The chickenshit hits the fan
Hebrew media review

The chickenshit hits the fan

The Hebrew press tries to parse the meaning of the latest US insult flung at Netanyahu; child poverty in Israel 4th-highest in developed countries

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Child poverty in Israel and the battle for the West Bank buses take the spotlight in the Hebrew dailies on Wednesday, while the country’s popular, right-wing and free newspaper fights for its right to remain a handout. The Israeli press also reacts to Jeffrey Goldberg’s column in The Atlantic, in which he quotes unnamed American officials calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit.” This author was disappointed, however, by the feeble Hebrew translations of the term employed by the Obama administration.

Israeli media address Goldberg’s column and its report of strained ties. Israel Hayom writes that the vulgarity expressed by American officials in the Atlantic article brings relations between the two countries to an all-time low. It explains to its readers that chickenshit is “a derogatory slang term whose meaning is ‘coward.'” Haaretz simply translates the insult that put the two allies’ relations on tenterhooks as “pathetic coward.” Yedioth Ahronoth uses the same translation, and also includes the litany of terms American officials used to berate Netanyahu that Goldberg listed.

The only person who Israel Hayom could find to defend the prime minister against the chickenshit attack was Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. It quotes the Jewish Home party leader saying that “serious curses such as these [directed] at the prime minister of Israel are insulting to millions of Israeli citizens and Jews worldwide.”

“Neither the leader of Syria who massacred 150,000 of his citizens, nor the leader of Saudi Arabia who stones [to death] women and homosexuals, earned the term ‘chickenshit,'” he said. “If what was written is correct, then the present administration intends to throw Israel under the bus.”

Yedioth Ahronoth quotes the Prime Minister’s Office giving a reserved response to the article, saying “the prime minister will continue to stand for the interests of Israel and on the historic rights of the Jewish people. No pressure will change this.”

Front page news in Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz is the UNICEF report that just came out which showed that Israel has the fourth-highest child poverty rate in the OECD — 35.6%. Only the flagging economies of Greek, Latvia and Spain fare worse. Haaretz botches its headline, writing that the report says “Israel fourth place in the world in child poverty rate,” when it fact the study measured only the developed countries belonging to the OECD. It points out that the poverty rate increased between 2008 and 2012 by half a percentage point.

In its traditionally populist fashion, Yedioth Ahronoth takes a jab at the establishment, writing that Israel’s impoverished children “don’t take part in economic discussions, they don’t know how to read budget reports, but they experience the meaning of the term poverty in their flesh each day.” Yedioth Ahronoth quotes the UNICEF report saying that the cause of the rise in child poverty is a result of the reduction of child allowances by the government.

The head of UNICEF in Israel told Yedioth Ahronoth that the report was “a warning light to Israel.”

Just in case you didn’t believe this phenomenon existed, the paper reports on a man named “H” who is legally disabled, whose wife can’t work, and who has been reduced to stealing food in order to feed his children.

Israel Hayom devotes its main coverage to the proposed bill which would see itself banned from being a free newspaper. According to Israel Hayom, 79% of respondents to an Israel Hayom poll were opposed to the legislation which would mandate that newspapers above a certain circulation and above a certain size that are published six days a week couldn’t be free.

“The law is ‘tailored’ specifically against a single media outlet — Israel Hayom,” Israel Hayom writes. Not completely surprisingly, the other two daily papers don’t report on the issue.

Addressing the issue of a plan to bar Palestinian workers from certain buses in the West Bank, Haaretz reports on the claims made by a settler leader in a 2013 Knesset subcommittee meeting in which he said that the presence of Palestinian workers on the same buses as Jewish settlers was tantamount to “a victory over the Jewish occupier.” Other settlers claimed that the presence of Arabs on the same buses resulted in sexual harassment and, potentially, murder.

The subcommittee meeting was a string of complaints against the behavior of Arabs on buses, the paper reports. Haaretz found, however, that there’s only been one complaint of sexual harassment on a bus in 2014, and it was filed by an Israeli Arab woman.

The tabloids also jump on the final chapter of the trial of a convicted sex offender and cult leader, Goel Ratzon. The papers report that a judge sentenced the man, who was found guilty on six counts of sexual misconduct, some of them with minors, to 30 years in prison and NIS 470,000 compensation to his victims.

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