Hebrew Media Review

Our man in Soweto

Mandela reportedly received Mossad training in the 60s; African migrants march for freedom; and it’s been a bad week if your last name is Dankner

Illustrative photo of African asylum seekers, held in an open detention facility in the Negev. (Flash90)
Illustrative photo of African asylum seekers, held in an open detention facility in the Negev. (Flash90)

Apart from the forecast of all sunshine for the weekend (a marked change from last weekend’s storm of the century), there’s no unifying front-page story — so the papers report on seemingly everything under the sun.

Haaretz’s hybrid news/opinion mix of a Friday edition puts one of each on its front page. For the news story, the paper reports that recently unsealed archives show the Mossad (Israel’s espionage service) provided weapons training to Nelson Mandela in 1962, just a few months before he was arrested by the apartheid regime. The training took place in Ethiopia and the paper reports that Mandela was very interested in the methods used by the Haganah, the pre-state underground group that went on to form the core of the Israel Defense Forces.

In its other front-page story, Haaretz does its best Captain Renault impression and is shocked, shocked that terrorists released in the Gilad Shalit deal have returned to their terror roots. Amos Harel writes that since the Shalit deal, Hamas has resumed its operations in the West Bank, but is managing them from Gaza using terrorists released in the Shalit deal.

However, despite the scary headline, Harel reports that the reason for the remote management is because no new capable leadership has risen up in the territories. Instead, Harel paints a stark picture of Hamas as an organization being stuck between Egypt and Israel, with nothing to do but solidify its power in Gaza and build more rockets that can strike Tel Aviv.

Israel Hayom goes for crime and punishment in its first five pages, focusing on the fall of the house of Dankner. Dani Dankner, the former head of Bank Hapoalim, was sentenced to a year in jail after a plea bargain with authorities in his fraud case. The paper couldn’t help but notice that the sentence came a mere three days after Dani’s cousin, Nochi, lost control of the IDB Group, which controls some of Israel’s largest businesses. Referring to the sentencing of Dani Dankner, the judge stated, “In this verdict there are many harsh words that must be translated into a sentence. This verdict cannot be only words, but through punishment.”

Dan Margalit, in Israel Hayom, writes a thank you note to former Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer for his role in ousting Dankner as the head of Bank Hapoalim. After Dankner’s removal from the bank, the police began investigating his actions, which led to all the way to Thursday’s sentencing of Dankner. Margalit lauds Fischer, but also praises that both Dankners (Nochi and Dani), “paid the price this week of breaking the economic boundaries.”

Yedioth Ahronoth gives a lot of front-page love to both the peace process and last week’s snow, but judging by the placement inside the paper, the weather is still Yedioth’s top story. It’s Page-2 story tells that last week’s hardest-hit areas are about to turn into the the most popular with snow tourists. Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Upper Galilee, and Gush Etzion are expected to be packed with tourists from around the country wanting to see the snow.

The paper also gives some tips for hikers to safely explore the snow, such as: stay on marked trails only; be careful of very slippery conditions; and, if in the Golan Heights, stay away from minefields.

“Finding the pulse,” is how Yedioth reports on the developments in the peace talks. With no breakthroughs taking place yet, the paper instead focuses on the timetable and the fears of what will happen if no agreement is reached. The paper reports that Israeli diplomats are worried that if the talks fail, Europe will place the blame on Israel — and Israel will pay the price.

Up next on the political road map is the third round of prisoner releases, scheduled for December 29. According to the timetable, the Americans are hoping for a final agreement framework to be in place by the end of January, which, the paper reports, may include an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley, but no civilian settlements.

Maariv‘s editors decided that the “news” was too boring for them today, so they decided to make their own. They dedicate much of their front page and the first two inside pages to a conference sponsored by the paper. The conference was held in Eilat and included a video introduction from Benjamin Netanyahu, and speakers such as Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett and Minister of Education Shai Piron. Bennett took the time to say, “70% of the country agrees on 70% of the issues, but we have a rare talent to focus on what not to agree upon — especially in the political and religious issues and state.” But then he warned that if the disagreements continue, the coalition would be in danger.

Red lines and marches

During a protest against the Prawer Plan on Thursday, Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi had hot tea thrown in his face. Israel Hayom reports that the attack occurred during the protests outside Beersheba. The attacker was captured by police shortly thereafter and confessed during interrogation. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said of the attack: “The right to protest is reserved for each sector and everyone has an opinion, but no one is allowed to cross the line and take the law into his own hands.”

Another group of asylum seekers set out from Holot, in the Negev Desert, on an additional march protesting their treatment. Yedioth reports that 200 asylum seekers left their detention center in the hopes of reaching Jerusalem to hold a protest in front of the prime minister’s residence. But immigration officers stopped a majority of the marchers and forcibly put them on buses back to the detention facilities. The marchers are demanding to be set free and to live a normal life. They told the paper that they aren’t criminals, yet they are still in jail.

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