Settlers unsettled
Hebrew media review

Settlers unsettled

What will become of settlements in a permanent peace deal becomes a political hot potato; the world marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Laughing with a dictator? Naftali Bennett had some harsh words for his coalition partner Yair Lapid. Here the two laugh during a Knesset session in November 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)
Laughing with a dictator? Naftali Bennett had some harsh words for his coalition partner Yair Lapid. Here the two laugh during a Knesset session in November 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

An optimist could look at Monday’s Hebrew press and be encouraged that the Israeli right wing and the Palestinian Authority finally agree on something: settlers should not live in a future Palestinian state. Though it’s pretty unlikely that these opposites attracting will move the region closer to peace.

The front pages of Yedioth Ahronoth, Haaretz, and Maariv all lead with Naftali Bennett’s tongue-lashing of Netanyahu for the PM’s new policy, first reported by The Times of Israel, that Jewish settlers who find themselves on the Palestinian side of a two-state border must be given the option to live in a future Palestinian state. Haaretz goes with the simple, “Bennett strongly attacks: “Netanyahu has an irrationality of values.”

Bennett didn’t stop there. “Two thousand years of longing did not pass,” he said, “so that we could live under the rule of Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas].”

Maariv columnist Shalom Yerushalmi tackles the original statement that brought about the Bennett attack — that Netanyahu wouldn’t evacuate a single settlement. Yerushalmi writes that some started wondering if the prime minister had thrown his support to a plan by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman that doesn’t call for people to move, just borders.

However, Yerushalmi writes, in the PM’s office they are in fact hoping that nothing will move, as the tactic now is to try and delay any agreement until after the American mid-term elections (in November 2014), when they hope Obama will be weaker.

Yedioth Ahronoth puts the Bennett/Netanyahu kerfuffle on its front page, but in its coverage it becomes clear that Bennett is making friends all over the place as he also goes after Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman. Apparently following the axiom “Old news is still good news” the paper writes about an event that Bennett spoke at on Thursday, where he called Lapid and Liberman dictators. “I am proud that the Jewish Home party is a diverse party with many different opinions — not a dictatorship like Yesh Atid or Liberman’s Israel Beytenu.”

Only Israel Hayom leaves Bennett off its front page, instead focusing on statements coming from the Palestinians. “Palestinians — not one settler will be allowed to stay,” reads the front page, which paraphrases a quote from chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. Erekat went on to say, “This is a bizarre and far-fetched idea, reflecting the depth of differences and disagreements between the parties.”

Israel Hayom also includes in its coverage of the debate over who should control the settlers an article on a top aide of Abbas’s calling for a return to “armed resistance.” Tawfiq Tirawi, Abbas’s adviser on security affairs, told a Lebanese news outlet, “According to the situation on the ground, in 20 years there is still no Palestinian state established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, so a return to armed resistance should be considered. Maybe that will change the situation.”

Perhaps Israel is already seeing the beginning of the cyber resistance? Maariv translates a report from Reuters that Palestinian hackers may have taken over control of computers in Israel’s Defense Ministry. According to the report, the hackers gained control by implanting malware on computers via an email attachment. Aviv Raff, head of internet security firm Seculert, said, “What we know for sure is that at least one computer of the civil administration was under their control. We do not know what they did with it.”

The world remembers

Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day isn’t until the spring, but on Monday the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yedioth provides two pages of coverage, including an article on the Knesset holding a session at Auschwitz to mark the day. Dozens of Knesset members, including five ministers, will hold a session at the death camp to honor the day.

The paper also includes an op-ed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in which he writes about his first visit to the death camp last year. Accompanied by Holocaust survivor Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Ki-moon writes, “I grieve for those who died in the camps, and I am awed by those who lived – who bear sorrowful memories yet have shown the strength of the human spirit.” He writes that in the wake of the Holocaust, one of the primary goals of the UN was to combat hatred, and that goal continues to this day. “The Alliance of Civilizations initiative seeks to counter manifestations of hatred, from anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to ultra-nationalism and bias against minorities.”

In Israel Hayom columnist Dan Margalit takes a moment to reflect on the anti-Semitism that still exists in the world. Referencing the severed heads of pigs were sent to Jewish institutions in Italy, Margalit states that anti-Semitism will always continue, and now it is changing. “Anti-Semitism went up a notch and will return to the level in the age before the Holocaust, and one of the clearest signs of this is expressed in Holocaust denial.” This denial is exactly why Jews must be diligent in remembering the atrocities, especially as every day the Holocaust fades into history. “As the Holocaust recedes in to the past, the struggle for the hearts and minds is intensified, and for Jews there is no escaping that.”

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