Starts and finishes
Hebrew media review

Starts and finishes

The school year begins for Israeli children; a bribery investigation ends for a former politican; and the IDF prosecutor wants to drop in on Ashkenazi

Kids getting ready for their first day of school in Jerusalem last week. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Kids getting ready for their first day of school in Jerusalem last week. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

While schoolchildren may mourn the end of summer vacation, Israeli papers welcome the beginning of the school year with pages of articles about what to expect for the next 10 months.

Israel Hayom sends the kids off with a rousing “Good luck” headline. Included in its coverage is a survey of elementary school students (they’re excited for the new year), a new program connecting high school juniors to increase their math and physics scores, and a piece by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar. Sa’ar writes about the smooth beginning of the school year (no teacher strikes) and has some encouraging words about Israeli education. “We will not compromise on our ambitious goal — make Israel a leading country for education. I believe that this is possible, sooner than you think, even before the end of the decade.“

Yedioth Ahronoth also celebrates the beginning of the school year with the simple headline, “Going to school.” While Israel Hayom had Gideon Sa’ar, Yedioth includes a blessing from Israeli President Shimon Peres in which he urges Israel’s children to “read as many books as possible” and “to respect your teachers.” Yedioth includes some interesting facts about the coming school year: over 2 million students are returning to school, 145,000 of those are starting first grade, and the students are returning to one of 4,528 schools. Perhaps the most important item included in Yedioth’s coverage is is the two-page vacation calendar for the coming school year that marks very important days in the school year, such as October 2, when LMFAO performs in Israel.

Maariv takes a more security-minded focus to its back-to-school coverage reporting on how schools in the south of Israel are opening today despite yesterday rocket attacks in Sderot. Alon Shoter, head of the Shaar Hanegev regional council, stated, “This has been our reality for last 12 years and therefore most of the communities and public institutions are defended, including our new high school. Hamas and other organizations will not be able to disrupt our life.”

The other major news regarding children is the arrest of three youths from the Israeli settlement of Bat Ayin. Haaretz reports on the three, ages 12 and 13, who threw Molotov cocktails at a passing Palestinian taxi, burning six members of a family. Haaretz relates that an eyewitness report led to the arrest of the three, while their lawyer says they have no connection to the incident.

The Harpaz affair rears its head again

Also on across the front pages is the news that IDF chief prosecutor wants to open a criminal investigation against former IDF Chief Gabi Ashkenazi for his role in the Harpaz Affair. Israel Hayom reports that despite rumors, the IDF prosecutor’s office issued a statement that denied any investigation had been ordered. “This issue is an internal professional discussion… and we do not comment on internal discussions before the final decision has been made.”

Haaretz reports that the state prosecutor is closing its bribery investigation against former prime minister Ariel Sharon. The case had focused on whether Cyril Kern had passed millions of dollars in bribes to Sharon. The investigation stretches back to 2002 when Kern supposedly gave a $1.5 million loan to a member of Sharon’s family. There follows a complicated money trail that eventually yielded no evidence against Sharon, which is why the investigation is being closed.

Neighborhood watch

Yedioth writes an update on the situation in Syria: “Instead of defection, massacre.” Yedioth reports on the disturbing details of the massacres occurring in Syria, that women and children have been found shot at point-blank range and bodies have been burned. The paper notes that Sunday was the bloodiest day yet with the discovery of 440 bodies. Yedioth also includes a map highlighting how many have been killed in major cities, with Homs having the most killed at 7,658.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority is looking for some economic help and may have gotten it from an unlikely ally: Bank of Israel President Stanley Fischer. According to Maariv, Fisher met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. The two discussed the status of the Palestinian economy and, reportedly, ways to coordinate economic cooperation. Fischer, who was just named one of Global Finance’s top global central bankers, met with Fayad two weeks earlier. Maariv also reported that it was unsure if the meeting had the blessing of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Yedioth writes about the impending evacuation of Migron, which is expected to begin tomorrow. Yedioth uses as its headline a quote from one of the settlers, “We will evacuate, but not willingly.” The paper reports that 50 families are expected to be evacuated from the settlement, but some are holding out hope that the Supreme Court will allow 17 of the families to remain. However, the paper concedes that that there is a very slight chance of that occurring and most likely all the families will be evacuated.

Regarding whether Gabi Ashkenazi should be investigated or not, Israel Hayom columnist Dan Margalit writes that there should be an investigation, but only one. Margalit feels that the public will benefit from an investigation because “finally the truth will come out and it will be possible to determine whether Ashkenazi and his aides acted inappropriately.” Margalit writes that he believes that Ehud Barak is not involved, but he welcomes a thorough investigation. “Please, let a qualified researcher come and get to the bottom of this vortex.”

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