If there was one thing that could push talk of a possible strike on Iran off the front pages it would have to be… bread? Perhaps delicious bread bombs, which will be used to destroy Natanz? Nope. Just plain old white bread, and the fact that it just got more expensive.
Yes, apparently news cannot live on saber-rattling alone. The macabre tale of price-controlled bread rising yeast-like by about 30 agorot (about 9 cents) leads two papers, and is featured prominently in the other two. To put things in perspective, a family that eats nothing but bread and goes through eight loaves a week will pay about NIS 2.40 more per week, about NIS 10.80 more per month, and the bank-busting amount of an extra NIS 129.60 per year.
Yedioth Ahronoth, which leads its paper with the story, managed to find two such families, who are ready to go all Guy Fawkes on the state and its evil bakers for the traitorous move. “This situation is intolerable,” says a member of a family of four from Be’er Sheva that goes through 5-8 loaves a week. “It’s already turned into bread for the rich. Isn’t this supposed to be price-controlled bread? Who knows what price it will get to?”
The paper also notes that non price-controlled breads are also going up, including the beloved pita, by 20%, and rolls by the same amount.
Lest you thought evil only rises from the yeast, Maariv, which fills much of its page 1 with the story, puts the price hike in the context of other price rises of staples, like gas, cigarettes, beer, electricity and taxes, all of which have experienced jumps in the last few months — if not the last few weeks. The paper’s Nadav Sharoni says people are right to “holla” over the price of their challah (I can go on with these all day), though it’s the way the government raised the prices that is to be excoriated, not the fact that the prices went up: “The decision to raise prices may be correct, but it’s not smart. It hurts mostly the lower classes and not the focaccia-eaters. The timing is horrible: The hike hits before the upcoming holidays and gives not-bad ammunition to opposition members attacking the government’s poor fiscal management.”
Israel Hayom, which is seen as being close to the government, says things are not so bad and points out that an unsliced loaf here is still cheaper than in much of the Western world, even after the hike. You’d have to go to the Czech Republic to munch on cheaper dough, at NIS 4.79. The paper’s Gonen Ginat notes that this is not really the end of the world: “Bread is a symbol, but with the rise of 6.5 percent, the bread is still cheaper than in most of the developed world. It’s a hike, but is it really a true price raise? Haven’t we wasted enough words? Nobody loves it when things get more expensive. Everybody, even me, prefers price drops. But we need a bit of proportion.”
A Dichter in the dyke
So if the bread rising isn’t anything to write home about, what is? Israel Hayom apparently believes the political defection of Kadima MK Avi Dichter out of the Knesset and into the government, to become the new Home Front minister, is the biggest news. The move broke just after midnight, when most editions head to the printer, thus only they have the full story. The paper lumps the intrigues about Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, with news of a possible strike on Iran. His position will be vital should Israel find itself at war, as the head of the ministry tasked with managing the civilian response.
Haaretz is also still trying to read the tea leaves on Iran, leading off with news that the Defense Ministry is asking for a few more billion shekels, either to buy a few more loaves of bread, or to prepare for what will likely be a very expensive attack on Iran and response. An accompanying story on the costs of such a war is short on actual numbers, but one former director of the Finance Ministry, Yarom Ariav, points out that the 2006 Second Lebanon War, a relatively small engagement, cost the army about NIS 15 billion. “’And that was before the expensive weapons systems we have now — the Arrow, Magic Wand and Iron Dome,” Ariav notes, adding that a war with Iran would be much more expensive.
You may want to buy a safe for that newly expensive bread. Yedioth notes that new numbers show theft mostly on the rise in the country’s 10 largest cities. In Petah Tikvah, there were 23 percent more break-ins, 12 percent more car thefts and 8 percent more property thefts in 2011 than the year before. Some cities saw drops, notably Ashdod, which saw double-digit percentage point drops in all three categories.
Israel Hayom reports that a Knesset member has been inadvertently paying for a young girl’s cellular bill for the last two years without knowing about it. The girl, from the Lower Galilee, says she inadvertently told Pelephone the wrong credit card number when signing up, thereby sending the bill to MK Zion Fanian (Likud), but the company accused her of stealing. Luckily, the MK accepted her version of events and everyone walks away a winner — except Pelephone, which may have to swallow the loss.
Nothing left for the left
In Haaretz, Moshe Arens writes that the Israeli left needs to realize that nobody likes them and they should stop trying to resuscitate themselves. “The left today may claim that it had been right all along, and that it was the right’s ascent to power that spoiled its well-intentioned plans, but there is no denying the view of the public. It seems that in light of the successive failures of actions intended to bring peace to the area, the starry-eyed idealists of the left are being rejected by the majority of Israelis, who take a more realistic view of Middle East realities. The latest turmoil in the Arab world is likely to reinforce this trend.”
In Maariv, Ofer Shelah said Obama would have a hard time at home defending a decision to get involved in a strike on Iran. “In America, where they are still licking their wounds from two wars in the last decade, which still have not ended, nobody will accept the logic that they need to get mixed up in a war to save Israel from a problem it itself created. Barack Obama will surely see in a unilateral strike a challenge to his chances of being reelected, courtesy of those funding his opponent,” a reference to Mitt Romney backer Sheldon Adelson, who is linked to Netanyahu.