The right stuff
Hebrew media review

The right stuff

Likud's nationalists are sent skyward, scuttling Netanyahu's moderate turn, while Ehud Barak realizes his political days are over and flies the coop

A Likud supporter outside the Kfar Saba Likud polling place on Nov 26, 2012. (photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)
A Likud supporter outside the Kfar Saba Likud polling place on Nov 26, 2012. (photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)

The two major political shakeups of Monday unsurprisingly dominate Hebrew-language newspapers on Tuesday, with the rise of Likud’s right flank trumping the departure of Mr. Security himself, Ehud Barak.

All four papers lead with variously worded headlines to the effect that the Likud is becoming more extremist, now that moderates Benny Begin and Dan Meridor are on their way out while hard-liners like Moshe Feiglin and Ze’ev Elkin are taking their places at the top of the right-leaning party’s hierarchy.

Maariv reports that this week’s primary was one of the most jumbled in the party’s history, quoting a senior party member as saying that there was so much backroom dealing and deceit nobody knew what was flying: “It never happened before that nobody knew anything ahead of time,” he told the paper. “This time it was impossible to trust anybody on deals that were closed. Everyone made deals with everyone and everyone lied to everyone.”

Yedioth Ahronoth, which almost completely skips the news and instead fills its pages with opinions and analysis, reports that an approved list that MK Haim Katz distributed to his underlings at the Israel Air Industries was influential enough to put Yisrael Katz, Reuven Rivlin and Yariv Levin (called “iron candidates”) all near the top of the slate. And the one member of his hit list, MK Carmel Shama Hacohen, got a low enough spot that he can kiss his Likud career goodbye.

The loss of Begin (the son of the party’s first prime minister) and Meridor will likely hurt Netanyahu, Nahum Barnea writes in Yedioth, and he will probably turn to Yisrael Beytenu, with which he has formed a joint list, to “beg” that they be artificially raised from dead, Lazarus-like. Given Yisrael Beytenu’s rightward slant, however, it will be a hard sell.

“The Likud slate is bad news for Netanyahu, who has been dragged to the margins of the right. The right turn is likely to have a price at the ballot box. For Tzipi Livni, who is supposed to announce her decision to run under her own party for the Knesset, this is a good starting base. Maybe also for Ehud Olmert, should he decide to run, and also for Lapid and Labor.… Voters for Kadima who planned to return to Likud, have two good reasons to reconsider — first the joining up with Yisrael Beytenu and now the assembly of the party slate.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, the move right is also likely to hurt the nationalist parties, headed by Jewish Home, which will come out looking more extreme when compared to Likud’s far rightists, writes Sima Kadmon.

“Likud with its current slate will bypass Jewish Home from the right. Compared to the nationalist slate Likud is presenting in coming elections, the party headed by Naftali Bennet looks like [far left-wing party] Meretz .”

Israel Hayom’s Motti Tochfeld says Likud should be happy with its new slate, which gives the party a younger, sleeker veneer and will help fend off the party’s challengers from the right.

“As opposed to last elections, when it was important for Netanyahu to present his party as centrist, in a battle against Kadima, the political map has changed completely. Netanyahu stands against threats mostly from the right, which can steal from him a number of seats, mostly from the bitter feeling in the wake of the Pillar of Defense ceasefire. Last time it was important for Netanyahu to protect the bloc that would put him in the prime minister’s seat. This time that bloc is broken. Because of that he united with Liberman. From that perspective, they voted for [Tzipi] Hotovely and Elkin, and even Moshe Feiglin, who can serve the Likud in its battle to protect its strength.”

Bye bye Barak

Haaretz, which is seen as the paper of the record for the left, is less concerned with Likud primaries than with the departure of Ehud Barak from politics and likely from the Defense Ministry. The paper’s editor, Aluf Benn, writes that Barak’s move to quit was his only option after he became clear that he was a better military strategist than a politician or man of the people.

“Despite everything Barak achieved as an innovator, planner and entrepreneur, he failed as a politician, and had a hard time garnering support in the government or Knesset. He won a large majority as head of the government in 1999, only to be kicked out of his post after 20 stormy months, the shortest term ever for a political leader, shorter even than Moshe Sharett’s. Since then he has not managed to return to the national driver’s seat, like Yitzhak Rabin and Netanyahu, who won comebacks to power. His biggest public sin was his purchase of an exorbitant apartment in the Akirov Towers, that made him out as a nouveau riche, arrogant and out of touch. It’s true other leaders had ranches (Ariel Sharon) or villas (Netanyahu), but Barak’s mansion was on the main road visible to the public, not in the Negev or a Caesarea sidestreet.”

In Maariv, Shalom Yerushalmi surmises that Israel has not seen the last of Barak yet.

“The next round of joint activity with Barak and Netanyahu may be right after the elections. In 2001, after Barak lost the election, the winning prime minister Ariel Sharon agreed to appoint Barak as defense minister. Sharon explained that ‘Barak by and large is a good commander,’ but public outcry nixed the plans.

“Netanyahu is not Sharon; he needs Barak and will agree to fight all of Likud for him. If Barak wants, he will return, even without a party at his back. Yesterday he even hinted at that in the press conference he called.”

Pillar of Defense against bad passwords

If he does stay on, he may want to consider teaching his soldiers some better passwords. Yedioth reports that Islamic Jihad has somehow obtained a list of IDF soldiers and their contact info and other secret information, which it published on Monday. One of the soldiers listed in the document confirmed that the details were correct and surmised that the terror group simply did some online sleuthing to get the papers.

“It’s possible that one of the soldiers in my reserves unit put the document on Google Docs. You need a password to get in, but it’s not hard to get past the code,” he said. Whoops.

In the op-ed page of Israel Hayom, Tzvika Fogel calls for the IDF to send a clear message to Gazan terror groups if it wants to keep up its deterrent capabilities, rather than spending its time shooting in the air and posting secret lists to Google.

“The IDF is Israel’s deterrent power. Deterrence isn’t maintained by proportional force, but only with force that reinforces the threat of fighting. The test of deterrence Is in the hands of the government — say tomorrow we find a truck of rockets that is supposed to be transferred via the smuggling tunnels after Egypt does nothing to stop it. Do we do something to stop it, or sit on our hands and plan for the next operation? The test of deterrence depends on the clear orders that the IDF receives when one of the terror groups in Gaza decides to appeal Hamas power and shoots rockets or mortars into Israel. Will Israel respond with force at the source of fire and their messengers, or will it once again be forced to scuff up the plaster of some abandoned building or fire at open ground?”

In Haaretz, Oudeh Basharat says the US and Israel are to blame for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s turn toward pharaonic rule.

“Less than 24 hours after being heaped with praise [over the Gaza ceasefire], Morsi decided on draconian measures that set his country aflame with protest. In Egypt they are asking whether this was a coincidence, or whether it was done with the Americanss blessing in exchange for his help. In Egypt they tell of Morsi’s agreement to allow more American troops into Sinai and more security cooperation with Israel.”

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