Sick of the tired “news hierarchy” model that has worked for journalists for decades, Israeli newspaper editors last night seem to have reverted to the “throw everything at the front page and see what sticks” model.
A quick peek at today’s front pages shows stories on (big breath): Syrian fighting, an injured 67-year-old still doing army reserves, Euro 2012, beach sand, a girl who got chemotherapy by accident, book sales, Ramle women protesting, Ulpana soon-to-be evacuees, religious people buying books (gasp!), Palestinian claims about Israeli-Vatican diplomacy, laws against African migrants, Daniel Maoz’s sentencing and of course to top it all off, Iran (whew!).
About the only consensus story in today’s papers is Syria — specifically the rebels taking over an air base near Homs, giving them access to surface-to-air missiles. Yedioth Ahronoth notes that while the rebels are closing in on Damascus, there is no agreed-upon successor in place for the day after Bashar Assad high-tails it out of al-Dodge. The election of Abdulbassem Seida Sunday to take over the Syrian National Council throws another name onto the list of who could be the country’s next oppressor/free democratic leader.
Maariv is more concerned about claims made by IDF brass Sunday that chemical weapons in Syria could make their way into the hands of terrorists sitting on the border with Israel (read: Hezbollah). “Syria has the largest chemical weapons store in our region and we can’t lose vigilance,” deputy IDF chief Yair Naveh is quoted as saying. Maariv also reprints (and translates) a Washington Post op-ed from Elie Wiesel calling for the world to take action against Assad and use the threat of sending him to the Hague for war crimes as a way of stopping the bloodshed. “I am not sure that armed assistance is the only solution. Economic sanctions have proved to be relatively futile elsewhere. But why not imagine yet another option that might produce a dramatic effect,” he writes.
Haaretz leads off its paper with a crackerjack story that the trailer homes slated to house 30 families who will be evacuated from the illegal Givat Ulpana outpost are in violation of the rules governing such things. The assistant attorney general has reportedly asked that the permits to put up the caravillas, as they are charmingly known, be waived, citing “military need.” According to Haaretz, this is the first time that military needs have been used to justify such an action, since the bypass is generally intended for expedient construction of earthwork barriers or checkpoints.
Israel Hayom splashes on its front page: “Five years prison for anyone who employs infiltrators” (the newspaper’s term), in reference to a proposed bill that would severely up the punishment for those providing work for illegal migrants. The paper also covers the deportation operation that began Sunday against South Sudanese, quoting Interior Minister Eli Yishai that it’s “them or us.”
Books and bad docs
Maariv’s top story is a heartbreaker on a little girl who was forced to undergo chemotherapy, though she only had an infection and not cancer. While it’s great that 5-year-old Anna Shibot isn’t suffering from cancer, the family is none too pleased that the doctors screwed up. “I was in shock that my daughter was forced to go through such treatment,” her mother told Maariv. “She still suffers from the effects. These treatments are extremely difficult. They gave me back a sick child. The doctors says she can go back to preschool. How can she go to preschool looking and feeling like this? It’s simply unbelievable.”
Most papers also have tales from the book-pricing battle that has now moved to the Knesset. A proposed law banning four-books-for-NIS 100 sales will soon be voted on. Yedioth has a pro/con column, with Hanoch Daum for the measure and Ziv Cohen against. “Do you remember when people would bring books as a gift,” Daum writes. “Today people don’t buy books as a gift. They are embarrassed. A book has turned into a cheap gift. It’s too cheap.” But Cohen writes that this is the first time the Knesset is acting against consumer interests and attempting to stifle competition. “The four-for-100 deal, even if established writers are against it, are the breath of life for young writers. The new voices are given an opportunity to steal into a spot between Ram Oren and David Grossman. The day that every book needs to stand in a store on its own, these new voices will be booted from the shelves.”
Haaretz reports that Palestinian sources are claiming that a new economic agreement between the Vatican and Jerusalem sees the Holy See recognizing Israeli control of the West Bank. The agreement, in negotiations for some 11 years, makes no distinction between Israel on the two sides of the Green Line. The news is a strange turn considering the Vatican refused to recognize Israel until 1993 and still does not recognize Israel’s claim over any of Jerusalem.
Pulling for Pollard
In Israel Hayom’s op-ed page Likud MK Danny Danon calls on President Shimon Peres to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama and to come back with Jonathan Pollard: “[Peres’s] special standing gives him no less than a golden opportunity, an opening to bring about the longed-for freedom of Jonathan, before it’s too late. It’s on the president, as a Freedom Medal winner, to ask for the release of Pollard that will bring him into the bosom of his family forever.”
In Maariv, Shmuel Hollander writes that Israelis have become apathetic to issues that aren’t directly in their own backyards. “The public, the great majority, are apathetic to the political zigzags of their elected leaders without a hint of shame. They are apathetic to tribal partisanship and the criminal destruction of the nation, divisiveness that has led more than once to the… end of [Jewish] independence. It is apathetic to the loss of Jewish character of the Negev and Galilee. If they don’t live in south Tel Aviv, they don’t care especially about the infiltrators from Africa that are becoming a strategic danger to the country.”