A quick scan of today’s front pages reveals that the people who have been screaming that they are suckers held a big rally to proclaim they are not suckers. And they call Shaul Mofaz a zig-zagger?
The massive anti- (ultra-Orthodox) draft-dodging rally in Tel Aviv makes all four top stories today, though all four papers forgo news of the event in favor of analyses by the pailful. They say that if you put six Jews in a room you’ll get seven opinions, but apparently that does not hold true for Israeli newspaper commentators, who clamber over each other to see who can proclaim loudest and most eloquently how righteous the protest is, how erroneous the leadership is, and how things have to change.
There are a few dissenters, though. Yoaz Hendel takes a slightly different tack, writing in Yedioth Ahronoth that this is everyone’s protest, which you may think begs the questions of whether the ultra-Orthodox and Arabs and rich kids who don’t want to serve are rallying against themselves. But no, he says, nobody is blaming the ultra-Orthodox and Arabs. It’s the state that has left them behind. They didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on them. Hendel, who used to serve as one of Netanyahu’s aides, calls on his former boss to take action. “It’s impossible to keep hiding, Mr. Prime Minister. Hear the voices and join media calls for action. And yes, Mr. PM, remember that these people are flesh of your flesh, a chunk of your supporters.”
Also going against the grain (and also in Yedioth) is Yedidya Mayer, who says the whole protest thing would be laughable if it weren’t so hateful. The ultra-Orthodox, are after all, enlisting by the gaggle. “On Wednesday, a computer track for Haredi sailors was opened up. On Thursday, 200 Haredi men joined up for national service. (On Friday, the rabbi slept late?) And on Saturday they called for the ultra-Orthodox to enlist. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.”
In Haaretz, editor in chief Aluf Benn says the protesters are wrong for wanting to impose their own hardships on others as punishment for being different, and says Plesner’s whole idea to draft ultra-Orthodox and Arabs into national service is Grade A phooey. Preach it, Aluf: “What is this ‘civilian service’? This is a euphemism for forced labor or state-sanctioned slavery. The ultra-Orthodox kid making an appearance in a fire station twice a week will not become a professional firefighter, nor will the Arab kid drafted into the MDA become a paramedic overnight. This brief and partial service will not constitute real vocational training; those drafted into it will take menial positions in administration, cleaning and cooking. The same will happen in hospitals, schools and social services.… Even the most downcast slave in a municipality or a hospital won’t work as hard or take on as much risk as a soldier serving in Golani. He will not become more attached to the Jewish state or come closer to Zionism, as the proponents of ‘equality’ claim. It will only waste precious time, in which he could obtain a profession he can use to support his family and will contribute to country’s economy.”
News? Oh yes, there is news (though by the time you read this it will be out of date.) Maariv is the only one to put the news up top, namely that the Likud, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will likely accept the Plesner recommendations for reforming the draft. Maariv records the various zigzags of Netanyahu and his partner in crime, Kadima head Shaul Mofaz, of first rejecting the committee (Netanyahu), then accepting its recommendations (Netanyahu), going to the rally against the disbanding of the committee (Mofaz), getting booed and then making up with Netanyahu.
Honeys and monies
The 20,000 people rallying in Tel Aviv may seem like a big story, but Yedioth has the real scoop of the day: more American singles are headed to Israel to find love (and a new place to live). The paper recounts a number of success stories from the Nefesh B’Nefesh lovers’ plane, and has some deets on the new arrivals for all the Israelis hoping for a wet hot American summer. Ladies, meet Torontonian Alexander Caldor, 26, who’s hoping to engineer his way into your hearts. Oh, and he wants a funny lady who likes to hike in wide open spaces.
Also of interest to immigrants is a short story in Israel Hayom that the government will pump another NIS 40 million into absorption services, including grants for immigrants going to university. The news comes after rumors surfaced that the student grants would be cut off, leaving many new immigrants high and dry, instead of getting higher learning.
It’s all your fault (yes, you)
In the op-ed pages, Haaretz’s curmudgeonly reality star Gideon Levy has a barn-burner of a story about the IDF taking water containers from Bedouin, who, it says, are stealing water in the desert. And just in case you thought you weren’t guilty because you aren’t physically taking their sustenance, think again, buddy: “The axis of evil is located about an hour’s drive from your home. But emotionally distant and far from the heart, it inspires no ‘social protest.’ And on the scale of Israeli evil, it is one of the worst. Backed with forms and bureaucracy, applied by ostensibly nonviolent inspectors, it involves not a drop of blood, yet leaves no drop of water either.”
In Israel Hayom, Nadav Shragai marks the fast of the 17th of Tamuz (being held a day late today) by lamenting the detachment in mainstream Israel from history, and especially from the Temple Mount. Shragai notes that the day marks the beginning of the destruction of Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago, and ties it to a recently published picture of scaffolding upon the large foundation stone in the Dome of the Rock (which tradition holds is the place from which the world’s creation flowed out of, and sat below the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple), which drew no hackles. “Forty-five years after the liberation of Jerusalem, most Jews are disconnected from the Mount, and what’s far from the eye is far from the heart. The Jews got used to the Western Wall as a substitute. Once rabbis made praying on the Mount verboten, the Western Wall… became the main thing.”
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