The Big Skim: 9 things for your March 5
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Israel media review

The Big Skim: 9 things for your March 5

Rumors of new elections continue to swirl; Netanyahu's former aide turns state's witness; Honduras follows Trump's lead on Jerusalem

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Nir Hefetz appears in a Tel Aviv court on February 22, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)
Nir Hefetz appears in a Tel Aviv court on February 22, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

1. In a dramatic development that doesn’t make press time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former media adviser Nir Hefetz turns state’s witness in the Bezeq corruption case. Hefetz is suspected of receiving bribes and obstructing justice in the quickly ballooning investigation dubbed Case 4000.

  • According to the Ynet news site, Hefetz’s lawyer, Ilan Sofer,negotiated the deal with police officials from the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit over the last week.
  • Hefetz is the third Netanyahu confidant to turn state’s witness in the investigations, potentially incriminating the prime minister in his testimony.
  • In Ynet’s print edition, Yedioth Ahronoth, columnists weigh in on the bribery scandal that some say could spell Netanyahu’s political doom. Longtime contributor Nahum Barnea says that Netanyahu is facing threats on three fronts: the media, the authorities and the political arena. While he and the Likud party are likely to come out the victors of a an early election, Barnea says his alleged corruption will ultimately be the prime minister’s downfall. “New elections will not make this ugly reality into anything nice or respectful,” he says, “nor will they release Netanyahu from these investigations.” Re-elections, he says “may impress his constituents, but not the attorney general.”
  • Yedioth’s Sima Kadmon levels harsh criticism against Netanyahu his family and political allies in her column. She calls the prime minister’s popularity in the face of the mounting corruption suspicions against him “inconceivable,” and says the Netanyahus’ behavior as a family is “more outrageous than in third world countries, not the only democracy in the Middle East. Kadmon says that Netanyahu will not try to stop his own coalition from collapsing, so that he can reap the benefits of being re-elected. “Netanyahu has already proved more than once, that if he wants something, he gets it. No matter the price,” she says.
  • Sunday’s Yedioth also features a biting cartoon of Netanyahu accepting an Oscar for his performance in the film “Early Elections.”

2. Guatemala’s president told the AIPAC Policy Conference last night that he has instructed his country’s embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, two days after the US moves its embassy to the capital city to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

  • Jimmy Morales told a cheering crowd that, “as a sovereign decision, we recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I would like to thank President Trump for leading the way.”
  • On Twitter, Foreign Minister Emmanuel Nahshon praised Morales for his “courageous and visionary decision.”

3. Also in Washington this week are Jewish Home MKs Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. The lawmakers, both coalition partners, accused Netanyahu of manufacturing the crisis over the draft law.

  • Shaked told AIPAC attendees it would be “irresponsible” of Netanyahu to allow the “fake crisis” to topple the current right-wing government, and warned the legislation exempting ultra-Orthodox students from military service could allow the left to come into power.
  • Education Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett used identical rhetoric to characterize the issue when speaking to fellow faction lawmakers on Sunday, before also leaving Israel for the Washington conference. “It’s a fake crisis. If Netanyahu wants to solve it, he could do so in 10 minutes,” Bennett said.

4. An Arab-Israeli man crashed into a police officer and two soldiers in northern Israel on Wednesday morning before being shot and wounded in what authorities say is a nationalistically motivated vehicular attack.

  • Palestinian terrorist group Hamas praised the attack as “brave and heroic,” calling it “an important step in continuing the resistance against the crimes of the occupation.”
  • On Monday, the Acre Magistrate’s Court extended the attacker’s remand by 10 days. The investigation is under a gag order, and no further details have been released, including the driver’s identity and condition.

5. Flyers linked to a neo-Nazi and white supremacist group were discovered yesterday on the Colorado State University campus.

  • According to the Collegian, the flyers read: “Diversity means fewer white people,” “It’s OK to be white,” “Love your people” and “If not you, who?”  The Southern Poverty Law center lists the Traditionalist Worker Party as a neo-Nazi group.

6. The Mississippi Legislature passed a bill yesterday bill that would allow the state to use excess general funds to invest in bonds issued by Israel.

7. British soccer chief is under fire from the Jewish community after listing the Star of David among the symbols he believes breach soccer laws banning religious and political imagery.

  • The Jewish Leadership Council, which is led by a former FA executive, called Martin Glenn’s comment was “offensive and inappropriate” and said the group plans to complain to the sport’s national governing body.

8. A Florida teacher has been removed from the classroom after a report exposed her to be the host of an anti-Semitic, white supremacist podcast.

  • Dayanna Volitich, 25, who teaches social studies at Citrus County School District’s Crystal River Middle School, is under investigation for allegedly expressing a series of racist and anti-Semitic views on her podcast Unapologetic, according to the The Huffington Post.
  • Using the pseudonym Tiana Dalichov, she boasted about bringing her white nationalist beliefs into to her classroom, said that Muslims need to be eradicated “from the face of the Earth” in order to stop more terrorist attacks, and praised the work of anti-Semitic author Kevin MacDonald.

9. Uri Lubrani, Israel’s last ambassador to Iran died this morning at the age of 92. The longtime diplomat also served as the ambassador to Uganda and Ethiopia in his tenure at the Foreign Ministry. Lubrani was also involved in Operation Solomon, the covert Israeli military operation to airlift Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the early 1990s.

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