After Dallas shootings, Israeli pundits see civil war everywhere
Hebrew media review

After Dallas shootings, Israeli pundits see civil war everywhere

As if the tragic killing of 5 policemen and rising racial tensions needed any playing up, Hebrew papers go into hyperbole mode

Dallas police respond after shots were fired during a protest over recent fatal shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Dallas. Snipers opened fire on police officers during protests; several officers were killed, police said. (Maria R. Olivas/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Dallas police respond after shots were fired during a protest over recent fatal shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Dallas. Snipers opened fire on police officers during protests; several officers were killed, police said. (Maria R. Olivas/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

If spiking racial tensions equal civil war, as Israeli papers would have their readers believe Sunday morning, then Israel and the US have replayed the Battle of Antietam more times than “Gone with the Wind” has been replayed on American cable.

As if the tragic news coming out of the US needed any hype, Israeli papers take it to the next level as they tackle the Dallas shooting of five policemen on Thursday, seemingly mistaking the Big D for Damascus.

While Israeli news sources might have cause to wonder every time a stabbing occurs if it heralds a new wave of violence, the same doesn’t hold true in the American context.

“Civil war?” the Israel Hayom tabloid screams with its headline, demonstrating Betteridge’s Law on Headlines (i.e., if you have to ask, the answer is no).

The paper doesn’t even try to justify the claim in its news coverage, which starts off with a bit of sermonizing about the place America finds itself in.

“It was clear to everyone that racial tensions would ignite the ground again following the filmed killing of two blacks last week, in Louisiana and Minnesota. But it’s doubtful if anyone believed that the situation would deteriorate so quickly, so fatally and in especially in Dallas, a city where relations between the black community and the police have been an example for other cities in the US.”

Foreign editor Boaz Bismuth uses the tragedy to enjoy his favorite pastime of attack US President Barack Obama, this time doing it in his most tasteful blackface costume.

“Obama is trying to explain that the shooter doesn’t represent American blacks. The black man in America feels Obama doesn’t represent him. … The expectations for the 44th US president were large. He didn’t invent [Islamic extremism and racial tensions] but under his watch the two have only worsened. Under his watch a black youth, an Afghan war veteran who served without a criminal background, tried to ‘kill whites’ and white cops are shooting blacks. Obama hasn’t managed to take care of the problem. He hasn’t managed to calm the street. His policies have only added fuel to the fire.”

Yedioth Ahronoth is just as liberal with the hyperbole, using headlines like “America is burning,” as if the US has been transported back to the race riots of years past, and the incomprehensible, as well as inadvisable, pun “Black mirror.”

That headline accompanies a story in which correspondent Tzipi Smilovitz makes it seem as if the shooting of the cops was a natural outgrowth of tensions and not a one-off of someone taking things way too far.

“The tense and bloody relationship between cops and the black population in the US reached new heights on Thursday night,” she writes.

The paper’s Orly Azulay, also writing from the US, takes things even further, painting the US as barely a step above Mogadishu circa 1995, and accusing the cops of executing black men.

“The ambush in Dallas carried out by a black man against white police as revenge after the executions by white police of two blacks, uncovered anew the American crisis: a racial war that is really a civil war, discrimination against minorities, streets filled with weapons and a hand that is light on the trigger,” she writes. “And if that’s not enough, the Dallas sniper is an army veteran who served in Afghanistan, another reminder of the disturbing statistic that says every day in the US a soldier returning from the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan kills themselves from post-trauma.”

Even Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev, while not going so far as to declare civil war in the US of A, sees little hope for the country to come together.

“The good word over the weekend was to call for unity, which was heard from every corner. The US needs to heal from this wound, political analysts said as one. It’s hard to see how that will happen, especially with elections replete with loathing. Even now, the partisan fighting is showing how deep the internal scar is, with minorities terrified on the Democrat side and whites unhappy on the Republican side. Whomever they pick on November 8, the US will wake up the next day divided as ever and worried for the future.”

Just as everything goes back to the elections in the US, in Israel, everything goes back to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, especially when everything is bags and bags of moolah.

The news that a secret investigation into allegations against Netanyahu over foreign donations gets major billing in both Yedioth and Haaretz, though somehow the story fails to crack the first 10 pages in Israel Hayom. Go figure.

While Yedioth splashes the story across the top of its front page, its coverage doesn’t go much beyond the news that details will be released this week, and that it doesn’t really know much at all.

“The investigation has been made under a heavy fog, and even what information has made it out into the media hasn’t gotten any response of confirmation,” the paper reports. “A source expert in the details of the case claimed that all the information published so far is not accurate.”

Giving a taste of some of that fog, Haaretz, which reports that the info will become public this week or next, also includes a number of the various reports about what Netanyahu may be accused of.

“On Friday, Israel’s channels 10 and 2 reported that the latest police investigation into Netanyahu’s affairs involves suspicions of money laundering on a wide scale,” the paper reports. “The suspicion pertains to the alleged transfer of ‘large sums’ to either Netanyahu or one of his family members and is not linked to campaign or political funding, Channel 2’s senior diplomatic correspondent Amnon Abramovich said. Israel’s Channel 2 reported Saturday that the investigation focuses on funds allegedly received by a Netanyahu family member. The report said the alleged funds were not used for political purposes.”

What little coverage Israel Hayom does afford the story goes heavy on downplaying the accusations, calling all the reports “rumors” and saying some contradict others, and playing up Netanyahu’s camp denying any wrongdoing.

“Around the prime minister they deny any criminal wrongdoing,” the paper reports. “A source close to Netanyahu added ‘Netanyahu didn’t do anything criminal. It’s all political interests.’”

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