A song of genius and fire
Hebrew media review

A song of genius and fire

Israelis don’t shy away from adding their own sounds in reaction to the ‘Fire and Fury’ book and Trump’s, like, really smart tweets

US President Donald Trump sits in the driver's seat of a semitrailer as he welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House in Washington, DC, to discuss healthcare, March 23, 2017. (AFP/Jim Watson)
US President Donald Trump sits in the driver's seat of a semitrailer as he welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House in Washington, DC, to discuss healthcare, March 23, 2017. (AFP/Jim Watson)

It doesn’t take, like, a really smart person, or even a stable genius, to predict that US President Donald Trump’s outlandish backlash against the book that paints a devastating picture of his White House would make it across the ocean to the top of the Israeli news agenda Sunday morning.

After a literal storm that was little more than some rain and wind, the press revs up for the real spittle of indignation and gusts of anger over the “Fire and Fury” book released over the weekend.

Perhaps taking after the stable genius himself, Yedioth Ahronoth goes incredibly heavy-handed, including a front page taken up by Trump’s quote about him being, like, really smart and mentally stable and so on, accompanied by a cartoon of Trump throwing a pile of Michael Wolff’s books into a fire (get it, fire and fury?) with Trump yelling “Fakebook” at the book, which is either a play on Facebook for some reason, or fake news, or who knows.

Inside the tabloid, Washington correspondent Orly Azulay gives a sense of the excitement over the book inside the Beltway Friday, writing about a rumor of a shipment of the tome to a Dupont Circle store that brought out the masses despite nasty weather.

“Wrapped from head to toe in jackets, scarves and gloves, they insisted on being the first to get their hands on the tell-all on the Trump administration. Despite many of them braving the freezing temperatures, which dipped under 20 below zero, many of them went home frozen and depressed; in less than an hour, all the copies were sold out.”

But with Trump hitting back repeatedly, the books selling like hotcakes was the least of the story, and Israeli pundits are more than happy to add sound of their own to the fury.

In one, Yedioth columnist Alon Pinkas expresses hopes that the withering description of Trump that arises from the book will mark a “turning point in the struggle against him.”

“The main thing is the profile that comes out of the descriptions: In the White House sits a boorish illiterate, lacking all curiosity, who does not read and doesn’t process information, who is not interested in expert opinions or intelligence information, who is mentally unstable, childish and narcissistic to the highest degree,” he writes, under the headline “Forrest Trump.” “The unavoidable conclusion from the book is that the president is a man who has no qualifications for the position.”

Pinkas also points out the the book will not bring Trump down, because that sort of thing is not done in the US. But in Israel Hayom Haim Shine calls the book a “threat to democracy,” and says the tome is just as illegitimate as those who dare protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Keyboard peckers, frustrated politicians, ousted lunatic and street schemers have joined together to delegitimize the administration that was voted in by law. In the US, their effort is centered on personally disgracing the president elected against their will and predictions. The liberal left and its representatives in the media, from the moment the election results were announced, have refused to make peace with them and continue to expend every effort to oust the president,” he writes.

Haaretz also plays the book coverage high, alongside coverage of Trump’s genius move to cut funding to UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, which the paper reports Gazans think will lead to thousands of teachers being laid off.

The paper reports that 12,000 teachers could be out of jobs in Gaza and the West Bank alone, and another 8,000 in refugee camps elsewhere if the spigot is shut, not to mention cuts to other services provided by UNRWA.

“UNRWA isn’t a light switch you can turn on and off,” the paper quotes UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness as saying. “We are a living institution with a mandate that is supposed to be protected in the international community…. The humanitarian consequences of this could be catastrophic. The consequences for regional stability can’t even be thought about.”

In Israel Hayom’s op-ed page, though, Nadav Shragai calls the agency nothing more than political theater that actually hurts Palestinian refugees, who would be better off without it.

“UNRWA indeed serves a humanitarian function, but it is kind of like a pharmaceutical giant that wants to keep the public from getting too healthy to protect its profits. The drug is addictive. So is the refugee status,” he writes. “UNRWA needs to be killed off and choked monetarily, without any connection to peace talks. Its whole existence is just there so Palestinians can keep up what they call the right of return. Or in other words, the extermination of the State of Israel.”

The Palestinians aren’t necessarily trying to do away with the Jewish state, but they are taking action. Both Haaretz and Yedioth report on Palestinian efforts to get recognition for their own nascent state in the international community, though not the same community.

In Haaretz, the intended target is the European Union, which it reports Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will turn to this month.

“US President Donald Trump and his staff, backed by Israel, are working to bury the two-state solution. If Europe still sees it as important, they need to move from talk to action,” the paper quotes a source close to Abbas as saying.

Yedioth, relying on Israeli sourcing, reports that the Palestinians will turn to the UN Security Council again for recognition, which the paper does not view in the most praiseworthy light.

“The move is seen as the most extreme Abbas can take against Israel at the UN, and will break anything that had been built up,” the paper reports. “That being said, the move is mostly symbolic, since the US is expected to veto it, according to sources in Jerusalem.”

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