Snow blinded
Hebrew media review

Snow blinded

Politics plays second fiddle as the Israeli media chase the storm

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men seen playing near the Old City walls in Jerusalem, on Wednesday, Jan 10 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men seen playing near the Old City walls in Jerusalem, on Wednesday, Jan 10 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Winter weather continues to lead all news coverage today as the country enters day six of the worst storm in a decade.

The Hebrew papers are going flaky over the white stuff, with headlines and photos of the winter wonderland appearing on the front pages of all four dailies.

“White night” reads the top headline of Yedioth Ahronoth, over a photo of the capital’s Jaffa Street blanketed by a thin layer of snow.

Israel Hayom goes with “Seeing white,” alongside photos of soldiers waving an Israeli flag in the snowclad Golan Heights and the Jerusalem light rail chugging through the snow.

Haaretz features a photo that looks like it was taken in Canada of snow covering a Golan Heights park yesterday, with the headline reading: “Height of the storm: Thousands cut off from electricity.”

Finally, Maariv’s top headline reads: “This morning: Coldest temperatures, farmers demand ‘force majeure’ recognition.” It also features a picture of the Jerusalem light rail riding through a European-looking street covered in a few inches of acts of God.

The insides of the papers are likewise dominated by weather-related stories, all of them dedicating the entire front of the edition to rainfall stats, closed roads and schools, damage reports, emergency rescues, the financial impact of the storm and weather forecasts.

In non-weather news, Maariv reports on a private initiative to purchase property on the highly controversial swathe of land located east of the capital and known as E1. According to the Page 14 report, an organization called the Israel Land Fund recently discovered that 60 dunams (15 acres) of the land in question is privately owned and has started raising money to buy it in order to market it to Jewish residents. Purchase of shares of the land there is far from being a sound financial investment, though, since it is doubtful that houses will be built there any time in the near future. Israel was sharply condemned by the US and Europe last month for merely announcing plans to build there, a move described in world capitals as a provocation. Nevertheless, the Israel Land Fund, headed by far-right Otzma Leyisrael party candidate Aryeh King, is soliciting wealthy and ideological Jews to help finance the purchase, promising a political return on investment, if not a monetary one.

Even the upcoming elections, which have been dominating the news for weeks, play second fiddle on a day like today. The main political story of the day is the announcement that the offensive Shas election ad is being taken off the air. Rebukes from immigrants, converts and politicians drove the religious party to pull an ethnically charged campaign commercial that supposedly upholds Jewish values by slamming rival Yisrael-Beytenu’s proposals for a rapid conversion policy.

The second most prominent political story of the day comes from the center-left, with Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid announcing that he will not serve in a government that doesn’t advance an equal service policy. Lapid, who has been charged with being too ambiguous on his political red lines, stated that he will only join forces with others who are equally determined to see Haredim enlisted to military or national service.

In international news, the debate surrounding Chuck Hagel’s nomination for US Defense Secretary and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s Palestinian reconciliation efforts in Cairo get top billing.

Politics aside

In Maariv’s opinion pages, Yaakov Livne, a senior Foreign Ministry official, writes about the necessity of having an independent and courageous diplomatic corp. In the wake of the tongue lashing Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor received last week by the national security adviser for questioning the timing of the government’s announcement it would advance construction in E1, Livne argues that it is far better for Israel to have knowledgeable people representing it abroad than a group of cowed yes-men.

“Foreign Ministry workers’ sole obligation is to the well-being of the Israeli public and advancing the state’s vital interests overseas…. The difficult and challenging work of an Israel diplomat demands open dialogue,” writes Livne.

Emmanuel Rosen uses his column in Yedioth to accuse politicians of hypocrisy over their silence on a huge teen prostitution ring that was uncovered last week. Rosen compares the muted response to the discovery that dozens of girls were employed in sex work with last week’s outrage over a rape case involving a Sudanese migrant, arguing that politicians, especially those on the far right, can only muster emotions when they hope to make political gain off it.

“In this case, there was nobody to incite against, so there was no reason to call in Michael [Ben Ari, National Union party MK],” writes Rosen.


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