Left out in the cold
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Hebrew media review

Left out in the cold

With the mercury dropping, pluralistic groups, Hebron Jews, and ex-NBA coach David Blatt are all put on an iceberg and sent out to sea

Whitewalkers from the hit HBO show 'Game of Thrones,' similar to what the newspapers are predicting for the snow storm in Israel. (screen capture: YouTube)
Whitewalkers from the hit HBO show 'Game of Thrones,' similar to what the newspapers are predicting for the snow storm in Israel. (screen capture: YouTube)

Baby, it’s cold outside. But don’t expect the puns in the Hebrew press as the snow falls in America, and threatens to raise its hoary head in Israel, to warm anyone’s cockles.

Yedioth Ahronoth is the only paper to lead with the snow, specifically in New York, with a punniless front-page headline reading “New York under siege.” But it shows its tabloid bona fides with a series of photo captions like “The white White House,” for a picture of a snowman in front of, you guessed it, the White House; and “Diplomatic freeze,” for a picture of the Capitol. (The paper apparently does not realize the State Department is across town in less-picturesque Foggy Bottom.)

The paper’s Tzipi Smilovitz, reporting from the “frozen streets of New York” (yes, that’s the actual dateline) reports that the storm is “one of the largest to ever hit the East Coast.”

Israel Hayom reports that the Jewish state is getting ready for its own polar blast, though it will likely include a lot less snow.

“As some of us hope, this storm may bring a few white flakes,” the paper reports. “From the morning, snow will start to fall in the northern mountains — the Hermon and northern Golan. From the afternoon, light rain mixed with snow is supposed to fall on the peaks of the Galilee and in the central mountains (above 800 meters, or 2,626 feet). On the night between Sunday and Monday, and even on Monday morning, it’s possible there will be a thin layer of snow in Jerusalem, especially in the higher neighborhoods.” Get out the sleds!

Haaretz doesn’t lead with the snow storm, but the paper’s top headline, “Education Ministry freezes support for pluralistic Jewish groups,” is sure to include a pun about the weather anyway.

The cold shoulder refers to NIS 16 million earmarked for these groups, which, the paper reports, may have been funneled to Orthodox Jewish organizations instead.

“We’re concerned that the education minister, who emphasizes his commitment to all Israelis, is acting in a narrow, sectorial way,” Michal Berman, head of an NGO making the claims, is quoted saying.

The paper adds that Education Minister Naftali Bennett declined to comment.

Israel Hayom leads off with a more metaphorical storm, this one over the booting of Jewish settlers from a house in Hebron, which is just the picayune to get the political infighting jamboree started.

“Two Houses and a storm” reads the tabloid’s weak attempt at a compelling headline, which reports that “six ministers and two MKs harshly condemned the evacuation, and some of them even threatened that they would not support the coalition in the Knesset plenum on Monday, in protest against the evacuation.”

Nadav Shragai would seemingly be among that group, were he an MK. The analyst/reporter commentates that the claim that the settlers didn’t have the correct permits is bunk, since they never would have been allowed to get permits. Then he gives readers a lesson on real Zionism.

“This telegraphs weakness and skews from the old and good Zionist way, that which showed the enemy, the nations of the world and also ourselves that against terror, hate, murder and genocide, we are planting and building more houses and more neighborhoods and more settlements and not giving in,” he writes. “Israel does not exist only on the merit of military might and political and diplomatic realism, but first and foremost on the strength of the right and the bond between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.”

Haaretz, meanwhile, reports that Netanyahu will allow the settlers to return to the home as soon as they get their paperwork in order, which is either a sick joke about Israeli bureaucracy (have fun faxing forms 17 times in the hopes that someone sees it, suckers) or a sincere effort to try to calm the political waters.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the settlements and appreciates the settlers, who stand bravely and with determination every day against terrorism,” an unnamed official is quoted by the paper saying. (The comments were echoed by Netanyahu on Sunday morning at the cabinet meeting.)

It’s just one letter and a world of difference between Hebron and LeBron, but the story is the same, Jews getting kicked out of places — in this case, now-former NBA coach David Blatt from the basketball powerhouse.

The press gives big play to the now-fallen Israeli star who rose to the heights of the NBA’s most forlorn team and on Friday was unceremoniously dumped like a barge of chemicals into the Cuyahoga River.

The anger and feeling of disappointment over the move is palpable in the press, which gets to feel what it’s like to be a sad, sad Cleveland sports fan for a day.

Israel Hayom’s editorial cartoon features Blatt, sitting in front of the Cavaliers locker, in shoes that are much too big for him, and a sticker cleverly misspelling Cleveland as “cLEAVEland.” Seven years in Cleveland, no rings, this ain’t.

Yedioth makes sure to highlight a Hebrew comment sent to LeBron’s Instagram translating as “Son of a whore, you motherfucker, that’s the best coach you’ll ever have,” surrounded by other niceties such as “Fuck you, loser,” and “You are the biggest fucking fraud ever.” And in case you were curious, the paper is sure to point out that some of the insults “were not fit for print.”

Commentator Raz Sachnik is a bit more polite in writing that the first Israeli coach in the NBA, faced with herding the deity known as LeBron James, “never had a chance.”

“Don’t get confused for a second. The Cleveland Cavaliers were and will remain LeBron James’s team. Not of its coach, and certainly not of other stars like Kyrie Irving,” he writes in Yedioth. “Thus he went from a place where he had nothing to lose to a place where he couldn’t succeed. The wins came by merit of LeBron. And the losses? They were courtesy of Blatt, who caused them ‘despite the amazing abilities of James, who keeps Cleveland alive.’”

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