Israel media review

Frankenstein’s minister: 8 things to know for April 19

The bruited ministerial nominations of Bezalel Smotrich or others have anonymous officials fearing monstrous results; and Passover journeys from shard haroset to Matzachella

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich attends a committee meeting regarding the so-called Regulation Bill, which is designed to avert the court-ordered demolition of the West Bank outpost of Amona by December 25, on November 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich attends a committee meeting regarding the so-called Regulation Bill, which is designed to avert the court-ordered demolition of the West Bank outpost of Amona by December 25, on November 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

1. Careful before tapping: In what may be an unprecedented move, officials in the police and judicial system have taken to the media to warn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against nominating certain hawkish politicians to ministerial roles.

  • Yedioth calls it the opening salvo of a “public battle” over the identity of the ministers, though nobody is willing to put their name behind the warning as of yet.
  • Both communities are apparently worried about Bezalel Smotrich being nominated to be their boss. In the Justice Ministry, they are worried that giving the nod to him or Yariv Levin, who is also reportedly a candidate for the role, will be considered “a declaration of war against the Supreme Court,” Channel 13 news reports.

2. Wistful for Shaked: A judge is quoted telling the Kan broadcaster that people could end up looking back longingly at outgoing minister Ayelet Shaked’s term. Those are strong words, considering Shaked was previously seen as a major threat to the court’s ability to act as a check on the Knesset.

  • Haaretz’s Yossi Verter reports that Levin actually tried to help Shaked stay in government when it looked like the New Right would fall below the threshold — which it did — in the name of coalition stability. This even though he knew he could be the big winner if Shaked fell out.
  • “To say that this is his life’s dream [to be justice minister] would be the understatement of the decade,” writes Verter. “Furthermore, he has a plan to reform the justice system, and if only a fifth of it comes to fruition, the Supreme Court, the guardian of democracy, the last shield of human and civil rights and Israeli pride abroad, will look as though it’s been struck by a cyclone right after being devastated by an earthquake. He’s made it clear to Netanyahu that his condition for accepting the portfolio is a free hand to realize his vision. Levin wants a license to kill.”

3. Mounting fears: Smotrich is also the target of the ire of a police source quoted by Channel 12 saying that he or Miri Regev, apparently also a candidate for the job, would allow not only Jewish prayer but Jewish sacrifices on the Temple Mount, an act that could spark serious unrest among Muslims who see any Jewish rituals on the mount as a major offense.

  • The police source says the force’s preferred candidates to replace Gilad Erdan would be Likud MKs Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, or Yoav Gallant, a former top general, and that they are antagonistic toward Yariv Levin getting the nod.
  • Police distance themselves from the comments, and Smotrich notes that he’s not really being considered for the post, though he wouldn’t mind starting World War III (in not so many words.)

4. Welcome to Bureaucrastan? Dichter tells Israel Radio that he thinks the campaign, specifically against Levin, is “unfair.”

  • “I can’t remember a time when there was an attack like this on ministers before they’ve been nominated. Yariv Levin is a person who is very smart, nobody knows yet what he intends to do assuming he is made justice minister,” he says.
  • Likud MK Amir Ohana, thought likely to get a minor ministry, tells Yedioth Ahronoth that the campaign is being waged by the inheritors of former police chief Roni Alshech, who investigated Netanyahu.
  • “They want to form the government and hint like socialists at who the prime minister can and can’t nominate. Soon Israel will turn from a democracy, in which the public chooses its representatives, to a Bureaucrastan which is ruled by those who have not been elected,” he says.
  • Israel Hayom columnist Haim Shine accuses the media of being in on the campaign to subvert the people’s will, noting comments by Channel 12 analysts about the possible consequences of Levin becoming justice minister.
  • “All that’s left is for them to set-up Levin. We’ve seen this movie before,” he alleges conspiratorially.

5. The Dillz arithmetic: Friday night marks the beginning of the Passover holiday, when families get together to retell the story of the exodus and shoehorn modern issues into an ancient narrative.

  • JTA’s Josefin Dolstein looks at all the ways the Passover Haggadah has been co-opted … er adapted to the zeitgeist of the time, from a 1945 book drawing connections to the Holocaust to a lesbian pride haggadah from the 1980s.
  • It’s not known what kind of hagaddah rapper Kosha Dillz will use for his Coachella seder, named Matzachella, but it will probably be thinner than the classic Folger’s version.
  • “The 10-minute seder organized in collaboration with Rabbi Yonah Bookstein of Pico Shul in Los Angeles isn’t for observant Jews, but rather people who might not typically celebrate Passover,” Alma writes.
  • And just like the actual exodus, Dillz believes his pop-up version will prove just as timeless: “This is a story people will tell forever,” he’s quoted saying. “Like, I did a Passover seder at Coachella!”

6. Beyond apples and dates: ToI’s Amanda Borschel-Dan, meanwhile, writes about an epic quest by food writer Susan Weingarten across the various harosets across the world and across history, from a sour version favored by Medieval Jews (“more like a chutney”), to a Roman version that contains actual shards of pottery. Yikes!

  • “Weingarten explains that the errant ingredient actually stems from a Hebrew scribal error in which the final letter of haroset was left off, turning the word into heres or pottery,” she writes.
  • On Twitter, former US ambassador Dan Shapiro goes to town about his family’s tri-haroset tradition: Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and a Guatemalan version he and his wife discovered while adopting two of their daughters from the central American country that would probably be as good with matza as with some Tostitos.

7. Waste not, celebrate Passover not, apparently: Passover is also known as the holiday of excess, when people go crazy cleaning and cooking and buying new food and covering their lives in foil.

  • ToI’s Melanie Lidman reports that food consumption is up, specifically chicken, beef and, of course, gefilte fish. But waste is as well.
  • “Food loss during this time is about 14% higher than in regular months, according to Leket and the BDO consulting firm. This is because a lot of non-kosher-for-Passover food like bread and pastries is thrown out by the retail chains and consumers before Passover. Additionally, Passover-specific foods such as kosher-for-Passover corn flakes, cookies, and matzah are not generally eaten after the seven-day holiday, because they don’t taste very good, and are therefore thrown out by both consumers and supermarkets.”
  • And that’s not even factoring in all of the disposable plastics that many switch to using over the holiday.

8. Out of Africa: There’s crazy for passover, and then there’s Israel Hayom, which devotes its first 11 pages to the holiday. (By contrast Yedioth makes do with the two-page spread.)

  • A large chunk of that is, appropriately enough, about Egypt’s formerly vibrant Jewish community and what remains of it.
  • On the other side of the fence is Haaretz, which devotes its lead editorial to the scourge of public places shared by both Jews and non-Jews, like hospitals being forced to adhere to Passover rules, essentially shoving matza down people’s throats or forcing them to sneak in morsels of delicious leavening.
  • “Hospitals are especially sensitive places, where people stay when in distress,” the editorial reads. “Health institutions should enable those who want to preserve kashrut to do so, but it’s unacceptable to make everyone around them pay the price.”

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