The draft on tap: 6 things to know for July 3
Israel media review

The draft on tap: 6 things to know for July 3

Attention is on Yair Lapid for backing the ultra-Orthodox military draft bill; Turkey’s dastardly plan to help Jerusalem’s poor is uncovered; and everyone has a good laugh at Iran

Ultra-Orthodox Jews attend a protest against the enlistment bill at the Sanhedria Cemetery in Jerusalem, July 2, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews attend a protest against the enlistment bill at the Sanhedria Cemetery in Jerusalem, July 2, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

1. The Knesset is pushing ahead with a controversial bill that some critics say allows members of the ultra-Orthodox to continue shirking military or national service, while backers say it is an equitable and fair solution to a problem that has vexed the country almost since its founding.

  • Like any good compromise, nobody is happy, meaning even the ultra-Orthodox are annoyed at the bill, since it does set targets for a token number of young men in their community to join up, though they were willing to support it to keep the government standing. Surprising support from opposition party Yesh Atid allowed the ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties to vote against the bill in a symbolic move, and most of the opprobrium from those opposed to its passage are aimed at the party for being turncoats.
  • Haaretz’s Yossi Verter accuses Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid of being “offsides,” saying he’s a political opportunist who switches positions as often as he changes his underwear. Verter also aims his pen at Labor head Avi Gabbay, who has taken up the baton against the ultra-Orthodox conscription law.
  • In Yedioth Ahronoth, Sima Kadmon says Lapid’s decision was the talk of the Knesset, with nobody able to figure out quite what he was thinking. “Why would he give the government a rope instead of sending it into the abyss?” she wonders. Lapid, she says, claims that he supports the bill and that will indeed send the ultra-Orthodox into the military, though nobody quite believes him, Kadmon included.

2. Likewise, nobody quite believes that the ultra-Orthodox are actually against the bill, but they are putting up quite the facade. All the Haredi newspapers lead with the conscription law passing on first reading, despite opposition from the Haredi parties.

  • The Hamodia daily praises the parties for standing strong, and the threat of the UTJ party to quit the government should the bill actually pass on its third and final reading is also played up.
  • “None of you will leave your learning and don’t need to worry yourselves with this. This is why we are here,” UTJ lawmaker Moshe Gafni is quoted saying in Yated Ne’eman, addressing yeshiva students.
  • Gafni may have been looking right at some of those students, who weren’t learning but rather watching the legislative sausage-making, a phenomenon that has some ultra-Orthodox up in arms as they try to claim that these “students” can’t go to the army because they are too engaged in scholarly pursuits, according to Haredi news site Behadrey Haredim.
  • “The absurdity we saw yesterday cries out to the heavens,” former Shas MK (and convict) Shlomo Benizri tells the news site. “Just at a Knesset discussion on the importance of Torah versus army service, when our people are explaining to everyone why they can’t harm these Torah students, how important their learning is to protect Israel, what issues they would have dealing with the army, these yeshiva students are sitting in the gallery to disprove every word said to protect them. They are hurting our Knesset representatives, and the whole world of Torah.”
  • Wait until he finds out about yeshiva students watching soccer or throwing flaming diapers at police.

3. Israel Hayom reports on money flowing into Jerusalem from Ankara, which the paper says is intended to create a “Turkish Quarter.”

  • The dastardly plan uncovered by the paper to “undermine Israeli sovereignty” finds a Turkish group sending money to rehab homes belonging to East Jerusalem Arabs in the Old City’s Muslim quarter, to give poor people food, backpacks for kids, heaters in the winter and other terrible things.
  • The paper reports that another group gave $500 to every single resident and merchant of East Jerusalem (an outlay that, if true, that would reach above $150 million) in exchange for support for Turkey’s positions.
  • “This is very bad, and is diplomatic subversion,” Likud MK Anat Berko tells the tabloid. “We need to stop this subversion before we lose control.”

4. Turkish support for East Jerusalem is nothing new, and fellow tabloid Yedioth Ahronoth also leads off with old news, that a US court of appeals accepted a claim by the family of Naftali Fraenkel — one of three teens kidnapped and killed by Hamas in 2014 — for more punitive damages from Iran over its support for terror.

  • The paper uses as its headline a poorly translated version of a quote from the judge that the Fraenkels “accepted the risks of living in a community built across the Green Line in Israel and sending Naftali Fraenkel 40 miles further into the West Bank for high school.”
  • The quote is not new and was actually from the initial ruling in a district court last year, and was quoted by the federal appeals court in its June 8 decision to not increase compensation from the initial ruling of $4.1 million to the requested $340 million.
  • (Not to mention the fact that the judge likely meant kilometers not miles, and not deeper into the West Bank but just another part of it. “40 miles deeper” into the West Bank from the Fraenkels’ Talmon home would take them through the territory and clear to the outskirts of Amman.)
  • The paper notes that the Fraenkels do not expect to actually see a dime, but made their appeal on the grounds that the judge used a form of victim blaming in her decision.
  • “The kids were on their way home from school, so their bloodshed is allowed? That’s what our lawyers appealed. Does it hurt to hear? I am trying to deal with this with my brain and not through emotion, a bit of emotional distance helps and protects,” mother Rachel Fraenkel, a dual US-Israeli citizen, tells the paper.

5. CNN reports that the Trump administration is weighing extending the terrorist designation to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a powerful wing of Iran’s military responsible for its adventurism abroad.

  • The news site reports that while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is for the designation, others are cautioning against, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates, who says it could put US troops in danger.
  • Haaretz says officials in Jerusalem fear Iran may target Israeli officials abroad.
  • On Monday night, Hadashot news reported that former prime minister Ehud Barak met with Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman on getting a security detail for his trips abroad. Barak often travels alone, but does pack heat while in Israel, the station notes. It indicates that the Shin Bet believes the threat against him is real and “concrete.”

6. With Iran currently experiencing water shortages causing protests in the southwest Khuzestan region, an Iranian general has accused Israel of stealing Iran’s clouds, and everybody is having a hearty laugh about it.

  • The AFP news agency notes that even inside Iran, the head of the country’s meteorological service chided Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali for his outlandish claim.
  • General Jalali “probably has documents of which I am not aware, but on the basis of meteorological knowledge, it is not possible for a country to steal snow or clouds,” the head of Iran’s meteorological service Ahad Vazife is quoted saying.
  • Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon uses the claim to get in a potshot at the world body as well.
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