Just what we needed: 6 things to know for June 20
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Israel media review

Just what we needed: 6 things to know for June 20

Cracks form in Blue and White, a former spymaster gives Netanyahu the gift of going too far and Manama opens its doors to a few journalists

Ex-Mossad director Shabtai Shavit speaks at press conference in Tel Aviv on March 11, 2015. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)
Ex-Mossad director Shabtai Shavit speaks at press conference in Tel Aviv on March 11, 2015. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)

1. Blue vs. White: Election season 2.0 got off to a less than glorious start Wednesday with reports of an internal rift sundering the Blue and White political party.

  • According to reports carried by several Hebrew media news outlets, Moshe Ya’alon, who represents the most conservative flank of the centrist amalgamation, accused Yair Lapid, who represents the more liberal side, of scaring away potential voters.
  • “He’s attacking groups that could otherwise find their home in Blue and White, or be our partners in the future. His rotation for prime minister with Benny Gantz turned voters off,” Ya’alon said in private conversation, according to several Hebrew outlets, none of which bother to cite a source for the information.
  • “Behind the scenes, tensions between the party heads are rising over the rotation question,” writes Yedioth Ahronoth, boasting that it was the first with the info (still unsourced).
  • Yesh Atid sources were quick to respond, reminding Ya’alon that he would be sending his resume around right now if not for them (not in so many words).
  • Pro-Likud Israel Hayom, which would likely like nothing more than to see Blue and White become engulfed in internal squabbling, leads off the tabloid with the donnybrook. “The campaign hasn’t even begun, but the dirty laundry is already coming out.”

2. Fake rally: Haaretz’s English edition runs a column by Chemi Shalev describing a campaign rally by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Afula in which he rants and raves against all his enemies, from the media to the police to the elites and everyone in between.

  • “This election is a verdict on whether we want to live in a country where the people who lose an election refuse to concede and spend the next two years trying to shred our laws and rip your country apart,” Shalev quotes Netanyahu saying, writing that he “whipp[ed] the crowd into a frenzy.”
  • The only problem? It never happened. The news site gives a few clues, putting a “Fake News” kicker and the cryptic words “Actually, he didn’t” in a subheadline, but nowhere in the body of the article is it made clear that the story is total fiction.
  • At least some of those reading the story think it’s real, gauging by comments left by users, who say the PM’s words prove his lunacy.

3. But who needs fake news when the real stuff does the job just fine? Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit tells the Maariv newspaper that “[Netanyahu’s] voters are ignorant people, with zero understanding. His political base is people whose moral standards are almost nonexistent.”

  • True to form, Netanyahu quickly takes advantage, responding with a laundry list of names that have been slung at Likud voters.
  • “They called us chah’chahim, amulet-kissers and bots, and now we’re ‘ignorant people,’ he said in a brief statement. “There’s no end to the left’s condescension toward Likud voters. Our response will come in the ballot booth.”
  • “Once again the elites show just what they think of the people of Israel,” Netanyahu ally David Bitan writes online.
  • On Twitter, Kan anchor Yaakov Ahimeir writes that “I assume the Likud is happy about Shabtai’s comments. It’s just too bad that they didn’t come closer to September 17.”

4. What was he thinking? The hubbub around Shavit’s comments dominates the media conversation Thursday morning, and even many Netanyahu critics say the former spymaster went too far.

  • “There are some things you just don’t say, and you definitely don’t generalize about more than a million Netanyahu voters,” reporter Mazal Mualem says on the Knesset channel.
  • Ram Ben Barak, a former deputy head of the Mossad who joined the Yesh Atid party, calls Shavit’s comments “outrageous and uncalled for.”
  • Yesh Atid MK Meir Cohen writes that he is “sick of the rote disparagement by the cognoscenti who are sure they are the only ones with any sense.”
  • Speaking to Army Radio later in the day, Shavit doubles down, saying that “there is something wrong with the morality” of Netanyahu’s voters.

5. Dateline Manama: In what is being hailed as a major breakthrough, Bahrain has agreed to allow reporters from six Israeli outlets to attend the US-led summit next week.

  • Reporters had been complaining that they were being given the runaround, with everything uncertain just a few days before the event.
  • In the end, The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Israel Hayom and channels 12 and 13 will be allowed to send people.
  • Channel 13’s Barak Ravid calls the decision “Unprecedented,” and Haaretz’s Amir Tibon notes it’s a sign “of soft normalization between the countries.”
  • Despite being one of the outlets chosen, Israel Hayom’s English edition credits the information to a Channel 13 report, and doesn’t mention that it is going. It’s especially strange since a) the paper never misses a chance to toot its own horn and b) It is about the only outlet that has mostly refrained from criticism of the workshop.

6. Left out in the cold: The large number of outlets not chosen to fly to Manama are less than pleased.

  • Tal Schneider, a diplomatic reporter for business daily Globes, complains that not a single business publication is being sent to the economic workshop (though Israeli economics are not really the point.)
  • Kan’s Shimon Aran complains on Twitter that “ it’s too bad not a single Arabic speaking journalist (including me) was invited.”
  • Non-Israelis not being allowed into the conference are also annoyed.
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