Israel’s dailies dedicate their front pages this morning to the weekend tempests — both the natural and the man-made ones.
Yedioth Ahronoth leads the paper with the headline “Arad’s Storm,” reporting on a controversy sparked by the paper’s own Friday publication of an interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s former senior national security adviser Uzi Arad. The interview painted an extremely unflattering picture of Netanyahu and his leadership skills and today the paper’s leading writer, Nahum Barnea, used it to call into question Netanyahu’s reliability as a leader about to make critical decisions on whether or not to attack Iran.
Addressing the same interview, Israel Hayom features the Prime Minister’s Office’s counterattack, with unnamed senior officials claiming “Arad behaved like Netanyahu was his subordinate.”
Another storm that’s on the papers’ radars this morning is the anticipated issuing, this afternoon, of the state comptroller’s draft report on the Harpaz Affair. The report is expected to contain harsh criticism of former IDF chief of general staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for their roles in the scandal that surrounded the filling of the army’s most senior position.
Israel Hayom leads the paper with a headline reading: “Record tensions in the Ashkenazi and Barak camps,” while Yedioth uses the Hebrew military phrase denoting high alert for incoming fire.
Both papers also feature large photos of weekend snowfall in Jerusalem, showing religious men praying at the snow-covered Western Wall.
Both Haaretz and Maariv feature the continued violence in Syria on their front page this morning. Haaretz reports on the regime’s conquering of the rebel enclave in Homs and Maariv draws attention to the world’s tempered reaction. Both feature testimony of mass murders at the hands of the army.
Haaretz also reports on criticism by Bank of Israel head Stanley Fischer of the prime minister’s decision last week to lower the tax on gasoline. According to the report, Fischer accused Netanyahu of showing lack of leadership and shirking responsibility.
Israel Hayom previews Netanyahu’s visit to the US, which starts today, and states that the main message the prime ministers wants to relay is “Either they stop or they will be attacked,” referring of course to Iran and its nuclear program.
Too thin for print
Maariv features a story in anticipation of the Knesset approving a law making it illegal to display underweight models in advertisements. The law, which is meant to delegitimize the standard of beauty that has some people, especially young women, starving themselves in an attempt to attain it, is going before the legislature tomorrow. One of the law’s backers, model agent Adi Barkan, says it will take some of the models two or three months to reach a healthy weight.
On Page 20, Maariv reports on Jerusalem’s plans to upgrade its sports facilities in preparation for next year’s Maccabiah games. According to the report, a new ice hockey rink will be constructed, as well as a new basketball stadium and a significant expansion to the existing “Teddy” soccer stadium. In a move some might characterize as wishful thinking, the forward-looking project has been dubbed the “Olympic village” by City Hall.
Israel Hayom warns of Purim frenzy in the last few days left for families to purchase costumes for their children. Kids dress up for school on Tuesday and shopping centers are expected to be full as parents and children complete last-minute preparations.
Haaretz reports on the cabinet’s vote today to approve raising the legal marriage age from 17 to 18. The report says the law aims to prevent the forced marriage of girls, particularly in Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities. According to official statistics more than 2,000 girls 17 or younger got married in 2008. Only 69 boys aged 17 or below married in the same year.
Who wears the pants in that relationship?
In Yedioth Ahronoth’s opinion pages, Eitan Haber makes predictions about the Netanyahu-Obama meeting, reasoning that Israel will have to live with the US president’s refusal to attack Iran and his disapproval of an Israeli strike, too. “If and when Obama will issue a resounding ‘No’ to Netanyahu, the current government’s and the current chief of General Staff’s job will be to draw up frameworks for a new plan starting immediately: how to live under the shadow of Iranian nuclear terror? Unless something different happens in the next few years, that is how we’ll have to live here.”
Haaretz’s Gideon Levy sees the conversation taking a different tone. He argues that Israel holds the power in the relationship and that Obama will not dare defy Netanyahu. But Levy warns of going too far: “For now, Obama may be unable to prohibit Israel from a military adventure in Iran without offering serious quid pro quo. After all, we are talking about the prime minister of Israel. But one day the rope could snap and the whole thing could blow up in the face of power-drunk Israel: Israel doesn’t know when to stop, and it could pay dearly as a result.”
In Israel Hayom, Yossi Beilin reports on an exchange he had with a Syrian doctor discussing what role Israel should take regarding the current goings-on in Syria.
‘“What do you want,’ I asked, ‘for the Israeli government to say it opposes the rebels, and at that moment transform you all into “Zionists” and Israel as the force behind the revolt?’
“’No,’ he said, ‘but you must not be silent. You speak so much about Jewish morality; you are allowed to raise your voice against the merciless murder of children. We must hear that voice,’” Beilin writes.
Lilach Sigan writes about Israel Apartheid Week in Maariv and slams Israelis who take part in the annual hate-fest. “The next time you consider using the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Apartheid’ in the same sentence, you had better take responsibility and think twice about it. The world accuses Israel of racial laws for alleged imperialistic ends. The result not only encourages swelling anti-Semitism, but also enables true human rights offenders to carry on undisturbed. “