Monday’s papers are filled, once again, with talk of Syria. However, the lengthening waiting period has managed to (slightly) shrink the headlines from that front and bring other issues back to the top of the Hebrew dailies.
Israel Hayom‘s front page tells readers that a US strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad is “in the hands of Congress,” and for that there are two tracks. The fast track involves the Senate and then the House of Representatives approving US President Barack Obama’s request to support an operation against Bashar Assad. These two approvals would result in a strike against the Syrian regime. However, if the Senate gave the green light and then the House voted against the idea, then Obama would most likely turn to the UN Security Council for permission. Such a scenario would push off any US military action for a while.
On the inside pages the paper explains how Obama’s dealing with the sticky situation he finds himself in: “A volley of missiles? A blitz of explaining.” Noting Obama’s six scheduled interviews Monday on a range of nationally broadcast stations, the paper writes that the president “will try and convince his citizens: a limited strike in Syria is justified, necessary and crucial for the security of the US.”
The tabloid also reports that the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby declared its support of US military action against Assad after Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and asked him to help him recruit a majority in Congress. The Prime Minister’s Office, the paper writes, refused to acknowledge or deny the report.
Continuing the daily’s line, veteran columnist Dan Margalit writes that “Syria of 2013 is [like] Spain of 1936-1939. The victory of fascism in Madrid and Barcelona paved the way to the Second World War. A significant achievement by Bashar Assad in the cruel civil war he’s waging in his country will pave the way for Iran to take over the Middle East.”
Citing US Secretary of State John Kerry’s comparison of the situation in Syria today to the days of the Munich agreements with the Nazis, and stressing the dire effects those agreements had on the entire world, Margalit says that the world can either pay a small price now and stop Assad, or wait and pay a much higher price to stop Iran down the road.
“Obama caused cumulative damage to the status of the US president. From day to day it’s becoming harder to fix it and the price is higher than before,” he says, calling on Obama to “launch the first missiles” before his first address on Capitol Hill.
Yedioth Ahronoth highlights a story first published in The Economist, according to which a group of Israeli volunteers have been active in Syria for over two years, providing whatever aid they can to civilians – mainly children – hurt in the conflict.
“Our help is divided into a few components” and includes providing food and other needed material to refugee camps and giving the opposition cameras so they can document the events, a volunteer nicknamed Anat tells the paper.
“We don’t provide weapons, of course, but they ask for them. Once one of their leaders hinted to me that they need arms and I made it clear the organization dealt only with humanitarian aid and they wouldn’t receive anything else from us,” Anat recalls.
Describing the Israelis involved, Anat says they’re “not some delusional leftist group. We’re a group of right and left, Jews and Muslims… Some of them are veteran soldiers from elite [IDF] units.” The group, she says, believes Israel has an advantage over its neighbors, which is why “we can act for the children of our enemies. With the same ease we can one day, if necessary, also look at our enemies through the scope of our rifle.”
Israel has insisted on maintaining control of the Jordan Valley in any agreement with the Palestinian Authority, Maariv reports as it shares details from the negotiation room, quoting reports in the Arabic-language Al Hayat paper.
Maariv writes that despite a “secrecy agreement” between the two delegations, diplomatic sources have revealed some of Israel’s demands regarding the future agreement. According to the Hebrew daily, the unnamed sources described “a feeling on the Palestinian side that Israel isn’t interested in reaching an agreement” and would rather the situation on the ground remain as it is.
Israel, the report says, has demanded the retention of its presence along the Jordan Valley and early detection stations in Samaria’s mountain range. In addition, the sources claim, Jerusalem wishes any agreement be implemented in stages, without a set timeline or framework. (In a separate report on Sunday, Israeli sources called the information leaked “incorrect or distorted.”)
Will companies be allowed to demand that potential employees reveal their criminal records? That question is highlighted on Haaretz‘s front page as it reports on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s objection to the idea ahead of a special session by the Supreme Court on the sensitive issue.
According to a February ruling reported by the daily, companies can request that people who bid for a tender hand over their criminal records, including ongoing court cases and previous investigations — even if they’ve already been dismissed and they were never indicted.
The state’s advisory opinion, presented by Weinstein’s office, uses the example of Jean Valjean, the hero of Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables.” Valjean, the opinion states, was “haunted for life because of a loaf of bread he stole when he was young when his family had absolutely nothing.”
According to the daily, Weinstein believes that those who have been punished for their crimes and served their sentences should be allowed to return to a normal life, fully integrated into society. Weinstein, the report continues, acknowledges that once a candidate has passed the initial stage and has been interviewed, it was legitimate at that point to be asked about any past record. He stressed, however, that being required to submit a police printout along with a CV was “a disproportional demand.”