The news on Friday is as stale as cheese left out overnight, but that doesn’t stop the papers from rehashing it and serving it up to its readers as if it’s brand-new.
Yedioth Ahronoth treats its readers to another IDF vs Treasury story with its front-page heading, “IDF: The Treasury is inciting against us.” Inside, the paper details the bickering between the two sides, with the IDF wanting more money and the Treasury saying no. A high-ranking IDF official conceded to the paper that they’re losing the PR battle, but that the public doesn’t realize that budget debate is causing irreversible damage to the morale of the army.
In an accompanying graphic, the paper shows the sharp decline, in just two years, in the amount of IDF training. In 2012, the army held 20 divisional training exercises, but in 2014, there are merely three. In 2012, there were 85 reserve battalions called up for operational assignments; in 2014, there have been just six.
Haaretz serves up a more elegantly packaged version of the same story, with Amos Harel writing that the budget cuts actually provide a unique opportunity for the army to get back to basics and guard the country. Things that the IDF has become used to — such as taking educational trips to Poland — are extras and can be trimmed so that the IDF can focus on protecting the state.
Harel notes that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz held key positions before and during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and knowing how a lack of training hurt the IDF in that war, Harel is surprised that they’d be willing to take the risks of stopping training again.
Israel Hayom offers something new after sending Boaz Bismuth to Thailand to report on the political unrest there. He first reports that the Israelis in Bangkok are fine, but are beginning to get worried after a curfew was imposed. Bismuth transitions away from the Israelis and speaks with normal Thais, who worry that the military takeover could cause a decrease in tourism. “The army is destroying our jobs. Who would come to a country under military control?” a taxi driver laments to Bismuth.
Take that, competition!
Haaretz recaps the play-by-play of Silvan Shalom’s presidential bid that never was. Shalom had thought that Netanyahu was going to support him, but then Netanyahu decided against it — apparently over fears that Shalom would use the position as leverage to run for control of the Likud.
In relaying the story, Haaretz takes a quick swipe at rival Israel Hayom, when explaining how Netanyahu told Shalom he wouldn’t be Israel’s next president. “Then a report appeared on the official website of the Prime Minister’s Office — oops, sorry, on the website of the freebie Israel Hayom — stating that Netanyahu would not support Shalom, and therefore neither would Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and his party Yisrael Beytenu. It’s over.”
While Haaretz is taking swipes at Israel Hayom, the latter is too busy taking swipes at Yedioth to notice. Again, today, the paper ran a two-page spread arguing against a Knesset bill that would shutter free daily newspapers (read: Israel Hayom).
Today’s plea to the public is based on statistics and not emotion. The paper conducted a study that found that 81% of the respondents of the survey they commissioned don’t want Israel Hayom to close. Also included in the survey is a question designed to flex a little political muscle: 57.8% said that they would think twice about voting for a party that supports the bill.
The paper also includes an opinion piece by Yuri Yalon, which accuses Yedioth owner, Noni Moses, of brainwashing the Israeli public. Yalon uses the column to taunt Yedioth that its journalists are about to abandon ship. “Do not be surprised if, one day soon, many journalists abandon the sinking ship that has no future,” he writes. He also extols the virtues of Israel Hayom, saying that it “advocates telling the truth, supporting the rule of law and national pride.” While Yedioth, he writes, “actively supports corrupt politicians. Even after being convicted and imprisoned, they continue to enhance their reputations and minimize their shame.”
Despite the bluster coming from Israel Hayom, Yedioth as usual has no response. Instead, the paper gives a full-page spread to the sale of the Tnuva dairy to a Chinese company, Bright Foods. Tnuva, which as the paper points out, is one of the most recognizable Israeli brands in Israel, was already sold six years ago to a British company.
The sale to Bright Foods is causing grumbling in the government that they’re not going to get their slice of the 8.6-billion-shekel sale (about $2.4 billion). Former Tnuva CEO Arik Reichman writes that the sale actually opens up new markets for the company and that “there’s nothing to worry about.”