Goodnight Maariv, and good evening Netanyahu
Hebrew media review

Goodnight Maariv, and good evening Netanyahu

One of Israel’s oldest papers may be nearing its demise, and the prime minister is forced to cut back on a free dinner

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Demonstrators in Tel Aviv express their rage at the Maariv newspaper’s impending closure and the possibility that many will not receive full compensation from the company. (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
Demonstrators in Tel Aviv express their rage at the Maariv newspaper’s impending closure and the possibility that many will not receive full compensation from the company. (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Maariv’s big story is that the paper’s employees protested Thursday’s sale of Maariv to the owner of Makor Rishon, a rival paper, and the impeding layoff of most of its workers. Approximately 600 Maariv employees and their supporters marched across Tel Aviv to protest their uncertainty over receiving pensions or compensation as a result of the sale. The paper writes that as many as 2,000 employees are set to lose their jobs after the sale.

The staff say they will not put out Maariv on Tuesday. After that, it’s anyone’s guess what will develop.

Three long-time Maariv writers run editorials mourning the loss of the paper they knew. Yonatan Hilleli, a 31-year reporter for the paper, says he’s no longer as naive as he was when he passed up other job offers, but “I know this story doesn’t exempt me from receiving a pink slip.” Mimicking the langage of Yom Kippur prayers, he writes, “I did not transgress, I did not embezzle, I did not slack off, it’s just that someone decided that my friends and I need to pay the highest price for failed management over many years.”

Haaretz reports that 1,750 employees will likely be laid off as a result of the sale. According to the sale agreement, 300 employees will be kept on, with no regard to seniority or preconditions. Established in 1948, Maariv, according to Haaretz, has approximately NIS 400 million in debts, a quarter of which are owed to its employees.

Haaretz also runs a political cartoon showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mrs. Netanyahu reading Maariv and Israel Hayom, respectively. Netanyahu quips to his wife that “We are going to receive another paper,” in reference to the perception that Israel Hayom is a mouthpiece for Netanyahu.

Photo of Haaretz's political cartoon on September 21.
Photo of Haaretz’s political cartoon on September 21.

Israel Hayom leads with Iran admitting that it falsified information to the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding its nuclear program. Iranian Vice President Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, who also heads Iran’s atomic energy organization told Al-Hayat that misleading facts were used to protect his country’s nuclear program and to disguise some of the technical advances it has made. Though the paper regards the story worthy of a bold headline on the front page reading “Iran admits: We lied to the world,” the article itself is a mere four paragraphs.

The paper’s main story is about released documentation regarding the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. Israel Hayom reports that newly declassified material from the commission formed to investigate Israel’s failure to foresee Egypt and Syria’s attack in October 1973 exposes “hubris and groupthink” by the government and military elite.

“Perhaps the biggest oversight in the war was that repeated warnings of impending war, which were based on reliable intelligence, somehow slipped through the cracks, even within the Mossad,” Israel Hayom writes.

Maariv’s headline succinctly sums up the nature of the intelligence failures that led to Israel being caught off guard. “The agent forwarded the warning, the head of the Mossad went back to sleep.” The day before the war broke out, an Israeli agent in Egypt, Ashraf Marwan, informed the Mossad through a middleman in London that the outbreak of war was imminent. When the information reached the ears of former Mossad chief Zvi Zamir in the middle of the night, he went back to sleep and only dealt with it in the morning.

The declassified reports also highlight miscommunication and lack of communication between the government, the Mossad, and military intelligence, all of which led to Israel being unprepared for the October 6th invasion.

Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, planned to hold a glitzy $100-a-plate dinner for coalition ministers and their wives at the expense of the public. The total cost: NIS 80,000 (~$20,000).

The paper reports that only “speedy intervention by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira forced the prime minister to hold a more modest affair. Imitating the prime minister’s remarks before slashing ministry budgets last month, the headline reads “No free meals.”

Yedioth Ahronoth describes how Shapira, “boiling with rage,” called the prime minister’s office and informed Netanyahu that such an affair would not be held and that if the show were to go on the prime minister would either have to finance it himself or have the ministers pay for their food. In the end the public only paid NIS 25,000 (~$8,000) for the affair.

The paper also reports that senior ministers in the Likud party say that Netanyahu will soon announce national elections for the beginning of 2013.

Haaretz also features a special publication in honor of the new year about various current events in the coming year. Regarding Netanyahu, Yossi Verter writes he will inevitably be ushered into office should elections be held in four months. Verter explains that “there is no serious candidate for prime minister running against him,” that “Likud is still the largest party,” and that “In the current electoral system, the Likud-right-ultra Orthodox bloc is the largest political bloc in Israel. The demographics carry the day in favor of this bloc – every day, every week, every month.”

He predicts that there will be elections in the next 12 months and that  Netanyahu will cobble together a coalition. Afterwards, he says, “Nothing will change. He will continue to fall out with Obama (if the latter is reelected); he will continue to put the brakes on the peace process with the Palestinians (true, that predicament is not only his fault); he will be hyper-engaged in the Iranian affair; he will make deep and painful budget cuts, in the hope of the electorate forgetting them by the next election; and he will be compelled to legislate a bypass to the Tal Law that would regulate the draft of Haredim and Arabs.”

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