Hebrew media review

Rockets in the Golan, a soccer star in the Knesset

The Israel Police scandal continues while Netanyahu preps for his trip to Washington

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

IDF soldiers in northern Israel on January 19, 2015 (photo credit: Basal Awidat/Flash90)
IDF soldiers in northern Israel on January 19, 2015 (photo credit: Basal Awidat/Flash90)

Tuesday’s rocket fire on the Golan Heights, which resulted in neither injury nor property damage, tops the Hebrew papers’ agendas on Wednesday, with the artillery corps’s cannons featured on every cover.

Although no one has officially taken credit for the attack, and the shots were fired from a Syrian army position, Haaretz reports the IDF blames Hezbollah. “An action like this could not occur without the permission of Hezbollah,” an army official said.

In response to the attack, the IDF fired 20 artillery shells at the Syrian position from which the rockets were fired. The IDF official emphasized that this was done to signal to Hezbollah that Israel won’t tolerate more rocket attacks.

The story dominates the cover of the tabloid Yedioth Ahronoth, which chooses the shocking title, “The fear: A war of attrition in the Golan.” But Yedioth’s actual coverage of the attack downplays the gravity of the situation. “When there are finally hikers, then they close Mount Hermon,” read one of the headlines on the rockets. Yossi Yehoshua writes that the attacks were an attempt by Iran and Syria (no mention here of Hezbollah directly) “to rewrite the rules of the game with the IDF” so that they can now attack Israel “whenever it’s convenient for them.”

The free daily Israel Hayom responds to the tension on Israel’s northern border with big pictures, a big headline — a quote from its idol, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who responded to the attacks saying, “Whoever plays with fire will get burned” — but with a very small article that mostly reviews what was already clear immediately following the incident.

A woman will solve all our problems

The Israel Police is still reeling from a recent string of scandals, and things will likely get worse before they get better. Haaretz reports that Uri Carmel, head of the state prosecution’s internal investigations department, announced: “We’re cleaning the police stables.”

As Carmel put it, “Every officer, and policewoman, now knows that any commander who receives a report of harassment and fails to report it will be harshly punished… and will lose his place in the organization.”

The police are now looking to make a woman a major general in the police because that will make everything better somehow. Netanyahu responded to the latest scandal involving major general Nissim Mor, who allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted female police officers, saying: “Maybe the time has come and it’s the right thing to do, to appoint a female commissioner for the Israel Police.”

The namedropping election

Israel Hayom writes that this year’s elections are the “namedropping elections,” with each party fighting to have the most heavily branded list of candidates.

Eli Ohana during his days as a soccer player for Beitar Jerusalem (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Eli Ohana during his days as a soccer player for Beitar Jerusalem (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

“Not just the top figure on the list has to be a celeb, but the whole list is a contest of who has the ‘sexier’ names. The latest development is from Naftali Bennett, who offered Israeli soccer star Eli Ohana a guaranteed spot in his list, and thus it is completely foreseeable that soon we will refer to him as MK Eli Ohana,” the paper reports.

After Bennett announced Ohana’s position in the party lots of people, including some in his own party, were furious at the apparent publicity stunt. Bennet said, “I understand their anger.” Also, Anat Roth, who was a Peace Now activist before becoming religious and espousing right-wing beliefs, is joining the Jewish Home circle. Israel Hayom reports that Bennett’s ally MK Ayelet Shaked tried to chill everyone out in a WhatsApp message to party leadership: “Let’s give him a chance.” Zevulun Kalfa, who held the 18th spot on Israel Home list, quit over the decision. “I don’t have the strength to be quiet anymore,” he wrote. “I feel like I got a kick to the face.”

Mr. Netanyahu goes to Washington (cont.)

Israel Hayom is filled with reports and op-eds on the prime minister’s proposed trip to the US Congress. Not surprisingly, the paper is in favor of Netanyahu’s voyage, which has roiled the Obama administration. A two page-spread quoting Fox News correspondents, but mostly quoting veteran Fox personality Bill O’Reilly, makes the message clear: Let Bibi speak.

A full-page opinion piece by Boaz Bismuth paints Netanyahu as the unfortunate and unintentional victim in an intra-party conflict between a Democratic senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, who wants to continue with sanctions on Iran and a Democratic president who does not. “Obama really is wrong. What to do? And Menendez is the right one. The hierarchy means the president outranks the senator from the same party, and not the other way around,” Bismuth writes. And now, he continues, this security issue has turned into an “American political storm that they have dragged Netanyahu into.”

The humanity.

Long-time Haaretz editor dies

Veteran journalist and editor David Landau died from an illness Tuesday. He first came to Israel from England just before the Six Day War, and when his parents begged him to come back, he said “absolutely not,” and promptly went to work for The Jerusalem Post. He eventually moved to Haaretz. On September 1, 1997, he started irritating conservative English-speaking Jews with the publication of the daily’s English edition. From then on, Jews’ sensibilities the world over would be offended by Gideon Levy, in English. Aluf Benn, the current editor of Haaretz, lauds Landau, calling him a journalist in every fiber of his being. Publisher Amos Schocken says it’s a great loss for Haaretz and for journalism in general. The editor of The Economist, for which Landau reported, says he was wise, goodhearted and provocative in his gentle way.

Gideon Levy writes a personal goodbye, calling Landau the last of the old-school newspaper editors who wore tweed and kept a bottle of whiskey on hand. “Farewell, my editor,” Levy writes. “Farewell, David.”

The long yawn

Back on the political front, Shaul Mofaz announces his retirement. “I’m not an exceptional politician and will not run in the March elections,” says the former defense minister. Haaretz illustrates news of his retirement with the saddest picture of Mofaz ever taken, sitting all by his lonesome in the Knesset and looking worried.

Even Israel Hayom is making fun of America for how little snow it got in what was supposed to be a storm of the century, though a picture of President Reuven Rivlin walking through that mediocre snow dominates Yedioth Ahronoth’s cover.

And finally, in the lighter news of fashion: Haaretz is not impressed by the Israeli clothing company Renuar’s spring-summer line. “Renuar’s designers left their courage at home,” the review’s headline reads. The new collection, the paper says, only brings about “a long yawn.”

And as someone in the newsroom pointed out, if an Israeli criticizes your clothes, you know you’re in trouble.

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