Netanyahu points fingers and Tal Law lingers
Hebrew media review

Netanyahu points fingers and Tal Law lingers

Reporter's death brings Syria back to the front page, Peres bucks the trend on Iran, Yedioth's coverage goes to the dogs and Family Day features high

An ultra-Orthodox man observes a group of soldiers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem (illustrative photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An ultra-Orthodox man observes a group of soldiers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem (illustrative photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The stories making major headlines this morning reflect the Israeli media’s internal conflict between keeping important, but old, stories alive and moving on to report on new developments.

Maariv appears to be stuck in yesterday’s news cycle. Its page 1 headlines concern the High Court’s striking down on Tuesday of the Tal Law, which regulates military enlistment waivers for ultra-Orthodox men, and the shakeup in the Prime Minister’s Office following the departure of Netanyahu’s bureau chief Natan Eshel over improper conduct toward a subordinate. The paper also features a special story for Family Day, which takes place today, about couples who found love through serving together in the police force. The article, headlined “The love police,” tells of 752 couples who got married as a result of on the job romance.

While Yedioth Ahronoth also has a front page story on the goings on in the Prime Minister’s Office, focusing on Netanyahu’s public reprimand of his senior aides and the resignation of senior spokesman Yoaz Hendel, the paper dedicates the majority of the page to the death of Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin in Syria. The headline “He murders journalists too,” referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad, appears next to a full-body shot of Colvin. The page also features a small photo of a two-year-old killed by the military’s shelling.

Haaretz leads the paper with the announcement that President Shimon Peres plans to tell US President Barack Obama that he opposes a military attack on Iran. The two are scheduled to meet in the US in nine days and according to Haaretz, sources close to Peres say he will try to change the impression made by some of Israel’s “warmongering” spokesmen.

Like Yedioth, Haaretz too dedicates substantial Page 1 real estate to the ongoing carnage in Syria, the headline reading: “The Syrian massacre: more than 70 killed over 24 hours.” Haaretz also features a large photo of Colvin walking through Tahrir Square in Cairo during last year’s uprising in Egypt.

Below the fold, Haaretz features a story on yesterday’s publication of the economic concentration committee’s final recommendations proposing to separate large corporations from their financial holdings.

Other front page stories include a new method used by the immigration authority to locate and arrest illegal foreign workers –posting phony job offers — and a decision by the Higher Education Council to impose financial sanctions on Bar-Ilan University for failure to follow protocol when registering students for special PhD programs. The Bar-Ilan practice was exposed when celebrity journalist and aspiring politician Yair Lapid was found to have been accepted to one of its programs without possessing the prerequisite academic degree.

Israel Hayom leads the paper with a report on the final recommendations of the economic concentration committee, the Trajtenberg committee, under the headline: “A blow to the tycoons.” Other Page 1 stories include Netanyahu’s reprimand to his senior staff members for failing to put him in the loop regarding the allegations about his bureau chief, and the Higher Education Council decision on Yair Lapid.

Israel Hayom dedicates a two-page spread to the financial story, presenting it as a major achievement of the Netanyahu government. If approved, one headline reads, the recommendations will cause the tycoons a heavy blow and benefit the Israeli consumer.

While Israel’s generals and defense establishment heads are busy responding to the Tal Law and its implications, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz takes the opportunity to produce a security related headline. “Steinitz: Within two years Iranian missiles will threaten the US,” reads the Page 13 headline in Israel Hayom. Steinitz made the statement in an interview with CNBC.

On Page 17, Israel Hayom runs an alarming story on the rising prevalence of infectious disease among African migrants. According to the article by health reporter Ran Reznik, studies show large increases in AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis among migrants crossing the border from Egypt. The report quotes doctors saying the state must fund medical treatment for the migrants in order to prevent a public health risk.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s Itamar Eichner reports on the British Foreign Office’s instructions to foreign diplomats to stay away from their Israeli colleagues. According to the Page 10 story, Israeli diplomats abroad are at high risk of being attacked by terrorists and therefore their British counterparts should avoid riding in vehicles with them or being in their close proximity.

Going to the dogs

On the lighter side, Yedioth features a large article on Israeli dogs. Based on statistics gleaned from the national dog registry, there are 385,000 dogs registered in the country. Labradors are the most popular breed of dog in Israel, followed by pinschers and Pekingese. The most popular name for males is Boney and for females, Lady.

Maariv features a story on a new class of teachers set to begin operating in Israel. According to the Page 8 story by Omri Maniv, in order to enable a longer school day without changing existing employment agreements, the Education Ministry will employ teachers subcontracted by private companies. The tender for these companies is expected to be issued sometime in the upcoming weeks, but the plan is already being lambasted by many who claim the teachers will be deprived of job security and social benefits.

Haaretz features a story on the recent approval of 600 housing units for the West Bank settlement of Shiloh. The paper highlights UN condemnation of the move and speculates on its negative influence on high-level Israel-US talks scheduled to take place in Washington next month.

In honor of Family Day, Haaretz runs a profile of the woman behind the initiative to dedicate a special day for family relationships. According to the article, Nehama Biderman initiated the move, originally to celebrate Mother’s Day, in a letter to the paper in 1951 when she was just 11 years old, and it was immediately adopted.

Uncle Shmuel wants YOU!

The cancellation of the Tal Law by the High Court of Justice on Tuesday has many of Israel’s columnists sharpening their pens.

Haaretz’s editorial is dedicated to the High Court ruling, congratulating the judges on their groundbreaking decision and lambasting politicians for their failure to make the same call. “The ultra-Orthodox must understand that the number of young men among them who are exempt from military service, which now stands at 62,000, exceeds what Israeli society can bear.

“It seems that only of late have the politicians begun to hear the rumblings of the secular revolution. Israel can be proud that the High Court is attentive to those voices,” reads the editorial.

Yedidya Shtern writes in Yedioth Ahronoth that “it is safe to assume that the conservative forces in the ultra-Orthodox camp will pounce on the court’s ruling. They will do all they can to to once again wave the flag of separatism. Breaking the rules of the game is their weapon of choice. It is a shame the court played into their hands.”

In Maarv, Lilach Sigan writes, “We rightly demand of the ultra-Orthodox to obey the laws and respect us, but we too have an obligation to absorb and accept, to act respectfully and not hatefully. So for the pessimists who do not want to be disappointed again — the choice is yours. How much do you want it to succeed? Predisposition to disappointment serves no real purpose. Isn’t it better to give it a chance and do your part?”

In Israel Hayom, Haim Shine argues that “the invisible hand that guides today’s financial realities is stronger than the Tal Law or any other law enacted in its place. Patience is required. Use of sovereign force will only bring to a stop process that are already occurring in the ultra-Orthodox society, processes that will lead many ultra-Orthodox individuals to military and national service and active participation in the workforce.”


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