Hebrew media review

The war against boycotts… and against war

A summit in Las Vegas strives for bipartisan opposition to anti-Israel campaigns, and more rocket fire hits southern Israel

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson in a TV interview from Las Vegas, June 6, 2015 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson in a TV interview from Las Vegas, June 6, 2015 (Channel 2 screenshot)

With the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement grabbing Israeli attention amid the Orange telecom scandal, and as a steady trickle of rockets hits southern Israel, the Hebrew press on Sunday urges the government to be proactive rather than reactive on both fronts.

The wonderfully transparent Sheldon Adelson-owned Israel Hayom leads with Adelson’s Las Vegas conference on combating BDS, and his unlikely alliance with Israeli-American businessman and Democrat Haim Saban on Israel-related issues. The media mogul held a conference over the weekend with 50 Jewish organizations that are focusing itheir preliminary efforts on US campuses, where the boycott movement — now entering its tenth year — is gaining the most traction.

“Everyone who asked businessman and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson last weekend if there is a way to beat the boycott against Israel, received the same answer: ‘Cooperation,'” it reports.

According to figures presented by pollster Frank Luntz at the event, some 37 percent of Jewish college students have experienced anti-Semitism. “Only 28 percent of all students (Jewish and non-Jewish alike) believe ‘America should stand by Israel’s side,’ it reports. And among students who vote Democrat, 53% believe the Palestinians are more interested in peace than Israelis. “We’ve lost the left and the women on campus,” he said, adding that “Zionism” on US campuses is considered a negative term.

Adelson was seeking to recruit Jewish students to have “boots on the ground” on the college campuses, it said.

At the event, Saban — the owner of Partner Communications, the Israeli subsidiary of Orange — reiterated his belief that the boycott stemmed from anti-Semitism.

“Although only 10 percent of Americans are anti-Semitic, we must remember that this is 33 million people. So we must be aware of this. We must show the public the real Israel,” Saban is quoted as saying.

The daily also reports that Orange’s pullout is linked to its new ties with the Arab world.

“The reason behind Orange’s boycott is its deepening economic ties between the Orange parent company — France Telecom — to Qatar, mediated by Sheikh Fahad al-Thani, Israel Hayom has learned,” it reports. “France Telecom has deepened its relationship with the Arab world, and in the past year alone has signed deals amounting to three billion dollars with Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. From the information that was given to some of the heads of the Partner group, Orange’s motive was not simply a business consideration, but rather capitulation to Arab pressures, primarily from Qatar. Qatar is expected to sign a deal with the French company in the near future expanding its ties in an agreement worth one billion dollars.”

Meanwhile, as the BDS movement celebrates its tenth anniversary, Yedioth Ahronoth leads with a preview to a weekend feature on the tenth year anniversary of the Israeli evacuation from Gaza. On the settlements of Ganei Tal and Netzarim, amusement parks have been constructed, with a NIS 3 entry fee, it reports. In Neve Dekalim, which was the largest of the Jewish settlements in the area, a municipality building has been transformed into a new college, it writes.

The paper reports that one month before the one-year anniversary of Operation Protective Edge, the families of its fallen soldiers are fuming that they have received no notice of an official commemoration ceremony, and are concerned the anniversary will pass unmarked. The Defense Ministry responded that it is looking into the issue, and consulting with various relevant parties.

Yedioth also spotlights the weekend rocket fire, in the third incident of its kind in the past few weeks.

A masked Hamas member carries a model of a rocket during a rally in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on December 12, 2014 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A masked Hamas member carries a model of a rocket during a rally in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on December 12, 2014 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

“Last year too, a little before ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ it began like this — rocket fire every few days, which intensified from day to day and ultimately led to the difficult and complicated military operation,” it reports, making no mention of the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers last June which preceded the war. “This time, the residents of southern Israel hope, the political and military leadership will manage to stop the rocket fire before the situation escalates.”

The paper’s Yossi Yehoshua, however, puts the rocket fire in perspective, noting that in the year that followed Operation Cast Lead, 140 rockets hit Israel, in the year after Operation Pillar of Defense 63 projectiles were filed, while in the year since the summer conflict, eight rockets have pounded southern Israel.

“This doesn’t teach us anything about the tactical success of the operation, and the IDF has a lot of lessons to learn from the fighting, which continued for 51 days and claimed 73 victims. But it seems that the 6,000 targets hit, the 10,000 buildings destroyed, and the more than 2,000 people killed on the other side are also a reason for the relative quiet,” he writes. Yehoshua urges Israel to come to a long-term ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

“It’s good that that the IDF set up the Iron Dome after the Grad rocket was fired at Gan Yavne, but at the same time, we must take advantage of this strategic, comfortable period, in which Egypt has also cut the smuggling routes into the Gaza Strip, to try and reach a long-term truce with Hamas.”

Over in Haaretz, the paper cites senior officials who maintain that Israel is focusing its diplomatic efforts to prevent the European labeling of products manufactured in the West Bank.

“The three officials, who asked not to be identified because of the diplomatic sensitivity, said the Foreign Ministry was leading the efforts through Israeli embassies in Europe, and especially through its mission to the EU in Brussels. According to the officials, the labeling of the products has been the main issue on the Foreign Ministry’s agenda over recent week,” it reports.

The Foreign Ministry believes that the decision will be made as soon as August, and is working to cancel or at least postpone the decision, it reports.

The paper’s Chemi Shalev, commenting on the Las Vegas summit, is less impressed with Saban’s collaboration with Adelson to fight BDS. Adelson is a polarizing “public persona as an ultra-right wing Obama-hater,” who alienates young left-wing Americans, he writes.

“If Adelson is opposed, many young left-wingers will tell themselves, that means we must be for it,” he writes.

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