On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the Hebrew dailies are filled with annual roundups and attempts at predicting the future, or at least giving some sort of insight into what it may hold. Most of the actual news has been pushed off the front pages — with a possible US strike against Syria being the main exception.
Three out of four dailies discuss the possible outcome of the US Senates vote regarding military intervention in Syria. (After the papers went to print, the Senate authorized a limited military strike.)
Haaretz highlights US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement that the action — or lack thereof — against President Bashar Assad and his regime will be understood as a message regarding a possible future response — or lack thereof — against Iran.
Israel Hayom chooses to emphasize a different part of Kerry’s speech, its headline reading “Israel expects us to keep to our word,” while Maariv quotes Israeli sources who are “confident” the Senate will approve President Barack Obama’s request.
Yedioth Ahronoth, the only paper not to highlight the Senate’s vote on its front page, reports (in a fashionably late way) that Assad called Obama a weak leader in an interview he gave the French paper Le Figaro.
Haaretz is the only paper to feature a massive attack by Egyptian military helicopters in the Sinai peninsula, reporting that dozens of Islamic militants were killed by missiles.
The paper points out that the recent attack is the latest in a series of actions taken by Egypt against the terror bases throughout the desert region, actions that include operating against the smuggling tunnels from Sinai to the Gaza Strip.
But despite these stories, most of the front page on all Wednesday’s Hebrew dailies focuses on the year that was and the year that will be.
According to a survey published in Maariv, 63 percent of Israelis believe Finance Minister Yair Lapid is the most disappointing politician of the year, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coming in second place by a large margin (only 15% chose him).
It’s “a collective kick to the face of Lapid,” Shalom Yerushalmi writes in the paper. The minister is being thrashed for everything, “for his actions, for his promises, and even for his visions,” noting that the question in the survey was an open-ended question — respondents could name any politician they wished, and nearly two-thirds chose Lapid.
The government’s financial decisions, too, were given a red card by the public. Eighty percent of those asked said there were very unhappy with the way the government was handling the cost-of-living crisis, mainly the continued price hike in property.
The survey also found that Israelis are happy with the way Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has been performing during his first term in office and, overall, content with the reforms set in motion by Education Minister Shai Piron.
Echoing the public’s displeasure, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett made clear in a special holiday interview with Yedioth Ahronoth that he and Lapid didn’t see eye to eye.
“We come from different places, and it developed to different places,” Bennett says, explaining that he was looking out for “the Ricky Cohen” who earned NIS 6,000, as opposed to Lapid’s famous fictional Cohen who made more than twice that amount.
Another area in which Bennett openly states his difference with Lapid is the attitude toward the ultra-Orthodox population. The discourse over recruiting the ultra-Orthodox “was violent and not considerate enough,” he says. ”[The idea of bearing children] is Jewish, family, Zionist. They’re the thing I want to encourage the most,” Bennett says, answering a question about Lapid’s idea to limit childbirth.
Israel Hayom highlights Israel’s missile defense exercise, conducted over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday, a drill the paper says “shook the world” because it was only announced after Russia detected the launch.
The paper also has a series of holiday interviews, including one with Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Oren. “The greatest challenge I’ve faced… is the new dynamic situation, in which circumstances change quickly and significantly in the USA and the Middle East,” he says, in what could be both an accurate summary of what was and a solid prediction for what lies ahead.