US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Israel for over a day, holding meetings with the highest echelons of our political system about the biggest threats facing the Jewish states. Yet it is her answer to a tack-on question that constitutes the top stories of two out of Israel’s four mainstream dailies. Clinton’s comment, that she does not see Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard getting released early, tops the front pages of both Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth. Say what you will about Maariv — which has become so unpopular it is reportedly dropping its daily print version — at least it doesn’t put paraphrases in quote marks across its gate.

Not so for Yedioth, which splashes “Pollard will stay in prison his whole life,” across the front. (Her actual quote was that she has no expectation of his life sentence changing.) There isn’t much more to say, and the papers thus bury the actual news of Clinton’s visit and her Pollard comment deep inside the dark recesses of the inside pages.

The imminent decision on Ariel University Center’s status as a university or college also makes the front pages of Haaretz, Maariv and Israel Hayom. The oracles at Haaretz say they know the score, writing that Ariel will be recognized as a university today, despite opposition from the Council for Higher Education, which oversees Israeli academic institutions.

Maariv also reports that ministers are pushing for its recognition. The paper unveils a secret research document given to the heads of Israel’s other universities saying that recognizing Ariel, and diverting funds to it, will wreck the existing schools, which they’ve been saying all along. “This process can damage the ability of Israeli research centers to receive grants and will hurt their standing in the world,” the document reportedly says.

Israel Hayom has a quickie point-counterpoint between Prof. Yehuda Danon (pro-recognition) and leftie MK Zehava Gal-On (against). “The panel decreed: The university center is fitting to become a university, and is already acting like one,” writes Danon in his defense of adding an eighth university, which he says will also help stop brain drain. Gal-On, though, is more concerned with the fact that the school is in the West Bank. “To create a university over the Green Line will have harsh implications for the standing of Israeli academia internationally and the efforts to overcome the academic boycott against Israel,” she writes.

No country for poor men

Yedioth, and other papers, are still not letting the Moshe Silman self-immolation story die. The paper has a quote from Housing Minister Ariel Attias placing blame for the public housing crisis on the Finance Ministry. Inside is a package of personal stories from other down-on-their-luck folk who “don’t want to be another Silman.” “When I crashed, nobody cared about me,” says homeless man Tamar Hajiji from Kfar Saba. “How am I supposed to end the cycle of poverty?”

Haaretz has some good news for a change. The OECD named Israel the best at something, and it’s not paddleball. No, even better (unless you really like matkot), it’s water usage for agriculture. According to the story, the designation flies in the face of claims made by economists for years, that Israeli farmers waste water like it’s, well, water. “The world could take a lesson from Israel,” the OECD says. Take that, number nerds!

Maariv runs a sizeable appreciation of Ovadiah Harari, who headed up Israel’s ultimately doomed Lavi fighter jet project and died earlier this week, written by friend and family member Mordechai Haimovich. The story details how Harari came to become one of the biggest players in the Israeli security scene, and his tireless efforts to create a homegrown fighter plane and sundry other projects. Haimovich quotes Menahem Shmul, the first pilot to test fly one of the Lavi jets: “An amazing mentor, straight, upright… a great decision maker, could separate between a quick fix and an elemental one… a professional in the field of engineering for which there is no parallel in the world, and I repeat and emphasize ‘world,’ not just in Israel.”

Friends with fat wallets

Nahum Barnea in Yedioth writes an op-ed about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s connections to rich businessmen. “Every prime minister since Rabin has been connected to Israeli tycoons. Netanyahu is the only that isn’t hooked up. His friends are American billionaires. He derides the Israelis.”

Haaretz’s Nehemia Shtrasler writes that Moshe Silman’s woes cut to the heart of Israel’s problem, namely having pencil pushers deal with the down and out. “The bureaucracy, somewhere up there, must not be allowed to be cruel to the weak and to destroy them. It has the opposite task: to raise up, to assist, to raise the poor out of the dust, to lift up the needy from the dunghill.”