Doorways to hell: 6 things to know for October 11
Israel media review

Doorways to hell: 6 things to know for October 11

Israelis spy a porthole into their future in the US’s feckless Kurd policy, and in Germany a heroic door can’t keep out some tough questions about security and anti-Semitism

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians arrive to Tall Tamr town, in the Syrian northwestern Hasakeh province, after fleeing Turkish bombardment on the northeastern towns along the Turkish border on October 10, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)
Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians arrive to Tall Tamr town, in the Syrian northwestern Hasakeh province, after fleeing Turkish bombardment on the northeastern towns along the Turkish border on October 10, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

1. Talking Turkey, but not Trump: The Turkish onslaught against the Kurds continues to get large play in the Israeli press Friday.

  • On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke up to “strongly condemn” Turkey’s invasion, accusing Ankara of a campaign of ethnic cleansing and offering aid to the Kurds.
  • Missing from his statement, unsurprisingly, was any mention of the US decision to withdraw troops that essentially green-lit the operation.
  • “The statement, which was very carefully worded, did not reflect the shock which Israel saw in US President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds to the Turks without so much as a handshake,” writes Channel 13 columnist Alon Ben David.
  • Others, though, are just as harsh if not more so against the Turks and vocal against US President Donald Trump.
  • In Haaretz, columnist Simon Waldman calls Trump’s decision “a warrant for ethnic cleansing.”
  • Kurdish expert Jonathan Spyer tells ToI that according to his contacts on the ground in the bombarded area there isn’t so much panic — the Kurds are used to war, he says — but rather a feeling of having been knifed in the back.
  • “There’s a great deal of anger, frankly, against the West and against the United States. And a very profound sense of betrayal. That really comes through,” he says.

2. We are the Kurds: Most of the Israeli coverage focuses on Israeli feelings that they could be next and that Trump cannot be trusted.

  • In Maariv, Alon Ben David (the same as above, who seemingly has much to say) writes that he was wrong to previously support Trump, whom he admits is not Israel’s best friend in the White House.
  • “The day of judgment that Trump has forced upon the Kurds should have us also doing some soul-searching about our relationship with the president,” he advises.
  • Yedioth Ahronoth’s Sima Kadmon writes that Trump’s assertion that the Kurds didn’t assist the US in past wars points to how he may act toward others in the future: “Within his betrayal, a scent has arisen that may point to his next one — when he summed up his thoughts by saying that the Kurds and Turkey are like Israel and the Palestinians. In other words, a group of Middle Eastern gadflies, egotists, owing us thanks for dealing with their tribal wars and wasting American tax dollars.”
  • “The Israelis had thought of Trump as a special US leader very much in tune with their view of the region,” former US ambassador Dan Shapiro tells the AP. “Now they’re coming to terms with the cold hard reality that his isolationist instincts and his chaotic, impulsive decision-making can actually be very damaging to their interests.”
  • Reuters reports that an anonymous Israeli official hinted that any Israeli fears of Trump’s moves are being addressed privately. “Some things are better dealt with away from the public eye,” the official is quoted as saying.

3. The door that saved Halle: The attempted synagogue shooting in Germany also continues to make headlines, with heavy coverage both of the door that managed to save the congregation, and Jewish concerns over anti-Semitiism.

  • “The messup and the miracle,” reads a headline in Israel Hayom.
  • Channel 12 news describes the door as modest, but credits it with saving the community, not shying away from running footage from the killer’s helmet cam as he tried to blast open the portal and swore in German at his inability to do so.
  • “Only a Locked Door Stopped a Massacre at a German Synagogue,” reads a New York Times headline. “Our community was saved by a miracle, a door that wouldn’t open,” Boston-based student Ezra Waxman tells the paper. “That is juxtaposed with the tragedy of two people losing their lives.”
  • Even, which appears to be a B2B for home security systems, covers the “old, wooden” door.
  • In Israel National News Michael Sharon hails the door, but writes that the people who locked it and took other pro-active security measures are deserving of a medal of honor. “One hopes that synagogues in Israel and around the world will learn from the incident and take necessary action.”

