Red lines and bread lines
Hebrew media review

Red lines and bread lines

Israel reacts to possible breaking points on Iran while the economic situation puts a strain the average Israeli

Netanyahu with a fruit basket during the holiday of Shavuot.  This season has seen a spike in Israelis requesting help from food organizations (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Netanyahu with a fruit basket during the holiday of Shavuot. This season has seen a spike in Israelis requesting help from food organizations (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Prime Minister Netanyahu has been pushing for clearly defined “red lines” for Iran which, if crossed, could bring about a military strike. News reports that Obama may be considering setting concrete red lines has the press atwitter.

“The battle over red lines,” reads Israel Hayom’s headline and its article begins on a surprisingly optimistic note, “Is there a new wind blowing between Jerusalem and the White House?” The article quotes Netanyahu: “The greater the resolve and the clearer the red line, the less likely we’ll have conflict.”

Maariv reports that America might be using a different method to stave off an Israeli strike: bribery. “The emerging deal: modern American weapons in exchange for patience,” Maariv’s headline reads. The paper goes on to describe that in exchange for not attacking before the American elections on November 6, the American government is trying to put together a military aid package for Israel. According to the article, Israel is looking to receive refueling aircraft and bunker busting bombs and, in a change from the past, it looks like Obama will approve the aid.

Nearby, Maariv has a short article about a new threat from Hezbollah. “Nasrallah: We can hit nuclear targets too.” The three-paragraph article goes on to describe how the Hezbollah head warned that “all options are on the table” and that if Israel attacks Iran the Iranian response would be massive and, “American bases in the area could also get hit.”

Haaretz tackles the Iranian issue with an exclusive interview with Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA. Hayden thinks that a strike on Iran won’t occur this year and may only occur in 2013 or 2014. “I do not disparage the Israeli talent,” Haydon told the paper, “but the geometry and physics show that the Iranian nuclear program poses difficulty for any military… and if there is a strike, Israel’s resources are much more limited than those of the United States.” For the attack to be completed properly, he states, the US Air Force would have to take part.

Let them eat

Yedioth Ahronoth focuses on the economic hardships that average Israelis are facing. “We said to our grandchildren: Don’t come for the holiday [Rosh Hashana], we can’t afford it,” reads the front-page headline with an accompanying picture of two grandparents. Inside, the paper profiles three families, including a single mother of four children who told the paper, “Only the small children will be with me on the holiday.” Because she cannot afford to host the holiday, her kids will be going to other meals at friends and relatives.

The paper also reports that there has been a 20%-25% percent rise in the people requesting help from food banks but there are fewer donations now. The article quotes a worker from the food bank “Pit’chon Lev” who said, “This Rosh Hashana we will distribute 10,000 holiday baskets, compared to last year’s Rosh Hashana when we distributed 6,500 baskets.” The organization Latet told the paper that “food agencies are reporting an increase in families requesting assistance this Rosh Hashana but a decline in donations.”

Israel Hayom reports that after the holidays, things won’t get any easier for Israelis as food prices are expected to rise by 5 percent. The paper states that rising fuel costs, taxes and the strengthening dollar are all contributing the “wave of rising prices.” According to the paper, the price hikes won’t stop with food as plastics, paper, and metals are also expected to rise.

Haaretz also reports on the tough economic situation with a report that Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met on Monday to discuss the 2013 budget and possible budget cuts. According to the paper, the discussion focused around cutting 13-15 billion shekels from the state budget while raising money through new taxes.

Jordanian example?

Writing in the opinion pages of Maariv, Yehuda Sharoni points out that Jordan’s King Abdullah froze gas prices after demonstrations and Israelis might expect the same from Netanyahu. Sharoni points out that while the Treasury is correct that the price of gas is not as high as in the UK or EU, that statistic is misleading. “The argument is correct in principle, but… the purchasing power of the Israeli driver (in terms of wages in shekels) is lower by 25% compared to the purchasing power of a western European driver.” With all tax increases and costs of the upcoming holidays, “Netanyahu and the Finance Minister should not wait for Saturday night TV and think already now how to allow drivers to get through the holiday without breaking the bank.”

Writing in Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth doesn’t believe that Obama will act militarily on Iran, as evidenced by the headline, “Make no mistake: Obama doesn’t believe in an attack.” In the piece he writes that Obama is an ideologue who doesn’t believe in war. “Too bad the US president revealed in April 2009 in Prague his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. If he wins, he will be the American president on whose watch Iran became a nuclear power.”

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