New Year, old problems
Hebrew media review

New Year, old problems

As 5772 comes to a close, the Israeli press recaps the year that was and looks ahead to 5773

IDF soldiers on the Egyptian border with a sign wishing a 'Happy New Year' (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
IDF soldiers on the Egyptian border with a sign wishing a 'Happy New Year' (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

In the final editions of 5772, the Israeli press focuses on wishing the readership a happy holiday while reporting on some stories that will sure to be around after the holidays.

Dominating the front pages are global protests at Western embassies, which Maariv labels the “Islamic snowball,” referring to the notion that the Arab Spring is now an Arab winter. The paper uses a wire report as its main article, providing a general overview of the continuing protests that have spread to Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

More interesting in Maariv’s coverage is an adjacent article about the cooling relations between Egypt and Israel. Israel’s national airline, El Al, is threatening to cancel direct flights from Tel Aviv to Cairo because security costs are too high and there are not enough passengers to justify it. The paper writes that the move is more significant for Egypt since any loss of normalization can be viewed as a reflection on the Muslim Brotherhood’s government. The article quotes an anonymous Foreign Ministry source as saying, “Every element of normalization of relations between the countries that is suspended – simply won’t return.”

Israel Hayom also focuses on Egypt in its article, “Black flag on Sinai.” The article reports on the Friday night attack on the Multinational Force base in the Sinai by dozens of Bedouin gunmen. The Egyptian army arrived at the base and helped to restore order but reported that four officers from the Multinational Force were injured in the attack.

While the situation in Egypt continues to cause worry, Haaretz reports that Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are concerned that the Obama administration may have ignored the growing radicalization in the Arab world. “Every time the Americans tried to provide explanations and excuses for what is happening in the Arab countries undergoing revolutions, they simply ignored the problems,” Haaretz quotes a Foreign Ministry official as saying. “Only after what happened at their embassies are the Americans beginning to understand the situation.”

In the red

Yedioth Ahronoth was the only paper not to feature the protests on its front page. It did however, include a story that is sure to be with us into the New Year: Iran and the debate over red lines. “US: Don’t put our backs to the wall, Netanyahu: Without a red line we move closer to war,” reads the front-page headline, which sums up the positions of the two countries. Inside, the article quotes US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, from an interview he conducted with Foreign Policy, in which he comes out against the setting of red lines, because, he say, they are intended to try to back people into a corner.

Maariv carries an interview with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer about the challenges he sees in the coming year. Fischer expresses his dissatisfaction with the delay in the introduction of the 2013 budget, the level of competition in the banking industry, and the Iranian situation as it affects the economy. Regarding Iran, Fischer states, “The cloud of uncertainty created by the Iranian question affects the economy. It negatively affects foreign investments and investors… We need to make good decisions…”

Israel Hayom reports on some disturbing news from the north of the country, where an engaged couple was found dead in the Carmel forest on Saturday. The police are trying to determine if this is a double murder or a murder suicide.

New Year news

All the papers use space to reflect on the Jewish New Year, which begins Sunday evening. Haaretz gives a picture of the status of world Jewry as 5772 expires. According to the article, Jewish population has been on the rise since the end of World War II, with more and more of the population living in either Israel or the United States. Of a worldwide population of 13.5 million, Israeli and American Jews make up 81% of the entire world Jewish population. Not surprisingly, since 1948 the percentage living in Israel has grown, while the population living in Europe continues to shrink.

Yedioth publishes New Year’s greetings from various VIPs, including Gilad Shalit, President Shimon Peres and US President Barack Obama. Yedioth also includes recipes to make the New Year meal a sweet one (hint: use honey). The paper  includes a small retrospective of the past year with images of key front pages from 5772. Some of the significant moments include the release after five years in Hamas captivity of soldier Gilad Shalit, the sentencing and jailing of former president Moshe Katsav, and Noam Gershony winning gold at the 2012 Paralympics.

Maariv may have the most significant greetings, as this may be its last Rosh Hashanah. “Maariv forever,” reads the headline. The article says that the paper is fighting for its future but actually it sounds more like a goodbye. “For 64 years we have been here, bringing you all the stories, reports and commentary. We were there for the good times, the tough times and the emotional moments,” the paper writes. Included throughout the entire paper are pictures of past front pages from Maariv’s archives from 1948 through this year, reminding readers of the history that Maariv has reported.

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