Hebrew media review

From Iran to settlements, a lot to pooh-pooh

As nuke deal takes effect, the press serves up sour grapes; the EU is pissed about West Bank activity; and one columnist proves just how full of crap his writing can be

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives for the final plenary meeting at the UN's IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. (AFP/Joe Klamar/Pool)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives for the final plenary meeting at the UN's IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. (AFP/Joe Klamar/Pool)

Germans may have cornered the market on words expressing joy at another’s misfortune — schadenfreude — but a word for the feeling of misery at someone else’s joy has yet to be coined. If the Israeli tabloids on Sunday morning, in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal going into effect, are any indication, though, chances are such a word is most likely to emerge from the glorious Hebrew tongue.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to describe the face of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the cover of Yedioth Ahronoth as having a shit-eating grin, and one can only imagine that it is by design. Yedioth, to its credit, takes the high road and runs a simple headline alongside it: “The Iranian victory.”

Commentator Alex Fishman recounts just how far that victory goes, with the world opening up to Iranian businesses and arms deals flourishing. He writes that Israel will need to start investing more in Iran as well, but not the way the rest of the world is.

“The Americans chose to ignore the Iranian missile industry, which covers the whole Middle East and makes it all the way to Israel. This obligates Israel to continue to plan Israeli outlines for attacks or defense,” he writes. “Israel needs to follow closely the Iranian buildup.… With time the world will drop its interest in intelligence from Iran, but Israel doesn’t have that privilege: As the world returns to dozing, Israel will need to up its intelligence investment against [Iran.]”

And that’s exactly what Israel plans on doing, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, quoted in Israel Hayom. Whereas Yedioth makes Israel seem alone in the fight against Iran, Israel Hayom claims that much of the Middle East is worried about the turn of events, though it does nothing to flesh out that fact in its actual reporting.

One thing the paper is sure of is the perfidiousness of US President Barack Obama in striking the deal, with Boaz Bismuth writing like a lover scorned about how Washington’s attitude toward Tehran shows that the ayatollahs are the president’s true love, employing some Purim-story language to drive home his point.

“Thus shall it be done to the country whom Obama delighteth to honor: He’ll sign a dubious nuclear deal with it; free or stop proceedings against 21 people as part of a prisoner exchange, including three Iranian-Americans accused of breaking the sanctions, and wonder about the lack of luck that Jonathan Pollard wasn’t Iranian; ignore the ballistic missile tests the Iranians performed lately, which clearly broke UN Security Council resolutions; apologize a week ago over the detainment of 10 American sailors, as if the Revolutionary Guards who held them were angels,” he writes, the sour grapes spilling from his pen. “Thus will be done to Iran, the country which set up for President Obama his legacy and got in return excellent standing for the Islamic Republic. Welcome to the new American era: Iran — in, Gulf countries — out.”

In Haaretz, Chemi Shalev says Obama’s diplomatic victory is being viewed as possible proof that Iran is becoming more moderate. It’s a feeling echoed by some in Jerusalem, though those willing to say so are becoming fewer and fewer, he writes.

“Although Iran remains a dangerous, aggressive, terror-supporting state, the positive conclusion of the secret negotiations on the prisoner release — together with the quick resolution of the captured US sailors in the Persian Gulf last week — enforces the perception that moderates are gaining strength in Tehran; that they are complying with their commitments under the nuclear deal (as the IAEA confirmed Saturday); and that they wish to put Iran on a less belligerent course in the international arena. Obama and his officials view the cup as half-full; they believe that the moderates should be strengthened through compromise and dialogue. Their critics and adversaries see the cup as half-empty; they prefer a policy of force and intimidation,” he writes.

“Among Israelis who are engaged in national security intelligence and assessments, there are many who discern a much more complex landscape than the black-and-white picture emanating from the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. Their voices, however, grow steadily fainter, for fear of the harsh criticism repeatedly leveled at them by cabinet ministers and apprehension that their careers would suffer as a result. Thus, Israel exempts itself from examining whether new opportunities exist that might require some adjustments — never mind a complete overhaul — in its single-minded policy toward Iran,” continues Shalev.

There’s another voice that also won’t be heard by Jerusalem, that of a spy who infiltrated the office of Palestine Liberation Organization negotiator Saeb Erekat and sent intelligence to the powers that be in the Jewish state, and who has now been found out, Yedioth reports.

The paper, citing a senior Palestinian source, writes that the agent held a senior position in Erekat’s office and had access to secret Palestinian documents regarding talks with Israel.

“A Palestinian security source said the Palestinian security service followed the suspect for a long time and that he was arrested in Ramallah,” the paper reports. “The source added that the suspect admitted to the charges against him, but the investigation is continuing to fill in the full picture and to understand the extent of the damage caused on the Palestinian side. The source noted that the Palestinian Authority is checking the depth of the damage caused to them as a result of the sensitive documents being leaked for so long.”

Pissed off

It doesn’t matter how many spies Israel plants in Ramallah, it seems unlikely Jerusalem will be able to stop the European sanction train against Israel over settlement activity, which — according to a Haaretz report — is about to go from steam engine to Maglev.

The paper reports that a draft resolution drawn up by EU ministers draws a sharper distinction between Israel and the settlements, reaffirming the settlement good labeling regime and possibly leading to new sanctions, according to European and Israeli diplomats cited by the broadsheet.

“The drafts have become increasingly harsh and grave from moment to moment,” an Israeli official is quoted saying. “The Swedes and Irish are pushing and it appears as if our friends are not able to withstand it. The Germans are trying to hold the line, but are not succeeding.”

The shit storm likely to be kicked up by the European resolution, and Zarif’s shit-eating grin, are nothing, though, compared to an op-ed by Haaretz’s professional troll Rogel Alpher, which is more full of night soil than his regular columns. Alpher defends an artist for taking a crap on a flag, which, he writes, is nothing compared to allegations of soldiers using Palestinians’ shirts to go to the bathroom on and settlers throwing dirty diapers at Palestinians, which he terms a lone-wolf “shittack” (or “pigua-tzoa,” for those wondering just how lovely Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s reinvention of Hebrew can be).

“Pooping on a flag needs to be protected as free speech. On the other side, taking a shit on someone’s shirt, who isn’t there and didn’t give permission, is not very polite. And to take your baby’s feces in a diaper and throw it at your Palestinian neighbor, that’s already crude and antisocial behavior,” he writes. “To throw a diaper filled with crap at your neighbor is to really crap on a person. And to crap on a person of flesh and blood with feelings is much worse than to shit on a flag, which is a piece of cloth that doesn’t feel a thing.”

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