Midterm mayhem: 7 things to know for November 8
Israel media review

Midterm mayhem: 7 things to know for November 8

Israeli media gushes over record number of female candidates and voters in the US, but also wonders if Trump’s brash style will stymie bipartisan efforts

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump looks to the cheering crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, November 5, 2018, in Fort Wayne, Indiana (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
US President Donald Trump looks to the cheering crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, November 5, 2018, in Fort Wayne, Indiana (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

1. Blue wave hits Red wall: Two days after a heated midterm vote in the US that saw Democrats wrest away some control from Republicans in Washington, the Israeli media takes a mostly cautious approach to the re-balancing of American politics.

  • The Yedioth Ahronoth daily says that while neither Democrats or Republicans delivered the other a crushing blow in the polls, the implications for Americans are significant. “Congress is no longer in Trump’s pocket,” the paper says in its front page story. “From now on, there will be resistance, there will be balance, and breaks.”
  • But the paper also calls US Attorney General Jess Sessions “the first casualty of the election,” while prominently describing the president’s scrap with a CNN reporter in a post-election press conference as “particularly embarrassing” for the White House.
  • Haaretz dedicates most of its midterm election coverage to commentary and analysis, examining Trump’s “inability” to accept defeat and the future of the Russia probe.

2. Going blue thanks to #MeToo: Yedioth columnist Tzipi Shmilovich gushes over the record number of female candidates running in Tuesday’s high-stakes election, and says the high voter turnout among American women was a direct result of the Trump White House in #MeToo era.

3. New era of partisanship? In a lengthy analysis, Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev says Trump will soon learn the hard way that a Democratic-majority House will push back against his agenda. He says the president’s “inability to accept defeat will render him unable to reach meaningful compromise” with the lower chamber of Congress.

  • Veteran Yedioth columnist Nahum Barnea calls the results of Tuesday’s vote a “loss for the American people.” While in the past a split Congress has usually increased bipartisan cooperation, Barnea says that under Trump, cooperation would be highly unlikely. “Trump likes the partisanship,” Barnea writes. “He actually celebrates it.”
  • But cabinet minister Michael Oren disagrees. In a Wednesday interview with the AP, Oren said the election results made it more likely that Trump would work with Democrats in pushing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
  • “There is no issue which would have greater reverberations, not just on the right but in the center and maybe even on parts of the left than resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” Oren said.

4. Number one fan: Meanwhile, Florida’s newly elected Republican governor told an Israeli media outlet in Thursday that his first visit abroad in his new position would be to Israel.

  • The longtime pro-Israel stalwart and Trump loyalist told Israel Hayom he would strengthen anti-BDS legislation, and would approach the president about recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

5. ‘Compliant public’: Thursday’s Hebrew papers also give plenty of coverage to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s demand that the attorney general fire one of his deputies after she criticized government-backed legislation and right-wing political rhetoric.

  • Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit backed his deputy Dina Zilber, who accused lawmakers of pushing legislation aimed at creating “obedient legal advisers, compliant artists, a compliant public,” and said Shaked had no authority to demand Zilber’s dismissal.
  • In its editorial, Haaretz blasts the Netanyahu government for forcing civil servants and legal gatekeepers “to display blind loyalty to their political superiors, not to constitutional law.
  • Yedioth’s Ben Dror Yemini warns that the Knesset and judiciary are becoming increasingly politicized, and says Zilber should be dismissed in an effort to keep waters from being muddied.

6. Gang wars: A car bomb Wednesday that killed two men believed linked to the criminal underworld, the second apparent mob hit in as many days, has media reexamining Israel’s ongoing efforts to combat organized crime.

  • On its front page, Yedioth declares that “gang assassinations are back,” and dubs the recent uptick in violence a “wave of criminal terrorism.” The dramatic tagline is similar to the way Israeli media outlets generally refer to other nationalistically motivated violence in Israel in recent years.

7. Quiet coming to the Gaza front: On Thursday, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has okayed an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal between Israel and armed groups in the Gaza Strip.

  • According to Palestinian sources, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi assured Abbas that after the truce was implemented, Cairo would advance efforts to re-launch diplomatic efforts to reconciliation between the Ramallah government and Gaza’s Hamas leaders.
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