Bitter pills
Hebrew media review

Bitter pills

Between kids taking polio vaccine and the US standing by while Egypt burns, only a spoonful of sugar can save the day

Illustrative: A child receives the polio vaccine at the health ministry office in Beersheba on August 5, 2013. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)
Illustrative: A child receives the polio vaccine at the health ministry office in Beersheba on August 5, 2013. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)

All Israeli papers lead off with bitter medicine Monday morning, some of the polio vaccine kind, and other of the kind the US is having to swallow while watching the Egyptian army crush any opposition in its way.

If you are into pictures of children’s mouths being forced open while drops of polio are shoved into their mouths, then you’ll love the front pages of Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom, both of which lead off with the nationwide campaign that kicked off Sunday with the inoculation of 30,000 kids. Yedioth is filled with shots of happy children and happier nurses (and even happier clowns) administering the medicine. “We’re talking about a promising start that exceeded our expectation,” the paper quotes the Health Ministry saying in a statement. “We hope the number will continue to grow.”

The paper also gives space to the two drops of criticism the plan is getting, running a short piece on the petition filed at the High Court on Sunday seeking more information from the Health Ministry. One of the rumors flying around is that the national campaign is actually a massive clinical trial with the whole country as guinea pigs. The Health Ministry denies that, but according to Israel Hayom, the success of this program will determine if Israel goes back to giving out the live attenuated virus to every child, outbreak or not.

The paper reports that the Health Ministry gave kids the live virus from 1990 until 2005, when it decided to stop, and that the break may have led to “the worst public health incident in some 30 years.” Thus the ministry is considering bringing the two drops of live virus back into the normal vaccination schedule of every child.

“It’s too early to determine at this stage if there’s a need to change the standards of vaccination in Israel, but there is a need to consider bringing it back, in concert with the results and takeaways of the national vaccination program,” Prof. Eli Somech, an expert in the field, is quoted as saying.

Between Barack and a hard place

Completely shifting gears, Haaretz reports that the US and other Western countries, along with the Muslim Brotherhood-hating Saudis, have decided to give the Egyptian army a little more time to sort things out after slaughtering 830 people over the weekend. Cutting off aid and imposing sanctions, Zvi Bar’el writes, could end up cutting off Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel and destabilizing the region even further.

“Cutting aid to Egypt could harm American (and Israeli) interests no less than Egypt’s,” he writes. “That is why America is hesitating: So as not to give the Muslim Brotherhood the prize of being responsible for severing the strategic partnership between Washington and Cairo.”

Bar’el also notes that the Brotherhood is quickly realizing it will need to pipe down if it wants to hold on to any of its political gains and not be outlawed, and thus called off marches Sunday to try and cool tensions.

Maariv juxtaposes a lead headline quoting Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi saying that he’s carrying out the will of the people and reporting that there is hope for a ceasefire, with a poster of a horned US President Barack Obama and swastika’d El-Sissi.

Writing a commentary/analysis in the paper, Ben Dror Yemini notes that the caricature of Obama may be deserved, as he has zigged and zagged until he has become the most hated man in the Middle East: “The Western countries, and the US especially, need to make a decision. They are sitting on the fence, or perhaps helping the lesser evil in order to save Egypt from disaster? Time will tell what Obama’s contribution was to the decline in the Middle East over the last several years, or the Arab winter that befell Tunisia, Syria and maybe now Egypt. Obama had great intentions. What is clear is that the more the US tried to reconcile, the more hated it became. The man managed to create for himself the worst possible situation. Now both sides are disgusted by him. His government fights against radical Islam in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, but refuses to understand that the Muslim Brotherhood are the brothers of Hamas and the Taliban.”

Shocked and stunned by police violence

Israel Hayom writes about the police decision to suspend the use of tasers in light of a video showing a settler being shocked repeatedly in front of his wife and children while not resisting arrest. Nahi Ayal, writing in the paper, says that the weapon actually encourages more violence than a regular old pistol does.

“Had the police officer who came into Boaz Albert’s house on Thursday had a live weapon, he would not have used it,” he writes. “Unfortunately, disproportionate violence by police is a problem and police commanders are the first that need to fight to return the public trust to the cops.”

Haaretz’s Yaniv Kubovich agrees with the assessment, and writes that such a change will require more than just better control over taser use.

“If the police chief really wants to end unwanted taser use by police, he first and foremost needs to deal with police violence against civilians, protesters or detainees that come every day into court with ripped shirts and swollen faces.”

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