Hebrew media review

Frankenstorms and Frankenfactions

Hurricane Sandy is big news here, submerging the Likud-Beytenu alliance to the depths of the inside pages

Joshua Davidovich is The Times of Israel's Deputy Editor

A car goes through high water in Ocean City, Maryland, as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast on Sunday (photo credit: AP/Alex Brandon)
A car goes through high water in Ocean City, Maryland, as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast on Sunday (photo credit: AP/Alex Brandon)

Watch out, there’s a massive hurricane headed straight for your… newsstands, at least if you live in Israel, where dandy Sandy’s landfall makes massive top news across all four major newspapers.

“Millions in the eye of the storm,” cries out Israel Hayom. “Tempest” reads the ever-verbose Yedioth Ahronoth tabloid in front of a picture of sandbags piled high in what looks to be downtown Manhattan. “Sandy hits the US,” screams Maariv, with a photo of waves crashing up against rich people’s houses on the beach in Massachusstes (really? You couldn’t get any closer to the storm?).

And then there’s the always thinking Haaretz, which ties the storm in to the upcoming elections, which all of a sudden nobody cares about anymore. “One week until the elections, Hurricane Sandy paralyzes the Northeast US” (Psst, Haaretz: New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware are actually considered the Mid-Atlantic).

In Yedioth, Nahum Barnea was dispatched to windy Annapolis, Maryand, and made his way to a bar, where instead of getting sloshed he sets the scene among the owners trying to make last-minute preparations for the storm surge in the coming hours. “On the shared front of Charlie’s Bar and the Italian restaurant the owners built a defensive wall. First they spread blue jute across the glass doors and then attached it with nails to the wall and sidewalks. Afterward they put down a warren of sandbags about two meters high.”

Barnea also gets in a little Hasbara dig at those silly Americans living among the angry winds and angrier rains. “It’s impossible not to miss Mediterranean life, where summer is summer and winter isn’t quite winter.… In general, Americans think we in Israel live life on the edge. Look at them.”

Israel Hayom’s Yoni Hirsch, holed up in the Big Apple, notes that in New York everything is always amped up with this storm being no exception. “In a city where everything is larger than life, a life-threatening storm promises not only Armageddon-style scenes but also drama at its best. New Yorkers for their part, all potential stars, are obviously happy to put themselves in the lead roles. Sunday, shortly before the city entered a state of emergency, millions flocked to stores and eliminated all that was on the supermarket shelves. Today, exactly according to the script, most New Yorkers are staying holed up in their homes, leaving the busy streets of New York to a few stubborn tourists and optimistic taxi drivers.”

In Maariv, Tzach Yoked keeps a diary of his day of preparations ahead of the storm, including chaos at stores for supplies before the storm hits (or as it’s called in New Jersey, “shopping.”) “At the local Wal-Mart they ran out of water on Saturday. At another branch of the chain, a neighbor tells me, a number of shoppers were beat up in an attempt to grab the last six pack of water. At the local corner store, there are a few bottles left. The local Fox station advised a gallon of water per day per family member.”

Biberman’s monster comes to life

Americans may have their Frankenstorm (or Frankenstorm’s monster to be exact) but in Israel, as of Monday night, we have our own Frankenfaction (or “Biberman’s monster”) after the Likud voted to form a joint list with Yisrael Beytenu ahead of the elections, which is a whole other kind of perfect storm.

In Haaretz, Yossi Verter notes that the victory for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is even bigger than it looks on paper. “Netanyahu’s win was brought about not just because of collective sentimentality of the members, and his political management, but for the following reasons: the public support of most of his ministers, the silence of the other ones, and public opinion polls that mostly show that the joint list won’t lose any seats and will guarantee that Netanyahu is the next prime minister. In an atmosphere like this, nobody wants to spoil the fun. Except of course Minister Michael Eitan. “The minister with balls,” they called him yesterday.”

In Maariv, Mazal Mualem reminds readers that Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman also played a vital role in making this happen: “In the last few days Liberman met with dozens of Likud activists and succeeded in convincing them. ‘ You know me,’ he told them. “I’m trustworthy. My word is my word.”

Make a list

Yedioth’s Elisheva Maza has some advice for candidates lining up to run in the Knesset, whom she thanks for their dedication and asks that they don’t lose their moral compass once ensconced in the halls of power. “I have no magic formula for how to create a compass like that. I can just try to suggest this: Take a piece of paper and divide it in two. On one half write 10 concrete things that you would never do, and on the other side five things that you obligate yourself to push forward. When you write, try to find a balance between naiveté and realism, and mostly don’t give up on yourself. Think about what would come up in your hearts if you saw the lists of all the leaders, and if that would cause you to value them more or less.”

In Maariv, Ben-Dror Yemini keeps up his hammering of Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, who on Sunday published an “apology” for misrepresenting poll numbers that he said showed Israelis support apartheid. Yemini says the apology is anything but, as it still tries to show how Levy was correct even if the numbers were not. “There is racism in Israeli society. Of course there is. In any democratic society there are racist margins. That is distressing and you need to fight it. But Gideon Levy is not talking about with correcting. He’s turning Israel into a monster. There’s no doubt that he’s the best in his field. Once I thought the man was misguided, that he has good intentions. He wants a better society. But no, that’s not the story. Not by him. He turns the 10 percent into the 90 percent. That’s his expertise.”

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