Passover in the shadow of Kansas
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Hebrew Media Review

Passover in the shadow of Kansas

Sadness over the shootings at Overland Park tempers the excitement as the Hebrew press prepares for the holiday

These matzo-loving kids show how excited they are for the Passover holiday which begins Monday night (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)
These matzo-loving kids show how excited they are for the Passover holiday which begins Monday night (photo credit: Edi Israel/Flash90)

The news of the shootings in Kansas is the one story that unifies the Passover editions of Monday’s dailies. But since the incident happened in the late evening for Israel, the articles are mostly brief and outdated recaps (click here for Times of Israel’s coverage of the shooting).

Aside from the brief articles about Kansas shooting, the papers are in full Passover mode. Yedioth Ahronoth gives pages two and three to a collage of articles about the holiday. First and foremost is a calorie counter for your favorite Seder foods like hardboiled eggs (80 calories), matzah ball soup (230 calories), and the bread of affliction itself, matzah, which contains 150 calories in each delicious square.

And while the holiday itself commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, according to the paper, this is the time of year when Israelis get the heck out of Israel. Sunday was the busiest day of the holiday at Ben Gurion International Airport, with 400 flights landing and taking off throughout the day. Where is everyone going? One popular destination is the Turkish resort city of Antalya, where over 2,000 Israelis traveled on Sunday alone.

Israel Hayom goes into a bit more depth, saying there will be 1.2 million people passing through Ben Gurion this holiday. For those wanting to stay somewhere in Israel but who didn’t plan ahead, good luck! Hotel occupancy rates in the north are near 100% and the same is true in Eilat.

The holiday isn’t only good for the tourism industry, as the paper reports people are flocking to supermarkets to buy all their calorie-laden goodies for the Seder. Supermarket chain Rami Levi said its profits doubled over the past week compared to normal, bread eating days.

Laws and lawmakers

Over in Haaretz the top story isn’t the Passover holiday but rather an interview the paper did with Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau. In the interview, Lau questioned the Law of Return, saying that it should be reevaluated because it gave rights to people with minimal contact to Judaism. “The State of Israel must decide if it wants to be a welfare state for the third world. Do we bring in everyone who has a mere connection to Judaism or perhaps only those who are Jewish?” he asked.

While Lau ponders the character of the Jewish state, in Yedioth they ponder the politics. One article highlights the triangle of anger within the coalition. “Bennett vs. Netanyahu, Livni vs. Bennett,” reads the article headline, as the three trade barbs. Bennett has been threatening to leave the government over a possible deal with the Palestinians that would release Israeli-Arab terrorists from jail. Netanyahu said in closed conversations that Bennett “is not acting responsibly.” A Netanyahu aide added, “No one in the government takes Bennett seriously.” Livni, for her part, called Bennett’s actions “obsessive and harmful.”

Israel Hayom also gets in on the Bennett-bashing, reporting on an interview that Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz gave to the Knesset channel (the Israeli C-SPAN). “This behavior of every Monday and Thursday threatening the prime minister only harms Israel,” Steinitz said. He went on to say that there is anger within Bennett’s Jewish Home party over his repeated threats to quit over releasing Israeli-Arab terrorists, mainly because that issue doesn’t directly affect the national-religious population that Jewish Home represents.

And if Bennett and the Jewish Home party left the government, and Israel went back to the polls, who would win the elections? Yedioth commissioned a survey which gives Likud 22 seats (down from the 31 it won together with Yisrael Beytenu last year), followed by Labor with 16 (up from 15), and Jewish Home at 11 (losing one seat). Perhaps the most interesting part of the survey relates to the four parties which would receive 10 seats each: Yesh Atid (19 now), Yisrael Beytenu (0 now because they are partnered with Likud), Meretz (6 now) and the returning Moshe Kahlon running his own party.

Serve and steal

Haaretz reports on a sting operation that netted some IDF officers for stealing military equipment. Eight people were arrested for selling weaponry to organized crime gangs in Israel’s south. Included in the sale were anti-tank missiles, grenades and guns. One of those arrested is an IDF officer who visited a base for a day and stole the missiles by putting them in the trunk of his car. The police called it one of the most serious cases involving stolen munitions in recent years.

Israel Hayom carries a story about another kind of munitions that hopefully will never be stolen – Israel’s nuclear bombs. In an interview with MSNBC, former president Jimmy Carter laid out his rationale for not bombing Iran and Israel’s defense capabilities. “If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Israel has 300 or more, no one knows the exact number,” Carter said. He went on to say that it would be suicide for Iran to attack Israel because of Israel’s retaliatory strike option. But he also said that he doubted Israel could preemptively strike Iran, that the only country in the world that could do that was the US, but that America probably won’t.

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