Lipkin-Shahak remembered and construction dismembered
Hebrew media review

Lipkin-Shahak remembered and construction dismembered

The press looks at the UN bashing of Israeli building in the West Bank, and says farewell to a chief of staff

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Lipkin-Shahak as a young captain in the 1960s (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Lipkin-Shahak as a young captain in the 1960s (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office)

Wednesday’s brouhaha at the United Nations barely gets play in the Israeli print media on account of the death of former IDF chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak on Wednesday at age 68.

Israel Hayom leads with four full pages of material eulogizing the former military head, a figure only topped by Yedioth Ahronoth, which dedicates five. The paper calls Lipkin-Shahak “an officer and a gentleman” (the same headline used by Yedioth Ahronoth on its front page) and quotes President Shimon Peres telling him in his final days that he was “a great and rare man who invested heavily in his country.” Haaretz calls the late retired general “the IDF’s last prince,” noting that he was distinguished for his “silent and deliberate leadership that earned him many admirers in the ranks of the IDF.”

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz publishes a eulogy in Israel Hayom and Yedioth Ahronoth bidding farewell to his “commander, teacher, and friend.” He recounts in glowing terms his admiration for Lipkin-Shahak, who was his commander throughout his rise through the ranks. In recent years, Gantz addresses Lipkin-Shahak, you were for me “the Western Wall, against which I could discreetly spread out whatever was on my heart, knowing you would understand my words, and feel my feelings.”

According to Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Sima Kadmon, Lipkin-Shahak spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his final week and told him, “I wish that you will have the strength, understanding and courage to make the right decisions.”

“You can make the right and important decisions for the State of Israel,” the dying former chief of staff reportedly said, “because it’s only you. You alone.” Netanyahu, she writes, had tears in his eyes, perhaps in part because Lipkin-Shahak advocated a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians and talking with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Regarding Lipkin-Shahak’s absence from national politics, where former chiefs of staff are a dime a dozen in Israel, she writes that he lacked “the killer instinct” necessary for the job.

Lipkin-Shahak only makes it to Page 8 of Maariv, following the paper’s coverage of MK Hanin Zoabi’s disqualification from the upcoming national elections and the resolution of the nurses’ strike — both of which get relatively little play in any paper.

Israel Hayom devotes a few paragraphs on Page 11 to the criticism by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and all the members of the Security Council except the United States of Israel for settlement construction. According to Israel Hayom’s report, “the United States prevented condemnation of Israel at the Security Council” without having to resort to exercising its veto over a resolution that was never proposed.

Maariv dedicates its primary coverage to the action in Turtle Bay, but takes a far more pessimistic approach than Israel Hayom. It says that the current international displeasure with Israeli settlement construction might lead to a “Goldstone report 2” against Israel in March 2013. The Goldstone report was the result of a UN investigation into claims of human rights violations by the IDF during the 2008’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

According to the paper, senior Foreign Ministry officials are concerned that the United Nations Human Rights Council will published a damning report about Israeli settlement construction and its impact on the rights of Palestinians. American and European outrage over recent settlement plan announcements could “leave Israel isolated with the consequences of the report,” Maariv writes.

“It could easily turn into a second Goldstone report, which would seriously injure Israel’s international standing, but unlike in the past there won’t be anyone to help us stop the erosion,” a senior ministry official told the paper.

Haaretz reports that senior Jordanian officials are concerned that the Syrian civil war may devolve into a “black hole that sucks Jihadists from around the world.” Despite warnings to Western nations and Israel against this potential outcome, advanced weaponry continues to flow into the hands of radical Islamist groups that are taking over the opposition to President Bashar Assad, the paper writes.

“The Jordanians fear that with the collapse of the current Syrian government, this weaponry, together with the experience gained by the Jihadists, will be aimed toward other targets in the region — particularly Jordan and Israel.”

In addition to new residential development in southern Jerusalem that was announced this week, Haaretz reports that the Jerusalem municipality began work on “a high-speed, multilane highway that would split the village of Beit Safafa into two residential sections” with bridges connecting them.

Typical to Hebrew misuse of the term pastoral, Haaretz writes that despite being integrated wholly into the Jerusalem cityscape, Beit Safafa “has succeeded in staying relatively pastoral.”

“The residents succeeded in keeping the gardens of fruit trees and village-style construction,” which are now reportedly at risk due to the new mega-highway.

Yonatan Yavin writes in Yedioth Ahronoth that the socioeconomic situation in Israel divides it into two states: one where two of three children are below the poverty line and nurses don’t make a living wage, and the other where “tycoons steal money from the public and get away with it without punishment.”

The latter, he says, will vote to keep Netanyahu in power and to continue to “fly abroad at the expense of another starving child,” but the strange thing, he notes, is that the former will also vote the prime minister’s Likud party back into power.

Despite the fact that “it’s bad for them to live in this cannibalistic country,” they will vote for Netanyahu because “only he can guarantee that the situation will not deteriorate.”

“He always ensured that the situation didn’t worsen, especially during all these years, in which the situation worsened so much — worsened to starvation.”

read more: