The German word Torschlusspanik is used to express the anxiety that life’s opportunities are slipping away. But it’s the literal meaning of the word — Door-closing panic – that rears its head in Israel’s Hebrew-language press Wednesday morning, which is dominated by the evacuation of a soccer stadium in Germany over a false bomb alarm, a story which provides the papers with a veritable Kuddelmuddel of news and rumors to gin up just the kind of chaos and fear Europe needs right now.
“Panic” reads the page 2 headline of Yedioth Ahronoth, describing the orderly and not-at-all panicky evacuation of the stadium in Hanover, Germany, following what police said was a concrete threat of an explosive device, amid a supposedly panicky zeitgeist across Europe around the Islamist threat.
Officials were mostly mum about the incident beyond the “concrete threat” line, but that doesn’t stop the paper from spilling ink over the unsubstantiated claims that flew faster than the Schinkenmettwurst in the stands at a German soccer game, including one about an ambulance packed with explosives that made it halfway around the world before the truth had a chance to get its cleats on.
“About an hour and a quarter before the match a ‘concrete threat’ was received of a massive bomb planned to take place at the stadium,” the paper’s Eldad Beck writes, employing the insidious passive voice with the greatest of ease, “which according to reports was a terror cell that broke into the stadium with an ambulance packed with explosives.”
Israel Hayom and Haaretz, to their credit, report that the ambulance rumor was nothing more than that and that that no explosives were found, though you have to read into the fine print of both papers’ stories to find that out.
The alarm may have been false, but that doesn’t stop Israel Hayom’s Boaz Bismuth from launching into a self-righteous rant about how Israel was right and Europe was wrong about the radical Islamist terror threat.
“We always said terror was a global problem. Now Europe sees how much we were right. Unfortunately. Europe is under pressure. Everyone is under the gun. After the Stade de France on Friday, now the pitch in Hanover. And to think the Euro [soccer tourney] is this summer. I’m not sure all the players who come will be able to sleep at night. Today in Europe they are discovering that a bomb can happen anywhere at any time. And their crime? They are infidels. The jihadis are taking us back to the Dark Ages which we hoped we had left behind. Daesh is trying to take us back to the seventh century and the era of the Caliphate.”
Northern Branch Davidians
You know who else wants to establish a caliphate? The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, at least according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government outlawed the group on Tuesday in a move that drew front page coverage.
Haaretz commentator Amos Harel draws a direct line between the ban and terror in Europe, which has focused world attention.
“Netanyahu decided to strike while the iron is hot, seizing an opportunity to crack down on Palestinian terror at a time when global attention is also focused on Islamist terror, albeit far from here,” he writes. “When the Western world is intensifying its battle against Islamic State following terror attacks in Sinai, Beirut and Paris, Netanyahu won’t be criticized overseas for declaring war on Islamist zealots here at home.”
But commentators don’t exactly laud the move, instead noting that it will further alienate a community Netanyahu is already on thin ice with, and give police a headache by sending the group underground.
In Haaretz, Jacky Khoury reports that the mainstream Arab Israeli community doesn’t necessarily agree with the group but still objects to the blacklisting, which it sees as politically motivated and a possible harbinger of more moves against Arab society to come.
“The feeling in the Arab community is that the cabinet decision stems from the desire to satisfy hostile public opinion. That is the starting point that guides leaders of the Arab public, including the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which has declared a general strike for Thursday, and is planning a large demonstration on Saturday,” he writes. “This is not because of their support for the Islamic Movement or its religious messages, but rather because the movement is an inseparable part of the Arab public, because its work includes social welfare, because the monitoring committee finds the state’s decision anti-democratic and antagonistic to freedom of expression. In the background is the fear that this is only the first step and that under the current right-wing government, and in a public atmosphere that encourages anti-Arab incitement, not only will the Islamic Movement’s northern branch be outlawed, but, effectively, so will the entire Arab public.”
Eitan Haber in Yedioth notes that the Shin Bet security service has been dealing with the Northern Branch for a years without a problem and without the need to outlaw them.
“What’s better, to deal with an organization acting openly and under the law or with a group that’s been outlawed and is working underground,” Haber asks. “The answer of security services, foremost the Shin Bet, was for many years unquestionable: It is much easier to deal with a group when it is open to the eye, and to track its subversive activities. The government apparently dealt with this question 10 times in the past and every time sided with the security services.”
Even Israel Hayom’s Dan Margalit joins those questioning the cabinet’s decision, which he says is correct, but he wonders if it could have taken a less drastic measure.
“To the chaos and darkness prevailing over relations between the majority and minority citizens in Israel the government poured a liquid onto the Israeli-Arab fire,” he writes. “Only after some time will we know if it spilled gasoline or water.”