Split derision: 7 things to know for May 15
Israel media review

Split derision: 7 things to know for May 15

There are fears of fresh violence on Tuesday after Monday’s deadly clashes at the Gaza border, though there likely won’t be any more telling juxtapositions on TV screens

People watch as US President Donald Trump speaks on a video screen during the official opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
People watch as US President Donald Trump speaks on a video screen during the official opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

1. A day after deadly violence rocked the Israel-Gaza borderlands, leaving 58 Palestinians dead and giving Israel its newest black eye, many fear Tuesday will see a repeat of the violence, only this time to mark Nakba Day.

  • Israeli media reports indicate official jitters that large-scale protests could break out in the West Bank and on the Lebanese border, as well as Gaza.
  • On the Lebanese border, marches are being planned by Hezbollah and the local branch of Hamas, Hadashot news reports. In the past, the Lebanese army has stopped protesters from reaching the Israeli border.
  • There are also some signs that things may be calming down as the sun rises Tuesday. The Haaretz newspaper reports that Hamas tried sending messages to Israel that it’s thinking about retreating from its threats to storm the fence after such a deadly day.
  • Palestinians sources tell The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff that it doesn’t mean Hamas will pack up and go home, but rather that it may simply try to keep tighter control of the protests, which it continues to insist on calling “nonviolent.”

2. Tuesday will also see dozens of funerals for those killed, meaning emotions will be high and things can just as easily ramp up to levels that dwarf Monday’s violence.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth’s Alex Fishman says the violence essentially means the ceasefire in place since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has ended: “Even without declaring war, we are facing a military confrontation in Gaza. The violence can leap to the level of rockets and attempts to infiltrate Israel with land or seaborne forces,” he writes.
  • Hadashot news reports that Hamas plans to continue “sending young activists to kill themselves on the border,” and plan on continuing the protests after Tuesday’s Nakba Day.
  • Israel is apparently sending messages to Hamas leaders via Egyptian intelligence that if the protesters don’t simmer down, they will be the targets of airstrikes.
  • Of course, this website is a good reason why they should not necessarily be worried.

3. The dissonance between the jubilant celebrations in Jerusalem over the US embassy opening there and the bloody, deadly violence in Gaza at the same time did not go unnoticed by pretty much anyone.

  • Headlines like the New Yorker’s “ Israel Kills Dozens of Unarmed Protesters in Gaza as Jared Kushner Speaks of Peace, in Jerusalem,” on an opinion piece by John Cassidy, are prevalent, highlighting the strange juxtaposition as Trump supporters hobnobbed while miles away Gazans and soldiers were engaged in the worst fighting in years.
  • Times of Israel reporter Raphael Ahren says attendees at the embassy opening were not oblivious to what was going in Gaza ( which may actually make the stubborn refusal to acknowledge it worse), checking updates on their phones and growing more concerned (about Israel’s image) as the death toll mounted.
  • Haaretz’s columnist Chemi Shalev writes that “there is no doubt that the scores of dead and many hundreds of wounded on the Gaza border spoiled Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump’s extravaganza.”
  • “The more the casualties in Gaza mounted, the more those assembled at the site of the new American embassy in Jerusalem seemed arrogant, detached and mainly devoid of compassion,” he adds.
  • The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz notes that the split screen juxtaposition wasn’t necessarily a coincidence, with Hamas seemingly timing its biggest attempts to breach the fence with the embassy ceremony. Even the fact that the party was broadcast alongside the scenes of violence in the international media was seen as a “victory” for the terror group.
  • Nahum Barnea in Yedioth adds a third event to the mix, Netta Barzilai’s Rabin Square concert in Tel Aviv upon her return after winning the Eurovision song contest, calling the three a three-ring circus: “One sweet, one bitter and one strange.”

4. While the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth splits between the two events, Haaretz and Israel Hayom, two other major Israeli dailies, each choose a side to highlight above the other (Gaza and the embassy respectively).

  • The Times of Israel’s Raoul Wootliff notes that Israel’s main news broadcast also chose to abandon the split screen to focus solely on the embassy.
  • “The channel’s designating the celebratory ceremony as more relevant than the protests in Gaza, which were relegated to being a mere sideshow, reflected the stark dissonance between how Israelis and Palestinians view the embassy move, and maybe even their own divergent histories,” he writes.
  • Wootliff also notes that this is not the first time a split screen has been the subject of such fascination, comparing it to a 2002 case in which an earlier incarnation of the same channel got in trouble for continuing to broadcast a soccer game alongside coverage of a deadly suicide bombing.

5. Israel Hayom, closely linked to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump (owner Sheldon Adelson was among those who pushed hard for the embassy move according to reports) naturally focuses on the party in Jerusalem.

  • The tabloid calls the embassy inauguration “the opening of another exciting chapter in the state of Israel’s history.”
  • Several pieces in the paper point to the US being just the first to move its embassy, or at least Israel wanting the US to be just the first: “We expect other countries will go on the same path,” President Reuven Rivlin is quoted saying in one.
  • Yedioth Ahronoth also gets in on the hootenanny, calling Monday a “historic day for the state of Israel.”
  • The party continued in DC later Monday, as Vice President Mike Pence addressed an Israeli embassy celebration and called Trump the greatest defender of the Jewish people ever to sit in the Oval Office.
  • Like at the partisan Jerusalem shindig, Times of Israel correspondent Eric Cortellessa reports that no Democrats appeared to be in attendance at the event.

6. Israel Hayom goes as far as dubbing Monday Jerusalem Day to celebrate the embassy move, even though Jerusalem Day was actually Sunday, reflecting some Trump supporters’ willingness to supercede their own traditions and histories in order to pay fealty to Trump.

  • Thus evangelical preacher Robert Jeffress was given a place of honor at the ceremony, despite several reports pointing out that Jeffress has made bigoted statements in the past, including against Jews.
  • Mitt Romney was one of the most prominent people to speak out and even the White House refused to back his inclusion: “White House spokesman Raj Shah said he couldn’t explain how Jeffress became involved with the event. But he said those views, ‘if they’re accurate reflections of what was said, wouldn’t be embraced by this White House,’” the AP reports.
  • Yedioth’s Sima Kadmon writes that the inclusion of Jeffress and Pastor John Hagee made it hard for secular Israelis, even those who supported the embassy move, to put up with it: “It would be difficult to find a more disgusting mix of invitees,” she writes.
  • Israel Hayom’s Eldad Beck, meanwhile, claims that European countries refuse to recognize Israeli claims to Jerusalem, because they can’t stand the fact that Jews, who they say killed Jesus, would control the city where it happened.

7. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Israeli reports of the goings on in Gaza do not actually contain any actual reporting from inside Gaza, and give little of the Gazan perspective. The closest an Israeli might get to an Palestinian or international viewpoint is via Haaretz, which does not shy away from highlighting the Palestinians’ plight.

  • The paper’s lead editorial makes a heartfelt plea for Israel to find a way to stop killing Palestinians:
  • “In the furthest place possible from the embassy opening in Jerusalem and the crowds celebrating Netta Barzilai’s victory in the Eurovision Song Contest, tens of thousands of desperate people without a present or future tried to cry for help,” the editorial reads.
  • “Lethal weapons won’t deter young people who have nothing left to lose. There is no dispute over Israel’s right to defend its border, but this does not mean it has the right to do whatever it pleases to those who try to cross it,” the paper adds.
read more: