It rarely snows in Jerusalem, so when it does, the Hebrew press takes a moment to celebrate the holy winter wonderland.
Yedioth Ahronoth gives the most real estate to the snow, with a picture of the snow-covered Dome of the Rock taking up most of its front page. Inside, the paper provides a gallery of pictures of people playing in the snow, as well as a map of all the places in Israel where it snowed on Thursday (including the desert city of Dimona). But it wasn’t just average citizens getting in on the snowy fun — President Shimon Peres made a snowman, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a snowball fight with his family.
Israel Hayom also dedicates decent inside space to the weather, with three pages about the snow and the aftermath of the stormy week. One story focuses on the pledge by the Prime Minister’s Office to establish an aid package to help those affected by the storms, similar to aid packages offered after Operation Pillar of Defense and the Carmel fire disaster. Yet, despite that pledge, the paper reports that the Finance Ministry was unaware of the proposal, and that since there is no mechanism in place for this type of help, a final decision is yet to be made.
Haaretz and Maariv also show some snow on their front pages, but both focus on the upcoming elections. In its coverage, Haaretz includes an article about noted Israeli author — and Israel Prize recipient — Amos Oz, and his views about the upcoming election. Oz has harsh criticism for Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich. She is “worse than” Defense Minister Ehud Barak when it comes to her approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the celebrated novelist claims. “[Barak] said ‘There is no solution,’ while Yachimovich says ‘There is no problem.’” While Oz agrees with Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid’s plan to draft the ultra-Orthodox, he says that doesn’t help solve the existential issues facing Israel.
Maariv’s lead story focuses on the results of another poll, which states that 25% of voters are still undecided. The survey also predicts a two-seat increase for Likud from its last poll, putting the party at 38 seats. Labor falls two seats from 18 to 16, while the Jewish Home party remains steady with 13 seats.
Yedioth also gets into the poll game, but with different results from the Maariv poll. Yedioth shows Likud weakening and only receiving 33 seats, while Labor jumps to 18 seats and Jewish Home receives 14. The paper includes a short article about an interview that President Shimon Peres gave to The New York Times. Peres warns that if no diplomatic solution is found, “the Palestinians will go back to terror — knives, mines, suicide attacks. The silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will not continue.”
While Peres warned against terrorist bombings, he left out mob bombings, such as the one that occurred Thursday afternoon in Tel Aviv. Haaretz reports that seven people were lightly injured when a bomb exploded alongside a car carrying reported mob boss Nissim Alperon. Alperon was able to jump out of the car just before the bomb exploded, and escaped unscathed. Haaretz reports that, astonishingly, this is the 10th time that Alperon has escaped an assassination attempt in the last 12 years.
Israel Hayom provides a list of all the assassination attempts Alperon has survived. The highlights include an October 2002 attempt, where Alperon and his bodyguard fought off a hit man; a May 2006 incident, where a bomb was detonated at the car wash he owns; and a May 2007 shootout between police and hit men dispatched to kill Alperon in his home.
Yedioth snagged an interview with Alperon, who tells the paper, “All I wish is for God to punish them.” Alperon provides an account of the attack and of how he quickly recognized that it was an assassination attempt. However, contrary to other reports, he says he never saw the bomber’s face. Like the media, Alperon seems to be counting the number of attempts on his life, but he’s not worried, since “God will grant me another nine lives.”
And the 2 Oscars go to…
Two Israeli films, “5 Broken Cameras” and “The Gatekeepers,” were nominated on Thursday for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category. As Israel Hayom reports, this is the first time that any two Israeli films have been nominated in one year and the first time any Israeli film has been nominated in the category. Dror Moreh, the director of “Gatekeepers,” was thrilled. “I never dreamed, when I embarked on this journey four years ago, that we would receive an Oscar nomination,” he says, calling it “a great honor.”
In the opinion pages, Maariv’s Shalom Yerushalmi writes about one group in the upcoming election that really bugs him: non-voters. “What’s worrying is the number of citizens that aren’t going to vote,” Yerushalmi says. “This is a failure of education that threatens democracy.” Yerushalmi’s solution to combat voter apathy? “Cancel all the election programming and devote the time, financed by all the parties, to why elections are important in free societies.”
In Haaretz, former education minister Yossi Sarid writes about how he empathizes with former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi. Sarid tells of how — when he was education minister under prime minister Ehud Barak in the late ’90s — tensions between him and the meddling PM made his work day “a living hell.” Sarid offers some possible reasons as to why Ashkenazi got entangled in the Harpaz affair: “All signs indicate that Ashkenazi simply couldn’t stand Barak.” Sarid concludes that the ultimate fallout from this incident is that Ashkenazi will carry this ignominy with him wherever he goes. “What a shame,” he writes.