City of Brotherhood love
Hebrew media review

City of Brotherhood love

Israel watches cautiously as Cairo erupts over Egyptian election results, and Etgar Keret condemns Tel Aviv violence, kind of

An Egyptian protester flashes the victory sign as he celebrates the victory of Mohammed Morsi of the presidential election in Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 24, 2012. (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Abu Zaid)
An Egyptian protester flashes the victory sign as he celebrates the victory of Mohammed Morsi of the presidential election in Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 24, 2012. (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

One piece of very big news, four newspapers and three very different impressions. Yedioth Ahronoth saw the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi in Egypt yesterday as “darkness descending on Egypt.”

Maariv, on the other hand, is somewhat more jubilant, with the headline “A new Middle East” and a jubilant picture of a firework-besparkled Tahrir Square. Of course in a small banner above all that is the teaser: “The fear turns into a reality: The Muslim Brotherhood will rule over Egypt.” Just so you don’t think they’ve turned into al-Maghreb.

Israel Hayom and Haaretz both play the coverage straight, with pictures of celebrating in Tahrir and headlines “Islamists voted in” (Israel Hayom) and “Islamists win: Morsi to be Egypt’s president.”

Many of the reports out of Egypt seem designed to tamp down fears of a theocratic mullacracy rising next door.

Yedioth’s Eldad Beck, reporting from Tahrir, writes that while many are ecstatic over the victory, it’s not just Israel that is worried over the ascendant Islamists. “From now on, our lives will be very different,” a women’s rights activist told him. “All that’s left for me is to choose which burka fits me better.”

She’s not the only one with the burka blues.

Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Yitzhak Levanon writes in Yedioth that while the Brotherhood victory is a stunning turnaround for a group once considered a pariah, things are not as simple as they look. “Many of those not beholden to the Brotherhood voted for Morsi – not out of love for him, but because they feared the old guard would come back on the scene.”

In Haaretz, Zvi Bar’el writes that Morsi’s victory does not quite give the Brotherhood a free hand to reshape the country or its foreign affairs in their hard-line Islamist image. “Morsi’s slim margin of victory − just over three percentage points − shows that the Muslim Brotherhood is not all-powerful, even if it does hold key positions. That’s also the reason why Morsi began as early as Sunday to meet with the leaders of other political movements − nonreligious ones − in an effort to reach an agreement on what the next government will look like.”

In Maariv, a very depressed Hussein Tantawi Ben-Dror Yemini is crestfallen over what’s happened to his neighbor. “Yesterday the other shoe dropped, even for anyone who tried with all their might to muster a spark of hope. That’s it. It’s over. The military will indeed still have influence, but their time is over. The street, the heritage, the religion – all of this trampled the hope.”

Israel Hayom toots its own horn by rerunning a snippet from a novel (read: not actually novel) piece from Boaz Bizmuth last year that claimed that democracy in the Arab world would be a gamble.

Prof. Ayal Zisser cottons onto the Egyptian preference for conspiracy theories, writing in the paper that it’s possible the generals were forced to hand the victory to Morsi — albeit a weak victory — even if he didn’t win, because it ironically would have been seen as subverting democracy if Ahmed Shafiq were crowned. In any case, by giving him only just over 51 percent of the vote, he is left without any power to really make any changes, and the generals hope “that it will be possible to send him packing, the same way they dissolved the Islamist elements of the parliament,” he writes.

The things we lost in the mayhem

There is also significant hand-wringing in the papers over fallout from the Tel Aviv protests on Saturday night. Israel Hayom, seen by many as a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is absolutely giddy over the charging of some 30 activists after the chaotic rally, writing, “For the violence — they’ll pay.”

Yedioth Ahronoth chronicles the barbs being traded by police and activists over who is to blame and who was more violent to whom and who choked which one.

Short-story writer Etgar Keret tries to get in the middle, writing in Yedioth that while not all protesters are treated equally (were Daphni Leef a settler, she would get a tent on nearby military land, and not beaten up, he writes with a nod to the Givat Ulpana case), their violence can’t be separated from the larger problem of the country losing control. “I condemn the breaking of bank windows. Though a little less than I condemn the attacking of foreign workers, throwing stones at an army officer or building on land that is ruled to belong to someone else — but it’s still a crime that deserves punishment. The dissolution of moral responsibility here is impossible to separate from the violence happening all around us.”

From Russia with handshakes

Russian whatever-title-he-is-now Vladimir Putin is in Israel and Israel Hayom rolls out the red carpet for the autocratic leader, running a front-page package complete with Russian and Israeli flags, Cyrillic text, and the not-at-all-propagandist headline, “Welcome our lord and ruler Putin!” I kid, sort of. The headline actually reads “Welcome President Putin!”

Yedioth notes that Netanyahu will likely ask Putin for help on battling Iran’s nuclear program. Getting into the spirit of things, Eitan Haber writes a breathless yet acerbic welcome letter to Putin in Hebrew and Russian (perhaps reading Hebrew is the one thing SuperVlad can’t do?) “Mr. President, who like you knows that for decades in the 20th century you were not on our side? And still, we want to believe that you and your country are turned toward peace in our explosive and bloody region. We want you to bring us tidings of peace in every regard to Iran and Syria, both of which are under Russia’s influence and want our destruction.”

Safety in numbers

In Maariv’s op-ed section, Amos Gilboa writes about the world survey that found Israel the 150th-safest country in the world to live in, after Syria, Eritrea and some other actual hell-holes, and says it’s interesting that none of the human rights groups jumped on it as proof that Israel is a horrible place. “They understand that the survey is silliness. If they believed in its findings, they would have to worry about getting the Eritreans back to their country and out of the Israeli hell.”

Oudeh Basharat writes in Haaretz that having Arabs do army or national service won’t make them equal in Israeli society. “Even military service does not make the Arabs equal, while with the ultra-Orthodox, even evasion of service does not prevent them from enjoying economic privileges. Therefore, before the Arabs are asked to change their approach to the state, the state must change its approach to the Arabs. And before national service is applied to the Arab population, they must first be enticed to serve.”

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