."The ground operation includes endangering the lives of the forces. I know that there are risks. It will not be easy or short, but we are determined. Now is the time to do what needs to be done".Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said: "Residents in the Beit Hanoun area say they have seen the movement of tanks into the territory."There is absolute fear and terror, it is pitch black, power lines have been cut throughout the strip, more than 250,000 people in northern Gaza are without electricity."The biggest concern is a ground invasion could result in urban warfare."Rockets are being fired from deeper and deeper within Gaza and if Israel's intention is to prevent such attacks how far into Gaza, an area densely populated with civilians, will they need to go?" Speaking to Al Jazeera, James Denselow, a Middle East specialist from Kings College, London, said: "Hamas operates as an asymmetrial force. It knows its strength and knows indiscriminate rockets can cause alarm."This is why the Israeli army has used air strikes to 'soften' the ground followed by an assault at night when low-tech armies such as Hamas find it very hard to fight." The gound assault came as the death toll of Palestinians climbed past 450 on Saturday as a strike on a northern Gaza town killed at least 11 people, including one child, who were praying in a mosque. Israeli artillery had started firing shells into the Gaza Strip for the first time on Saturday, ahead of the ground offensive.Ofir Gendelman, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said: "All we asking for is to create a normal life for people of Israel. We'll keep on targeting Hamas objectives until the situation on the ground there is transformed."They [Israeli ground forces] will be completing the mission of the air force, going for Hamas headquarters and weapons caches and giving a blow to their capability to launch attacks into Israel."It will take quite a number of days to get the job done." Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said: "Israel can claim in various stages that it has won this or that war against Arabs but it is obvious since the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that there is no military solution to Israel's secueity."It cannot bomb its way into peaceful co-existence. Israel is trying to do all it can to destroy Hamas but with more than 400 dead, there will be more than 400 more new recruits in Gaza. "It has taken this path and will probably pay the price in the long term, short term it's the Palestinians who pay the price.
"Hamas resistance
Meshaal says Hamas is prepared to handle an Israeli ground offensive
"If you commit the stupidity of launching a ground offensive, then a black destiny awaits you," Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas, said on Friday."You will soon find out that Gaza is the wrath of God."Meshaal, speaking from the Syrian capital of Damascus on Friday, said Palestinians in Gaza were ready for any land offensive made by the Israelis. "This battle was imposed on us and we are confident we will achieve victory because we have made our preparations."Our position is clear. We will not give in. Our resolve cannot be broken," he said."Our demand is also clear. The war must end, the siege lifted, and crossing points open without restriction."

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