Reading the front pages of today’s major newspapers is like watching a story unfold, if you do it in the right order. Blasted across the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth is the headline “Non-stop city, also on Shabbat.” Haaretz’s headline explains that “Tel Aviv city hall approves buses on Shabbat; the Transportation Ministry is expected to refuse [the move].” And in big block letters in Israel Hayom, a quote: “’We won’t agree to buses on Shabbat.’”
Yes it’s true: Tel Aviv voted yesterday to become the third Hebrew city, after Haifa and Eilat, to allow buses on the day of rest. Yedioth quoted the secular city’s mayor’s Facebook post from a little while ago that called for buses on Shabbat: “Israel is the only country in the world with so many days without public transportation running.”
When push came to shove in the city council session, though, Ron Huldai had to decide whether the issue was worth alienating his ultra-Orthodox coalition members.
In the end he voted for the buses, but as Israel Hayom so succinctly explains with their made up quote (which is actually seemingly a paraphrase), the real power is in the hands of the Transportation Ministry, which will be loath to change the status quo in the city. Haaretz, which is considered the “local paper” of Tel Aviv, writes the city will run its own “private” lines if and when the ministry puts the kibosh on the plan.
Hits of the underworld
The other big story garnering front page space today is the underworld hit taken out on two suspected former mobsters in ritzy west Rishon Letzion Monday night. The shootings, which happened in front of several witnesses, took place next to an apartment building where the mother of one of the victims lives. The two were apparently formerly part of the Abergil crime family, one of the bigger mafia organizations in the country, according to Maariv. The paper cites police sources saying this could be the start of a wave of underworld assassinations, but people should not be afraid to walk the streets. They added they believed the hit job was done for revenge.
It wouldn’t be a morning without some mention of Iran and its nuclear program, and both Haaretz and Israel Hayom have front page stories on the visit of White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, amid rising tensions among Israel, the Islamic republic and the rest of the world. Israel Hayom focuses on the fact that Israel demanded the US step up sanctions to put Iran to the test if it wants to avoid a military strike. Haaretz’s story leads off with Israeli leaders venting to Donilon that public criticism by American officials of an Israeli attack helps Iranian interests.
The resignation of veteran Channel 10 news anchor Yaakov Eilon also resonated with newspaper editors last night. The resignation isn’t over internal politics or somesuch, though, rather just a change of scenery for the worse. Channel 10 recently moved its studios to Jerusalem as a cost-cutting measure and Eilon claimed the broadcast suffered because of it. “The ‘solution’ of moving the studio only harms the broadcast and the viewers,” Eilon wrote in a letter to his boss Uri Rozen.
Commenting on the matter in Yedioth, Itai Segel writes that Eilon quit because he was sick of fighting for the quality of the station. “The resignation of Eilon is a blow to Channel 10, not only because Eilon is one of the best newsmen on the screen… but because it signals the diminishing of the one thing the channel’s workers had left: hope.”
Haaretz’s lead story details how a new planning law, intended to try and free up housing to end the home price crisis the country is suffering through, will work to the benefit of developers at the expense of nature. The law, which will allow planning bodies to fast-track new developments, has come under fire before, and the paper’s Zafrir Rinat writes that those writing the bill have given little to no say to environmental concerns brought up, giving green groups just hours to file official concerns about the shape the law is taking.
Also in the same realm of planning, though of a different sort, Maariv reports that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is coming out against a Netanyahu plan to create a panel that would work on grandfathering in illegal outposts. The controversial panel was formed last week, but Weinstein sent a letter to the prime minister saying the panels work won’t stand up to a challenge in the High Court of Justice.
The end of Israel as we know it?
In the op-ed section, high-schooler Yotam Berger writes in Yedioth against the Tal Law, which allows ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to defer army service and which he has organized rallies against. “I learned a lot in the past month. I learned that the Tal Law is just a part of the problem. I discovered that if you listen well, you can hear the sounds of the collapsing of the place where we are living.”
In Haaretz, Uri Misgav is incensed that a picture of officials planting a tree in Beersheba for the nature holiday of Tu B’shvat contains too many religious people, saying it is a sign that the country has gone in the wrong direction, away from being Israeli: “In the face of this national gallop toward kippot and prayer, Israeliness is withering, silent and paralyzed. Its children are drowning in their daily pressures, and in the evenings they are engrossed in their various reality shows.”
In Maariv, Yehuda Sharon writes that the public, instead of going to war over the price of a candy bar, should learn how to negotiate prices with the telecom and bank companies, since that’s where the real money is. “Israel of 2012 is a Turkish bazaar, where everything is up for bargaining. The price quote of an insurance policy from Bituach Yashir is just an opening bid, and in the end you can get a deal that saves you hundreds of shekels.”