Migrants, matriculation and military sales
Hebrew media review

Migrants, matriculation and military sales

Africans pose an existential threat to Jewish state, according to Maariv; Israel sells arms to dictators, Haaretz finds

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.

Thousands of African migrants demonstrate outside the Knesset on January 8, 2014. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Thousands of African migrants demonstrate outside the Knesset on January 8, 2014. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The African migrant protests again take the front pages after a protest outside the Knesset on Wednesday. Maariv runs an imposing photo of the throng facing Israel’s parliament alongside a front page op-ed from Ben-Dror Yemini in which he calls the “infiltrators” a threat to the national character of the state and says Israel risks “national suicide” if it doesn’t address the problem properly.

Maariv accuses “activists of groups financed by Europe” of stirring up and spurring on the protesters, the same organizations which roused Bedouin protests recently. He says they will “make every effort in order to present Israel as a monster.” Yemini says that the way to avoid this disastrous eventuality is to turn the “infiltrators into foreign workers,” and force one-half to one-third of their salaries into a fund only redeemable once they leave the country. “They’ll soon bother to find a new country, in Europe or Africa,” he says.

Yedioth Ahronoth‘s writer, who went in among the protesters for his coverage, opens his article with “The blacks fill the Rose Garden,” and explains that the issue at the core of the protests is race. The paper humanizes the faceless mob by interviewing a number of demonstrators.

“The whites are scared of us, and it’s important that they understand that we didn’t come to stay,” Muli Tamuzaki, 24, tells the paper. “We came here only because it was bad for us in our country, and we will stay here only until the moment we can return there.”

Another point the reporter unearths is that while the majority of protesters are Eritrean, the leadership of the demonstrations is overwhelmingly Sudanese. The Sudanese organizers instructed the protesting migrants to avoid interviews, but should they speak to the press, they were told, “don’t say you came to work, don’t speak about the Holocaust, and under no circumstances speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Turning to the ongoing local news generator, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Israel Hayom leads with revelations from “senior diplomatic officials” that there is no draft framework agreement, “no papers, no documents,” its headline reads.

It quotes anonymous Israeli officials leveling exceptional criticism at US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration’s management of the negotiations, particularly the security issues.

“Kerry visits here a lot, even though he hasn’t revealed any real understanding from his actions here,” a source tells the paper. “The US’s plans are superficial and not serious, and there’s no connection between the things said in public about progress in the negotiations and what’s really happening. It appears as if Kerry is simply not connected to reality. He’s not in the know, to say the least, about the roots of the conflict, doesn’t know how to bring real solutions and even doesn’t demonstrate proficiency in reading maps presented to him.”

Haaretz‘s top story is about the government’s revelation that it can withhold the destinations of arms sales from Israeli courts and the Israeli public. According to the report, Israel sold arms to 29 states in the past decade amounting to about $7 billion, but the state only disclosed five — the US, the UK, Spain, Kenya and South Korea — in a freedom of information act order. In a graphic, the paper shows that Israel has sold arms to a host of European states as well as some paragons of human rights such as Chad, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda and Botswana.

“The other states that purchased security equipment from Israel chose not to report to the Register, or make official announcements of any kind, and thus the Defense Ministry cannot reveal their names due to foreign policy and national security concerns,” the state said.

“Today there are tyrants using Israeli know-how to repress and for horrible acts — it’d be better if we didn’t sell to them,” the paper quotes a security and defense expert, Yiftah Shapir, saying.

The papers also address the education reform announced by Education Minister Shai Piron on Wednesday, changes which Yedioth Ahronoth calls “a revolution in standardized tests.” It reports that the extent of the reforms runs from “canceling [matriculation] exams in 10th grade to making the matriculation certificate the entry card for academia, instead of the psychometric exams.”

Maariv tops its coverage of the new policy with the headline, “Concern in the Education Ministry: Academia will cause difficulties for the reform,” but only in its final paragraph mentions that “sources in the Education Ministry expressed concern for the possibility that the standard matriculation score universities will demand as an entry requirement without the psychometric exam won’t be realistic, and therefore it won’t provide a solution for the broader public.”

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