Bankrupt, morally and otherwise
Hebrew media review

Bankrupt, morally and otherwise

Maariv puts out a nearly-blank page to highlight the paper's money troubles while Haaretz shows just how scummy Israelis are

An Israeli reads Maariv. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
An Israeli reads Maariv. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

No news is good news, the old adage goes, but one would likely have a hard time finding anything to smile about when looking at the nearly news- and content-less front page of Maariv Tuesday morning.

“We’ve taken advantage of this platform in a different way to turn to you with these simple words,” the only story on the front page reads, addressed to Maariv’s readers and set against a stark white background. “Sixty-four years after Maariv was founded, it faces the greatest crisis in its history. In the last few weeks we went out into the streets, rallied in the squares, approached the Knesset and spread our message — Maariv’s workers are not expendable.”

The paper’s first two inside pages follow the same theme, featuring a picture of workers at an emergency meeting ahead of Tuesday’s court decision on the sale of the paper to Shlomo Ben Tzvi, who will likely gut most of the staff in a bid to make the paper profitable.

Columnist Chen Kutz-Bar is deployed by the paper to make an emotional appeal and explain why your average Joe should care about the fate of a member of the fourth estate. “In the last 20 years, Maariv has become part of me,” she writes. “One of the first sentences my son learned to say, when he started to speak, was “Chen Kutz from Maariv.” This is my identity. Me. Nothing prepared me for this moment, to have to write about ourselves.… Don’t be mistaken. The story of Maariv is the story of us all. True, we don’t work in a factory making boxes nor in a glass factory, we work in a factory that makes a newspaper. We don’t make huge sums. We are the ‘middle earners.’”

Elsewhere in Hebrew press land, the news is still happening, with Moshe Kahlon and the two US presidential contenders (whose debate last night made any story on them pretty much irrelevant before the papers hit the stands) dominating front page real estate.

Yedioth Ahronoth leads off with Kahlon — a former political up- and comer in the Likud who recently announced he was leaving politics — attacking his party, which he has vowed to continue to help, for “losing control.” The story, based on a private conversation Kahlon reportedly had, details that Kahlon believes his party is headed for disappointment at the polls, despite surveys showing it easily taking the most seats. “The way things stand now, the party is liable to lose control,” he supposedly said, according to the report in Yedioth. “The surveys showing 22 and even 27 seats are not realistic.” The paper also reports that Kahlon came out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for sinking his proposed reforms to the telecommunications industry.

Israel Hayom, which is seen as closely aligned with Netanyahu, plays up Kahlon’s denial that he said or believes those things and leads with his quote that Likud, with him taking a starring role, will bring down the food prices the same way it brought down cellular phone plan prices, by opening up the market. “Political elements are trying to take advantage of my decision to take a break from the Knesset and from the government in order to damage Likud,” he is quoted as saying in the paper. “They are trying to drive a wedge between me and Netanyahu and are saying things that [aren’t true].”

Haaretz, showing it’s not afraid of ruffling some feathers, runs a headline that could have probably come out of Der Sturmer, or at least Wafa: “Most Israelis support the Israeli apartheid regime.” Yes, the paper says, 69 percent of Israelis are racists who are against extending voting rights to Palestinians in the West Bank, 47% would be happy to see Israeli-Arabs expelled to the Palestinian Authority and 58% percent believe Israel is already an apartheid state (which means that there are a good number of Israelis who believe Israel is an apartheid state and are happy about it). Unlike the paper’s normal polls, the report on this one is written by resident far-leftist Gideon Levy, who notes that it was carried out by a number of left-wing groups. Only once you get down to the nitty gritty is it revealed that that 58% number for instance, is made up of those who say that there are signs of apartheid only in extreme cases (33%) and those who say that Israel is apartheid in most cases (19%).

Levy also weighs in on his story in an analytic capacity (no conflict of interest there!) writing that Israelis are proud to be scum. “We’re racist, say the Israelis. We’re apartheid, and we even want to be apartheid. Israel, yes it’s what you thought it was.”

Well, only if you thought Israel was a place where a religious settlement opens its gates for a Harley Davidson motorcycle ride on Shabbat and even prepares a special Kiddush meal for them. Maariv writes that the Harley group ran into trouble when they realized the gates to Talmon would be locked on Saturday, keeping them from doing their cross-Binyamin weekend tour. Instead of finding another route, Talmon agreed to let them in, and even plied them with kugel and herring for their troubles. The culture clash led to some cute moments, like when one resident asked the rabbi whether he could wish them a good ride on Shabbat. “Just tell them Shabbat Shalom,” the rabbi answered.

Riding for Rabin

Speaking of bikes, Yedioth Ahronoth notes that for the first time in 16 years, the government will not hold an official ceremony to commemorate Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, instead planning four day trips in his memory, including two bike rides. “Our goal is to bring the nation to all types of family trips to build a view of his heritage as a fighter for Jerusalem and for Israel. He was connected to every clod of dirt in the country,” his daughter, Dalia Rabin, said in explanation.

More than that of a warrior, Rabin’s greatest legacy is likely that of a peacemaker, and in Haaretz Merav Michaeli writes that Israel should take a look at Europe, which found peace after World War II and won the Nobel peace prize, instead of giving the concept lip service.

“But here in Israel, we do have an idea of what being at war is like, yet we still have the deepest contempt for peace,” she writes. “We scorn any idea of agreements or cooperation; we disdain all solutions that are proposed. We show no respect for the peace treaty with Egypt or the one with Jordan, or for the Saudi peace initiative or the opportunities for peace with Syria that once existed. And we certainly show none for the possibility of peace with the Palestinians.”

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