The main issue on everyone’s mind in the Israeli media is the recent rash of hate crimes targeting Muslims and Christians in Israel. For Yedioth Ahronoth, author Amos Oz’s statements against the “price tag” perpetrators, in which he compares them to neo-Nazis, get the most attention.
“We have Jewish neo-Nazis. There is nothing neo-Nazi groups of the European right do that these groups don’t do here,” he said. “Perhaps the only difference lies in the fact that our neo-Nazis enjoy a tailwind from not a few nationalistic — even racist — lawmakers, and several rabbis also give them a foundation which is in my eyes pseudo-religious.”
For Haaretz, the top story is given to the Holy See’s growing concern about Israel’s inability to check hate crimes against Christians ahead of Pope Francis’s visit to the Holy Land in the coming weeks. The Vatican said that “there is no doubt that there’s a hard feeling of disappointment or a bitter taste from everything that’s happened.” Ever since confirming a papal visit would take place, the predominant voice from Israel — albeit an unofficial, graffiti-based one — has been hostile, Vatican officials tell the paper. For that reason a welcome sign for the pope next to the Old City of Jerusalem has been removed.
The paper reports that tensions are high ahead of Francis’s visit. On Friday a church in Jerusalem was spray-painted with anti-Christian invectives, and the paper reports there will be a mass protest on Mount Zion against “giving David’s Tomb to the Vatican,” referring to the fabled king’s burial spot believed located in the Coenaculum complex.
Israel Hayom gets around to reporting on the latest spate of hate crimes in Israel on Page 13, publishing Jewish Home party Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s reaction to Oz’s statement. Ariel says the comparison Oz makes between “price tag” perpetrators and neo-Nazis “is outrageous and causes a severe degradation of the Holocaust.”
“There is no way to compare Nazism… with graffiti sprayers and tire puncturers,” Ariel said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to push off the upcoming presidential vote that is scheduled for next month also makes waves. Haaretz reports the prime minister’s bid failed, quoting a source close to Netanyahu saying that it was impossible to delay the upcoming election of a successor to President Shimon Peres by six months, and that Netanyahu didn’t get the support he needed to launch a committee to investigate whether the office is needed at all. According to Israel Hayom, Netanyahu is considering pitching a bill to enable the investigation, and the paper cites sources close to the prime minister saying that Netanyahu is seriously considering kicking off the legal process after he returns from Japan later this week.
How dare Newsweek call the intelligence relations between Israel and the United States those of “frenemies,” Israel Hayom says. The paper wonders, “Who’s inciting against Israel?” following a second article in the newsmagazine about Israel’s alleged espionage against Washington. The most sensational part of the magazine’s reportage which Israel Hayom took away is an account of an Israeli spy trying to gain access to the visiting then-vice president Al Gore’s hotel room through an air conditioning duct.
The paper quickly mentions the Israeli government’s hasty dismissal of the report, quoting Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz saying that “it seems as though someone is trying to sabotage the excellent intelligence partnership between the US and Israel.” He denied any tension between the two intel communities.
Another main story in Yedioth Ahronoth is dedicated to a protest in northern Israel in memory of Shelly Dadon, the 19-year-old who was killed last week in a suspected terror attack near Afula. The paper reports that thousands turned out, wearing rubber gloves covered in red paint, with banners that read, “Shelly’s blood is my blood,” and “We’re all in favor of death for terrorists.”
After a half-hour protest in central Afula, peppered with chants of “death to murderers” and calls for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take action, the crowd dispersed, and roughly 30 youths remained. They began chanting “death to Arabs,” the paper reports, and attempted to attack an Arab’s car. Police officers on the scene arrested 10 of them.
Israel Hayom also runs a three-page special criticizing a proposed law which would ban free newspapers and thereby undermine Israel Hayom in its current form. The paper pulls out all the stops in its coverage of this issue, including letters from its readers, 15 man-on-the-street responses (all of which support Israel Hayom and denounce the bill as anti-democratic), and at least one picture making Yedioth Ahronoth look silly.