Shaken and stirred: 8 things to know for July 4
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Israel media review

Shaken and stirred: 8 things to know for July 4

Surveys show Israelis like Trump and that Benny Gantz could shake up the political scene about as much as a minor quake that scares the bejesus out of some sleepyheads

Then-IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Navy ceremony on September 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Then-IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Navy ceremony on September 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

1. While the US is celebrating freedom, fireworks and watered-down beer, Israel is having its own celebration of surveys that claim to expose public opinion here, baring it like the shiny pate of a bald eagle.

  • A survey in the Haaretz daily focuses on Israeli opinions toward Americans and finds that US President Donald Trump has a far higher approval rating here than in the US. The poll finds that 72 percent of Israelis greatly or moderately approve of Trump (with the lion’s share in the greatly category) compared to a 41.8% approval rating he enjoys in the US (according to 538’s poll aggregator.)
  • Some 53% think Trump has made the US stronger, while 78% of Israelis are fans of the US of A, with Argentina (55%) running a distant second, probably thanks to soccer star Leo Messi, despite its national team recently standing Israel up.
  • The survey also finds that 43% of secular Israelis would object to a majority of American Jews moving to Israel, compared to 40% who would be fine with it; 52% think Americans should not be allowed to criticize Israeli policy publicly; 44% think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is managing ties with US Diaspora Jews fine (26% say he’s not); and 47% think Israel should give equal standing to Reform and Conservative Jews (30% say not to).

2. A survey in Yedioth Ahronoth, meanwhile, is as American as inside baseball. The poll looks at how former IDF chief Benny Gantz could shake up the political scene if he decides to throw his beret in the ring.

  • A new party headed by Gantz would garner 14 seats in the Knesset, the poll finds, putting it third behind Likud (29) and Yesh Atid (15) and well ahead of Zionist Union (10).
  • Should Gantz decide to tie his fortunes to the Labor-Hatnua amalgamation, though, Zionist Union with him at the helm instead of Avi Gabbay would shoot up to 24 seats, seriously challenging Likud’s 30.
  • Despite Netanyahu’s Likud remaining in power in all scenarios with or without the jolly olive giant, his apparent position as a kingmaker or spoiler is tantalizing enough to draw the paper’s Sima Kadmon in: “It’s no surprise that nobody, including Netanyahu, wants to rush to elections. Nobody is jumping to check what will happen if a new guy comes to the neighborhood.”

3. Gantz entering the race is about as earth-shattering as a series of tremors that struck northern Israel early Wednesday morning, and the press is just as excited about it.

  • According to the Geophysical survey, quakes measuring 4.2, 3.2 and 3.9 struck in the Sea of Galilee over the course of a few hours, as well as a series of smaller temblors.
  • No injuries or serious damage is reported, but northerners still have frightening tales of slightly rearranged furniture and being woken up by the light shaking.
  • “I felt the earthquake, I was scared to death,” one person tells Walla news.
  • “The quake caught me while I was dreaming. I felt my dreams shaking and shaking strongly. It was not a light earthquake,” a woman tells Hadashot news.

4. Even before the quakes, northern Israel was rocked by a Health Ministry probe that found a doctor in Haifa was incorrectly advising women to not get genetic testing for the BRCA marker of ovarian and breast cancer. The ministry is now urging anyone who saw him over 10 years ago to get a second opinion.

  • Israel Hayom calls the move unprecedented, and after reporting earlier Tuesday on the directive, and one case in which a woman sued Dr. Zvi Borochowitz for failing her, reports in its print edition on a second case in which a woman in 1999 was advised not to get the test and then turned out to have breast cancer.
  • “Had the victim gotten the needed genetic test when she went to Borochowitz, she would have found she was carrying the genetic marker and would have undergone treatment that would have prevented the disease,” the paper quotes from a suit against the doctor filed in 2009.
  • Yedioth quotes a number of other women who also say they went to the doctor, were told not to get the test, and were later found to carry the marker. “I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t insist on being checked,” says one woman, whose mother, sisters and aunts all carried the marker, but was told not to get the test.

5. ToI’s Raphael Ahren takes a hard look at last week’s announcement of a Polish-Israeli agreement on the Holocaust law, which healed a diplomatic rift, but which some say entailed betraying the truth and Jewish memory in favor of the Polish position that they did no wrong during the Shoah.

  • “It’s a betrayal. It’s simply a betrayal,” Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer tells him, referring to a joint statement read out by Netanyahu. “It’s a betrayal of the memory of the Holocaust and the interest of the Jewish people. And the reason for it is entirely pragmatic: the diplomatic, political, and economic ties between the Israeli government and the government of Poland.”
  • Meanwhile Yaakov Nagel, who helped negotiate the agreement, tells ToI that Bauer is just sore because he wasn’t consulted.
  • “Here is a country that prides itself with having passed a law that they say will restore national honor, and half a year later they cancel it with their tails between their legs,” Nagel says. “The criticism drives me crazy. We got an amazing accomplishment. We had a law that everyone said was terrible, and we got rid of it without giving them anything in return. There is nothing wrong with the statement.”
  • In Haaretz’s op-ed page, Chemi Shalev says late Likud head Menachem Begin would be ashamed of Netanyahu’s apparent willingness to make peace with European nationalists, including in Poland and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has supported rehabbing the image of an anti-Semitic Hitler-era ruler.
  • Netanyahu’s “decision to gloss over the odious Polish law against claims of Polish complicity in the Holocaust and to camouflage Hungary’s propaganda against ‘internationalists’ like Soros are a blot on his own record and a stain on Israeli history,” he writes.

6. Revisionists are also attempting to erase Israel’s Eurovision win, or at least calling it into doubt. Hadashot news reports that Universal Music Studios has sent a pre-suit notice to the writers behind Netta Barzilai’s “Toy,” alleging that it is plagiarized from the memorable bassline of the White Stripes’ “Seven-Nation Army.”

  • If the claim is proven in court, it could disqualify “Toy”’s eligibility to participate in Eurovision and strip Israel of its win and hosting rights for the 2019 tournament, Hadashot TV reports.
  • While many have pointed out the similarity in the past, Yedioth (under the headline “Toy Vey”) quotes a legal expert who says that artists have much leeway in using similar harmonies: “If this is theft then half the songs in the world are stolen or copied,” he says.
  • Nonetheless, the paper reports that people are trying to work out a situation by which Universal will become publisher, giving them a share of the profits from the song while capitalizing on their more powerful distribution arm.

7. David Brog, who heads Sheldon Adelson’s task force aimed at battling BDS on US campuses, tells ToI’s David Horovitz that the initiative is already seeing fruit, with resolutions falling left and right, but still has a ways to go.

  • “It’s taking back the quad. It’s really ending this idea that the anti-Israel students dominate, and that pro-Israel students somehow have to be afraid or embarrassed. It creates an enormous psychological effect,” he says.

8. Adelson was in Israel on Tuesday night, attending an event thrown by the US Embassy to celebrate Independence Day at an event hall near Ben-Gurion Airport.

  • The event is usually held at the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya, but given the embassy move, organizers likely wanted to move it out of the Tel Aviv area. However, with the embassy still just a glorified consulate, it’s likely they settled on the event hall as a compromise.
  • During the event, Netanyahu mocked Europe for continuing to talk with Iran about the nuclear deal days after an alleged plot to attack a rally in Paris was discovered.
  • The party, though, may actually be remembered for providing frustrated photo editors with a fresh option to accompany stories about the Netanyahus’ legal woes related to their spending and alleged accepting of gifts: Sara Netanyahu and her husband laughing and drinking — you guessed it — pink champagne.
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