Before Israelis have a chance to exercise their civil rights by slipping a little piece of paper in a box come January, Americans will get to show how much they love democracy. With two weeks to go until the big day, all four Israeli papers have prominent stories previewing Monday night’s Bears-Lions matchup foreign policy debate between US President Barack Obama and White House challenger Mitt Romney.
Why all the excitement over a meeting between two contenders to head a foreign state? Because in said debate, they will likely mention ISRAEL. And Iran. But ISRAEL. And maybe China and Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan and Tuvalu too, but not without first talking about ISRAEL. ISRAEL!
Israel Hayom kicks things off with a “Fateful debate” splashed across its front page.” Boaz Bismuth weighs in on what the fates have wrought, saying that the New York Times story from Sunday on secret White House talks with Iran may have swung things in Obama’s favor even before the first word is said: “Imagine for yourself a message from the government before the election on a temporary freeze on uranium enrichment by Iran, or a promise to enrich to a lower level in exchange for the removal of some of the sanctions. And thus Obama is able to present to voters a foreign outlook. Public opinion doesn’t want a nuclear Iran, but it’s also not interested in war.”
Yedioth Ahronoth seems more interested in the poll numbers than anything, writing loud and clear that the two candidates are tied. Too bad the actual numbers inside don’t exactly bear that out. Featuring a huge map with electoral college vote predictions, courtesy of a poll by “538” (The New York Times’s Nate Silver) the paper shows Obama with a commanding lead over Romney in Electoral College votes, even if the two are neck and neck in the popular vote (you know the popular vote is worth bupkus, right, Yedioth?)
Maariv is more concerned with local elections than the malarkey sure to come out of Florida, leading off with a piece about the Kibbutz Movement threatening to leave the Labor Party, just when the mainline socialist faction seemed to be getting its groove back. The kibbutznik farmers and millionaire plastics makers aren’t so much pissed at the party as they are at its new leader, Shelly “My name means mine in Hebrew” Yachimovich.
According to the story, Yachimovich has proposed uniting two factions within the party under one flag, essentially combining the kibbutzniks with another group and stripping them of their own seat on the party list. It all sounds very procedural, but when you’re a socialist farmer whose main business is collecting eggs and shooting the bull, this is a very big deal.
“For years, the kibbutz faction was the heart of hearts of the Labor Party,” their legal adviser told the paper. “Combining the factions will hurt Labor. The party needs to look not only at the cities, but at the peripheral areas as well. The kibbutzim were here before Shelly and they’ll be here after her, but at the end of the day the party cannot decide by itself that the factions will be combined. This is a move we won’t agree with.”
If it bleeds, it leads
Haaretz, only peripherally concerned with the democratic process, sees the fighting in Lebanon following the funeral of intelligence chief killed in a bombing as A1 material, especially since, as they put it in their headline, this could be the start of a civil war. Because Lebanon hasn’t had enough of those. “Ethnic tension in Lebanon is increasing because of the continuing slaughter of civilians by Syrian government forces. Hostility between the Shiites (represented by Hezbollah) and the rival camp, in which Sunnis set the tone even more than the Christians, is palpable,” the paper’s Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel write. “As Hezbollah’s status in Lebanon deteriorates and Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria is further challenged by opposition forces, there is a great chance that Hezbollah’s Lebanese rivals will feel strong and confident enough to open a violent campaign against the Shiite movement.”
Resuscitating minds, livers and horses
If you get injured in the oncoming Lebanese civil war, do yourself a favor and refuse treatment in Denmark. Why? Well Yedioth has the sordid tale, which has no Israel or Jewish connection, of a girl injured in a car crash who was about to be unhooked from medical support after doctors declared her brain dead. As the doctors unplugged her to harvest her organs, she began to move and today has made an almost complete recovery. Her family has pointed a guilty finger at the country’s physicians, whom they say were so lustful for hearts and livers that they declared the girl dead prematurely.
Yedioth brings in two experts to weigh in on the matter, with Soroka Medical Center’s Motti Klein saying this could never happen here, given all the checks in place before somebody can be declared dead. “The checks are made only by experts who have been specially certified by the Health Ministry. Additionally, the ministry forbids one to even bring up the issue of organ donation until the patient’s death has been declared.”
Another person snatched from the icy grips of the grim reaper, former Mossad head Meir Dagan, is feeling much better, according to Maariv and will have some fish, please. Salted cod? Nope. Some salmon. In fact, say the editors of Maariv, “We’ll make the salmon a headline. Can’t you see it in big black type at the top of page 13? ‘Dagan is alert: Requests salmon.’” Unfortunately for Dagan, the hospital has refused to let him have any of the deliciously flaky pink fish, telling him he has to stick to hospital food. Aside from Dagan’s culinary travails, the story also details how close the former spy chief came to dying (very) and his trials before finding a Belarusian liver. Now if he only he could apply those skills to fish.
Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar is also hoping to do some resuscitation, this time of the dead horse known as the Arab Peace Initative. Eldar writes about the initiative, which Israel has still not agreed to, and calls on the Saudis to redouble their efforts to get Israel to sign a land for peace deal and attempt to influence internal Israeli elections, Westphalian sovereignty be damned. “Indeed, in order to achieve peace, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates, as well as Egypt and Jordan, have to do more — and now, before the January elections in Israel,” Eldar writes. “Arab leaders have to state loudly and clearly to the Israeli voter that an Israeli peace coalition would be a welcome partner in a regional peace coalition.”