Making the grade
Hebrew media review

Making the grade

Matriculation data is released for every city in Israel with some surprising results; good news for Israel’s road safety; and Barak vs. Liberman

Then-defense minister Ehud Barak (holding pen) looks at then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman (to his right) at a cabinet meeting led by then-premier Benjamin Netanyahu in 2010. (Amit Shabi/Pool/Flash90)
Then-defense minister Ehud Barak (holding pen) looks at then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman (to his right) at a cabinet meeting led by then-premier Benjamin Netanyahu in 2010. (Amit Shabi/Pool/Flash90)

As the summer vacation nears its end after the weekend, the Education Ministry released its matriculation results by city for the past year. The town of Shoham again took the top spot, with just over 86% of its students matriculating.

Yedioth Ahronoth gives the most coverage to the results with four pages of coverage. The Education Ministry released data for 148 towns and cities and Yedioth is the only paper to publish the full list along with the change from the last time the data was published in 2009. Bnei Barak is at the bottom of the list with 10.89% of its students matriculating, which is an increase of 1%. Elsewhere on the list, Tel Aviv led the big cities in the 28th spot, Haifa was 35th, Beersheba barely eked into the top half at 71, but the biggest surprise was Jerusalem at position 134 with a matriculation rate of just 41.68%.

Haaretz‘s headline provides some instant analysis for those who don’t want to wade through the data: “The gap grows between rich and disadvantaged communities.” The article points out that the cities at the top of the list are all very well-off. Haaretz also points out some holes in the data that might cloud the overall picture, “Success rates in different localities are based on the calculation of those eligible out of high school seniors who live in the community, without including the youths who dropped out up to this point.”

Israel Hayom gives space to the mayor of Shoham, Gil Livni, who congratulates his students while sharing a little insight on how Shoham does it. The mayor writes that “approximately 40% of the residents are students in the education system, and about half of the local council’s budget is devoted to education.” Livni goes on to describe how students get personalized attention in the city’s nine schools, which creates a culture of constant achievement.

Maariv offers a sneak peek of an upcoming weekend feature: an undercover report of the conditions of cafeterias in eight schools around the country. Some of the violations found in the cafeterias: chloroform in the food, workers smoking while preparing the food, contaminated food, and more.

Wars, old and new

Israel Hayom is the only paper that dedicates front-page space to the IDF chief of staff’s warning to Israel’s enemies (read: Iran), “Gantz: Those who try to hurt us will discover our deadly strength.” His statements came after the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon traveled to Iran for the conference of Non-Aligned States. The paper quotes an unnamed Israeli diplomat who blasted the move by the UN secretary general, “This trip gives legitimacy to a regime that just a few days ago called for the destruction of Israel.”

Israel Hayom is in a belligerent mood today as it reports on a new war: the war on unemployment. Based on Tuesday’s report that unemployment has risen by half a percentage point, the Knesset will be holding a special session next week to plan how to deal with the rising unemployment. Industry and Trade Minister Shalom Simhon told  reporters his office intends to offer more professional training courses and will urge the treasury to dedicate funds to help curb unemployment.

The roads in Israel have always been dangerous but Maariv reports some good news on that front. The number of those killed on the roads in Israel has fallen for the past year. In July 16 people were killed on the roads of Israel, which is a drop of 53% from last year. Since the beginning of 2012 there has been a 23% decrease in road fatalities. The good news seems come out of nowhere because the article gives no reason for the decrease in fatalities.

Return to sender

Haaretz reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak disagrees with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s letter to the Quartet urging the removal of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In a conversation, Barak told the paper that the letter ran contrary to Israel’s interests. “We don’t need to inform our neighbors when they need to have an election or what their results need to be,” said Barak. He continued his pontificating, “Liberman wants Abu Mazen to go home? But who’s the alternative?… Hamas will take over control. Is that better for Israel?” The article also reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement distancing his office from Liberman’s letter.

In the opinion pages, Yedioth’s Alex Fishman writes about the impasse with Egypt over its military buildup in the Sinai Peninsula. The title of his piece, “Need a clear message,” refers not to what Israel wants from Egypt but rather what Israel needs to give Egypt. Fishman writes, “Israel must be very clear about this: there will not be any military event in the Sinai without our coordination.” He goes on to say that Israel faces a dilemma because it wants the tanks removed but doesn’t want to disrespect new Egyptian president Morsi. But despite the possible diplomatic issues, Israel must state clearly, “remove the tanks now.” He concludes the piece, “If that message is not delivered in a clear and firm voice to General Sisi and President Morsi, then we have problem. A problem that is better fixed while it is still small.”

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