Little rascals, big problems: 8 things to know for July 5
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Little rascals, big problems: 8 things to know for July 5

A rabbi decides politics should be a he-man girl haters club; the right finds itself in Liberman’s vise and Hamas frets over another wayward son

A scene from the 1994 movie 'Little Rascals.' (screen capture: YouTube)
A scene from the 1994 movie 'Little Rascals.' (screen capture: YouTube)

1. The gentler sexism: Influential national religious rabbi Shlomo Aviner kicked up a nice little ruckus Thursday by making like one of the Little Rascals and saying that politics is really no place for a woman, explaining his objections to Ayelet Shaked being at the top of a right-wing slate.

  • Throughout the day Thursday, voices filled the airwaves pushing back against Rabbi Spanky, though many from the national religious community had trouble moving beyond mealy-mouthed replies that did not directly condemn the rabbi, but merely distanced themselves from his comments.
  • Shaked herself also kept from directly condemning the rabbi, though she pushed back late Thursday, tweeting from Canada, where she is vacationing, “Just a reminder that a woman can do anything — travel, be a mother, lead a party, even serve as city mayor, company director or head of state.”
  • Makor Rishon, considered a national religious paper, almost totally ignores the Aviner hubbub on its website. It does, however, feature a column by Shaked, likely written before Aviner made his comments, calling for national unity.

2. Piggish position: Others are more forceful, like Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid, who tweeted that “Politics also isn’t a place for chauvinists and religious fanatics.”

  • Amit Segal, a Channel 12 political reporter who comes from a national religious background, tweets that “maybe women don’t really need to be in politics, but first it needs to be cleansed of charlatan rabbis, those who send religious edicts by text message, who wraps flip-flopping messages of political support in a sheen of Jewish law.”
  • (Aviner is well-known for publishing short answers to religious questions sent by text message.)
  • In Yedioth Ahronoth, Nurit Dabush writes that her religious upbringing taught her that women do have a place in leadership roles, citing a number of female leaders in the Bible.
  • “They gave me faith that especially as a woman I have the understanding to do, to believe and to succeed,” she writes.

3. The parties are all right: Whether Shaked leads a slate is still a question, with the former justice minister not even committing to running with a particular party or list.

  • Times of Israel’s Raoul Wootliff reports that New Right co-chairman Naftali Bennett has offered Shaked sole chairmanship of the struggling party to prevent the popular former justice minister from jumping ship, according to party sources.
  • Israel Hayom, ramping up a repeat of a right-wing unity campaign it pushed before the last elections, publishes a poll showing that all the right-wing factions getting together would manage a whopping 19 seats.
  • That includes Jewish Home, National Union, Otzma Yehudit, Zehut and New Right.
  • Unfortunately for the right-wing though, such a merger would steal enough votes from Likud to leave it well below Blue and White, with possible right and left-wing coalitions tied, depending on which way Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu goes.
  • Those numbers jibe with polls published by Channels 12 and 13 on Wednesday, showing Netanyahu unable to form a coalition without Liberman.
  • “He’s in Liberman’s hands, and those are the last hands he wants to be gripped by,” writes Yossi Verter in Haaretz.

4. Escaping Hamas: Years after his Mossab Hussein Yousef — the son of Hamas leader co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef — went public with his story of Hamas’s inner workings and his time as a Shin Bet mole, his brother has done much the same, fleeing to Southeast Asia and telling his story to Israel’s Channel 12 news.

  • In an interview aired on Wednesday night, Suheib Yousef blew the lid off of the Turkish listening post he manned, under the cover of being a Hamas “political office,” and spoke out harshly against the terror group he worked for only a month earlier.
  • “They were working for a foreign agenda. This isn’t for the Palestinian cause. Instead, they sell the information to Iran in return for financial assistance,” he tells the channel.
  • According to Channel 12, Palestinians in the street have described the interview with Yousef as “an earthquake,” and Hamas has begun to push back, planning a media blitz and rallies aimed at discrediting Yousef and backing up his father, who has now seen two of his sons defect.
  • Hamas’s website reports that Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh called Hassan Yousef’s wife and told her that he backs the remaining members of the family that have not defected and was happy with an “ongoing solidarity movement” to back them.

5. Escaping Gaza: Hamas may be more worried about an NPR report that describes a mass exodus out of the Strip via Egypt.

  • According to the report, experts believe some 35,000 to 40,000 Gazans have left since mid-2018.
  • Gaza-based Al-Azhar University political science professor Mukhaimar Abu Sada tells NPR that most of those leaving are young college graduates with no prospects in the Strip: “You cannot get married. You cannot rent a house. You cannot start a new life here.”
  • It’s not just Hamas’s rule of the Strip, but also unsurprisingly Israel’s occasional bombing campaigns, often launched in response to intermittent Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, that are pushing people out.
  • “I don’t want to sleep [while] I’m afraid from the bombings and the missiles, whether from the Israelis or from Hamas,” says English translator Siham Shamalakh. “I know that I have a nice apartment, and life in Gaza is nice when it’s peaceful. But when the escalation comes, I change my mind. I say, no, I want to get the hell out of here.”

6. Quitcher whining: If the Hamas story didn’t seem to get much attention, that’s because Israelis were more concerned with protests in the Ethiopian community in the wake of the killing of Solomon Tekah.

  • In Haaretz, Odeh Bisharat draws a line between the two, writing that Ethiopians should be thankful they are not Arabs, or they would not be being treated with kid gloves by the police and public when they blocked roads, in his telling.
  • “If Arab youths had attacked a car, thrown stones at it or tried to hurt the driver (things that everyone agrees are unacceptable), I guarantee you the attackers wouldn’t have escaped with their lives. They and whoever else happened to be around would have been met by a hail of bullets,” he writes.
  • That’s a bit of an exaggeration as first, Ethiopians were run over and injured by police in other ways, though not shot, and second, there have been protests in which Arab protesters surrounded a car and were not shot, though one cannot deny that there is a double standard overall.
  • He also apparently missed the much-maligned Yedioth Ahronoth front page headline Wednesday accusing the protesters of “anarchy,” though others have taken notice.
  • “The focus of the media, for the most part, was on the damage caused by the protests, not on the police violence or the unbearable daily reality of systematic racism against a whole community,” writes Odelia Dayan-Gabbay in The Seventh Eye.

7. Ethiopian lives matter: A better parallel may be the US’s own Black Lives Matter movement, and many are pointing out the similarities.

  • “An off-duty police officer shot dead an unarmed black teen, sparking riots. But it didn’t happen where you think,” reads a headline on CNN.
  • Hebrew University’s Ronny Regev tells Haaretz that even if there was no direct connection, there is at least a subliminal one.
  • “The issues are so similar,” she says. “In both places, you have black people suffering from economic and social inequality — and then it all explodes when you have these incidents of police brutality.”

8. Noncare center: On Thursday, the TV news largely moved on from the Ethiopian protests to parents fuming mad at revelations of abuse at a childcare center in Rosh Ha’ayin.

  • The mild, kid-friendly protests were sparked after police published videos, which were widely shown on TV and online, of a daycare worker tying up children, pushing them, force-feeding them, smothering them under blankets and more.
  • “She should get the death penalty,” one parent tells Channel 13 news, after being asked what sentence she hopes the woman is given, assuming she is convicted.
  • The Ynet website reports that many parents were unable to make it through the videos, and in Yedioth, Amichai Eteli asks why the police were so keen on releasing the videos to the public.
  • “What was the point,” he writes. “Shocking videos showing kids being forced to eat their own vomit are certainly no way to get the public to love the police.”
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