Hebrew Media review

A cold wind blowing from the north

The Hebrew-language papers are giddy as a child over the prospect of snowfall in Jerusalem and across the country, while all other news is shoveled to the sidelines

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Snow on parked cars in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, January 25, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Snow on parked cars in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, January 25, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A flurry of overused “Ned Stark” memes, warning Israelis to brace themselves for the coming of winter, blanket the Facebook newsfeeds of thousands across the country.

Yet the Hebrew-language media nonetheless treat the season’s first major snowstorm — which has already descended upon the mountaintops of the north like a raid of White Walkers — as if it were an unheard-of development full of mystery, beauty, and wonder.

“A white night,” reads the main headline in Yedioth Ahronoth, alongside a somewhat boring picture of a foggy, snow-covered, fenced-in orchard on the Golan Heights, which is a not-so-small region that no doubt has much to offer when it comes to the possibility of capturing photographs that are a bit more engaging than the paper’s ultimate choice.

“Tonight: First snow is expected in Jerusalem,” the daily continues. “And in the rest of the country it will be rainy and coldddddd.” Yup, Yedioth’s editors really opted to display the word “kar,” Hebrew for “cold,” with the uncomfortably overwhelming excess of letters.

Israel Hayom leads with the raging storm as well, with the front-page headline, “White in [their] eyes,” positioned above an image of Israel Defense Forces soldiers having fun in the snow at their army base on Mt. Hermon, which also happens to be the highest point in the country.

Unfortunately, security threats in the country do not cease no matter how gloomy the weather outside, and Israel Hayom reports that the IDF has placed reinforcements in various locations throughout the country for fear of potential terrorist activities that may be carried out while the snow falls. According to reporter Lilach Shoval, the IDF has transferred armored personnel carriers to secluded towns and army posts, in case residents or soldiers are in need of emergency evacuation within the coming days. The IDF views the preparation for the snow as “a military operation in every sense of the word,” an army official tells Shoval.

In Haaretz, the main focus is on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who, according to the paper, is urging the demolition of illegally constructed homes in Arab Israeli communities. Haaretz reporter Jackie Houri writes that upwards of 50,000 structures are estimated to have been erected in Arab Israeli cities and villages without the proper authorization from the state. Weinstein, Houri adds, has proposed that police forces secure the demolitions and that the penalties for illegal construction be increased in order to deter potential violators of the law.

Chaim Levinson, Haaretz’s West Bank Settlement and Israeli Secret Services correspondent, reports that officials at the Dimona nuclear reactor are considering several areas south of the city of Arad as potential grounds to dump radioactive waste produced at the Negev region’s secret facility.

Levinson notes that, based on foreign reports, the reactor’s main function is the enrichment of plutonium, which can be used in order to assemble nuclear weapons. While Israel has never officially admitted to possessing or manufacturing nuclear arms, it is widely assumed the Jewish state has already acquired numerous atomic warheads.

Back to Yedioth, where reporter Yossi Yehoshua delves into the disturbing motives that allegedly prompted a Palestinian minor to stab and kill mother-of-six Dafna Meir at her home in the West Bank settlement of Otniel last Sunday. According to Israeli investigators, Morad Bader Abdullah Adais, 16, from the village of Beit Amra, some three kilometers (1.8 miles) from the scene of the deadly attack, was radicalized after watching Palestinian TV shows that labeled the Jewish state as “an entity that murders Palestinian teens.” According to reports Tuesday, Adais did not possess a permit allowing him to work in Otniel, despite early assessments to the contrary. He reportedly confessed to carrying out the attack.

Yedioth also dedicates a two-page spread to an interesting, first-of-its-kind-in-Israel advertising campaign for jewelry, which features models with Down syndrome. “We had a lot of fun during the shoot,” said Sherry Maayan, a 27-year-old model with Down syndrome who participated in the campaign. “We did fashion, jewelry. I love jewelry. I love rings, necklaces. It was fun. I felt like a model. I love it.”

The Belletto company, according to Yedioth, concocted the campaign as a means of boosting public relations for their products, and also in order to raise awareness for Down syndrome, and to stress that the employment possibilities for those who have the condition are bountiful. “For one day the [models] became [beauty] queens and that is worth everything,” said Rafael Rafaeli, one of owners of the jewelry company. “Our goal, however, is first and foremost to raise awareness about this community.”

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