The eclectic factory
Hebrew media review

The eclectic factory

Putin's visit, Ulpana eviction, ultra-Orthodox enlistment battles, and a beauty peagent for Holocaust survivors make a variety show of front pages

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) holds a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) in Jerusalem on Monday, June 25, 2012. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) holds a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) in Jerusalem on Monday, June 25, 2012. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Israel’s newspaper editors appear in disagreement over which of yesterday’s news stories were front-page worthy. Four papers have four different top stories — usually a sign of a sluggish news day.

Yedioth Ahronoth leads the paper with the headline reading: “The great battle over ultra-Orthodox enlistment.” The story reports on the final steps towards passing a substitute for the Tal Law, regulating draft exemptions for religious men, and the severe opposition the legislation faces from the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset and the religious public. One of the most sensitive points in the bill is whether or not the state will place sanctions on individuals who refuse to enlist. The headline appears above a photo of ultra-Orthodox boys wearing sacks over their clothes, a Jewish symbol of mourning, during a mass protest rally in Jerusalem yesterday.

Maariv’s top story reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Israel yesterday. The main headline “Getting closer,” above a photo showing Putin next Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, refers both to the leaders themselves and, perhaps, to their views on Iran and Syria. According to the story, Putin has agreed not to stall additional sanctions against Tehran, and furthermore suggested that Russia “would not shed a tear” if Israel chose to strike Iran, even though Moscow formally opposes a preemptive attack.

Haaretz’s top story focuses on the recent wave of social justice protests, which have turned into anti-police protests following weekend clashes between activists and cops. The paper reports on the results of an opinion poll that found that “A solid majority are in favor of reviving the protests.”

The poll’s top findings are that 69 percent of respondents want to see a resumption of last year’s mass social justice protests, even though 67% believe that nothing has changed as a result of them. The poll also reveals that though 61% of the public are opposed to acts of vandalism against banks, the likes of which were seen on Saturday night, 23% think that though it is a shame that it happened, sometimes there is no choice. Asked about who they believe initiated the violence between protesters and the police, 27% blamed the cops, 21% blamed the activists and 29% said both were equally to blame.

Israel Hayom’s most prominent headline reports on final preparations for today’s eviction of the Givat Ulpana neighborhood of the West Bank settlement of Beit El. The story reports that while most of the families have already agreed to leave quietly, three families plan to passively resist the eviction.

One story that features on the front page of three of the papers (with the exception of Haaretz) reports on the suicide of an Israeli citizen at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The 25-year-old man was able to get past all the security features and jumped to his death despite attempts by local police to convince him otherwise.

Rounding up the front pages are, in Yedioth: a photo of Asma Assad nonchalantly playing badminton, while her dictator husband is massacring dozens of his citizens a day, and a report of a steep rise in Ritalin use over the past year; in Maariv: the release from prison of two men convicted of running over and severely injuring a boy after three years in prison; in Israel Hayom: an experimental new siren that will alert the public in the case of a chemical weapon landing; and in Haaretz a petition by 12 ministerial ombudsmen to the High Court claiming they are not being allowed to work.

More for the mix

Maariv reports on page 14 on police suspicions that army scouts warned Bedouin drug dealers/smugglers of the locations of patrols and ambushes in exchange for cash. So far 12 soldiers have been arrested.

On page 16 Maariv reports on the successful deportation of hundreds of South Sudanese migrants, but reveals a snag. According to the article, roughly 300 people who have been arrested as part of operation “Returning Home” have no documents indicating that they indeed come from South Sudan, making their deportation impossible for the time being. Now the question arises whether after two weeks in custody, they should be released, or kept in prison.

Yedioth reports on page 10 of a tragic accident in a Tel Aviv high-rise building. A young man was crushed to death when an elevator he was trying to exit malfunctioned. According to the report, the doors closed on him and the elevator rose, crushing him.

On page 16, Yedioth reports on a particularly controversial new beauty pageant… for Holocaust survivors. The competition, which is scheduled to take place in Haifa on Thursday, will pit 20 Holocaust survivors, aged 74-90 against each other in the battle for the crown. Five hundred women originally signed up for the competition.

Lamenting world leaders

Yoaz Hendel writes in the opinion pages of Yedioth about US President Barack Obama’s mistaken Middle East policy. Referring to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech, Hendel writes: “Three years have passed since that speech in Cairo, and even from the White House one can see that the new dawn Obama promised has transformed into the darkness of the burka. How democratization turned into Islamization… Muslims massacre Muslims without pause, the voice of progress has been silenced and primitivity rejoices. The rulers, who understand reality, prefer survival over education. Politically incorrect, but true.”

In Maariv, Ben Kaspit writes about Putin’s visit and all the things that he should have been told but wasn’t. Kaspit says he wished that someone had told the Russian President that his support for Israel’s enemies in Syria and Iran is dangerous and insufferable and that his crackdown on internal democracy was nauseating. But more than anything, Kaspit laments the fact that instead of admonishing Putin, Israel’s leaders seem to be following his lead. “Never have so many journalist been under threat in the Jewish state as they are now, never have so many of Israel’s guard towers fallen, never has their been such a threat to the media, never has there been an opposition so weak, never has so much absolute power been in the hands of so few, who feel they are unthreatened, their power unchecked and unfettered. So why shouldn’t we bow our heads to Putin. He is after all our role model.”

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