Say what you will about Israeli journalism, there exists a certain camaraderie among the corps of journalists doing their job everyday to get the news out and make sure no source goes named (zing!). Yet when Haaretz Palestinian affairs columnist/reporter Amira Hass called on Wednesday for Palestinians to exercise their right to throw stones at Israeli soldiers, writers from both Maariv and Israel Hayom unsheathed their fangs.
Both papers report the news that the Yesha settlers council is looking to sue Hass for incitement, especially as her words came just hours after a court found a Palestinian man guilty of murder for throwing stones at a car that overturned, killing Asher Palmer and his infant son, and while a 3-year-old girl remains in intensive care following a similar attack three weeks ago.
Israel Hayom features both Dror Eydar and former peace negotiator Yossi Beilin calling out Hass for her endorsement of violence. “Am I the only one that understands that Hass is teaching the killers of Fatah and Hamas to keep their knives and guns, bombs and suicide belts ‘just’ for soldiers,” Eydar asks rhetorically. “Dear mothers — the compassionate nurse Hass is encouraging her allies to harm ‘only’ your sons and daughters serving in the IDF. All this is written in a Hebrew-language paper on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
Beilin, on the other hand, takes a softer, but still biting, stance against Hass.
“I have a lot of appreciation for Amira Hass,” he writes. “She is a very brave woman, not afraid to find herself in the minority and open to criticism, and doesn’t bend on her values. The column from yesterday was surprising and saddening.… It’s also not smart. The greatest blow to the peace camp in Israel after the Rabin assassination was the breakout of the Second Intifada, in the middle of the most serious talks to date between Israel and the Palestinians. None of us in the peace camp were able to explain why the provocative visit by then-opposition head Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount justified, in the Palestinians’ eyes, that violence.”
Maariv goes even more directly for the jugular, asking in its headline “Whose Haaretz is this” (a play on words, as ‘Haaretz’ means “land”) and running a big picture of a girl covered in blood after being the victim of a stone-throwing attack. The paper also enlists Adva Bitton, the mother of the aforementioned seriously injured 3-year-old girl, to write a column addressing Hass directly.
“Amira, a stone does not discriminate between blood and blood and not between a grown man and a 3-year-old girl,” she writes. “A stone kills. A stone is a weapon of death in every way. Three weeks ago, I experienced on my own flesh how one stone can overturn a whole family.”
Haaretz for its part seems to have moved on from the affair, leading off with a report that rebels in Syria have a lot fewer hard-line Islamists than you may have been led to believe, with the anti-Assad opposition mostly made up of regular joes just looking to bash some Bashar. The paper’s Amos Harel connects the Syria conflict to the ongoing rocket fire in the south and Israel’s fading deterrence on all fronts: “Israel can still be pleased that the war in Syria is not trickling into its territory more forcefully, as it has into Lebanon.… Gaza is a different case. For four months, until nearly the end of March, Hamas imposed iron discipline on the smaller factions and completely prevented any firing into Israel. Now it seems that the ceasefire is weakening. Was this intentional?”
Show them the money
Rockets and stones may break bones, but Yedioth leads off with some sharp words that also hurt, from a gaggle of Holocaust survivors who say the state has left them high and dry. Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the paper reports that one out of every five survivors in Israel has to go without food because of their financial situation and that 40 percent feel that they are alone.
The paper quotes survivor Armond Zarka, who receives NIS 2,800 a month, almost all of which goes to pay taxes and utility bills. “Sometimes I have 100 shekel left over, so I can buy something to eat,” he tells the paper. “I collect bottles on the street and from garbage cans and sell them. Sometimes I don’t even have bread or milk.”
In Maariv, Yael Paz-Melamed is more interested in the fictional Riki Cohens of Israel, making NIS 20,000 but unable to make it according to Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Unlike those who pilloried Lapid for forgetting the poor, Paz-Melamed says Cohen does deserve her place at the head of the Finance Ministry’s agenda: “True, there are people who make much less, and there are many who make nothing. Either they don’t want to work or they can’t, but whoever makes minimum wage does not pay taxes. Riki Cohen and her husband pay taxes also for them.”
In Haaretz, Gideon Levy takes aim at the doctors of Israel’s prison service, who he says did not treat Mossad agent Ben Zygier or Palestinian cancer victim Masyara Abuhamdia correctly. “Next time Israel sends a medical team to a disaster area overseas and its physicians work hard to extend medical care to the victims of that disaster, one must not forget their colleagues, the physicians who say nothing, who close their eyes, who do not provide necessary medical attention — here in Israel, in the prisons and in the interrogation rooms.”