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Feeling navy blue

The Netanyahu Iran missile show draws the press to Eilat, but unfortunately for Bibi, and Israel Hayom, nobody seems to give two shakes

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu examine dozens of mortar shells and rockets on display, at a military port in the Southern Israeli city of Eilat, that were seized from the Panama-flagged Klos-C cargo ship in the Red Sea, and which according to the Israeli military was carrying dozens of advanced rockets from Iran destined for Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. March 10, 2014. (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense/Flash90)
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu examine dozens of mortar shells and rockets on display, at a military port in the Southern Israeli city of Eilat, that were seized from the Panama-flagged Klos-C cargo ship in the Red Sea, and which according to the Israeli military was carrying dozens of advanced rockets from Iran destined for Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. March 10, 2014. (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense/Flash90)

‘Do you need more proof,” an exasperated Israel Hayom asks in its main headline Tuesday. The words are ostensibly pointing to illicit arms seized by Israel and put on display in Eilat a day earlier, but the only thing it seems to be proving is that Israel Hayom is an unabashed mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the only paper still unquestionably clinging to the overly manufactured hullaballoo around the arms seizure.

The press conference on Monday was all about pointing the finger at Iran. The proof thus far (as TOI’s very own Mitch Ginsburg pointed out) is only what Israel says it is, but that doesn’t stop Israel Hayom from parading around the pictures of missiles and words of Netanyahu as if they are the ultimate proof of the enormity of Iran.

Inside the paper turns the spin machine to “fear” with a headline reading “Next time it will be nuclear suitcases.” The story gives a faithful play-by-play of Netanyahu’s speech, tacking on the late-coming American condemnation at the end.

Nearby, commentator Dror Eidar bashes Yedioth Ahronoth for daring to question the raid on the Klos-C as a dangerous operation made for PR purposes: “’Days of embarrassment’ for our fighters, reads Yedioth, since our soldiers are no better than Sudanese pirates, and what’s the difference between Israel and Iran, both export weapons. And the ship? A cement delivery. This is the face of the paper that since the late 1980s has been the main marketer of the bloody agreements to come out of the study hall of those who hate settlements. It’s not for nothing that readers are abandoning the paper. They know the difference between light and darkness, thankfully. … Good friends, Israel captured an Iranian weapons ship in the act, which could have hurt us. Along the way, this also helps us expose the face of the evil Iranian regime for the better of the free world.”

It’s not like Yedioth is toeing Tehran’s line on the bit, though. Their front page leads with “the Iranian connection,” that being to the Malaysia Air flight 370 disappearance. Below is a picture of an angry-looking Netanyahu trying to get the world to notice his new cache of missiles and an analysis by Nahum Barnea who notes that while Netanyahu was busy waving his hands wildly to try to turn the world against Iran, the opposite happened.

“Netanyahu sees the struggle against Iran as his life’s mission. He invests, invests and invests, warns, warns and warns, speaks here and speaks abroad, and the world refuses to take notice. The world refuses to take notice because it and its leaders are opportunistic, selfish and tired. The world has come to terms with Iran’s becoming a nuclear threshold state. This is the reality and the prime minister of Israel, despite his proven rhetorical skills, has not managed to change it.”

Haaretz’s Amos Harel says that compared to previous Netanyahu propaganda fests, this one was pretty restrained, but says he is not alone in thinking that the prime minister doth protest too much.

“Within the General Staff, there are plenty of people who believe that the Israel Defense Forces went too far in trumpeting its success to the media. Senior officers told Haaretz in recent days that the operation was ‘a nice intelligence and operational success, but what was being marketed to the public and the media as time passed after the actual operation was already inflated beyond desirable proportions.’ That impression was strengthened Monday, when matters moved from the IDF’s hands to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Eilat ceremony had Netanyahu written all over it. Netanyahu, to his credit, didn’t exhibit the same euphoria that he sometimes has after past successes, and made do with just a single pat on his own back. His speech was pretty short and serious. But somewhat disappointingly, it didn’t avoid preaching that the whole world is against us.”

Yedioth Ahronoth writes about the opposition boycott of the Knesset discussion on Monday, calling it two plenums for one Knesset, though most in the opposition would likely take umbrage at the use of “plenum.” The paper notes that the boycott shows the division between the government and the opposition is widening, with each side blaming the other. “This situation came upon us because of the stubbornness of the coalition,” opposition chief Isaac Herzog is quoted saying.

“Perhaps the opposition is worried we will bring them face-to-face with the bill that they themselves submitted, and that’s why they ran away,” Yesh Atid MK Miki Levy is quoted in response.

In Israel Hayom, Mati Tuchfeld says the whole stunt is just an attempt on Herzog’s part to pave his way to being the next prime minister. “Herzog is doing everything he can to drive a wedge between Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox,” he says.

In Haaretz, Nehemia Shtrasler seems to think that would not be a bad thing, since Netanyahu has failed pretty much all his economic initiatives, acting like an outsider who doesn’t understand the country he manages. “Our prime minister has an interesting trait. When he encounters a tough question that has no good answer, he assumes a serious expression, sends a penetrating glance at his interviewer and replies: ‘I’ll have to get into that personally.’ … That’s exactly what Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday night when asked about his abject failure in lowering the price of living. He spoke as though he’s from the United Nations, as though he’s not in the picture, as though he hasn’t been serving as prime minister for the past five years, during which the subject of the cost of living − for food and housing − reached the top of the civic agenda.”

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