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Hebrew media review

Jerusalem Day dust-up, communications breakdown

Rivlin remarks on East Jerusalem’s neglect and Netanyahu sacks Erdan’s man, who aimed to make Internet cheaper

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.

Israeli youth hold their national flag as they take part in the "flag march" through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
Israeli youth hold their national flag as they take part in the "flag march" through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Jerusalem Day grabs headlines on Monday after a celebratory march through the Old City by right-wing Israelis turns into a dust-up between Israeli police and Palestinians.

A sea of blue and white outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate graces the front page of Haaretz, which reports that tens of thousands of primarily religious Zionist demonstrators marched from Independence Park to the Western Wall, through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Dozens of Palestinian youths skirmished with police officers and demonstrators near the Damascus Gate and threw stones, bottles and firecrackers at the crowd, injuring four police officers. Four Palestinians were arrested.

The paper reports that members of Tag Meir, a group that advocates Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, marched ahead of the throngs of religious nationalist Jews, giving out flowers in a bid to calm tensions. Haaretz quotes the group’s leader Gadi Gvaryahu saying that their aim was “to show that it’s possible to march in a different fashion on a day of joy for Jerusalem.”

Israel Hayom‘s coverage focuses on remarks by Prime Minister Benjmain Netanyahu, in which he said that “Jerusalem is the secret of our existence” and that the city was the capital of the Jewish people exclusively.

President Reuven Rivlin’s remarks at a state ceremony at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill get mentioned in both Haaretz and Israel Hayom, but the quotes they choose to publish are telling. Haaretz quotes the president saying that “East Jerusalem is neglected, we haven’t yet dismantled the civil and socioeconomic wall which harms the city and separates between east and west.” While Haaretz publishes his quote in its entirety, Israel Hayom opts only to publish the latter half: “My Jerusalem is Zion and Zionism, and yet it does not belong only to its history. It belongs first and foremost to its people, and to all its residents: secular, religious and Haredi, Arabs and Jews.”

For Yedioth Ahronoth, the Jerusalem Day celebrations take a back page to the ongoing unemployment crisis in Dimona. But the paper reports far back on Page 8 that the “traditional” celebrations were accompanied by violent clashes between East Jerusalem Palestinians and police, and that six Palestinians were arrested. The East Jerusalemites waved Palestinian flags and clashed with a group of Jews and threw stones at them.

Dimona gets the spotlight treatment as its reporter heads to the city to investigate the general strike and chronic unemployment. It reports that amid the ongoing labor crisis in the town which has a 15% unemployment rate, more than double the national average, newly appointed Economy Minister and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Aryeh Deri paid a visit on Sunday.

“Here in Dimona they love Aryeh Deri, they believe him when he says that there are no magic solutions and accept with thankful recognition the guarantee to set up a special ministerial team for the issue of employment in the south,” the paper reports.

Elsewhere in the news, other new ministers and would-be ministers get media attention, but not necessarily the kind they’re looking for.

MK Gilad Erdan, the senior Likud member who failed to snag a ministerial portfolio in the new government, said he’s weighing his options for future public service, Israel Hayom reports. He says that he’s interested in joining the government, but not at any price.

“When I say my ‘public path,’ I mean only the Knesset and government. If someone has illusions or dreams, I’ll make it very clear to them that I see myself as a public servant wherever I am,” the paper quotes him saying at a ceremony marking the appointment of the new ministers.

Despite the rift between Erdan and Netanyahu, who didn’t accede to the former’s demands for ministerial posts, senior Likud officials tell the paper that “attempts will be made” in the coming days to bridge the gap.

Netanyahu’s firing of the man Erdan appointed director-general of the Communications Ministry also gets a front page spot on Haaretz, as the paper reports that rumor has it that the decision to sack the man over the phone was a political one due to his initiative to lower internet prices, and Netanyahu’s desire to control the communications agenda.

Israel Hayom says that the personal tension between Erdan and Netanyahu contributed to the prime minister’s decisions to fire Erdan’s man in the Communications Ministry.

Newly minted Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev, meanwhile, is quoted in Haaretz in her inaugural speech saying that “because of pluralism culture has reached every part of the country, and because of the same culture I won’t lend a hand to harming the image of the State of Israel, the soldiers of the IDF, and our tradition as a Jewish and democratic state.” The paper notes that just a week earlier she made apparently contradictory remarks in an interview with Channel 2, saying that “the dialog is open, but there are limits to dialog… If there’s need to censor, I will censor.”

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