Like a split decision in a boxing match, today’s three dailies (Haaretz took the day off, more on that later) couldn’t reach a consensus on today’s top story. Would it be the heavyweight story of Turkey attacking targets in Syria, or could the sniping between Netanyahu and Barak score an upset?
Yedioth Ahronoth leads with the ongoing public dispute between former BFFs and now seemingly political foes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “The PM harmed Israel by supporting Romney,” the paper quotes sources close to Barak for its front-page headline. The article states that Netanyahu accused Barak of meeting Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel behind Netanyahu’s back, which infuriated Netanyahu once he found out.
Supporters of both the leaders traded public barbs, with Barak associate Shalom Simhon calling Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz “Bibi’s poodle.” Steinitz responded by calling Simhon “Barak’s chihuahua.”
Israel Hayom gives front-page coverage to the political bickering, but then buries the story on page 9. “PM: I don’t believe in Barak,” reads the article headline. The article reports that the two have not spoken since Netanyahu’s comments first made headlines earlier this week.
Maariv leaves the story off its front page, but includes a possible Tzipi Livni comeback story on its page 2. The paper reports that, if she heads a centrist party, she could garner 14-15 seats if elections were held today. This would wreak havoc on her former party, Kadima, and possibly stymie a resurrection of the Labor party. Though, while intriguing, it is all speculation, as Livni has not commented on her political future.
Turkey vs Syria
“Turkey attacks targets in Syria,” reads the identical front-page headline in both Maariv and Israel Hayom. Maariv reports that the Turkish attack comes in response to mortars that were fired into Turkey from Syria, killing five Turkish citizens. The article goes on to state that the Turkish parliament will meet today to discuss whether or not to widen the operation against Syria.
Yedioth reports on Syria, but also includes a report of a mysterious explosion of a Hezbollah munitions warehouse in eastern Lebanon that killed seven Hezbollah members on Wednesday. Hezbollah is not saying what caused the explosion, but the article speculates that the explosion could be in retaliation for Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.
In a short opinion piece, Yedioth writer Ronen Bergman calls the explosion a “sword in the heart of Hezbollah.”
“The explosions show how Hezbollah stores powerful weapons in areas that endanger the population, and shows that someone is again and again increasing the extreme measures that the organization uses to protect itself,” he writes.
Israel Hayom and Yedioth give page 2 coverage to Wednesday’s economic protests in Iran. “Tehran turns in to Tahrir,” reads Israel Hayom’s clever headline, which is accompanied by photos of protesters and riot police. The article reports that protests focused on the worsening economic conditions in the Islamic republic, including the ever-falling rial. According to the article, the protesters shouted “Mahmoud is a traitor” and over 150 were arrested.
Dan Margalit writes — in reaction to the protests in Tehran — that “the world needs to finish the job.” Margalit points to the recent Internet blockages by the Iranian regime as a sign that the ayatollahs are afraid. “But the ayatollahs’ regime is not like Egypt or Libya, or even Syria. The ayatollahs are determined and rely on the support of the majority. It is also clear that the demonstration was expected and not a threat to the regime.” Margalit urges that sanctions continue to be applied, as they will cause Iranian influence to wane: Resources will be diverted from external interests, like Syria and Gaza, and focused inward. “Only doing half the job may prove to be more dangerous. The democratic world must complete the job.”
Maariv gives front-page coverage to a journalist strike that paralyzed Israel’s oldest newspaper, Haaretz. The journalists decided to strike Wednesday afternoon, in response to their feelings that management is not communicating with them about an upcoming round of layoffs. The employees of the paper issued the following statement about the strike: “This is not an easy step, but without a fight nothing is achieved.” The strike only lasted for one edition, and the paper is expected to publish its Friday edition.
Maariv also covers themselves and their uncertain fate with an adjoining article about Maariv workers protesting in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Wednesday. Maariv workers are worried that the paper’s recent sale to Makor Rishon will eliminate most of the staff, with the protesters stating that up to 2,000 people will be fired. Maariv is also ceasing a somewhat silly protest campaign not to give coverage to government ministers, since they did nothing to stop the paper’s sale. In a note from the editors, the paper states, “We have decided, on the threshold of emerging elections, to return to printing the names and pictures of government ministers, so that will not harm the information that we are delivering to you.”