Thursday was a particularly bloody day in the Middle East — the death count in Egypt steadily rose; and an evening explosion rocked Beirut. The local Friday front pages couldn’t decide which was the bigger story.
Yedioth Ahronoth goes with Beirut on its front page with the headline, “A hit to Nasrallah.” Both the front page and page 2 show images of the utter destruction left by a booby-trapped car in a Hezbollah-controlled suburb of Beirut. An unknown Syrian rebel group claimed responsibility for the bombing, which killed 20 and injured at least 200.
Despite the claims of responsibility, the paper reports that everyone’s favorite country is being blamed. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said, “The attack has Israeli fingerprints all over it.” Sources in Jerusalem responded to the accusation by calling it “nonsense.”
Haaretz goes another route: It focuses on Egypt on its front page, using the headline of “Firing zone” to refer to Israel’s neighbor to the south. Of the three articles on Egypt (and only one on the Beirut bombing) one focuses on the new challenges the Egyptian army is facing. “Good at revolutions, bad on other fronts,” reads the headline. The story recounts how the Egyptian army stood with the people to oust Mubarak, but have since failed in other challenges — such as running the country and fighting terror in Sinai. Haaretz points out that part of the issue is how the Egyptian army is built: “The Egyptian soldier isn’t equipped to break up large demonstrations” and adds that, given the declarations by the Muslim Brotherhood to free Morsi at any cost, the resulting violence isn’t surprising.
Israel Hayom tries to focus on both stories in its headline, but despite the inclusion of Cairo in the sensationalist headline — “Bloodbath: From Cairo to Beirut” — the focus is on Beirut. Alongside its coverage of Beirut is an op-ed by Dan Margalit, who questions US President Barack Obama’s ability to lead in the Middle East. Reacting to Obama’s policies in the region, he lambastes the president for condemning the Egyptian army while not saying a word about Assad’s violence in Syria. Margalit completes his piece by complaining that, with everything that is wrong in the Middle East, Obama has decided to focus on the tiny dot of the Israelis and Palestinians. He writes, “Meanwhile America, which acts feebly, and cynically with the spice of weakness, from Obama’s position — is losing its ability to influence even the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
No exit in sight
Maariv is the only paper of the four that doesn’t feel the need to put the news of the region on its front page. Instead, it releases the results of its recent survey of Israelis and their thoughts about peace. “The majority of Jews are against a withdrawal from the West Bank in exchange for peace with the Palestinians,” reads the headline. The survey was commissioned to commemorate 20 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords, and asked questions both about the accords and the future of peace. 73% knew what the Oslo Accords were, 33% remember being in favor of the agreements (compared to 40% who remember being against them), and 54% are opposed to a general withdrawal from the West Bank as a barter for peace with the Palestinians. Maariv sums up the results of the survey: “20 years after the Oslo Accords, it’s hard to find anyone who believes that the Israelis and Palestinians are standing on the threshold of a permanent settlement.”
While peace prospects may be dim, the Israeli high-tech sector is celebrating another huge buyout of an Israeli company. Israel Hayom reports that, as in the case of Waze, cyber-security firm Trusteer has been bought out by an American tech giant — this time IBM. While Trusteer did not fetch nearly the same price as Waze, the paper states that IBM paid around $500,000 for the firm, which specializes in detecting viruses and malware for mobile networks.
Trusteer workers aren’t the only ones celebrating on Friday morning. Yedioth reports that, when workers at Negev Textiles arrived at the factory in Sderot on Thursday — thinking it was their last day of work — they were in for a pleasant surprise: Management told the staff that they had acquired a 3-million-shekel grant to keep the plant open. The paper showed the workers celebrating and wrote that they broke out in song after being informed of the good news. “Our home has been saved,” said one of the workers.
It may be a good day for Israeli workers, but — as Haaretz points out — if you’re a defendant in a security case in an Israeli jail, your right to an attorney may be subject to review. The paper reports that, after a letter from the prosecution to the defense in a certain case was leaked to the public, the prosecution followed up, warning the attorney that the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, would consider the incident when “exposing you to state secrets.”
The government admitted that the Shin Bet determines a lawyer’s security clearance. Haaretz writes that this is in direct contradiction to a defendant’s right to choose his own lawyer. The Shin Bet responded by saying, “It must be stressed that there is no list of defense attorneys authorized to represent security detainees in sensitive cases…. It should be noted that everyone suspected of a security offense is entitled to be represented by any attorney of his choice.”
Finally, Esther Brog, mother of Ehud Barak — former prime minister and ex-minister of defense — was buried on Thursday. She passed away on Monday at the age of 100. Maariv focuses on the funeral and says that those who showed up were those who really appreciated Esther’s life. The paper makes a point of mentioning those who did not attend — mainly the military and political elite — but frames the lack of VIPs as a good thing: It shows that people didn’t come to pay lip service to Barak, but rather to celebrate his mother’s life.