From Syria with hatred
Hebrew media review

From Syria with hatred

A suspect is arrested for the Brussels attack; Palestinian prisoners are still hunger striking; and evolution arrives in the classroom

File. Extra police deploy in Belgium after a May 2014 attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels. (Joods Actueel/Flash90)
File. Extra police deploy in Belgium after a May 2014 attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels. (Joods Actueel/Flash90)

The grainy photograph of Mehdi Nemmouche, arrested for allegedly carrying out the deadly attack at the Brussels Jewish Museum, stares out from the front pages of all three Hebrew dailies as the papers wonder what his capture means for Europe.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page puts a security camera image of the alleged killer next to an alleged quote from Nemmouche: “I was the shooter.”

The paper reports that Nemmouche has ties to a Syrian jihadi group and provides a map of his “journey of hate” over the past two years. After being released from jail in France in 2012, he traveled to Syria for two years to fight with a group associated with al-Qaeda. In 2014 he traveled to Germany with the hopes of covering his tracks as he moved toward Brussels to commit the attack.

The paper also includes a sidebar in which a cousin of Emmanuel Riva, who was killed in the Brussels attack, lashed out at the Israeli government. Boaz Porat reacted to the arrest of Nemmouche by saying, “One thing I can say is it’s good that he was arrested and will be tried in Belgium. Here we see how terrorists who kill are freed. There we’re sure that he’ll receive the strictest sentence possible, without any chance that he’ll be released early.”

Writing in Israel Hayom, editor Boaz Bismuth pens a lengthy op-ed that focuses less on Nemmouche and more on the threat Nemmouche, and those like him, pose to Europe. Calling Islamic extremists a “Trojan horse in Europe” he worries that the continent has had its head in the sand and only now recognizes the threat. “Without realizing it, an era of peace and fraternity in the EU… has transformed the continent; now Europe finds itself in a front against the jihadists living within its borders.”

Over in Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer gives another take on Nemmouche, calling him more G.I. Joe and less 007. The arrest showed that Nemmouche was probably not acting as part of a terror group, as was first thought because of the efficiency of the attack. He made the mistake of keeping the guns he used, using the soldier’s mentality to never relinquish your weapon, rather than that of someone trained to avoid capture. Pfeffer writes that the dumb luck surrounding his arrest (authorities pulled over the bus he was on to search for drugs) highlights the difficulty European security services have in combating the extremist threat.

Life on the inside

Palestinian prisoners haven’t been in the news lately, but Haaretz reports that 120 inmates have been staging a hunger strike for the past month against Israel’s policy of administrative detention and 70 have been admitted to hospitals. The Prison Service said all the strikers are under medical supervision and those evacuated to hospitals have been given water and vitamins. Both sides said that there have not been any negotiations to end the strike. The paper did point out that most of those participating in the strike were arrested on security-related grounds.

Separately, Yedioth’s front page features a picture of a prominent Israeli prisoner, Alon Hasson, the recently arrested Ashdod port workers union boss. “The king of the port in handcuffs,” reads the headline and inside the paper writes that case is getting stronger against Hassan for his alleged misdeeds, which include corruption and bribery. Police have been interrogating Hassan since his arrest on May 27, and are expected on Monday to request his remand while the investigation continues.

Evolving thoughts

Israel Hayom is not giving up attacking Yedioth and its publisher Noni Moses for Moses’s allegedly lobbying for a Knesset bill that would shutter free papers. Israel Hayom’s latest tactic has evolved from attacking Moses to attacking politicians whom Israel Hayom thinks are on his side. Today’s target is minister Naftali Bennett, who in a speech at Bar-Ilan University remarked that by using its current economic model (relying only on advertising and giving away the paper for free) it actually doesn’t want to make a profit and that is ruining the newspaper industry (he used the fall of Maariv as an example of this).

“There is an economic model,” the paper insists, then snipes at Bennett, “By the way, you never turned to us for us to explain to you what it is. This is a fact and it works – our model is: the more exposure you gain the more ad revenue you generate.” The paper goes on to argue that Maariv was doomed before Israel Hayom ever arrived on the scene. The piece concludes by saying that Israel Hayom, and not Yedioth, is the only one to challenge Bennett’s political views — and now he supports the law to shut it down. “Freedom of speech? Not with Bennett.”

Yedioth reports on evolution in the classroom. The Education Ministry has approved a plan to begin teaching evolution as part of a mandatory curriculum for eighth- and ninth-graders. However not to offend religious students, they won’t be teaching that man evolved from primates. Instead the lessons will focus how evolution affects plants and animals, but not humans. Until now, evolution was only taught in biology class for high school students, and wasn’t part of the required curriculum.

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