Hebrew media review

The good Israeli and the ugly Israeli

Jerusalem’s mayor is the hero of the hour after taking down a stabber, while angry women on a plane put the country to shame

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

File: Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, February 23, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
File: Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, February 23, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Hebrew press on Monday is chock-full of heroics and hysterics, with the papers cheering on Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat for taking down a Palestinian stabber, while cowering in shame at several Israeli passengers on an Israir flight whose screaming rampage was the subject of a viral clip.

Yedioth Ahronoth gushes over Barkat, saying he is “probably the only mayor in the world who can add neutralizing a terrorist, who is trying to stab a passerby, to the middle of his daily schedule.”

“I didn’t think twice,” the paper quotes Barkat as saying in describing how he and his security guard took down the attacker. “We jumped and disarmed the suspect.”

The paper spotlights the mayor’s hospital visit to the stabbing victim, Avraham Goldshmidt, 27.

“I want to thank you with all my heart,” said the ultra-Orthodox father of four.

As for the attacker, the paper reports that the 18-year-old — who was residing in Israel illegally — said after the attack: “I wanted to carry out a heroic attack.”

Over in Israel Hayom and Haaretz, the reports emphasize that the security guard aimed his weapon at the assailant, who dropped his weapon — and only then did Barkat and the guard jump him.

Nonetheless, Israel Hayom offers only the highest praise for the Jerusalem mayor, writing: “The attack could have ended differently, if not for the resourcefulness of the mayor, who was in the area, observed the incident, and without hesitation, took control of the armed terrorist and neutralized him, with the help of his personal bodyguard.”

In an op-ed for Israel Hayom, Barkat writes that 11 years ago, to the day, he was witness to a suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus. Barkat says that he ran out of his car to help the victims of the attack, including a young woman named Liz, who was critically injured.

“When we sent her to the hospital in serious condition, I had no idea whether she was alive or dead,” he writes, but later the two connected, and Barkat walked her down the aisle on her wedding day years later. Last night, after the stabbing, Liz’s mother called “in tears, and told me about this incredible coincidence,” he writes.

“In these moments, facing a terrorist, you act primarily by instinct, and do what all of us are expected to do — to neutralize the terrorist,” he writes. The mayor urges all residents to be vigilant, and if they find themselves in such a situation, to take down a terrorist.

Over in Haaretz, the paper balances the credit for disarming the attacker, giving weight to the guard’s role as well.

“I yelled at him again to drop the knife and he dropped the knife,” the security guard, Assaf Naamani, tells Haaretz. “Then we jumped on him, he surrendered on the floor, and the rest is history.”

Haaretz is the only paper not to feature the story on its front pages, leading instead with a report on a new plan by the Israel Defense Forces to lower the age of army commanders.

Still, a story that is featured on its front page, in the bottom corner — as well as by the other national dailies — presents a less-flattering portrait of Israeli society.

Haaretz reports that the group of Israelis on a flight to Bulgaria verbally harassed a flight steward over chocolate, calling him, among other things, “a piece of garbage.”

The women were detained in Varna briefly, it reports, and were later freed. The airline considered barring them from their return flight to Israel on Monday, but ultimately decided against it, the report says. The flight attendant is quoted by the paper as saying that throughout the flight, the two women were shouting and cursing.

Yedioth writes that, as the video went viral, it “generated one primary feeling: shame.”

The paper also features an apology from the husband of one of the women. “We apologize from the bottom of our hearts for what happened, to Israir and to the flight crew. We are normal people, this is not the way we behave,” Koby Ben-Eliyahu says.

As for the uproar, Ben-Eliyahu claims: “We didn’t enjoy our vacation at all.”

Love is in the air

But the flight wasn’t all bad, Yedioth reports. On that same plane was a woman who was injured in the 2012 Burgas attack with her boyfriend — and the two got engaged on that very flight. Nir Kantor had planned to propose right after takeoff, but due to the squabble, it was pushed off to just before landing, when he pulled out a microphone and proposed to his girlfriend Amit Koza, 28.

Their engagement comes several days after the wedding of another man injured in the Bulgaria bombing.

“Yes, the chocolate flight was our flight,” Koza posted on Facebook in a caption on a photo of the newly engaged couple. “We will never forget this flight; there was no shortage of action for the passengers.”

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