Thursday’s big stories are the Lindenstrauss report on the Mavi Marmara incident which was released the day prior and President Shimon Peres’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from his US counterpart, Barack Obama.
The government report is outgoing State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s highly critical swan song. Two weeks before retirement, he came out swinging against the decision-making processes regarding the Mavi Marmara flotilla, an incident that ended with nine Turkish activists dead and nine IDF soldiers injured.
The Israeli press is no less critical. The headline to Yedioth Ahronoth’s article takes a jab at the prime minister: “Small-headed [Rosh katan].” “Amateurism,” reads Maariv’s front page, with photos of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak beneath. “Without discussion, without preparation, without management,” it says of the government’s handling of the Mavi Marmara incident.
Even Israel Hayom, typically a Netanyahu defender, proclaims “Faulty preparation”; its underline quotes the report saying there were “significant faults in the decision-making process led by the prime minister.”
Haaretz opts to tone down the sensationalism and runs the headline “Defense officials warned, Netanyahu didn’t handle cautiously.” Its article highlights Lindenstrauss’s findings that “Netanyahu rendered the National Security Council meaningless in violation of the law.”
Yedioth Ahronoth runs its commentary on the Mavi Marmara report on the front page. Whereas Time magazine’s cover proclaimed the coronation of “King Bibi,” Sima Kadmon writes that the Lindenstrauss report shows that “The king is naked.”
If this is how Netanyahu and Barak perform when faced with peace activists on a boat, she says, “God protect us from more fateful events” with them at the helm, “like an attack on Iran.”
“Who guarantees us that the decision-making process in that instance will be the most correct, that they will have asked questions, that they will have analyzed all of the scenarios, that they will have calculated all of the implications?” she asks.
Haaretz’s editorial says that although Lindenstrauss’ findings criticized Netanyahu, “it’s doubtful they will help to prevent a reccurrence, because they aren’t backed by any action aimed at giving substance to this responsibility.”
“In the absence of a strong opposition, there is currently no one to exact a price from Netanyahu,” Haaretz writes. For that reason, the prime minister and defense minister will walk away with only a yellow card for misconduct.
Yoav Limor writes of “wisdom ex post facto” in Israel Hayom. Most of what Lindenstrauss mentioned in his report was already known, Limor says. Unfortunately, he argues, Lindenstrauss waited too long. It’s a shame that “he tells us too much about what we already knew, and didn’t do enough to help us ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.”
Israel Hayom also runs a political cartoon showing the Mavi Marmara report as a paper boat and Netanyahu and Barak standing before it.
“This time we’ll be ready,” Netanyahu says to Barak. “I will gather the security cabinet and hold a special PR evaluation. You coordinate with the National Security Council and the Navy.”
Ofer Shelah writes in Maariv that the same errors in decision-making procedure made by the Olmert administration in the Second Lebanon War were repeated by the Netanyahu administration in the Mavi Marmara flotilla.
“[Prime minister Ehud] Olmert and [defense minister Amir] Peretz were fresh and inexperienced in their positions; Netanyahu and Barak have plenty of experience. Hezbollah perhaps surprised [Israel]; but the flotilla was a local event known about in advance. Despite this [Netanyahu and Barak] repeated the mistakes of their predecessors one after the other.”
Peres, Pollard and the prize
President Shimon Peres received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday night in Washington. Because of the seven-hour time difference, the event occurred past the Israeli press’s bedtime.
Every paper’s coverage is therefore written in the hypothetical future tense. Maariv reports that “Obama was expected to bestow upon Peres this morning [Israel time] the highest civilian award in the US.” Israel Hayom writes that “Peres was expected to said ‘I receive the prize in the name of the citizens of Israel.'” Yedioth Ahronoth, in blue and white national colors, runs a copy of Peres’s acceptance speech, for lack of anything else.
Haaretz doesn’t bother giving a full report. It shows an old photo of the two presidents sitting and mentions that the event was scheduled to take place.
The fanfare was dulled by the announcement by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney that “Our position has not changed and will not change today” on the question of the release of convicted Israeli-American spy. He reminded the press that “Mr. Pollard was convicted of extremely serious crimes” and that Peres’s request for his release would not be honored.
Maariv runs a political cartoon showing Pollard gripped in Uncle Sam’s fist while a finger dangles the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In other news
Yedioth Ahronoth reports that a car bomb aimed at assassinating underworld kingpin Nisim Alperon went off in Ramat Gan on Wednesday, but it only lightly injured his driver and dog. This was the eighth attempt on Alperon’s life since 2000.
Haaretz publishes the findings of a report on discrimination against women in G-20 countries. Canada takes the top of the list for best conditions for women, with Germany, the UK, Australia, France, and the US following in that order. Last are Saudi Arabia and India.
It also publishes other fun tidbits from the report regarding global women’s rights. Sweden leads the world in female representation in government with 45%, compared to Israel’s 19% and the US’s 16.8%. Iceland has the highest women’s participation in the workforce with 71.7%, compared to Israel’s 51.9%. And in India, a bride was killed once an hour on average in 2010 because of a dowry conflict.