Israel the beautiful?
Hebrew media review

Israel the beautiful?

Israel Hayom sings the country's praises to the heavens, but the UN and others are doing a different song and dance

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right), on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right), on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

There’s enough going on in Protective Edge that each paper finds a different aspect of the operation to focus on (except that, sadly, all three have the pictures of the five soldiers killed since Tuesday night).

Yedioth Ahronoth uses its front page to answer those who ask “What’s the goal of all this?” with the headline “The goal: A temporary ceasefire without leaving Gaza.” Nahum Barnea writes that Israel wants a ceasefire that allows IDF forces in Gaza to destroy the tunnels that Hamas has built. “Israel is ready to stop shooting, but wants its forces to continue operating against the tunnels and the tunnel openings.”

Yedioth also provides its daily snapshot of the previous day’s numbers. The paper reports that at least 300 terrorists were killed so far, there have been more than 28 tunnels found, and 80 missiles were fired at Israel on Wednesday.

Haaretz’s main story focuses on the world’s reaction to Operation Protective Edge. “UN rights council to form commission to investigate Israel for war crimes in Gaza; Kerry leaves for Cairo without a breakthrough,” reads the lengthy headline. The paper details the back and forth by US Secretary of State John Kerry with Netanyahu and Abbas in his attempt to reach a ceasefire, but despite Kerry’s “optimistic statements” the conditions aren’t quite ripe yet.

The paper also notes Netanyahu’s reaction to the UN’s decision to establish a commission to investigate Israel for war crimes. He called the decision “a travesty that should be rejected by decent people everywhere.”

Israel Hayom decides to dedicate its first pages to boosting the morale of the Israeli home front. “Israel the beautiful,” the front page headline declares, and its first two pages are dedicated to the funeral of Max Steinberg, the lone soldier from Los Angeles who was killed in Gaza. “The whole nation is family,” the paper says as it praises the 30,000 who attended Steinberg’s funeral. Steinberg was a lone soldier (a designation meaning his family lives outside of Israel).

Boaz Bismuth writes an op-ed praising Israel with the patriotic title, “Israel is strong and beautiful.” Bismuth writes that over the past years we have forgotten how strong Israel can be, instead arguing and fighting among ourselves. But this conflict has reminded us of the power of Israel. Bismuth praises Israel and points to the first Israeli death as an example of how strong Israel is. “Dror Khenin was killed at Erez crossing while he was bringing food to soldiers stationed there,” he writes. He concludes by saying, “Suddenly we discover, with all due respect to the producers of various reality TV programs, that this reality is the best of us.”

No flying zone

While the FAA lifted a ban of flying to Israel early Thursday morning, the papers include stories of travel nightmares because of the ban.

On Israel Hayom’s front page underneath “Israel the beautiful” is another headline for another story, “Israel the not so beautiful: Why are plane tickets so expensive?” The paper attacks El Al, Israel’s national carrier, for raising prices on flights for the stranded travelers. In a piece called “Returning to the days of monopoly,” the paper writes, “Fighting? National crisis? Thousands of Israelis stranded abroad? El Al Airlines is not interested; instead it keeps prices high even for those stuck due to canceled flights.” The paper does quote El Al CEO David Maimon maintaining that ticket prices are set well in advance and in accordance with peak tourism season (which typically is now).

Yedioth includes stories of stranded Israeli travelers in different parts of the world including Daniel Lewin, who was on a Delta flight from New York when the ban went into effect so instead of landing in Israel the plane landed in Paris instead. Lewin told the paper that he paid $750 to fly El Al in order to reach Israel.

Haaretz reports on the flight ban too, saying that Israel joins an infamous list of countries that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bans American airlines flying to, including Syria, Iraq, Iran and the newly added eastern Ukraine. (Haaretz does include a lighter side of the airline fiasco: its editorial cartoon shows two Israeli stranded at the airport high-fiving because the duty free is still open.)

Worrying about the future

Yedioth carries an article about two twin brothers who are both infantry lieutenants operating in different parts of Gaza. Nimrod is a lieutenant in the Paratroopers and his twin brother, Ophir, is the same rank in the Golani brigades. Nimrod was moderately injured during the first day of the operation while no word has been heard from Ophir, who is still Gaza. The paper tugs at the heartstrings by writing, “Their mother sits in the hospital [with Nimrod] hoping for a good outcome.”

While Yedioth documents a mother’s worry, Haaretz’s op-ed worries about the state of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. The paper recounts the damage when 13 Israeli-Arabs were killed in 2000, which not only hurt Jewish/Arab relations but also “undermined Israeli-Arabs’ belief in state institutions.” Since then the paper gives credit to Israel for investing in the Arab sector, but chastises this current government for incitement and continually introducing “nationalistic legislation.” “When the fighting ends, Jews and Arabs will have to live together again,” Haaretz writes. “We can’t let the dark forces deepen the right and tear apart this important partnership, which is the basis of life in the State of Israel.”

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