1. Murder in Melbourne: The murder of Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe in Melbourne has rocked Australia, becoming a major story in the country’s fecund press.
- Few details about the killing have been released, beyond the fact Maasarwe was Facetiming with her sister when she was set upon, though police have held several press conferences begging the public for help, and described the act using words like “horrendous,” and “horrific.”
- Police have also flooded the neighborhood where the killing took place, both to find the killer and calm the public. The Sydney Morning Herald describes the police effort as “unprecedented.”
- Tragically, family members tell Australia’s Nine News that Aiia chose to study in Melbourne over New York because it is “quiet, nice and not dangerous.”
- Stories in the Australian press run from accounts of police efforts to interviews with family and friends to accounts of Maasarwe’s last day.
- “In the hours before she died, a smiling Aiia Maasarwe beamed as she stood with a group of new friends she had met to practise speaking in English,” reads one story in Melbourne’s The Age.
- At the site of the murder, a memorial quickly popped up, overflowing with flowers and notes, something that in many other countries, would only happen after mass casualty attacks. “I’m sorry that you didn’t get home safe. I’m sorry some jerk treated you this way,” reads one note, according to a picture taken by the Australian Associated Press
- While murders in Australia are rare, they do happen, but something about this one seems to have struck a nerve, perhaps because of the victim’s age, the fact that she was a visitor, or details that add to the horrific nature of the crime that are not being reported or released by police out of respect for the family’s wishes.
2. Self-gagged: Most Australian outlets (and some Israeli ones as well) have chosen not to publish some details about the gruesome case related to the suspected perpetrator possibly being a sex offender.
- Those details were released by Australian senator Derryn Hinch on Twitter, who is now facing fire for it, according to The Age.
- “[Posting] those intimate details on the hearsay of a ‘contact’ is nothing short of reckless and disrespectful, in no uncertain terms,” one Twitter user is quoted in the paper as saying.
- Even without the details in the press, the murder is being seen through the lens of violence against women and not anything else.
- Vigils were planned for Friday night, including a silent march on the Victoria state parliament.
- “We shouldn’t have these one-off vigils. There needs to be continued engagement and conversation about violence against women,” organizer Jessamy Gleeson tells Melbourne’s Herald Sun.
3. Israel shrugs: While the murder is major news in Australia, it is not in Israel, despite the fact that the countries actually have comparable murder rates.
- Australian Scott Morrison devoted a chunk of his comments to reporters about the case, talking with raw sincerity about how he would not even know what to say to the Maasarwe family and how the murder had affected all Australians.
- Opposition leader Bill Shorten also issued strong words condemning the attack.
- Meanwhile, no Israeli official has said anything of substance about the killing.
- And while the murder was on the front page or even leading several Australian newspapers — “Help us catch Aiia’s killer” — read the top headline in The Age’s print paper, it merits barely a blip on the front pages of Israel’s major dailies, as with most killings of a not-terror nature.
4. Phone tag: What Israeli papers are taken up with is the continuing scandal surrounding suspicions that Israel Bar Association head Efraim Nave was bribed with sex to advance judges’ careers.
- There is a sense on Friday, though, that the case may not be as open and shut as it seemed a day ago.
- Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Nave is trying to have the case thrown out, since evidence presented came from information taken from his phone that somehow got to an Army Radio reporter, who then passed it on to police.
- The paper writes that it seems Nave may have gotten rid of an old phone without wiping it clean, and somehow someone was able to break into that phone. The reporter took the information to the Army Radio lawyer, who is part of the IDF’s prosecution unit, and will thus at least not be in trouble for holding onto information possibly obtained illegally.
- “After consulting with the state prosecution brass, and balancing the interests of the public and of privacy, it was decided that the info could be used for news gathering,” the paper reports, hinting that Army radio may have more salacious details it can reveal once a gag order is lifted by a court.
5. Taking Shaked down too: Nave is already out of the Bar Association, but Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is also being tainted by the scandal, is trying not to be taken down with him. It will be an uphill battle.
- Shaked “knowingly allied herself with evil,” writes Yossi Verter in Haaretz.
- In the same paper, Ravit Hecht writes that even her political base could abandon her over this affair: “Now, when it’s clear to everyone that the accomplishments of which Shaked was so proud, like appointing conservative judges, were achieved thanks to an alliance with a dubious type like Nave — someone accused of crimes that would disgust anyone with any moral sense, whether right-wing or left-wing — not only are they being cast in an ugly light, but so is her political judgment and good sense.”
- Yedioth’s Nahum Barnea also thinks Nave may take down Shaked with him.
- “The things he’s suspected of have weakened the chances her party can present itself as a clean party of ideals going up against rampant corruption in Likud.”
6. Shaken trust: Likud may in fact use this as a cudgel against its right-wing rival.
- While Israel Hayom, often seen as a party organ, doesn’t attack Shaked directly, a front page editorial calls for the system of judges to be totally reformed for transparency, casting a shadow over her.
- “The justice system needs a fix,” columnist Yossi Hadar writes in the same paper. “The Nave and judges scandal has shaken trust in the justice system, trust which is so important to democracy.”
7. That voodoo that Dudu do: If you are anything like me, you’ve never heard of Dudu Faruk. But Israel’s biggest viral star and trap rapper is apparently on the cusp of hitting the big time (and running for prime minister).
- For those looking to know who the cool kids are into, ToI’s Ben Hartman gives readers a tour of the strange and mysterious world of Ori Comay a.k.a. Dudu Faruk.
- “The biggest story in Israeli hip hop in 2018 was a vulgar, skinny, goofball rapper who made one viral video after another, racking up millions of views and drawing the ire of polite Israeli society,” he writes. “Dudu Faruk … has, in less than 12 months, become something close to a household name, was voted the sexiest man in Israel by Pnai Plus magazine readers, and scored a sponsorship deal with a German condom company.”