Stuck in the doldrums between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s UN address and his sit-down with US President Barack Obama later Wednesday, Israeli papers balance prognostication of what will happen at the White House with previews of holiday humdingers they have waiting in the wings.
Israel Hayom, known for being friendly to Netanyahu, writes in its headline that the prime minister will school Obama on Iran being even more dangerous than the Islamic State — you know, in case he missed Netanyahu’s UN address, in which he said pretty much the same thing.
The news story notes that the tete-a-tete is scheduled to take about an hour, but gives no mention of the fact that Netanyahu will likely not be greeted with sweets and hugs, considering the blowing up of the peace process in America’s face and the fact that Washington has made it abundantly clear that it does not view Iran and the Islamic State in the same light.
Instead, Dan Margalit offers an upbeat assessment that all these little tussles between the greatest allies the world has ever known can be bridged, if they are willing to get creative. “The same is for the formula Netanyahu presented in an almost mathematical way that Hamas = ISIS. The US doesn’t see it this way. Neither do most Israelis. The mission for both leaders is to find a formula that both can live with, like Hamas = ½ ISIS. Of course not in a mathematical way, but in prose.”
Just to reiterate, you can now substitute half a cup of ISIS for 1 cup of Hamas in your terrorist pie recipes. Don’t forget to garnish with a sprinkle of al-Nusra.
For Yedioth’s Shimon Shiffer, though, it doesn’t take a calculator to figure out that formula might not fly. Dubbing Netanyahu as Israel’s kibitzer (Yiddish for someone who offers unasked-for advice), Shiffer predicts the meeting will be as cold as Washington’s brisk fall weather.
“Anyone who knows the details knows that between these two guys there hasn’t been and won’t ever be chemistry. Neither feels truly appreciated by the other and both are right. But what can you do, Israel needs America’s help today more than ever,” he writes. “Obama is expected to tell Netanyahu that with regard to all security requests he will personally ensure that everything gets an okay: quality intelligence, weapons, security systems and money for special projects. If only, those close to the meeting say, Obama would conclude by telling him ‘All this I do for the Israelis who appreciate me, and not for you, who did everything to act against my second term.’”
In Haaretz, Chemi Shalev drives home the lack of love for Netanyahu in the White House, contrasting his visit to that of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who has been feted like a rock star in his inaugural trip to the US as India’s leader.
“One can’t compare India and Israel, of course – with all due respect to us – but in this case, it’s not just size that matters. … The Indian leader is viewed as someone who can have a far-reaching and positive influence on future bilateral and economic relations between the two countries as well as the regional balance of power in Asia. Modi, officials in Washington said, has a lot of potential,” he writes. “With Netanyahu, the situation is just the reverse: His UN address was scrutinized mostly by the devoted cognoscenti while the American media barely stifled its yawn … The administration, meanwhile, is looking forward to Netanyahu’s visit on Wednesday like one anticipates a dentist’s appointment or a pestering grumpy uncle who just called to say that he must come over. Unlike Modi, Obama doesn’t seem to have much interest in clearing the bad blood or turning over a new leaf with Netanyahu nor does he appear to harbor any hope that Netanyahu will suddenly emerge as a partner to US diplomatic initiatives in the area. “
Of course, by the time the two meet later Wednesday, all the divining will be null and void, so papers also devote a healthy dose of space to upcoming weekender stories.
Yedioth pegs its blockbuster to Yom Kippur and the holiday’s namesake war, giving former Military Intelligence chief Eli Zeira, widely reviled as the man who dropped the ball on all the clues that Syria and Egypt would attack, a chance to defend his name. (Though he’s a spry 86, the paper touts the story as his last attempt to clear his name).
Zeira maintains in the piece that there was nobody who thought a war was coming and that he didn’t squelch information, rebuffing claims by a post-war commission that he should have known about the surprise attack. On top of that, Zeira says, prime minister Golda Meir was also guilty for not believing the Egyptians could attack, but he couldn’t say anything about it:
“I sat in the meetings and heard Golda Meir’s silliness about the Arabs,” he says. “What should I have told them – you guys are talking nonsense? That’s not acceptable and not realistic for the head of MI to rebuff the prime minister and tell her ‘you are wrong,’ even in the most diplomatic way.”
Israel Hayom also travels back in time for its barn-burner, but only a few months, to the operation to capture the two suspects in the killings of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, which ended with both being killed in a firefight amid a flurry of confusing reports last month.
The paper says it will set the record straight on the 100-day operation to find the killer, but offers little else in its preview, aside from this quote from a fighter which may indicate the army never intended to catch the killers alive: “The hardest moment was when we found the bodies [of the teens]: We knew we had to settle the score.”
Haaretz, meanwhile, uses its editorial to preview a weekend magazine which will explore the choice Israelis are facing on whether to stay home or seek a better life in Europe or the United States. Netanyahu’s pessimistic speech at the UN, the paper claims, made it that much less of a decision.
“Netanyahu looks around and sees the new Nazis of Hamas, Islamic State and Iran plotting a Holocaust for the Jewish people. To him, even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seems like a Nazi striving for a ‘Judenrein Palestine,’ while the Arab states, tainted with anti-Semitism and hypocrisy, are about to consign Israel to the claws of Iran,” the paper writes. “What is a young woman thinking about using her grandmother’s European passport to settle in Berlin, or a recent college graduate in Boston wondering whether to return here or begin his career in America, to understand from them? That they ought to trust Netanyahu, who will save them from the approaching Holocaust, or that they would be better off moving to a less dangerous place?”