Hebrew media review

America non grata

The possibility of a nuclear deal rankles Israeli leaders and turns the press against the US

US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting at at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on November 6, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting at at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on November 6, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While the world waited to see whether world powers would reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program (spoiler: they didn’t), the Israeli press didn’t wait for the final bell in order to go on the offensive. And the new target for most of the papers is not Iran, but America.

Yedioth Ahronoth carries an op-ed by Alex Frishman titled “Naïve and stupid” in which he writes that Iran is not being required to give up a lot and can continue its drive for a bomb, but Israel had always believed that America would stop it. “Until this weekend,” Fishman writes, “Israel believed that the American government wouldn’t sign a deal with Iran that was completely contrary to Israel’s position. But this weekend, Israel understood that it got a slap in the face.”

Maariv also takes aim at America with its headline “Source: the Americans have folded, they are hot to sign a deal.” Inside, the headlines don’t get much calmer: “Jerusalem goes on the attack against Washington.” The paper explains that Jerusalem feels that the Americans misled it about the nature of the talks with Iran and only this past Wednesday revealed their position to the Israeli government. Government sources are worried that any crack in the sanctions could open the Iranian economy to those who want to do business with the Islamic Republic, such as China and Russia.

Shalom Yerushalmi weighs in on the negotiations and concludes that “Israel will pay for the concessions.” Yerushalmi also addresses the possible pivot the Obama administration is taking with Israel. “Kerry comes to Israel, has two meetings, gives an anti-Israeli interview with Channel 2, and then fled to Geneva to close the show with the Iranians, defying Israel,” he writes. In the end he thinks Kerry took a side, and it wasn’t Israel’s.

Israel Hayom finds a new hero on its front page: France. “France halted concessions,” reads its headline, and the paper goes on to summarize the situation, “Israel is furious at the US, that it was willing to submit to Iran, and only France stopped the agreement.”

Boaz Bismuth writes an op-ed praising the levelheadedness of the French, saying that “they too do not believe the Iranians.” Bismuth points out that the French weren’t blocking an agreement just for Israel’s sake; they also have considerable ties to the Gulf and won’t abandon those interests there. He concludes his piece by not only praising the French, but also highlighting what he sees as a new problem. “And perhaps the saddest story of the current talks in Geneva: the problem, as far as Jerusalem is concerned, it is not only Iran but is also the United States. “

Dan Margalit takes stock of the situation and worries about Obama’s handling of the situation. Not only Israel is being harmed by this agreement, but the world is looking with concern at “the shortsightedness of Washington” in trying to sign a deal with Iran. “The agreement is very bad,” he writes, “because it lets the ayatollahs achieve their nuclear goal. It is worse because it leaves the US allies in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Egypt — without protection.”

Only Haaretz doesn’t go the anti-American route, instead going with a pretty dry account of the nuclear talks. The paper includes an article on the diplomatic crisis between America and Israel and says that it doesn’t look like it will end soon. Israel thinks the US gave up too much, too fast. After seeing that the US was willing to give a lot to the Iranians, Israeli diplomats tried to convince the French not to sign the agreement (which seemed to work).

While other columnists have criticized America, Amos Harel writes that Netanyahu “doesn’t have any ammunition” for this situation. He says that the prime minister has mishandled the situation already, reacting too soon to an agreement that hasn’t yet been signed, and warn of a military attack that would only bring extreme isolation to Israel. “Diplomacy now seems like the only game in town,” he writes. After a diplomatic success with Syria, the Americans feel like diplomacy is the way to solve this problem.

The state strikes back

While diplomats were focused on the Iranian nuclear talks, the Israeli police were focused on organized crime. Just days after the alleged mafia bombing of a state prosecutor’s car, Maariv reports that police arrested Shalom Domrani, who allegedly runs one of the major crime families operating in the south of Israel. Domrani was arrested for extortion but the report also states that there is suspicion that his organization may be responsible for two bombings in Ashkelon in October. Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Channel 2 news that the arrest was the result of an “ongoing investigation and didn’t happen overnight.”

Yedioth reports on a new tactic that the state may employ to stop organized crime: administrative detention. According to the Justice Ministry, all options that were available to the Shin Bet internal security service to stop terrorists are now available against organized crime. These measures include using electronic surveillance, preventative arrests of central crime figures, and banning meetings between criminals and their lawyers.

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