Dear leader (the other one) dreams of Iran: 6 things to know for June 13
Israel media review

Dear leader (the other one) dreams of Iran: 6 things to know for June 13

The Trump-Kim summit leaves in its dust hope from Trump backers, skepticism from others and a lot of questions over how this will play out for Tehran

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) walks with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) walks with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

1. A friendly handshake with a brutal dictator, several hours of meetings and a vague statement have turned mild skepticism into an outpouring of hope and optimism in certain corners of the Israeli press following US President Donald Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page has the words “Hope for a better world” in Hebrew, English and Korean (I assume that’s what the Korean says).
  • “Even if these two leaders aren’t the models we would want to see, and even if it does not end how the world hopes, they managed to do something yesterday that few before them have been able to,” the normally skeptical Sima Kadmon writes in the paper.
  • Another columnist in the paper, Eitan Haber, calls it the “dawning of a new day,” though he sprinkles his optimism with a healthy dose of caution.

2. The Trump era? That’s what Trump-loving Israel Hayom dubs our current heady times with its front page headline, going beyond the actual news to heap praise on the other Dear Leader.

  • Trump conquered the summit, gushes editor Boaz Bismuth: “The Singapore summit proved to everyone not to discount the 45th president of the US, even if it means some of us have to eat our hats (bon appetit). Despite claims and predictions, Trump has returned the US to the leadership of the world. No more leading from behind Obama-style, but leading from the cockpit, while understanding the human cargo behind you.”
  • “Unlike his flaccid predecessor, Trump managed to project an image of decisiveness and credibility thanks to his being an unconventional leader, a renegade of the rules and regulations of the diplomatic game, and a willingness to go to the brink without blinking,” columnist Avraham Ben Tzvi writes.
  • Both Bismuth and fellow columnist Haim Shine express bitterness over Barack Obama receiving the Nobel, when it obviously should have gone to Trump, or something. Bismuth’s story (which leads the paper ahead of the news) is accompanied by a picture caption calling on the former president to give his prize to Trump, while Shine wonders how come “pundits didn’t tweet cynical or skeptical when Obama won a Nobel for nothing.”
  • Um, here you go.
  • Walla’s Oren Nahari entertains the possibility that Trump supporters will want to erect a monument in his honor when his term is up, but says it’s a little early to start talking Nobel prizes over Korea. “The only real thing agreed upon between Kim and Trump was that the US will stop military drills with South Korea, a North Korean demand, with it seeming like the US got nothing in return. The agreement they signed is a copy of the one signed with the Clinton administration 20 years ago. But if in the end Kim indeed is ready to dismantle his nuclear weapons, if there will be oversight and verification, if North Korea will begin to open up to the world and end the Korean war — so Trump will indeed deserve the Nobel Prize, and maybe even both of them, though the thought of the peace prize going to someone who has jailed hundreds of thousands of his citizens in concentration camps and killed his brother and uncle is quite depressing.”

3. As much as Israel Hayom declares Trump (and the world) the big winner, Haaretz’s columnists see little room to be very hopeful.

  • “The extravagant theatrics of the summit stood in stark contrast to its substantive achievements. Despite Trump’s efforts to play up the written statement he signed with Kim, it is so general and vague that the president may have been better off without it,” Chemi Shalev writes in one.
  • Anshell Pfeffer writes that the US has actually abdicated its role as a global leader and security guarantor: “Trump is the unlikely beneficiary of over seven decades of American commitment to security in the Far East. A commitment, he made clear in his rambling press conference after Tuesday morning’s summit, that he is eager to get out of. Chairman Kim, as he is now to be addressed, is finally beginning to reap the rewards of his father and grandfather, who starved millions to death to build their kingdom’s fortress and its nuclear arsenal.”
  • 4. Much of Israel’s press is taken up with divining how the summit will shake out regarding Iran and their own nuclear ambitions.
  • In Israel Hayom, Menashe Amir writes that if he succeeds in getting Kim to dismantle his nukes, he’ll turn to Iran next, but even if he fails “he’ll ramp up pressure on Iran to get to the same achievements he managed with North Korea.”

5. Achievements? Many are asking what achievements, with the deal made with North Korea paling in comparison to the nuclear deal Trump just ripped up with Iran.

  • That could be good news for Tehran, Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el writes: “If a paper like the one Trump and Kim signed had been signed by Iran, not only would Israel have gone crazy; Europe also would deem it remiss in failing to meet the necessary minimum to reduce the Iranian threat. One can only chuckle at Trump’s statement that now he will seek a meaningful agreement with Iran, because if a meaningful agreement means accords of the type reached at the festival organized by the two leaders in Singapore, Khamenei needn’t worry.”
  • Yedioth Ahronoth notes that the North Korea document is two whole pages, where as the JCPOA was 18 “and that’s without the annexes.”
  • “If it was a Democratic president he or she would have been heavily criticized for just sitting down with Kim Jong Un. The Singapore statement is a very basic framework document that sets out the goals for future negotiations. It is not a deal. It is not a plan. It is not a clearly spelled out set of steps,” Darryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, tells The Daily Beast.
  • Speaking to JTA, Israeli security expert Amos Yadlin says the moves in Singapore contain both risks and rewards for the US, Israel and Iran.
  • “One can claim that the fact that America has accepted a nuclear North Korea until it will be denuclearized — and we don’t know how many years until it will be denuclearized — there is some concern that if you gave concessions to the North Koreans, the same thinking can apply to Iran,” he says, implying that the Iranians may expect to be recognized as a nuclear state, as Trump has apparently done for North Korea.

What the Trump-Kim summit could mean for Israel and Iran

  • But he says Tehran may be worried that “Trump achieved not everything, but unlike the expectations he would fail with North Korea, he is succeeding, and this made him strong vis-a-vis Iran.”

6. The Trump-Kim summit may have dominated the print press, but by Wednesday morning, attention had turned to … the weather?

  • A freak rainstorm Wednesday morning — it almost never rains after early May — left parts of the western Negev region under water, with pictures circulating on social media of flooded roads and buildings.
  • “There’s mud in every hole, covering furniture, the living room,” one exasperated Sderot resident tells Hadashot news.
  • The rain was record-breaking — 64 millimeters — smashing the previous record of 50 mm, but as in the case of recent fires in the region, the cause for the environmental damage was seemingly human made, with residents blaming insufficient drainage for the floods.
  • “The drainage system has totally collapsed. It’s been raining all morning and hasn’t stopped,” a Sderot resident tells Ynet. “People weren’t ready for it, lots of people had already set up pools in their yards for the summer — and all of a sudden it starts raining.”
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