Not kidding around: 8 things to know for July 8
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Not kidding around: 8 things to know for July 8

A child abuse case sparks fresh protests, but Ethiopian-Israelis are still fuming at police; a raid that went wrong is reexamined; and talk of political pairings heats up

Parents protest against the abuse of children in private daycare centers in Tel Aviv on July 7, 2019. The sign reads 'What happens when the door is closed?' (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Parents protest against the abuse of children in private daycare centers in Tel Aviv on July 7, 2019. The sign reads 'What happens when the door is closed?' (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

1. We’re not gonna take it: 2019 is starting to go the way of 2011, the year that brought out masses of summertime protesters over the price of cottage cheese and housing, among other luxuries. Still, the crowds may be familiar but the causes are different.

  • On Sunday, it was parents pushing for government oversight of private daycares, after yet another case in which a caregiver was found to have been abusing children.
  • “The cry of the parents,” reads a headline in Yedioth Ahronoth, with the hyperbole only rising from there in concert with the bilious rage.
  • “Behind ‘Masha and the Bear’ and ‘Yael’s Young’ns’ — the nicest and sweetest names for kindergartens — terror rages,” says one parent protesting in Jerusalem to Ynet, namechecking daycare centers where workers have been accused of convicted of abusing kids.
  • “It can’t be that the state regulates banks and not babies, it’s not possible that in a normal country caregivers dare to abuse the innocent and the punishment is not similar to that of murder,” another protester tells Walla News.

2. The real victims (hint, it’s not drivers or abusers): In a sign that the media perhaps learned from its mistakes after being criticized for focusing its coverage of Ethiopian protests on how many  traffic problems they made, few reports play up jams on roads and highways caused by road blockages, though they’re not totally missing from reports.

  • The mostly kid-friendly protests also lacked the fiery clashes with police that marked some of the Ethiopian protests last week, and organizer Ahaz Agam tells Army Radio that “we have no intention to use violence, we will continue to fight with quiet protests.”
  • In case one is wondering why someone would even need to rally against child abuse, Channel 12 reports that a daycare worker in Afula who has also been accused of abusing kids says she is the real victim, after protesters gathered outside her home.
  • “I was under a lot of pressure, they left me alone with 17 kids and it was impossible. So at one point I separated them and picked them up. I had no intention to hurt them. It was a one time-thing. I’m sorry it happened but from this to hurting me and my family, all this hate, it’s crazy,” she says.

3. Fuzz busting: Protests in the Ethiopian-Israeli community meanwhile, may restart Monday, with fresh anger over the way the police are handling the case.

  • The family of Solomon Tekah is fuming over the fact that personal details about the slain teen’s record were leaked to the press, in what appeared to be a pretty bald attempt to smear his name.
  • “The behavior of those disseminating the information raises concrete suspicions that the distribution of the information, whether done accurately or falsely, was done in order to paint a picture of the deceased as someone who was not an innocent victim,” attorney Okawa Zana, head of a government anti-racism body, wrote in a letter to the attorney general asking that an investigation be opened, according to Channel 12 news.
  • Army Radio reports that police had gotten permission on Friday to keep four people arrested during the protests last week behind bars, despite not even bothering to work on investigations against them. On Sunday, though, they were finally released.
  • Globes looks at Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s claim that the number of arrests in the Ethiopian community have dropped by over 20 percent this year, and finds that he’s close, but no cigar. In fact, the stat is based on a comparison of 2018 to 2015, when it fell from 2,073 to 1,602.

4. What racism? Israel Hayom, which often acts as a shield for the government, is less sensitive toward the protests and the plight of the community, running in its Hebrew edition a headline playing up violent threats.

  • In its English side, the paper carries a piece by columnist Hillel Gershuni, citing data by his brother Nehemia Gershuni-Aylho claiming that most Ethiopians who are claimed to have died by police violence were actually suicides, and actually police are equal opportunity killers.
  • “If there are no police killings, are Ethiopian Israelis the target of ‘overpolicing’? The accepted answer is yes, but the reason for that is not necessarily racism, but rather the unfortunate fact that there is a higher crime rate in the Ethiopian community, mostly among its younger members,” he writes.
  • An article by Jewish News Syndicate (carried by Israel Hayom), claims that the Ethiopian community is being incited to violence by leftists and there is no racism against them, quoting right-wingers who say so.
  • “The protests started as a grassroots, spontaneous movement in the Ethiopian community but it is evident that the radical left-wing group New Israel Fund rapidly tried to hijack them,” Eytan Meir of the right-wing Im Tirtzu group is quoted telling the outlet.
  • He also claims the fact that Israel brought the Ethiopians in via rescue operations decades ago proves it is not racist.

