The countenance and words of former Shin Bet Security Services chief Yuval Diskin are all over Israeli papers this morning, after he made abundantly clear during an open discussion on Friday his feelings about Israel’s leadership and its beating of the drums to war with Iran. While TV and Internet news have been abuzz over his words for some 72 hours, this is print journalism’s first crack at the story. Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv both lead with some interpretation of Diskin’s “quote” that he has “no faith in the Messianism from Akirov and Caesarea,” a reference to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s respective private residences. Yedioth flips the order, though the fact is neither of them should be in quote marks since it’s a paraphrase of his words and not an actual quote. Oh well.
Haaretz, at least, paraphrases Diskin, citing his words without quotation marks, and Israel Hayom decides to splash an ownerless (and baffling) “quote” across its front page “Diskin avenges, he wanted to be head of the Mossad.”
Only after reading inside the paper, which is widely seen as backed by Netanyahu, is the reader clued in to the fact that at least the second part of the quote comes from an unnamed senior official in Netanyahu’s bureau, who is repeating the oft-heard refrain that Diskin is just a disgruntled former employee.
Israel Hayom is also the only paper to lead off with the upper political echelon’s response to what it calls Diskin’s “unprecedented attack” and not with what Diskin said. Dan Margalit, writing in that paper, lumps Diskin in together with former Mossad head Meir Dagan, another outspoken critic of Iran attack plans, writing that their remarks have done more damage than everything leaked by Anat Kamm, who is serving time after giving sensitive information to a journalist last decade. “Israel needs to express readiness to attack with all its might if it wants to a have a chance — and only a chance – of the international community pressuring Iran into stopping its nuclear program.”
Diskin didn’t suffice with attacking Bibi and Barak over Iran attack plans; he also addressed the Palestinian issue (“This government doesn’t want to talk with the Palestinians”), the social protests (“They aren’t willing to pay a price [for their revolution]”), and Arab Israelis (“Unfortunately Israel is becoming more racist,”). Quotes and stories about all his opinions fill up the opening pages of all four major dailies.
In Maariv, which features not one but two exciting side-by-side pictures of Diskin sitting and speaking into a microphone, Ben Caspit writes that the spook chief’s loose lips are only the “tip of the iceberg” on his feelings about Netanyahu, writing that Diskin refused to grab National Security chief Uzi Arad at the airport for fear that Netanyahu would interfere into the leak investigation surrounding Arad.
Maariv also has an article about Kfar Saba’s Majdi restaurant, which hosted the panel Diskin spoke in. The small eatery, which unassumingly hosts the “Majdi Forum,” has long been a hotspot for local and even national politicians and personalities looking to make themselves heard. “I thought that somebody as big as Diskin would have to say something interesting, but I didn’t imagine he would spill his heart out,” said the forum’s communications chief, who videotaped Diskin’s words.
The second big story in the media this morning is the threat by Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman to abandon the coalition on May 9 should it not pass a law compelling ultra-Orthodox men to enter the army. Lieberman’s move would necessitate new elections, which everybody was pretty sure were coming anyway.
Yedioth, which ran a story Friday that Netanyahu was already discussing early elections, writes that pretty much all the party leaders but Shas’s Eli Yishai have an interest in early elections. Sima Kadmon, writing in that paper, believes that no matter what everybody else wants, only two people will determine when Israel goes to the polls, Netanyahu and Lieberman. “On one hand, each of them thinks of himself as the leader of the right and worries that the other will preempt him, thus creating a poker match. On the other hand, the last thing Netanyahu wants is to surprise Lieberman and decide on new elections without being in concert.”
Patz in Israel?
Left-leaning Haaretz is nonplussed over the state prosecutor’s move to ask the High Court for an extension on tearing down the Ulpana Hill outpost in Beit El. The paper’s go-to source on settlements, Yariv Oppenheimer, who heads the anti-settlement group Peace Now, is quoted saying the move reneges on a promise to the “High Court in a crude and unprecedented manner and places the settlers in the territories above the law.”
Yedioth has an interview with the uncle of the original milk carton child, Etan Patz, who says that six months after the 6-year-old disappeared from New York in 1979, a picture of him, which had not been given to police, was published in a local paper in Haifa, leading the uncle to believe the boy may have been kidnapped to Israel to receive a more religious upbringing, much like Yossele Schumacher.
On the lighter side of life, Yedioth launches “Israel Reads” month with a piece on a number of literary tours that will be given around the country. Readers of David Grossman’s “Someone to Run With” will sprint around Jerusalem in the footsteps of Assaf, Tamar and the yellow lab. Fans of Yochi Brandes’s Kings III can trek around the Gilboa just as kings David and Shaul did, and those nostalgic for Hasamba can spelunk in the electric cave of the kids’ book, according to the article.
It’s not my war if I can’t dance to it
In Maariv’s op-ed section, Rubik Rosenthal asks where all the war songs have gone, noting that no songs have been written to bolster soldiers’ hearts since 1973, and answering his own question with the theory that it’s more a reflection of Israeli attitudes since the Yom Kippur War, and not a musical issue: “The only war song remaining from the Lebanon war is “Two Fingers from Sidon,” in which sits an ‘exhausted soldier,’ who doesn’t know what he’s doing in the stronghold, who he’s supposed to shoot and why.”
In Haaretz, Gideon Levy writes that nothing has changed in Israel since the pioneering spirit of 1948, and that’s not a good thing: “In 1948, new immigrants were brought straight from the ships into abandoned Palestinian homes with pots of food still simmering in the kitchen, and no one asked too many questions. In 2012, the Israeli government is trying to whitewash the theft of Palestinian lands, all the while scorning the law. A single straight line — a single, perpetual mode of conduct — runs from 1948 to 2012: Palestinian property is ownerless, always abandoned property even when this is demonstrably not the case, and Israeli Jews are free to do whatever they want with it.”