Old crimes and the creation of a new class of criminal are the order of the day in the Israeli print media Thursday morning, a day after police announced failure in a bid to prosecute a suspect for a deadly 2009 shooting, and a Knesset panel voted to push forward a bill levying criminal penalties on ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers.
Skipping over the fact that the IDF mandatory draft bill still needs to pass the full Knesset, Maariv calls the passage of the new rules, set to go into effect in 2017, “the end of an era,” referring to the 65-year period during which yeshiva students could skip the draft scot-free.
Still though, the paper notes that each of the interested parties won a little and lost a little like any good compromise.
Aside from all the quotable quotes from the winners and losers, the paper reports that the biggest group affected, the ultra-Orthodox, are less worried about thousands of yeshiva students being sent to jail and more concerned over the enforceable part of the sanctions, the withholding of state funds from institutions that harbor draft dodgers. This despite the fact that Haredi leaders have said recently they can live with financial penalties.
“In closed conversations, they have said that the protest against criminal sanctions is mostly precautionary. According to a report in the Hadrei Haredim website, [protest leader Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib] Steinman told his associates that he is more worried over the financial sanctions, which can harm the standing of the Haredi community,” the paper writes.
In Israel Hayom, Gideon Alon opines that the new rules, while a good start, won’t bring any actual equality to Israeli society in terms of the burden of army service.
“Whoever expects that after the law passes their army service will be shortened, that secular people serving in combat units will do less reserve duty and Haredi men will replace them if and when a war breaks out, is lying to themselves. The mandatory draft of yeshiva students is mostly symbolic. It’s possible that the public that serves in reserves will feel less like a sucker when it sees yeshiva students filling important roles in the national service program.”
More Car 54 than True Detective
The word collapse appears in three of the four headlines covering the Bar Naor gay club shooting, in which two people were killed in Tel Aviv in 2009. After breaking open the case last year with the arrest of Hagai Felician as the main suspect, the police were forced to admit Wednesday that the case they built against him, based on a state’s witness, was weak sauce. While new criminals were being created, a high-profile suspect is looking like he will be set free
Twisting the knife, Yedioth Ahronoth calls the case “the most expensive in police history,” and notes that though few details have emerged, it seems clear that Felician will soon be released home.
In Haaretz, Felician attorney Yogev Narkis is quoted giving the fuzz a tongue-lashing over its shoddy work.
“It’s clear that the police’s flagship case will collapse and be shelved. Perhaps they ought to do some soul-searching over their excessive eagerness to solve a case that in truth was very central to all of our lives. I can’t rid myself of the impression that in their eagerness, they papered over additional evidence that should have been checked, and that this could have been done earlier.”
The collapse of the case is the latest in a series of events over the past few weeks that have given the police a black eye, including the revelation that the top anti-corruption cop is suspected of being on the payroll of a popular rabbi, and the news Wednesday that the state paid out a hefty sum to a criminal suspect after another cop involved in that case gossiped about him.
Maariv calls the snowball a police crisis, showing the 5-0 to be more “Car 54” than “True Detective.” “Whoever doesn’t do, doesn’t make mistakes, the old cliché goes, correctly” the paper’s Baruch Kara writes. “And in truth, the thing linking the two affairs that darkened the day for the police yesterday are mistakes in considerations. Not corruption, not a lack of ethics, but thinking.”
Government transparency is one thing, but Yedioth Ahronoth reports that in one unnamed European capital an Israeli diplomat has been accused of exposing himself to embassy staffers, both in the embassy and in a housing compound for the staff, spurring an investigation and a recall to Israel.
The paper reports that the matter will likely be dealt with in-house and no criminal charges will be filed in the case.
Elsewhere, the 90-Day Rule, under which news more than 90 days old can be trumpeted by Israeli journalists as a new scoop, is cited by Haaretz’s Ari Shavit in reviving a 10-year-old interview in which Yasser Arafat backed the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. Shavit writes in the editorial page that successor Mahmoud Abbas should do the same.
“What Arafat permitted, Abbas cannot forbid. The current Palestinian Authority president must say explicitly what his predecessor said implicitly. Peace? There won’t be any peace if Abbas doesn’t follow in Arafat’s footsteps and say that Israel is a Jewish state whose Jewish character must be preserved,” he writes.