Israel media review

Fire and fear: 6 things to know for September 26

Trump’s rhetorical assault on Iran and his show of support for Israel is all the media can talk about, but some are worried about the president’s isolationist tones

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY
US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY

1. While the meme kings and queens of social media celebrate the iconic, spontaneous eruption of laughter during US President Donald Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly, the more traditional media outlets choose to focus on the American leader’s fiery condemnations of Iran and its nuclear program.

  • “We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons,” Trump said, citing Iran’s “threatening Israel with annihilation.” Trump added that “Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” and demanded of “all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.” He asked other countries “to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.”
  • Israel Hayom, like many other conservative and right-leaning news organizations around the globe, highlights the president’s message of support to Israel in the face of Iranian hostility, with the daily’s contributors showering Trump’s words with praise and affection. “There is no doubt that men of action from the business world, free of hollow speech patterns, have the ability to reveal simple truths without the need for high and mighty yet empty words,” writes Haim Shine, one of Trump’s most committed fans in the Israeli media landscape.

2. But not everyone shares these sentiments. For example, analysts at CNN, perhaps Trump’s most vocal mainstream media antagonist, criticized the president’s speech and his isolationist tones, saying his words promote a separatist worldview that creates an environment of mistrust and hinders the possibility of cooperation between countries.

  • Time magazine notes that Trump’s speech bore the hallmarks of John Bolton, the US’s national security adviser, who throughout his diplomatic career demonstrated a serious disdain for international bodies and agreements.

3. Bolton on Tuesday warned Iran of “serious consequences” if it defies the US.

  • “According to the mullahs in Tehran, we are ‘the Great Satan,’ lord of the underworld, master of the raging inferno,” Bolton told the annual summit of United Against Nuclear Iran, an organization that opposed the 2015 nuclear deal that the Trump administration withdrew from earlier this year. “So, I might imagine they would take me seriously when I assure them today: If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.”

4. Aside from Trump and Iran, the other main topic on the minds of Israelis is the ongoing tension between the Jewish state and Russia, following the downing of a Russian spy plane by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli airstrike.

  • An Israeli delegation of air force officials was sent to brief their Russian counterparts on the incident and persuade them the Syrian operators were at fault. Russian defense officials, however, have publicly rejected the Israeli account and blamed Jerusalem for the deaths of 15 Russian servicemen. Haaretz reports that a more political delegation, potentially led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would have been dispatched, but the Russians said no.
  • Haaretz’s editorial urges Netanyahu, who is set to meet with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Wednesday, to demand that the US promote Israeli interests in Syria, especially in terms of halting weapons transfers to Hezbollah. If the US takes a tougher stance, the editorial posits, Russia will be forced to show more tolerance to Israel’s legitimate self defense actions and claims.

5. In the meantime, however, Russia has decided to provide Syrian dictator Bashar Assad with the powerful S-300 air defense system and has announced it will establish electronic warfare equipment along the Syria coast, which could jam Israeli radar and communication equipment.

  • Channel 10 news quoted a senior American official who noted that the system could also endanger US Air Force jets operating against the Islamic State group in Syria. “Bringing more anti-aircraft missiles into Syria won’t solve the Syrian army’s unprofessional and indiscriminate firing of missiles and won’t mitigate the danger to aircraft flying in the area,” the unnamed official said.

6. After a hit-and-run in Jerusalem over the holiday of Sukkot, Israel Hayom eulogizes Chaim Tukachinsky, 31, a gifted and up-and-coming ultra-Orthodox pianist, composer, and conductor, who was killed at the capital’s Paris Square while walking back from the Western Wall.

  • “I sincerely hope that the perpetrator of this travesty will be held accountable and given a just sentence,” Tukachinsky’s mother tells Israel Hayom.
  • The suspect arrested over Tukachinsky’s death is a Spanish reporter who has been working in Israel for several years and who reportedly confessed to driving while inebriated. According to the police, the reporter drank about five glasses of wine before getting behind the wheel.

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