Back to the battle
Hebrew media review

Back to the battle

With Independence Day behind us, papers waste no time in getting back into the groove of covering political, personal and internecine fighting

Illustrative photo of a masked Jewish extremist swinging a slingshot outside the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar in 2013. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a masked Jewish extremist swinging a slingshot outside the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar in 2013. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

What better way to celebrate the 66-year miracle of the rebirth of the Jewish homeland than by splashing the worst of Israel’s internecine fighting across the front pages of the country’s major dailies, even before the lamb kebabs have had a chance to cool?

Yedioth Ahronoth leads off with the most shocking headline of the day, reporting that some extremists in the hardline settlement of Yitzhar had a discussion over whether it is okay to kill an Israeli soldier.

The settlement was the scene of a melee last month during which residents, angered over a nighttime demolition, sacked an army position. The attack led to widespread condemnation outside of Yitzhar, but inside the settlement, the paper reports, a different type of soul-searching was taking place, as proven by an email sent by one Eliraz Fein, a 20-year-old female resident, to an internal listserve.

“I’m for throwing stones (at Jews, and of course at Arabs there’s no question) in certain situations, even if it leads to the death of the soldier!!” Fine is quoted as emailing, to which a 17-year-old replies “I’ll say it even simpler, there is no halachic [Jewish law] problem with killing a soldier during a night demolition.”

While Yedioth displays no shortage of indignation, the settlement spokesperson downplayed the emails as the hotheaded ramblings of two people angry over the demolitions last month, saying they have already stopped talking like that.

When contacted by the paper, though, Fein seemed more concerned with how all this would look when displayed at every kiosk in the country (here’s a hint: bad). “These things said in my name came out of a theoretical discussion,” she tells the paper. “It pains me that people chose to air out an internal discussion from inside the home.”

Israel Hayom meanwhile is also up in arms, not at Yitzhar settlers, but at Yedioth Ahronoth. Confusing a private vendetta for news, the paper continues to push harder and harder in its “exposes” accusing Yedioth of trying to push it out via legislation, and the tabloid also saves a good scoop of opprobrium for MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), the author of a bill that would outlaw free papers.

“For Yedioth Ahronoth, the pay-paper that once had its own country, there is seemingly something sweet for anyone it sees as useful and friendly. Just flip through the archives of what was once Sharon’s paper, Deri’s paper, Olmert’s paper, Bennett’s paper and others,” the paper writes in what is at least dressed up as a news story. “But Yedioth also talks up, from the goodness of its heart, those who aren’t A-listers. For instance, the aggressive MK Eitan Cabel.”

Haaretz, meanwhile sticks with the same old fights we know and love, i.e., the battle of whom to blame for the failure of peace talks. The paper reports that Jerusalem has turned to papa United States and mama European Union with the equivalent of “he started it,” accusing Ramallah of having deceived US Secretary of State John Kerry in a note from National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen.

The smoking gun proving that the Palestinians did not negotiate in good faith? A March document by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat laying out the plan to turn to international bodies, reconcile with Hamas and other fun stuff, while negotiations were still happening.

“This document refutes the current Palestinian claim that the decision to apply for accession to the conventions … was taken strictly in response to what they considered a delay in the release of the fourth tranche of prisoners. Similarly, it indicates that advancing the reconciliation process with Hamas and bringing Hamas into a new government was under active consideration at the very time intensive negotiations were meant to be under way,” Cohen’s letter to Washington and Brussels reads, according to the Haaretz report.

Two words from Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch — “dramatic development” – in regards to the investigation into the murder of Shelley Dadon in Migdal Haemek late last week merit a wide swath of coverage in all three papers.

A gag order on the killing, thought to be nationalistically motivated, has kept much coverage under wraps, but Ahronovitch’s statements gives writers an opening to take it forward.

“The message from Minister Aharonovitch was important for me,” Dadon’s mother tells Yedioth. “I am waiting for positive word that the killers have been caught. They should do to them like what was done to my daughter. Shake them and hurt them.”

In Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit wonders about a connection between price tag attacks and the murder of Dadon, and praises the police for putting some boots on the ground to get to the bottom of both, though he says they took much too long.

“The police need to understand that those carrying out price tag actions in the dead of night are not the same brothers in orange who painfully threw stones and dumped water during the disengagement from Gush Katif,” he writes. “The judges releasing the suspects home must realize the significance of the intolerable ease with which they treat price tag offenders. Given the existence of Arab retaliation, the time has come to test if Buzaglo is treated the same as Ahmed.”

(“Buzaglo” is a catchphrase for the idea that all Israelis must be treated alike, regardless of their ethnic origin.)

In Haaretz, Zvi Bar’el takes to task those who are quick to call Israel an apartheid state, saying not that it’s inaccurate, but that it hides the occupation.

“The left is mistaken – or more accurately, confused – when it adopts apartheid as a greater danger than the occupation itself. It’s as if it were saying, ‘Give us an enlightened occupation, and we could live with it just fine.’”

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