The capture of an Iranian arms shipment to Gaza in the Red Sea by Israeli commandos Wednesday holds the fascination of the Hebrew print press Thursday, which is in turns fawning and coolly detached.
If you are into slobbering over Israel’s military might, look no further than Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom, which, along with the IDF, are giddy as schoolgirls over the capture of the ship, at least judging by their lead headlines. “Naval Commando raid in the high seas,” screams out the meaningless Yedioth Ahronoth headline, while Israel Hayom goes with the more subtle “Our forces at their best.”
And as if that weren’t enough adulation, the paper’s front page is also adorned with a series of pictures of political and military leaders during the raid, strangely numbered in a seeming bid to give the (false) impression that the army didn’t step into action before getting a call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in LA.
Haaretz and Maariv, however, skip the toadying and hop straight to the real heart of the matter, Israel’s attempt to use the shipment to discredit Iran as part of an ongoing PR battle. (For a fun game, try counting how many times the phrase “true face of Iran” is used in the press. It’s like counting the stars in the sky.)
Both papers lead with the fact that stopping the missiles was just icing on the cake compared to what the revelation will do to Iran’s reputation. Haaretz, in fact, skips the whole drama on the high seas in its headline, instead reporting that Israel will up its efforts to push the West on ramping up pressure on Tehran. The paper unhelpfully declines to include actual information backing that claim in its story though, instead just reporting that Israeli leaders hope the shipment will help in their battle against Iran in the high conference tables of Geneva, which is not the same thing.
The paper’s Amos Harel parrots the IDF line, that stopping the missiles prevented a “game-changer,” and never mind the fact that Gaza already showed it can hit Tel Aviv last year.
“The trickle of smuggled weapons from Iran and, more important, developments in local weapons manufacture, especially in the past year, have given Hamas and Islamic Jihad limited capability to hit greater Tel Aviv. Had the Klos-C reached its destination, that capability would have greatly increased. That would have forced Israel to rethink its deterrence strategy and to think twice before taking military action in the Gaza Strip,” he writes.
In Maariv, Amir Rapaport notes that exposing Iran was important enough to risk the dangerous sea operation, instead of just hitting the shipment from the sky and doing away with the missiles that way.
“The fact that the navy planned a complicated operation, 1,500 kilometers from home, that could have gone awry, that took months of planning, instead of a less dangerous airstrike, can be explained by the fact that in the current situation, it’s preferable to catch the weapons and discredit Iran over destroying the arms. Thus the military operation in Africa was part of a diplomatic effort against Iran, and the PR efforts will expand even before the ship reaches Eilat.”
Just how dangerous was the naval adventure? Former Navy commander Eliezer Marom writes in Yedioth that there were many chances for things to go wrong.
“The operation itself was planned for very far away – more than 1,000 kilometers from Israel – and demanded exact preparation and long and secret deployment of a large force to the contact point with the ship. The duration of the operation, its distance from Israel and the need to remain hidden and secret entailed many risks, which the forces overcame, and the operation proves the high level of operational capability among the fighters and commanders.”
In Israel Hayom eternal optimist Yoav Limor notes that though the operation exposed, yes, the true face of Iran, the world will continue to refuse to see, yes, the true of face of Iran.
“As of yesterday the threat was prevented. And still, the past shows us that Iran will learn lessons from this, and try to find new smuggling routes to fronts in the north and the south. And given the fact that the world refuses to get excited over the smoking gun that was caught yesterday, Israel will be expected to stand alone with this threat again in the future.”
Speaking of other fronts, Yedioth marks International day of the Woman by reporting that the war for gender equality in the workplace is not going so well. The paper reports, based on new figures released by the state, that women make less money than men and get passed over for promotions despite being better educated.
Activist Galia Willoch writes in the paper that the problem is both in the workplace and at home. “There’s no doubt that women, who enter the market in the masses yet continue to be the primary caregiver for their children, are more exposed to the daily work-parenting conflict. That is exactly the reason that what’s being done for mothers in the workplace is not enough. The time has come to address the division of labor in the home and in the family.”
In Haaretz, Ari Shavit tackles Netanyahu’s appearance at AIPAC two days earlier, with the decidedly non-American writer opining that the Israeli leader is out of touch of the conversation happening in America:
“When Netanyahu is getting high on the sweeping support of the American Jewish establishment, he is disconnected from reality. He has no idea where the new America stands, and he has no idea where young Jews stand. He doesn’t understand what’s happening at the universities where he himself studied. The first Israeli prime minister to speak perfect English speaks 1970s- and 1980s-era American.”