Out but not down
Hebrew media review

Out but not down

The press reports on the political and medical fortunes of two former newsmakers

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90/File)
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90/File)

Election fever may be ramping up, but the politicos no longer in the halls of power are the ones making the big news Wednesday morning.

Both Israel Hayom and Maariv play up the news that the state prosecutor will appeal the acquittal of former prime minister and current convict Ehud Olmert in either the RishonTours or Talansky-envelopes-stuffed-full-of-cash affairs, or maybe both, if the court is having a 2-for-1 deal.

Poll watchers and pundits have been waiting for word on the state’s next move in the case, as it will likely have a chilling effect on any plans slippery Ehud had for returning to politics. His acquittal on the charges, after being forced out of office three years ago to fight them, gave the State Prosecutor’s Office a black eye, and this time around it will likely be looking to double down and go full throttle, and mix any other metaphors it needs to, to see that smarmy smirk wiped off Olmert’s face.

Dan Margalit, writing in the decidedly anti-Olmert Israel Hayom, says the move should be looked at in the context of the upcoming elections and that it actually gives Olmert an out from looking like he wants to be the crook in chief. “Now that [the prosecution] has finally taken the necessary step, it has eased the way for Olmert to back down from his abnormal ambition of returning to the political arena while he is still convicted of receiving bribes. Now he will accuse the mechanism of political persecution and he’ll be able to move away from the delusional possibility that he’ll be convicted and punished and running for prime minister.”

Yedioth Ahronoth gives up its front page real estate to another has-been who has become a still-is (alive). According to the report, Israel had no idea how close it came to losing one of the leading lights of its intelligence community when former Mossad spy chief (and current Iran-strike gadfly) Meir Dagan went to beautiful Belarus for a new liver. Dagan, 67, made it through the surgery, according to Belarussian President Ivan Lukshenko, who is quoted as telling Dagan that he would make sure he got more than the Minsk minimum: “We can’t promise 100% success, but we’ll do everything we can.” In Belarus, a promise like that is good as salted cod.

So why do we care so much that some washed-up geezer got a new liver? Lay it down, Eitan Haber: “Dagan is secret agent number one of the State of Israel, and most of the operations run under his command have been kept and will be kept under wraps. He is part of the crew that did a lot and spoke a little.”

If Dagan wants to stay healthy, he may want to take a trip to Gaza, according to Haaretz, whose front page looks like the cover for Food and Wine Magazine (or lack thereof). While in Gaza, Dagan won’t be able to get his hands on any booze and will be kept to a strict diet of 2,279 calories a day, according to a government document obtained by Haaretz which determines how much food enters Gaza. According to the report, the latest in a series on how the government and army control food and other materials entering the strip, at a minimum, the army had to make sure to let in enough food for Gazans to have 257 grams of meat, 207 grams of flour, 461 grams of fruit and so on. When compared to the Health Ministry’s daily recommended intake for Israelis, Gazans get more sugar and flour, but less fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat. The Defense Ministry said the paper is merely a guideline that is never actually used.

Where have all the terrorists gone?

Speaking of how people are treated in Gaza, Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s release from Hamas captivity and 1,000-and-some-odd terrorists’ release from Israeli jails. Yedioth marks the occasion by reporting that a number of those released on the condition they not return to terror have already got back to their old ways. Twenty-four of them have been detained by the Shin Bet security service for terror-related activities and dozens more who were released to Gaza have become full-time fighters in Hamas’s army.

Ronen Bergman notes that the last time Israel released so many terrorists, as part of the “Jibril deal” in the 1980s, it ended with the first Intifada, but this time things have kept quiet, despite the fact that many more people were released.

The reasons, he says, are that the most dangerous terrorists were sent to Gaza or abroad, and that the PA, which works with Israel in fighting terror, is helping keep a lid on things. Don’t break out the champagne yet, though. “The quiet in the West Bank lies and intoxicates. Time does not work in our favor. If the dam is breached and the PA can’t stop it anymore, it’s reasonable to assume that many of those released will be on the front lines against Israel.”

Maariv reports that crime family member Arieh Alperon is accused of bullying his neighbors into giving him exclusive access to the apartment building’s shelter. According to the story, Alperin would have local businesses bring bottles for recycling to him, which he would then turn in for millions in deposits. Running out of room, he took over the building’s bomb shelter to store bottles. While the neighbors signed a document giving him use of the shelter, police believe they did so after being threatened. Alperon said the police’s accusations are crazy. Crazy like using a bomb shelter to store bottles.

Protesting Protestants

In the op-ed section, Haaretz voices worries that with all the other things Israeli electioneers are stumping about, the country’s existence vis-à-vis the Palestinians is getting lost in the shuffle. “Under the current prime minister, a binational reality has developed in the territories under Israel’s control. We should expect this grave failure to stand at the center of the election campaign. With great folly, the Labor Party under Shelly Yachimovich has relegated this existential issue to the sidelines of the political debate.”

In Israel Hayom, Isi Leibler wonders where American Protestants get off writing a letter to Congress urging a cut in military aid to Israel. “These ‘Christians’ have the hutzpa to ask Congress to limit military aid to Israel, the one country in the region where Christians and other denominations enjoy full religious freedom.”

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