Crying bloody murder, ‘secret vote,’ and ‘Vive la France!’
Hebrew media review

Crying bloody murder, ‘secret vote,’ and ‘Vive la France!’

Murder in Beersheba, mayhem among Likud members, and monsieur Hollande is a winner

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Family and friends of Gadi Vichman attend his funeral on Sunday (photo credit: screenshot courtesy Channel 2)
Family and friends of Gadi Vichman attend his funeral on Sunday (photo credit: screenshot courtesy Channel 2)

Crying bloody murder over a bloody murder

Outrage in the press over the murder of Gadi Vichman in Beersheba Friday night grew. Vichman was stabbed to death in a park outside his house after reportedly asking some neighborhood teens to keep the noise down. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that eight young adult males were arrested and a minor, a 16-year-old girl, described the incident to the police and identified the culprit.

Yedioth Ahronoth publishes an open letter of a murder victim’s sister in which she decries the Israeli establishment’s inaction against “criminal terror.”

“Murderous acts are increasing,” Ziva Sholev writes. “But no one gets up and does anything. Not the public’s representatives in the Knesset, not law enforcers, not the education system, not the media, and — worst of all — not us, the citizens that need to get up and shout ‘enough!'”

Haaretz says that the shortage of police officers is a root cause of the violence threatening each and every Israeli citizen. “According to the Beersheba police, that night there were only six patrol cars to respond to nearly 50 calls, including eight brawls and other violent events, and 40 noise disturbances,” it writes. “The seeming lack of any deterrent against pulling a knife or smashing a bottle and stabbing someone” means that  “any one of us could have been Vichman.”

In Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit calls for the expansion of Israel’s police force, which has grown by a mere 300 officers in the past 18 years while the country grew by over 2 million. A long-range program to confront the social forces causing youth violence is needed, he says, but Israel must “try a system of law and order.”

“More policemen are necessary. We must close the darkened parks at midnight. We must fight alcohol [use]. We must allow police to organize searches on the persons of anyone suspected of carrying a knife,” Margalit says.

The press’s disgust is best expressed through the political cartoons that, without exception, dealt with the spate of murders this weekend. The caption in Haaretz’s cartoon reads, “Hello [emergency hotline], your call is important to us.”

Photograph of political cartoon in Haaretz on Monday, May 7.
Photograph of political cartoon in Haaretz on Monday, May 7.

Maariv’s cartoon shows an Israeli flag whose Star of David is made of bloody knives.

Photograph of political cartoon in Maariv on Monday May 7.
Photograph of political cartoon in Maariv on Monday May 7.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s cartoon shows a blood-splattered sign in a park that reads: “Public park. Dear visitor, please do not disrupt the peace of the neighbors.”

Photograph of political cartoon in Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday, May 7.
Photograph of political cartoon in Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday, May 7.

Political block in the bloc

The Likud party convened in Tel Aviv Sunday night, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to win the party chairmanship through an open vote. Instead, Maariv writes in its headline, “The settlers foiled Netanyahu’s election.” Many skullcap-wearing attendees held up signs calling for secret elections for the party convention chairmanship, scuttling Netanyahu’s attempt to sweep into the powerful party position.

Nahum Barnea writes in Yedioth Ahronoth that the convention showed the changing face of Likud. Gracing the stage were photos of Menachem Begin and Ze’ev Jabotinsky, but their political successors are on their way out. “The next generation of Likud politicians are made of different material, nationalistic and religious,” he writes. As one of the Likud party members said to Barnea, he “was voting for one person only — God.”

Yedioth Ahronoth focuses on what was effectively Netanyahu’s election speech. The paper highlights Netanyahu’s case for reelecting him point by point. Security tops their list, followed by Gilad Shalit’s return, then various economic successes, experience, advancing peace, and fast elections for stability’s sake.

Haaretz writes that the settlers, “who were elected democratically to the  conference, don’t even vote for Likud.” While they constitute a minority in the party, they were a majority in last night’s conference.

Maariv writer Lilach Sigan criticizes politicians for endangering the country by placing their own interests before those of the public. Case in point, she says, “Netanyahu is choreographing the advancement of elections because it best suits him at the moment.” Unfortunately, she writes, “at the moment there is no real alternative to Netanyahu, and that fact strengthens him.”

Israel Hayom quotes Netanyahu in its headline, “I won’t give in to blackmail.” Its coverage focuses instead on the issue of early elections and his insistence that they are necessary for the political stability of the country.

It also quotes Netanyahu citing his accomplishments and qualifications, then bashing his opponents, saying, “I respect all of the party heads and they have a lot to offer, but the State of Israel can’t allow itself a prime minister without political, economic, and security experience.”

Mati Tuchfeld writes in Israel Hayom that Netanyahu is taking a big risk by calling early elections. “Netanyahu knows his position going into elections, but nobody knows how he’ll come out of them.”

“Netanyahu took a step that that prime ministers have feared to do for years — renewing the people’s confidence in elections,” he says. “A genuine and decisive move — yes. But is it also correct politically? We will only know after the elections.”

“Hollande’s France”

Maariv’s front page shows victorious French presidential candidate Francois Hollande and the defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. Its headline reads, “The Bastille is painted red” and Yedioth Ahronoth’s says “Hollande’s France.” The socialist candidate edged out Sarkozy by the narrowest margin, 51.7% in Hollande’s favor according to Maariv. Israel Hayom’s headline sums up the French left’s first presidential victory in 17 years: “End of the age of Sarkozy.”

Despite the political rift in France between right and left, Hollande reassured the country that “I will be everyone’s president. Tonight there aren’t two Frances against one another — rather only one France, one united nation.”

Nadav Eyal writes in Maariv that Hollande sold the French people wonderful dreams, “but a country whose credit level suffered a heavy blow this year can’t convince its bond holders that… it’s time to drastically expand the government sector.”

Haaretz is concerned that Sarkozy’s fall will leave the French right vulnerable to extreme nationalist Marine Le Pen. The French right fears that “she will exploit the weakness of the moderate right and take [Sarkozy’s] place” as the figurehead of the opposition.

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