Suffer the vacationing children
Hebrew media review

Suffer the vacationing children

The summer doldrums are back, leaving papers to write about griping over the school break that never ends and Poland’s near Holocaust denial. But hey, at least we lost at soccer!

Israelis buying school supplies for the upcoming school year starting in September, at a store in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israelis buying school supplies for the upcoming school year starting in September, at a store in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A few days ago, this writer noted that a flare-up between Israel and Gaza had apparently heralded the end of the summer no-news doldrums. Well, a look at Wednesday’s Hebrew print landscape shows that prediction may have been premature, as the Israeli press still has its mind very much on vacation, for better or worse.

Stories about taking time off lead both major tabloids, Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom, with Yedioth focusing on parents’ anger over a seemingly never-ending summer vacation that puts them in the horrible position of having to spend more time with the fruit of their loins. Israel Hayom, meanwhile, leads its front page with the news that soldiers will now get even more vacation, though apparently realizing that it’s not actually big news, the paper buries the full story and leads its first several pages with security-related coverage.

Not so Yedioth, though, which sticks to its guns and tells readers everything they may want to know and more about the “parents’ day of rage” (honestly, that’s what they call it) to protest that fact that this summer vacation will just. never. effing. end. Seriously, it’s been like two months already. Do they think we’re machines?

To show their disgust, parents say they will bring their own whining, crying, pants-pissing, Lego-chewing, nose-picking, juice-slurping, mess-making, good-for-nothing children to work with them. Call it “bring your kids to work because if I have to suffer so do you day.” (I write this, of course, as someone whose children are spending their summer break 6,926 miles away in the cloying embrace of Uncle Sam, leaving me to wallow alone in my harrumphing indignation and hypocrisy.)

The paper kicks things off with the headline “The too-big break” (a play on words, since summer vacation in Hebrew is known as “the big break.”) The goal of the bring your kids to work ploy, writes reporter Tamar Tarbalsi Hadad, next to a countdown of how many days are left until school (8), is “to create a protest to demonstrate the large, challenging gap between how many days of vacation workers get and how many days long summer break is.”

A misleading graphic accompanying the story notes that Israelis are only entitled to 11 days of vacation by law, while summer break is 62 days long, misleading because the first number doesn’t include weekends, while the second number does.

What may look like a protest actually seems to be quite fun, as evidenced by a photo essay taking up three pages (something tells me Yedioth’s workers are also on vacation) of kids having fun with their parents at work.

“I’m having fun helping. It’s too bad it’s ending and I have to go back to school,” 10-year-old Rona is quoted saying while watching her veterinarian mom work on an animal, giving voice to a usually ignored flip-side to the never-ending vacation griping.

Where the break is seen as the evil to end all evils when it comes to kids who can’t watch themselves, it’s the greatest thing ever when it comes to bigger kids who watch over all of us. Israel Hayom’s story about soldiers getting 18 days off from now on, up from 15, is headlined as “Tidings for troops.”

As a bonus, the paper reports, soldiers will also be eligible for an extra five days off a year. That’s it. That’s the whole story.

Haaretz’s lead story has nothing to do with vacation, unless the subject is truth taking a break. The paper reports that a leading historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum is criticizing a new proposal in Poland criminalizing the assigning of any responsibility for the Holocaust to Poland, saying it comes close to Holocaust denial.

The bill, part of Poland’s campaign to erase any connection to the crimes committed on its soil during the Nazi occupation during World War II (despite well-documented collaboration) including making sure nobody ever ever puts the words “Poland” and “Auschwitz” in the same sentence, “mandates three years in prison and a fine for anyone claiming that the Polish people or state were responsible for the Nazis’ crimes or collaborated with them,” and is expected to be approved by the Sejm, according to the paper.

Comparing the bill to something Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would pass, Yad Vashem historian Yehuda Bauer, a leading Holocaust scholar, says the bill will affect “all the historians in the West and Israel who have studied the subject.”

“This thing really did happen. Everyone knows that there were Poles who took part in the murder of the Jews. To claim otherwise is a denial of the research that has already proved these things, and in my opinion is also Holocaust denial,” he’s quoted saying.

Making lemons into Sisyphus

For the last several weeks, papers have been able to make up for the lack of news by covering the Olympics, and especially making lemonade out of the many lemons of Israel’s performance. The games are now a thing of the past, but papers were given another sporting event to latch onto, Hapoel Beersheba’s quixotic bid to make it into the EUFA Champion’s League.

While the team failed to do so, losing 5-4 to Celtic FC on aggregate, they are still celebrated in all three papers for the pyrrhic victory of winning 2-0 at home Tuesday night.

All three papers use the word “respect” in headlines of coverage of the match, though it comes across the same way you might console a kid who is just terrible at soccer.

In Israel Hayom, Oded Shalev plays the role of the crappy parents who just makes things worse trying to make the kid feel better, writing that their task was Sisyphean, Celtic is not a good team at all, and they are probably better off being relegated to the lower league.

“That’s the best place for them to simmer on a low flame. The [lower league] is the right place for the team to make nice progress, and maybe dream about making it into the top 32,” he writes.

In Yedioth, Uri Cooper does a slightly better job taking his hat off to Beersheba for what it achieved.

“Hapoel Beersheba didn’t succeed, it seems, and it will watch the Champions League from home, but after what we saw yesterday, there’s still a feeling of victory,” he writes. “The players won’t hear the Champions League anthem anymore, but for them, and their fans, they should have a happy song in their hearts. A song of pride and also the knowledge that it will be good for them the rest of the year.”

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