Dead dogs and inactive shooters: 7 things to know for August 31
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Israel media review

Dead dogs and inactive shooters: 7 things to know for August 31

More Netanyahus are in the hot seat, refugees are a burning issue in Israel and the US, and Elor Azaria thinks he could be back in uniform and armed

File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his dog Kaia at the PM's residence in Jerusalem in December, 2015. (Facebook)
File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his dog Kaia at the PM's residence in Jerusalem in December, 2015. (Facebook)

1. A family affair: It’s not just the prime minister who may be suspected of taking bribes. Police now say that Sara Netanyahu also knowingly benefited from an alleged quid pro quo to have unflattering stories in the media quashed in exchange for regulatory favors.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth notes that this is the first time Sara Netanyahu has been officially named as a suspect in what is known as Case 4000. The paper reports that Iris Elovitch, the wife of Walla owner Shaul Elovitch, suspected as being the bribe-maker in the case, is complaining that the police have impounded lots of the Elovitch’s stuff, but haven’t touched the Netanyahus’, indicating a rift between the supposed good friends.
  • A representative for the State Prosecutor’s Office says the investigation is in its “advanced stages” and is expected to be transferred to prosecutors in the next six months following additional investigatory work.
  • Haaretz reports that, “Associates of the attorney general have assumed so far that the final decisions on the case will be made in early 2019, around the same time as political officials assume elections will take place.”
  • The paper reports that decisions on all three Netanyahu cases (including case 1000’s cigars and case 2000’s Yedioth quid pro quo) are expected to be made at the same time.

2. The dog did it: According to the Hadashot news broadcaster, Yair Netanyahu, apple of Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu’s eye, is also suspected in the so-called case 4000 affair.

  • In response, the Netanyahus do their own little media review and mock the claim that coverage in Elovitch’s Walla news site was flattering.
  • “We also found a positive article about Kaya the dog on Walla. Luckily Kaya passed away before they managed to include her in the circle of bribery suspects,” the statement to media outlets said, referring to the Netanyahus’ late pet.

3. Hebron shooter back in uniform? Israel Hayom runs its full interview with Hebron shooter Elor Azaria, though it seems it didn’t have any major bombshells.

  • The interview comes out just ahead of the High Holidays, when many Jews engage in introspection and attempt to right wrongs. Straight away the reporter says he asked Azaria if he had anything to ask forgiveness for.
  • “No. I’m totally fine with myself,” he says.
  • Azaria also claims that while he was in prison, officers who testified against him came to him in secret to ask for forgiveness.
  • “They said to me ‘we’re sorry. We made a mistake.’ They said their moral compass was weighing on them,” he says — though its not clear if they meant their moral compass made them try to see justice served or made them show contrition to the killer.
  • He also claims the army wants him to serve in a combat unit in the reserves. However my colleague Judah Ari Gross notes that any soldier who served at least half of their time in combat would automatically get a certificate as a combat reserves soldier. He also fails to note that he got a discharge certificate and not an honorable discharge certificate.
  • And for those who think Azaria’s nine-month sentence was already a joke, he also mentions off-hand that he got six furloughs over that period, though he complains, “ I wasn’t allowed to leave the house.”

4. Deri don’t: An anti-migrant rally in south Tel Aviv focused its anger on the government for not doing enough to kick out the asylum-seekers, despite what many say are deportation efforts that go beyond accepted international norms.

  • The already rare instance of right-on-right ire became even more tangled up after a video emerged of protesters setting a picture of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on fire.
  • The burned mug sparked an immediate backlash from government voices that normally support the migrants’ deportation, including several Shas members who called for probes.
  • Not surprisingly, condemnations include warnings that burning a picture was one step away from physically attacking Deri. One MK, Yinon Azulay, demanded he be given extra bodyguards.
  • While some claimed the protesters had also threatened Deri, organizers dismiss the claims.
  • “Deri’s people need to stop being cry babies,” protest leader Sheffi Paz is quoted saying in the Srugim religious news outlet.

5. Don’t have to live like a refugee: Haaretz reports that US officials do not plan on changing their policies regarding Palestinian refugees, despite numerous reports of upcoming funding cuts and even a refusal to recognize descendants of refugees as refugees.

  • The headline seems to be based on a quote from an unnamed State Department official that “there is no change in policy,” though of course, that could change tomorrow, as author Amir Tibon himself notes.
  • The Washington Post reports that the administration is actually planning on announcing a total funding cut to the UN agency in the coming days and calling for the UN to change how it determines who a Palestinian refugee is so as to no longer include descendants.
  • “Any such reduction would effectively eliminate, for most Palestinians, the ‘right of return’ to land contested with Israel. More immediately, many regional foreign policy and security experts, including in Israel, say that slashing UNRWA’s budget, amid a call to ‘de-register’ refugees, would worsen an already disastrous humanitarian situation, especially in Gaza, and sharply increase the level of violence,” the paper reports.
  • It also notes that the US can’t unilaterally change UN rules on how refugee status is determined.
  • Former negotiator Aaron David Miller on Twitter calls the idea of cutting funds to UNRWA “major league stupid and perhaps the most anti-Israeli initiative Trump has undertaken.”

6. Strong words: It took until late Thursday, but people seem to have finally noticed Netanyahu’s quite extraordinary statements outside the Dimona nuclear facility Wednesday afternoon, mostly thanks to some tweeted excerpts.

  • Netanyahu made some strident threats against Iran, notable mainly because standing in front of a facility said to hold nuclear weapons and saying you’ll use “all my might,” can only mean one thing. But it’s his remarks on how only the strong survive that strikes many as problematic.
  • “There is no place for the weak. The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong,” he said, according to an official statement from his office.
  • JTA’s Ron Kampeas asks how Israel’s enemies are supposed to take talk like that. “The Palestinian should nuke up? Get a cupla dirty bombs and he’ll talk?” he tweeted.
  • A number of people also say that the language seems pretty reminiscent of actual Fascism.

7. Meme misfire: Yedioth Ahronoth reports that a student who caused Ohio University Southern to shut down over an apparent shooting threat was an Israeli man who has no idea what he did wrong.

  • The student, who is not named but apparently hails from the Sharon region, was questioned and then released.
  • According to the paper (which incorrectly identifies the school as Ohio University), the arrest was over a meme he shared in 2016 involving a Pokemon and the names of mass shooters.
  • “Somebody would have had to make a whole lot of effort to find that meme and report him to the police,” his mother tells the paper.
  • The Ashland, Kentucky, Daily Independent quotes university dean Nicole Pennington as saying that the post was “potentially threatening” to the campus as a whole.
  • The Kentucky paper also notes that this is not the first time the school shut down over a silly threat: “In January 2015 the campus was locked down for about 90 minutes while police carried out a search, after receiving a report of a man with a gun. The gunman turned out to be a Brinks guard making a money drop.”
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