Iran on the menu: 7 things to know for August 20
Israel media review

Iran on the menu: 7 things to know for August 20

John Bolton and Netanyahu discuss Iran, though a plan to divorce Hezbollah from Tehran may be as half-baked as the drug-addled responses that left a girl dead in an outdoor rave

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets US National Security Adviser John Bolton at the PM's official residence in Jerusalem, August 19, 2018. (Haim Tzach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets US National Security Adviser John Bolton at the PM's official residence in Jerusalem, August 19, 2018. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

1. My Dinner with John: US National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Israel, and at the top of the agenda is Iran, Iran, Iran.

  • Bolton had dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday night upon arriving, and both were on the same page about what would be on the menu:
  • “I look forward to discussing with you a whole array of topics, but the most important one is how to continue to roll back Iran’s aggression in the region and to make sure that they never have nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
  • “The Iran nuclear weapons program, the ballistic missile programs are right at the top of the list,” Bolton chimed in.

2. Not just Russia: Bolton even went as far as blaming Iran for meddling in elections in the US, in comments to ABC’s “This Week” that aired before his arrival.

  • After Trump tweeted over the weekend that people should look at China instead of Russia for baddies getting their hands into America’s messy democracy, Bolton expanded the list to include Iran and North Korea as well, though he did not discount Russia.
  • Bolton didn’t offer any proof, but as Rudy Giuliani might say, proof isn’t proof anyway.

3. Engineering a Hezbollah/Iran split: The top adviser to US President Donald Trump, who is Trump’s point man on talks with Russia, also told ABC that he thought Moscow and Washington were on the same page regarding getting Iran out of Syria, despite Russia’s alliance with Iran to support Syrian President Bashar Assad.

  • Nonetheless, the comment is enough to get massive front page treatment in free tabloid Israel Hayom, the country’s most-read newspaper.
  • The paper quotes Bolton saying that the countries are also united in driving a wedge between Iran and Hezbollah, though it notes that Israeli officials said there is “no concrete plan to do so.”

4. Bluffing on Iran? Israel might not have always been so forthcoming. Haaretz’s Amos Harel reports on research done by Hebrew University lecturer (and former Haaretz reporter) Daniel Sobelman that shows that Israeli officials may have bluffed regarding how serious they were about an attack on Iran in order to push the US to take a harder line in the nuclear talks.

  • “Netanyahu and [then defense minister Ehud] Barak, Sobelman writes, intentionally created a panic of war to improve Israel’s bargaining abilities with the United States, which feared that a regional war would harm American interests. The pair sought a specific and reliable American commitment to stop Iran from reaching nuclear weapons capability, which was more than what President Barack Obama had pledged until then,” Harel writes.
  • The article notes that in 2012 Israel went as far as canceling a joint exercise, seemingly as a prelude to an attack, with Barak telling US counterpart Leon Panetta that the US would have less than 24 hours’ warning to get troops out of harm’s way.
  • “The Americans bought the Israeli threat. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was dispatched urgently to Israel, and Panetta said in an interview with The Washington Post that an Israeli attack by the spring of 2012 was highly likely,” he writes.
  • You can read Sobelman’s article here, or the Haaretz recap here.

5. A party gone bad: Domestically, the press is focused on a scandal emerging after a soldier, 20, died during an outdoor rave, after she apparently didn’t get proper medical care.

  • Yedioth notes that Toher David collapsed at about 6 a.m. on the dance floor after taking LSD, but four hours passed before she got proper medical care, with suspicions that fellow party-goers were afraid if she was taken to a hospital the drug-fueled party would be shut down.
  • Haaretz reports on the series of bad decisions that led to her death, from a medical student saying that all she needed was to rest, to a DJ suggesting giving her lines of cocaine to counteract the acid. David was even put on a truck, which began to make its way to the hospital, but then suddenly turned around.
  • “When I asked why they stopped …. The conversation somehow ended up with it’s all good, it’ll pass,” the paper quotes a witness saying.
  • “Toher David died a terrible, needless death, one chilling in its details,” friend Sherri Mekubar Blikov writes in Yedioth. “The beautiful girl who loved to dance and paint came to a nature party in the forest. And in the forest there are drugs and wolves who only care about their money and their profits even after she collapsed and was shaking and throwing up.”
  • Both papers report that charges are expected in the coming days.

6. Ahead of the lefty curve: Uri Avnery, a peace activist and journalist who took left-wing positions well before they became mainstream, has died at 94, Haaretz reports.

  • Avnery, who fought in the War of Independence and served in the Knesset in the 1960s and 1970s, also published the newspaper Haolam Hazeh, which was the flagship of the far-left peace camp until it closed almost three decades ago.
  • Avnery also founded Gush Shalom, which advocated for a Palestinian state long before it became orthodoxy and was the first Israeli to meet Yasser Arafat, during the first Lebanon War.
  • Haaretz’s obituary assigns Avnery an almost Forrest Gump-like presence in the state: “The eternal peace activist never shirked controversy and was involved in fateful events in the country’s history, some of which he documented and others he actively took part in shaping. But while Avnery’s supporters saw his ideas as groundbreaking, detractors denounced him as an enemy of the people.”

7. Leaving Mozes: Also leaving the scene is Yedioth editor-in-chief Ron Yaron, who announced Sunday he was leaving his position.

  • While Yaron does not give a reason, in a statement to staff, he hints it is because of Case 2000, in which his boss Arnon Mozes is accused of trying to finagle a deal with Netanyahu in which he’d provide more positive coverage in exchange for a law to hobble rival Israel Hayom.
  • “It’s no secret that in the last year and a half the paper has been going through tough times. Case 2000 landed on me, landed on all of us, out of the clear blue sky,” he writes in the statement, carried by several media outlets. “The full facts have still not become clear, but enough has come out that we all need to do some soul-searching.”
  • Last year, when the case came out, he wrote that he would have left if ever asked to carry out the quid pro quo, but defended Mozes, which leaves open the question as to what changed now.
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