Forging ahead
Hebrew media review

Forging ahead

Papers report on Gideon Sa'ar's exoneration and a vote-buying scandal that could reach into the Likud, but don't tell Israel Hayom

Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar. (Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar. (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Consensus, as anybody will tell you, can be an elusive mistress. Yet Wednesday, February 27, 2013, the editors of Israel’s four major Hebrew dailies all agreed on two of the big stories that adorn every front page. And both are the kind of story your average, non-journalist reader probably doesn’t give much more than a flying duck about. So let’s wade in, shall we?

We’ll start with the… er… sexier story, that a letter purporting to be from a woman who carried on an illicit sexual relationship with Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar has been found by the police to be a fake, juicy bits about him raping underage girls in nightclubs and all. The story takes top billing in both Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv. It doesn’t end here, though, Yedioth reports, quoting people close to Sa’ar saying that the mud-slinging forger now needs to be uncovered. The paper also includes a step-by-step of what needs to happen now, including a decision by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on whether to open a criminal investigation into the matter, which could lead to a number of politicians being grilled by the cops. Oh, and Sa’ar could become an even more powerful minister in the next government, like Minister of Sound.

The other marquee story Wednesday is the revelation by a political operative running a cash-for-votes scheme (wait, isn’t that all politics?) for Jewish Home that he worked with politicians from Likud as well. Don’t try looking for that tidbit in Israel Hayom though, since the paper, which is thought to be strongly linked to Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, makes sure to bury it in the sixth paragraph, along with a grain of salt large enough to make Daryl Strawberry think he’s died and gone to heaven. Instead, Israel Hayom plays up a meeting between the operator, Avihai Amrusi, and Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett before the whole affair broke into the open two days ago.

Over in normal newspaper land, though, the Likud revelation is all the rage, as well as the fact that Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky, who paid for said votes, also worked with other political operators to trade stacks of Moshe Sharetts for a Knesset seat. “Slomiansky was the head of the octopus,” Maariv quotes Amrusi saying.

No more EU love for Ahava

Haaretz leads off with the not-at-all surprising scoop that European envoys to East Jerusalem and the West Bank are calling on their home countries to boycott settlement goods. According to the paper, a nonbinding “heads of missions” report was handed in to the EU in January and includes seven recommendations for weaning Israeli firms with assets over the Green Line off preferential EU funding or treatment, as is already done to some degree: “The diplomats gave the example of Israel’s participation in a cooperative program called Horizon 2020, through which the EU invests hundreds of millions of euros in Israeli high-tech firms. They noted that some of this funding goes to firms like the research laboratories of the cosmetics company Ahava, which are located in the Jordan Valley kibbutz Mitzpeh Shalem, near the Dead Sea. If the EU consuls’ recommendations are accepted, such investments will stop, since the kibbutz is seen as a settlement.”

Israel Hayom, perhaps benefiting from a later bedtime, is the only paper to publish a scoop by the Daily Telegraph saying that Iran has a Plan B for its nuclear program located at its heavy water plant at the drunkenly named Arak facility. The story notes that the plant is well-known to the international community, but also well-guarded, and its activities have been kept under wraps by Iran. “The satellite images shown in today’s Daily Telegraph are the first public proof of that the plant, which is guarded by 50 anti-aircraft batteries, is working. As far as is known, Iran still doesn’t have the technology to use plutonium to make an atomic weapon, but they can buy it, for example from North Korea.”

In the I-guess-that-technically-qualifies-as-journalism section, Yedioth reports on the origins of the “Who is he, Alain Delon?” catchphrase that has become one of the highlights of the current season of the sketch comedy show Eretz Nehederet. The story notes that Channel 10 will reveal Wednesday night that the woman who came up with the one-liner, which refers to a 1960s French heartthrob, is the Tel Aviv assistant DA, who hilariously first used it on a rapist who claimed that the girls whose lives he ruined were actually attracted to his hunky body. Nothing funnier than rape! And now we’ve come full circle.

But wait, there’s opinions in thar papers too!

In Israel Hayom, Hezi Sternlicht points out that public outrage can have a positive effect on reining in excessive executive pay, noting that last year pay actually dropped after a new law put in place oversights on compensation at the highest levels of public companies: “The strengthening of directives is starting to work in a transparent and efficient way. The compensation agreements need to be checked by an oversight inspector for the shareholding public. He needs to decide how to compensate the management according to benefit considerations. A fitting management that knows how to disburse profits and to keep the business running well will enjoy better compensation.”

In Haaretz, Zvi Bar’el expands our minds about the seventh gatekeeper left out of the Oscar nominated film, current Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen. The hagiographic piece credits Cohen with handling all the deals with Palestinian prisoners and urges him to keep on keeping on, despite the naysayers all around: “The Shin Bet chief discovered that one could get by with fewer administrative detainees.… Of the thousands of security prisoners who remained behind even after the Shalit deal, aren’t there a few hundred elderly or ill ones who should be released? Cohen shouldn’t be afraid of the wailing from the right or the sour looks from the center. There was shouting when the agreement was signed in May, and when a similar agreement was signed in 2000. It has happened with other prisoner deals too.”

read more: