Rallies, rockets and requisitions
Hebrew media review

Rallies, rockets and requisitions

Tens of thousands gather in Tel Aviv to sing and pray for missing teens; government allocates NIS 300m to East Jerusalem

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Israelis hold signs during a rally calling for the release of of three kidnapped teenagers -- Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel -- in Tel Aviv, Sunday, June 29, 2014. (Photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israelis hold signs during a rally calling for the release of of three kidnapped teenagers -- Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel -- in Tel Aviv, Sunday, June 29, 2014. (Photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The press goes wild for the Tel Aviv rally for the three missing Israeli teens, a public outpouring of sympathy and concern after over two weeks, but the manner in which the papers paint the gathering says more about their perspectives on West Bank settlers than they intended.

The gathering, which attracted tens of thousands, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, featured a sector of Israeli society that was foreign to Tel Aviv’s streets. Those attending the song and prayer session in Rabin Square “could be identified with one eye closed,” the paper says, “foreign to the backdrop, visitors in this city, with jean skirts on the girls, with khaki pants on the boys, with shirts [saying] ‘the brothers of us all.'”

The paper continues to portray the settlers who massed at the rally as foreigners, “tourists in the city,” and “as if they came from a different country.” Yedioth Ahronoth’s reporter found, however, that besides those who came from West Bank settlements to express their support for the three angst-ridden families, Tel Aviv locals continued on with life as usual. (The most curious part of the paper’s coverage is that its main photo shows a main holding aloft a sign which reads “Remote neural weapons victim,” reference to a conspiracy theory that terror organizations are using electronic weapons to affect peoples’ brains.)

Haaretz appears to be among those Tel Aviv locals who noticed the crowds but paid them little heed, as the event gets a front page photo but the reporting gets shunted off to Page 6. The paper reports that the people gathered in Rabin Square called for action by the US to get the missing Israelis back. It quotes President-elect Reuven Rivlin saying that the prayers for peace should not come only from synagogues but from mosques too, over the month of Ramadan, which began this weekend.

The crowd in the square was made up of strangers to one another, writes Israel Hayom, but the prayer and singing united them. It reports that the rally attracted over 85,000 people, with the emcee for the event opening by saying that it would not be “an assembly of lamentation and crying” for “our enemies feed off the tears of Jews, and we don’t need to sustain them.”

While song rang out in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, sirens sounded in southern Israel as rockets rained down. Yedioth Ahronoth reports that two Grad rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip and that they were both intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel Hayom focuses its reportage on the IDF’s retaliatory airstrike for the rocket fire, which killed one Palestinian. The paper reports that the IDF said it would continue to act against any organization in the Gaza Strip that violates the ceasefire.

For Haaretz, the rocket fire gets sidelined by local stories, including Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s decision not to back a bill permitting mini-marts in Tel Aviv to stay open on Saturdays, and the government’s approval of a plan “to strengthen [its] hold on East Jerusalem.”

According to the paper’s report, Sa’ar approved measures to permit businesses at three locations in the city, the Tel Aviv port, the Jaffa port and the train station complex, to operate on the Sabbath. Haaretz says the Tel Aviv municipality threatened to take legal steps to combat Sa’ar’s decision. Yedioth Ahronoth hyperbolizes the outrage over the Likud minister’s decision, writing that residents of Tel Aviv “are preparing to return fire.” It reports that Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. (The story is notably relegated to Page 11 in Israel Hayom.)

On the East Jerusalem issue, Haaretz reports that the government plans to invest NIS 300 million in the next five years with the aim of increasing the Israeli presence in the Arab half of the city. One of the measures is increasing Hebrew-language instruction in East Jerusalem schools, the paper says, but one third of the budget is devoted to increasing security and protection of Jewish houses in East Jerusalem neighborhoods.

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