Planes, subs and anti-vaxxers: 8 things to know for November 9
Israel media review

Planes, subs and anti-vaxxers: 8 things to know for November 9

There’s an ocean of puns for the submarine scandal, but it’s no joking matter — not even for Netanyahu, even if he’s not a suspect

An Israeli submarine sails during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli submarine sails during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

1. If all the seas were bribes: There’s a host of hyperbole (most of it punny) at play after the police recommended charging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former lawyer David Shimron and five other people, including a former national security adviser, former head of the navy, and a former minister, in a suspected massive naval acquisition bribery scheme.

  • Police sources on Thursday called the case a “watershed” and compared it to the Bus 300 affair — an incident in which the Shin Bet was found to have killed a terrorist already in custody, which led to several high-level resignations.
  • Yedioth Ahronoth describes the case as a “depth charge,” Walla News describes the recommendation to charge as a “black day for the Navy — and Netanyahu’s secret-keepers,” and Israel Hayom describes it as “deep in a sea of corruption.”
  • Haaretz puns that the police recommendations are “just a drop in a sea of questions.”

2. The INS Bribery: Netanyahu isn’t a suspect in the so-called Case 3000, but one might not realize that given all the ways he’s somehow been tied to the investigation.

  • “Hovering over everyone is Netanyahu, who apparently knows everything and nothing,” writes Haaretz’s Amos Harel. “There’s a long list of suspects and interrogees embroiled in the submarine affair, many of whom are close to the prime minister to some degree. Some, the police announcement implies, are exploiting their ties in government to cut a hefty personal coupon. And Netanyahu? Not only did he hear nothing of any of this, he wasn’t even questioned under caution in the affair – even as the list of his assistants, associates [and] cronies embroiled in criminal activity kept growing.”
  • Walla’s Amir Oren surmises that “perhaps the only way to root out the greed is to place two models of submarines, the INS Bribery, at the entrance to navy headquarters and Netanyahu’s office.”
  • Yedioth columnist Yoaz Hendel, a former Netanyahu aide, writes that even if Netanyahu tries to distance himself from the affair, the buck should stop with him: “He’s not guilty in the case, but he’s responsible for what happens around him.”

3. Bibiphobia: Hendel also criticizes Netanyahu and his men for gleefully crowing about him not being involved, as if the affair is something to celebrate.

  • Evidence of that is on full display in pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom, where the only mentions of the prime minister are about how he’s not involved.
  • “The left’s attempts to tie Netanyahu to the case crashed,” reads one headline.
  • “Abysmal Bibiphobic hate — that’s the only thing that can be the basis for the malice of blaming the prime minister, as if he sold out the country’s security and bought submarines for greed and personal enrichment,” columnist Haim Shine writes in the paper.

4. Air scare: There was briefly another mystery surrounding the air force’s decision Thursday to suddenly shut down Ben Gurion airport.

  • The army called the move routine, but Hadashot news reports the move came as air force jets were scrambled to check out a suspicious object (no, not the space cigar) approaching Israeli airspace, without saying what the object was, in an apparent false alarm.
  • The Ynet news website briefly put up a story explaining what the object was, but it was quickly deleted, usually a sure sign of the military censor’s fingerprint (the Prisoner X story ran wild in international media for years thanks to the same kind of quickly pulled down brief by Ynet until it broke into the open in 2012.)
  • On Friday morning, though, the censor okayed publishing that the object was …. a Syrian passenger plane that strayed from its flight path.

5. The Pakistan connection: There’s no censorship but still plenty of denials after The Middle East Eye seems to have confirmed a plane made a furtive trip from Tel Aviv to Pakistan and back.

  • The news outlet quotes a pilot and three staffers at an airbase near Rawalpindi saying they saw the plane, including one who said he saw a car that drove away with a delegation from the plane and brought them back several hours later.
  • Asked about the new info, Pakistani information minister Fawad Chaudhry tells MEE that “Our position remains the same. There was no Israeli plane.”
  • The news outlet notes that some think Pakistani officials are getting cute with semantics, since the plane wasn’t technically Israeli, but registered to The Isle of Man, even if it was carrying Israelis: “When government officials say that an Israeli plane did not land in Islamabad, they were technically right: it was an Isle of Man plane that left Tel Aviv and stopped in Amman and landed in Rawalpindi.

6. Don’t mess with Lebanon: Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el reports that Israeli fighter jets may be looking to take the fight against Hezbollah directly to Lebanon instead of Syria, with that airspace seemingly protected by Russian defense systems.

  • “This is problematic though; despite Israel’s attacks, it never received fire from Syria. Strikes on Lebanon, however, could reopen the northern front and increase Hezbollah and Iran’s strength, in addition to the damage to lives and property,” Bar’el cautions.

7. A pox on them: A more pressing concern is measles, thanks to an outbreak blamed on parents refusing to vaccinate their kids.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth publishes Health Ministry data showing which towns have the highest vaccination rates, based on how many first-graders have gotten their MMR shots.
  • At the top of the list is Beit Jaan, an Arab town in the Galilee that also consistently has the highest standardized test scores, with no kids unvaccinated.
  • Though the outbreak has been tied to ultra-Orthodox communities, the town with the worst vaccination rate is Elyashiv, a run of the mill moshav near Netanya, where a whopping 84 percent of kids haven’t had their shots.
  • Most other towns fall into the 4-12 percent range of having unvaccinated youngsters.
  • Read Hebrew? Check out the full list here.

8. Broken glass: Friday is the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht and commemorations of the pogrom are taking place across Germany, Austria and elsewhere.

  • AFP reports that at a ceremony in Vienna, some people booed Parliament head Wolfgang Sobotka to protest his party being in government with the far-right FPOe.
  • In two weeks, Netanyahu will visit Vienna, and while he won’t meet with members of the Nazi-founded party, he will meet its coalition partners.
  • Holocaust survivor Walter Frankenstein, who was living in a Jewish orphanage in Berlin during that night of terror, recalls to the AP’s Kirsten Grieshaber how he helped convince German policemen who wanted to burn down his home not to.
  • “So instead, they went into our synagogue and turned off the sanctuary light in front of the holy ark,” Frankenstein says. “They did not turn off the gas and after they left, we suddenly could smell gas everywhere inside the building.”
  • Frankenstein and others from the orphanage ran inside the synagogue, opened all the windows and turned off the gas before it could lead to an explosion, she reports.
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