Much like the country itself, Thursday’s Israeli newspapers are a mix of the profound (Iran, diplomacy etc.. etc.) and the prosaic (budget cuts, kindergarten strikes, etc.. etc.).
Maariv leads off with a report that Israel is looking to put together a coalition of Gulf and European states willing to keep up the pressure on Iran. The story contains all the tell-tale hallmarks of sloppy Israeli journalism, including a lede that gets the timing wrong and calls The New York Times a White House mouthpiece, and reporting that purports to know, with no sourcing whatsoever, what is happening inside Netanyahu’s head. Digging through the sludge, though, Maariv seems to be trying to say that Netanyahu will be looking to go on a three-month PR offensive in which he will try to recruit Gulf and European states to his side in making sure an American deal doesn’t prematurely let Iran off the hook. “In Netanyahu’s telling, the pressures he created during his visit by urging not to believe Rouhani’s détente initiative will only help the US government, which still doesn’t know what to do, make the right decision in Israeli eyes,” Maariv reports.
Israel Hayom leads off with the other Iranian news of the day, the reported assassination of the head of Iran’s cyber warfare division. The paper isn’t reporting it because it was likely at the hands of some disgruntled Eskimos, but rather notes that Israel has been accused of being behind a number of assassinations of Iranian officials and scientists over the last several years. The paper’s Dan Margalit goes against the common grain and opines that rather than walking tall, the Iranians are actually very worried.
“The Iranians’ grin covers up the exact worry that Netanyahu’s speech highlighted the growing closeness between the US and Israel in defining the Iranian nuclear red line,” he writes. “The potential cooperation between Jerusalem and Washington increases the threat on Rouhani. Netanyahu did not say Israel would act alone. He declared that if the ultimate evil happens, even if it is alone Israel will not give up on the military option. In Tehran they understand this well.”
Haaretz lays its cards flat on the table by presenting the two-pronged attack Netanyahu woke up to Wednesday morning, Rouhani’s dismissal of Netanyahu’s speech and a translation of a New York Times editorial that excoriated the prime minister for seeming “eager for a fight.” And then it adds a third prong, in the form of Gideon Levy, writing in the op-ed page:
“An Israeli statesman seeking to advance Israel’s interests would have stepped up to the world’s podium and delivered a different speech. … He should have commended Iran for its change of tone and called upon the world to challenge it, without threats, without posing as a victim. He should have inspired hope, rather than spewing threats, and, above all, he should have told the world what his own country is doing to advance peace and justice. But there’s very little of that, as we know, which is why the validity of Netanyahu’s speech, though it may be based on fact, is so shaky.”
And now for the mundane
Yedioth Ahronoth leads off its whole paper with the exciting groundbreaking news that medical residents who move to outlying areas of the country or go into unpopular fields are not getting the government grant they were promised. The paper reports that that the NIS 300,000 grants were promised as part of a deal that ended a devastating strike two years ago, but budget cuts mean that not everybody will get their share. The head of the doctor’s union, Leon Eidelman, not normally one to mince words, doesn’t seem too excited though, telling the paper blandly that “in our view, they need to pay the grants to all the residents that started to work before May of this year, which is when they changed the criteria for getting a grant. That is what we are demanding.”
The paper’s Yoaz Hendel, who was the prime minister’s adviser during the 2011 strike and is married to a doctor, brings a bit of fire and brimstone to the debate, writing that it’s time for the state to pay up, since none of the other promises made after the strike have come through. “Two years later, what is left of the agreement is the financial grants. The shortage of doctors does not allow for vacation days as was planned, the pressure does not allow for defined hours, and public health still suffers from a lack of manpower. If they cut the grants nothing will be left of the agreement.”
In other domestic news, Haaretz reports that the Supreme Court rejected an appeal for Israelis to be able to list “Israeli” (and not “Jewish” or “Arab”) as their nationality on the national ID card. The court ruled that there is no such thing as a unique “Israeli” people, the paper reports, upholding a previous ruling in which district judge Noam Sohlberg, now on the Supreme Court, ruled that “the requested declaration has a public, ideological, social, historic and political character – but not a legal one. This isn’t a technical issue of registration in the Population Registry, but a request that the court determine that in the State of Israel a new peoplehood has been formed, common to all its residents and citizens, called ‘Israeli.’ This issue is a national-political-social question and it is not the court’s place to decide it.”
In Maariv’s op-ed page, Yael Paz-Maor brings profound and prosaic together and laments the fact that Israel’s prime minister is so obsessed with Iran’s nuclear weapons that he seems to be ignoring the many burning issues at home.
“The prime minister does not deal with the burning issues of the country, and if you asked him he would say nothing burns like the Iranian nuclear program. But us, the citizens who live here and raise kids here, know that’s not correct… A total generation of young people, good, vibrant and social, think, correctly, that there is no economic future here.”