It was only a few days ago, for Israel’s Memorial/Independence Day editions, when you could read a paper and feel like everything was going to be ok. Not in Thursday’s editions, which are as stormy as the “winter” weather plaguing Israel (more on that later).
Haaretz’s front page tackles the recent wave of “price tag” hate attacks, saying over 100 people are behind them. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch stated on Wednesday that they want to classify these crimes as terror attacks (and brand the price taggers as terrorists). The paper reports from the beginning of April there has been a steep rise in attacks against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, including an attack Wednesday in Yokne’am, where a man was arrested in the act of slashing tires of cars belonging to Israeli Arabs.
On Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page the former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Committee, Uzi Eilam, states the obvious: “Netanyahu is using Iran’s nuclear program for political purposes.” The article (which appears only on page 8 despite its huge front-page presence) is actually a preview of a longer interview that will appear in the paper’s weekend edition. In the meantime, the article teases out what Eilam has against Iran and Netanyahu. In Eilam’s opinion, Iran is 10 years away from developing the bomb but that’s not stopping today’s Netanyahu from “causing the public great, and needless, stress.”
Yedioth remembers to put some news alongside its interview piece, including a tiny two-paragraph story saying that the US prefers diplomacy in dealing with Iran. National Security Adviser Susan Rice arrived in Israel on Wednesday, met with Netanyahu and told him that for now diplomacy is the route the US is taking with Iran. Netanyahu responded, “I’m worried that we will enter into a bad deal with Iran that allows Iran to keep its capability to develop nuclear weapons. I would rather reach no deal than enter into a bad deal.”
Speaking of bad deals, Israel Hayom highlights the Defense Ministry’s feeling that it got a bad deal in the budget. The article quotes Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon testifying at a Knesset panel on Wednesday, where he attacked the budget and the Treasury and warned, “There is no money for training.”
While the article points out that he didn’t mention Finance Minister Yair Lapid by name, that’s clearly whom his comments were directed at. “The way the debate was conducted for the defense budget was not appropriate. I once called it a ‘Turkish bazaar.’ This discussion was not serious. The Treasury should be bound by the laws and decisions of the government,” Ya’alon told the panel.
The papers also do a thorough job on Thursday of following up on stories they reported on Wednesday. Yedioth leads the way, following up on a group of extremists who were wondering if Jewish law permits the killing of an IDF soldier. The paper reports that Eliraz Fein was arrested for writing that it was permissible to kill a soldier who comes to evacuate settlements. Politicians of all stripes condemned the statements by Fein, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who said, “Whoever incites and speaks about murdering a soldier needs to brought up on charges.”
Israel Hayom isn’t letting up on its attacks on Yedioth Ahronoth, which it accuses of being behind legislation to shutter the freebie. Today the paper says it has discovered a model that is profitable: being free and charging for ads. Comparing itself to Google or Facebook, Israel Hayom says that the free model works and those who are trying to stop it don’t understand the modern economy.
The paper frames the debate as a one of competition and says that Yedioth and the Knesset don’t like competition, or freedom either, for that matter. “They want to manage their [citizens'] thoughts, their time, their bank accounts, and now their news services.” The paper hints that if people want Israel Hayom to close all they have to do is not read it. As the paper says itself, “No one puts a gun to your head and demands that you take a copy of Israel Hayom.”
Winter in May
For many English speakers (and Jerusalemites), the word winter conjures up images of cold, snowy weather that’s just miserable. But for most Israelis (including, apparently, journalists) the word winter just means rain. A string of thunderstorms across the country Wednesday into Thursday make news, with Yedioth declaring on its front page, “Suddenly it’s winter.” The winter weather caught some people by surprise, including a driver in the Negev who was caught in a flash flood and was evacuated by helicopter.
But “winter” won’t last forever. The storm is expected to weaken by Thursday afternoon and will completely disappear by Friday.