The dotard’s visit: 8 things to know for June 11
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Israel media review

The dotard’s visit: 8 things to know for June 11

Like a princess getting ready for a ball, Israel's press is super excited for the upcoming Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, though most of the country will sleep through it

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, in Canada, June 9, 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP)
US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, in Canada, June 9, 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP)

1. We’ll start with some good news, for a change: Less than a month after Israel won the Eurovision song contest, a Broadway musical based on an Israeli film, “The Band’s Visit,” took away 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

  • The show is a take on the classic Arab Israeli coexistence theme and actors notably paid homage to their own Middle Eastern heritage in their acceptance speeches at an award show that already had some overt political themes.
  • Perhaps most notable was Ar’iel Stachel, who paid a teary-eyed tribute to his Israeli and American parents: “Both my parents are here tonight. I have avoided so many events with them because for so many years of my life I pretended I was not a Middle Eastern person. And after 9/11 it was very, very difficult for me and so I concealed and I missed so many special events with them. And they’re looking at me right now and I can’t believe it.”
  • Former “Monk” star Tony Shalhoub paid tribute to his father, who emigrated from Lebanon, and other immigrants: “May we never lose sight of what they taught us.”
  • Katrina Lenk, meanwhile, paid homage to late Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz, who played the cafe owner in the movie that Lenk portrays in the play.

2. You might think Israeli sites would be all over the rare good news, but like the rest of the world, they have a paparazzo-like eye trained on tomorrow’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un.

  • Several Israeli news sites have sent correspondents to Singapore to report on the summit firsthand, though it will take place at 4 a.m. Israel time.
  • There’s almost 24 hours until the “dotard” and “little rocket man” actually shake hands, but the Ynet news site is already streaming a live feed of the summit. For now, the feed lets viewers in on the exciting world of reporters standing around in hotel lobbies waiting for press statements.
  • Hadashot news online makes a headline out of Trump’s throwaway tweet that “there’s excitement in the air,” (thrown in the middle of his trade hissy fit and he didn’t even insult another world leader). As one keen observer noted, though, Trump hasn’t been outside to feel the air, except for a brief moment on the tarmac.

3. There’s more substantial analysis, though, from Israel’s analyst/pundit class.

  • The Walla news site’s top headline dubs Kim the “Cinderella of Singapore,” and columnist/reporter Oren Nahari wonders if the princess’s head is spinning at seeing all the bustle and wealth of Singapore, coming from a country that’s so sealed off and poor (though Kim’s experiences being schooled in Switzerland,, and the fact that he does not live in poverty but unimaginable wealth bilked from his people, somehow doesn’t enter in). “It’s possible he sees it as a threat, but he may also view it as a model for ruling. Singapore is not a democracy, the rule is authoritarian, and certainly not a European liberal democracy,” he writes.
  • Others see Kim as more of a fairy godmother, managing to summon Trump to Singapore with a wave of his wand and without giving up anything, as reporter Kurt Eichenwald notes on Twitter.
  • In Haaretz, former US correspondent Chemi Shalev writes that the world has little choice but to pin its hopes on Trump pulling something out of his hat: “The risks to world peace posed by nuclear North Korea are far too grave, even for those yearning to see Trump defeated and humiliated. A successful conclusion to the Singapore summit would calm tensions in the Korean peninsula and spark hopes for a comprehensive agreement in the future. Failure, on the other hand, could lead to escalation, which, at its worst, portends the worst nightmare of the modern era: A military confrontation between two countries that are capable and willing to deploy the weapons of mass destruction at their disposal.”

4. In Trump-friendly Israel Hayom, the summit has seemingly already concluded, with the president riding high on the shoulders of the world.

  • The paper’s top headline declares that the two are “closer than ever” to a deal, and columnist Haim Shine has apparently climbed aboard Trump’s magic carpet of denuclearization, declaring that it’s already a whole new world.
  • In the same paper, columnist Abraham Ben-Zvi doesn’t assume success (and writes that chances of failure are high because the Americans didn’t bother to do any groundwork), but if it does work out, “there will be powerful takeaways for the signatories to the Iran deal, and proof that you can deal with radical countries in different ways.”
  • Yedioth Ahronoth uses the same exact “closer than ever” headline on its front page, and mirroring Shine, columnist Ben Dror Yemini writes that the summit may lead to “a more sane world.”
  • Nuclear Korea “isn’t the only global threat, but getting rid of it will affect other threats, most notably the Iranian threat,” he writes.

5. And what of other threats to world peace? Many would say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is up there as well, but there’s little sign that Trump is redoubling efforts on that front now, and things seem to only be getting more toxic.

  • A spat between Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is continuing to play out in Haaretz’s opinion pages. After Greenblatt on Sunday told Erekat he should go fly a kite (well maybe not a kite), Erekat shot back Sunday night that Greenblatt “chose to become the spokesperson for the Israeli occupation. He did that through his continued endorsement of Israeli talking points, and blaming Palestinian victims for their own death, injury, occupation, detention, forced displacement, and continued dispossession.”
  • Like a child stuck between parents who bicker or don’t talk at all, Haaretz US correspondent Amir Tibon notes that “In the absence of official communication between the two sides, they have instead elected to argue with each other about their respective policies in the pages of Haaretz.”

6. Like Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid,” Hamas apparently thought that life — or at least cross-border tunnel building — is better under the sea. Israel, though, revealed Sunday that it blew up an undersea passageway built by the Gazan terror group.

  • The military believes the tunnel was meant to allow frogmen from Hamas’s elite naval unit to travel from their base on the shore into the sea underground, and thus undetected. From there, they could travel underwater to their Israeli targets.
  • “The discovery shows once again how deep Israel’s intelligence hold is over Gaza,” columnist Yoav Limor writes in Israel Hayom.

7. Sunday saw a different Sebastian — Kurz, the young chancellor of Austria — visit Israel, including a “private” stop at the Western Wall, an extremely rare move for the head of an EU state, which says the Old City of Jerusalem is occupied territory.

  • MK Yehudah Glick, a proponent both of the government ending its policy of blackballing Kurz’s junior coalition partner FPOe over its Nazi ties and of increased Jewish presence at the Temple Mount, doesn’t have much to say on Twitter about the Western Wall visit, but is excited about Kurz trying to end the boycott of FPOe, which he will do in meetings with Israeli leaders today.
  • “Anybody who knows the reality in Europe knows there’s two main sources of anti-Semitism. A. Muslims … B. The left — BDS activists,” he writes on Twitter.

8. The foreign minister of another EU country, Latvia, expresses sympathy for Israel’s unhappiness with critical resolutions in international bodies, in an interview with ToI’s Raphael Ahren.

  • “I don’t believe that resolutions can substitute a peace process, direct negotiations with the participation of all the relevant actors,” Edgars Rinkēvičs says. “Those are very nice documents that we take, of course, seriously, but we don’t believe that this approach really helps the process itself.”
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