Bloggers roll their eyes at Iran's latest demurral in the nuclear-proliferation gambit, yet they grow more earnest about Israel's allowance of Palestinian voting in East Jerusalem. And there's more eye-rolling over British MP George Galloway's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother.
Reading Fail Safe in Tehran: Insisting that they are only resuming "research on nuclear fuel technology," Iranian officials today removed the seals placed on their nuclear facilities two years ago by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Both George Bush and Tony Blair are calling for U.N. sanctions.
"Every effort should be made to inform the Iranian public that all condemnations, censures, denunciations against Iran are in fact directed solely against its present despicable regime," writes the globally conscious Captain Marlow. "Let's tell Iranians that, as soon as the mad mullahs disappear from the scene and a representative democracy is established, Iran will take its rightful place among the other great nations."
Jean Chen at group blog Pop + Politics is wary of sanctions as a mode of punishment given its track record: "When we had them against Iraq for ten years in the 1990s, it only seemed to harm Iraqi citizens. Over a million Iraqis died because they didn't have adequate access to medicine, clean water, etc. And clearly Saddam Hussein didn't care."
Iranian Nema Milaninia at Iranian Truth worries that the media attention will encourage Iran's government to pursue nukes more fervently and also wonders, "Am I the only one who thinks that a battle between Iran and the West over energy and technology smells too much like the nationalization of Iran's oil industry. … I do think that the EU and the US really need to start getting the support of non-Western powers in order to avoid this conflict from being viewed as a battle between Iran and the West."
Read more about bloggers reaction to Iranian nuclear defiance here.
Where the twain meet: Bloggers discuss acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision, under pressure from the White House, to permit Palestinian voting in East Jerusalem for upcoming legislative elections later this month, with the strident caveat that no terrorist group be allowed to participate or canvas in that region. Nevertheless, Hamas candidates will appear on ballot slips.
Wondering whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will use the antiterror proscription as grounds for postponing elections, "First Ringer" at the conservative blog The First Ring suggests, "A Mahmoud Abbas who refuses to hold open elections and then openly sides with terrorists … has little role left to play in Washington or Tel Aviv."
"Freedom Fighter" at the jihadism watchdog site JOSHUA PUNDIT views the Bush administration's brokerage of the Israeli volte face as its own vote of no-confidence in the long-term prospects of either Olmert or Abbas: "Essentially, this is a backhanded recognition of Hamas and a recognition of the reality that Abbas and Fatah are essentially finished."
Seconding the notion that the elections may well have a neutering effect on Abbas' leadership, Allen Drury at Reflective Musings thinks that the converse of Hamas' empowerment might have a propitious unintended consequence:"[E]lections bring at least some accountability, and in time those who cast a ballot will demand progress with those issues that they care about. In this way Hamas may be pressured to find the political process more advantageous than the militant avenues that bring only misery and frustration."
Alexandra von Maltzan at the righty blog All Things Beautiful is more skeptical. She scuppers one commonplace analogy between any possible evolution of Hamas and that of another armed irredentist organization, Sinn Fein: "The IRA's longtime goal has been to drive British forces from Northern Ireland and reunite the province with the predominantly Catholic Irish Republic. In contrast, Hamas' sole raison d'être is the destruction of the Israeli State. So, if the comparison is to have any credibility, the declared goal of the IRA and Sinn Fein ought to have been the destruction of Britain, no less."
Read more about voting in East Jerusalem.
Curious George: Opponents of George Galloway find tragedy culminating in farce as the Saddam-friendly British MP temporarily exchanges politics for the more discriminating realm of reality television, as a cast member on Britain's Celebrity Big Brother.
Harry Hatchet, the founder of the U.K.-based democratic socialist blog Harry's Place, is at least happy to see the establishment press finally abandon its praise of a parliamentary "maverick." Though decidedly less so about the reason for this sudden schema shift: "This should be a lesson for any budding British demagogues. You can be a servant for a brutal murderous dictator, you can be pally with dodgy dealers ripping off Iraq's poor under sanctions, you can strut around the East End stirring up hatred and give your support to death squads in the Middle East. But never, ever embarass your middle class supporters and media friends by hanging out with 'chavs' on Big Brother."
Liberal human-rights journalist Johann Hari, a longtime opponent of Galloway, writes, "Yes, I laughed. When I saw George Galloway waving his fat cigar, his eyes flickering with silent rage as he was booed into the Celebrity Big Brother house, I roared and yelped. ... When he anxiously asked the other housemates, "Everyone got booed, didn't they?" and Dennis Rodman shrugged and said, 'No,' I actually gurgled."
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