4. But what if a door is not enough? Aside from arming synagogues with old doors and praying for a miracle, some are asking what else Germany should be doing to protect its Jewish community.

  • Deutsche-Welle notes that protecting houses of worship differs depending on the laws of federal states, with some doing more than others.
  • “In front of the synagogue in Cologne, this protection comes in the form of a VW police van. Today, just like nearly every other day, it is parked in front of the tuff stone building crowned with the Star of David,” the paper reports. “This place of worship is protected from the street by concrete blocks. And with heavy iron gates, and neo-romantic ornamental turrets, the synagogue slightly resembles a fortress. Today, there are flowers lying by the door.”
  • The paper also notes that “Some Jewish congregations have also hired private security firms for added protection. Former Israeli soldiers are in high demand as security advisers for Jewish institutions.”
  • In Haaretz, op-ed writer Robert Ogman says that “Many are upset and deeply dismayed: They feel they were, and will be, left alone to deal with a murderous ongoing threat. It took the police at least ten minutes to arrive at the scene, even though the community called the police to say they were under armed attack. According to the chairman of the Halle Jewish community, the police had repeatedly played down the community’s security concerns.”

5. No country for old (or young) Jews: But many say that the problem goes beyond stopping gunmen or beefing up police, noting a rise in anti-Semitic attitudes and attacks in Germany.

  • “The attack was not aimed only at the worshippers who were there. It also comprises an attack on our open German society. It was an attack on us all. Because for Germany, the obligation to ensure the security of Jewish men and women is as vital as the friendship between Israel and Germany,” German ambassador to Israel Susan Wasum-Rainer writes in Israel Hayom.
  • The local Jewish community leader, Max Privorozki, tells Channel 12 news that anti-Semitism has become such a danger in Germany that he is now no longer sure the country can be “our home.”
  • Sigmount A. Königsberg, the Berlin Jewish Community’s anti-Semitism expert, says hundreds are leaving Germany over anti-Semitism concerns and many more are thinking of following.
  • “It is not that they are abstractly contemplating it, but rather they are thinking of concrete plans,” he says. “Ten years ago this would have been unthinkable.”
  • JTA’s Cnaan Liphshitz writes that Western Europe’s Jews are caught between both far-right anti-Semitism and attacks by anti-Zionist Muslims.
  • “In that sense, Wednesday’s shooting represents a tragic milestone for Western Europe, where growing radicalization among both neo-Nazis and Islamists is leading to what some scholars on anti-Semitism are calling a ‘perfect storm’ — violent anti-Semitism stemming from both the right and the left,” he writes.

6. Bibi-backers back Bibi: A Likud central committee meeting held to affirm Netanyahu as the leader of the party, held in place of a primary, is widely mocked in some parts of the press, both for its agenda and poor attendance.

  • “Likud confirms that its head is its head,” reads a mocking headline in Haaretz.
  • “The reason for the insanity that has seized the central committee, which before the current Netanyahu era usually held lively debates on ideological issues, stems from the emotional state of its chairman, who in the twilight of his political life finds himself increasingly in need of embraces and reinforcement,” the paper’s Yossi Verter writes.
  • Most reports show a low turnout of just a few hundred at the event, dwarfed by the large hall. Reporter Noga Tarnopolsky on twitter juxtaposes a regular picture of the hall with one sent out by the party.
  • “Some 90 percent of the central committee skipped out, including Netanyahu himself,” Yedioth reports.
  • Netanyahu-backing Israel Hayom, though, takes the vote seriously, putting the news on its front page and reporting that the Likud members “voted overwhelmingly” for the proposal which names Netanyahu as the party leader and only candidate for prime minister. The language is directly copied from the Likud statement on the vote.
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