5. You have no idea: Community organizer Michal Avera-Samuel tells ToI, though, that the everyday reality of the Ethiopian community in Israel is one that “outsiders can’t even fathom. There’s horrible, daily racism that takes place right under your nose.”

  • “Police brutality is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s real, it exists, but it’s just part of what’s pushing us to protest again and again. It’s literally just a symptom of the overall mindset,” she says.
  • The Jewish Agency’s Pnina Agenyahu writes  in Haaretz that police violence exists and is driving Ethiopian youths to be burning mad at the state: “I am hurt that our government does not know how to embrace our pain. I am hurt that people around me do not understand why it is such a big deal – a policeman shooting a teen. I am hurt that police gunfire has killed two of our youngsters in the last six months alone.”

6. Heroes and zeros: New details on a raid in Gaza that went awry, leading to the death of a special operations officer by friendly fire, have shone a freshly harsh light on what went wrong in November.

  • “Heroism and lessons,” reads the front page headline of tabloid Israel Hayom, reflecting the government’s official middle of the road stance, while Yedioth’s front page heralds “Botches and heroism.”
  • ToI’s Judah Ari Gross reports that “the probe’s findings were a mixed bag, identifying a number of tactical errors and improper planning that led to the operation’s failure, alongside courageous actions by members of the special forces unit who took part in the raid that prevented a greater disaster, including by the officer who accidentally killed his comrade…. Overall [IDF chief Aviv] Kohavi determined the operation to have failed in its stated mission. The highly public, embarrassing debacle led to a series of shakeups within Military Intelligence.”
  • “The description of the events will rightly generate amazement at the courage of the soldiers operating deep in enemy territory and the ability to extract them once they were discovered,” Haaretz’s Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich write. “But we should make no mistake about the magnitude of the shake-up in Military Intelligence and special operations. This was an unprecedented failure that will bring about changes both structural and conceptual in the way Military Intelligence and its units operate.”
  • Yedioth’s Yossi Yehoshua reports that the slain officer, who cannot be named in the press, may be recognized by the state with a special citation: “Even though the operation was defined as a failure, Kohavi did not take any disciplinary steps against anyone involved, and even decided to create a special panel to give out medals of honor.”

7. Female politicians are doing it for themselves, and everyone else: Haaretz reports that Tzipi Livni is considering throwing her hat back into the ring, but only if Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party joins up with the Labor Party.

  • The paper reports that Livni is a get for either party both as a known name and face, but also as a sugar momma: “Aside from the electoral advantages that a joint ticket with Livni might bring, her party has millions of shekels in its coffers, whereas Labor and Democratic Israel are both short on funds. Thus gaining access to Hatnuah’s money could inject life into their campaigns.”
  • On Twitter, Walla politics reports Tal Shalev writes that “Livni is pulling an Ashkenazi,” referring to the former IDF chief who helped get Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid to join up by offering himself as a prize.
  • Ynet reports that new Labor head Amir  Peretz, who is looking for friends everywhere but under the couch, will meet with Barak later Monday. This comes a day after he and Gantz met and made so much peace a tree grew out of their hands.

8. Strange brew: On the other side of the aisle, bidding is heating up for another leading lady — Ayelet Shaked.

  • Shaked has been coy about where she is thinking of going, but will return to Israel from a vacation in the Canadian Rockies Monday, which is expected to help heat up speculation about her political future, Channel 12 news reports.
  • The Kan news outlet reports that Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said he would give up his dream of becoming justice minister if only Ayelet Shaked joins his faction and becomes justice minister under a Benjamin Netanyahu government.
  • But Likud may have its eyes on her as well. MK Miki Zohar is quoted telling Netanyahu that he better do whatever is needed to bring her in, predicting she’ll bring 70,000 votes with her. “The opposition to making room for her is endangering the rule of Likud and the right. If Shaked joins [Avigdor] Liberman, the balance will be against Netanyahu.”
  • But Likud’s Tzipi Hotovely tells Galey Israel Radio that Shaked can take off, eh: “Internal polls show Shaked won’t add any seats. I don’t think we need to be horse-trading for people who made the right lose votes.”
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