Former air force pilot Noam Gershony won Israel’s first gold medal of the 2012 Paralympics and all the local papers profiled the champion’s ascent to the podium.
Yedioth Ahronoth gives the most coverage to the wheelchair-bound tennis player with a large front-page picture of the athlete holding up his medal with the headline, “Hero.” The paper dedicates its first two pages to profiling Gershony, an Apache pilot who was paralyzed after his helicopter crashed during the Second Lebanon War, and reporting on his win. After beating the top-ranked player in the world on Saturday, he broke down on the podium, “I’ve received my life as a gift. At that moment I decided not to waste it.”
Aside from Gershony, the papers all have stories about the continuing tension over Iran, focusing on Canada’s announcement that it was severing diplomatic ties with Tehran. Israel Hayom takes a moment to say, “Thank you, Canada!” in its main headline. Inside, the paper fawns over America’s neighbor to the north, with a headline reading: “Canada, a true friend.” The paper quotes Prime Minister Netanyahu commenting on the move, “I wish to congratulate the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper; he took a bold step in leadership and sent a clear message to Iran and the world.”
Continuing Israel Hayom’s adoration of Canada, Boaz Bismuth writes an opinion piece about the Canadian decision titled, “This year we’ll eat the apple with maple syrup.” In the piece he recounts how Canada was the first to boycott Hamas after the 2006 elections, support Israel against Hezbollah and work to remove any mention of 1967 borders in the concluding statement of the 2011 G8 summit. He makes reference to the tradition of eating an apple with honey during the upcoming Jewish New Year: “Forgive me my fellow rabbis, but on this year’s New Year’s table I’ll put an apple, date, pomegranate, honey and maple syrup. Apple and maple syrup. It never sounded so good.”
Maariv also ponders what it calls the “Canada effect” and mentions that Israel is now working to put pressure on other governments to cut their ties with Iran. The paper also includes an article about a report from The Sunday Times that said Israel would use electromagnetic pulses in an attack on Iran. Maariv quotes the article, which said the use of such weapons would “send Iran back to the Stone Age.”
Haaretz reports that Europe is trying to initiate more sanctions against Iran in order to prevent an Israeli attack. The paper quotes an Israeli source who says, “This needs to be the final round of sanctions, after which the West needs to draw conclusions.”
American meetings: The good and bad
The Iranian issue also filled the papers with reports of Israeli officials’ meetings with American ones. Yedioth follows up on the meeting between Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “The United States is ready to attack immediately,” reads the article’s headline. The story reports that the US military is ready to attack Iranian nuclear sites, and are just waiting for the command. The article states that the reason for Winnefeld’s visit was to convince Israel not to attack by itself.
Haaretz and Yedioth both report on Netanyahu’s meeting with American Ambassador Dan Shapiro and Congressman Mike Rogers, where Netanyahu and Shapiro reportedly yelled at each other. Shapiro denied that such a fiery meeting took place, but according to Haaretz, Rogers confirmed to a Michigan radio station that Netanyahu yelled at Shapiro and was “agitated and frustrated.” The Prime Minster’s Office responded to the report by saying, “As we said last week, these things are not true and we have nothing to add.”
Maariv reports that five youths have been arrested in Jerusalem for attacking an Arab man. According to the paper, Ibrahim Abu Ta’a was beaten by a group of Jewish teenagers after they saw him helping an intoxicated woman out of her car. “Once she said my name, ‘Ibrhahim,’ they heard that I was an Arab, they started hitting and kicking me,” Abu Ta’a told the paper. The paper recalls a similar incident three weeks ago where another Arab was severely beaten by a group of Jerusalem youths in the center of the city.
Dan Margalit writes an opinion piece in Israel Hayom titled “Successful political poker?” in which he says that Israel’s pressure might be paying off in the form of declared red lines, but that Netanyahu and Barak are searching for different things. “Netanyahu seeks political achievement in the form of a US commitment and Barak prefers progress on American preparations.” Despite that difference, the fact that the Americans are discussing red lines is a positive step.
Haaretz’s editorial responds to what it sees as Netanyahu constantly giving support to American Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The paper refers to statements that Barak made to his Atzma’ut party on Thursday that seemed to separate the Iranian issue from the rest of US-Israeli relations. “Barak is the US administration’s highest-ranking Israeli contact person and filled the role as the responsible adult at the political level,” the paper writes. The paper fears Netanyahu’s attitude toward the administration and concludes the piece with, “Undermining relations with the world’s strongest superpower is many times more dangerous than Iran’s nuclear program.”