The young and the stateless
Hebrew media review

The young and the stateless

Celebrities congregate in Israel for Peres’s birthday while Bennett’s remarks underline discord in the government

Pictures of presidents past, present, and future are splashed across the front pages of Israel’s dailies, with some papers celebrating a venerable president while others worry about a newly elected one.

Yedioth Ahronoth runs a picture of Shimon Peres and former US president Bill Clinton embracing after Clinton spoke at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot just a day ahead of Peres’s 90th birthday celebrations. Yedioth goes a little gaga for the guy, saying, “He praised Peres, flattered Israel and spoke of Rabin, and the former president reminded us why we love him so much.” The article itself is comprised of quotes from the speech, which Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman called in an accompanying opinion piece “active optimism.”

Yedioth has three pages of coverage of Shimon Peres’s birthday, which includes quotes by former British prime minister Tony Blair (who calls Peres “forever young”) and actress Sharon Stone (among the celebs here for the Peres fest). The paper also features pictures from around the world of people congratulating Peres, including from Ethiopia, England, and Uzbekistan.

Maariv also features a picture of Clinton and Peres on its front page but its top headline is about a speech made by Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett in which he rejected the idea of a Palestinian state. Bennett, who is the minister of economics as well as religious affairs, said Monday that the idea of a Palestinian state was at a “dead end” and Israel should focus on building more in the West Bank. He went on to say, “We need to say to ourselves and to the world that this land is ours and has been for 3,000 years.”

“A government without direction” is how Maariv labels an info box with the statements of five other members of Netanyahu’s government, all contradicting one another. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah come out in favor of a peace process, while Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon is against a Palestinian state, and his boss, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is quoted saying that the current effort to restart peace talks is doomed.

Haaretz eschews Peres’s birthday on its front page and instead goes with Iranian President-elect Hasan Rowhani. “After the Iranian election: the decision to attack Iran will be delayed until 2014,” reads the Haaretz headline. In his analysis piece, Amos Harel writes that with the surprise election of the relative moderate Rowhani, Israel will have a hard time raising international support for an attack. Harel goes on to say that Washington is willing to give Rowhani, who takes office in August, a chance and that means no military action will be taken for a few months, likely till 2014 at the earliest.

Israel Hayom also focuses on Iran’s new president, highlighting his apparent opinion of Israel. “’He calls us the Zionist devil’” is the article headline, which is a quote from Netanyahu about Rowhani (the article actually doesn’t provide a quote of Rowhani calling Israel “the Zionist devil”). Netanyahu said in response to the election of Rowhani, “We have no illusions. The international community should not… be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.”

Yedioth points out two sides to Rowhani’s election. “On one hand, he calls for dialogue with the US and uses the rare word ‘Israel’ instead of the ‘Zionist enemy.’ But on the other hand, he insists that Iran will not give up its uranium enrichment program.”

Yedioth has another guest contributor, this time CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour, who writes “now there is something to discuss with them.” She writes that the economic situation and the international isolation drove half of Iran’s population to vote for Rowhani. Amanpour states that Iranians want better relations with the US, and that Iranians mourned with Americans on 9/11, but the inclusion of Iran with Iraq and North Korea in George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” alienated the Iranian population and they elected Ahmadinejad. She concludes writing, “Now, it seems, we are on the cusp of a new day.”

Agreeing to disagree

Maariv reports on the lack of agreement between Obama and Putin at the G-8 summit about how to resolve the Syrian civil war. But the paper points out that both sides have stated that they want to end the conflict by bringing both sides to the negotiating table. While the two leaders were meeting, a new report came out that the Russians were upping their involvement as Russian drones are now helping the Syrian army. Assad also seemed emboldened, issuing a warning to the West, “If Europe sends weapons [to the rebels], its backyard will be full of terrorists and it’ll pay the price.”

Haaretz features a story about former IDF soldiers who were suing over 40 companies who polluted the Kishon River, in which they trained during their service. The soldiers developed various types of cancer, and in 2000 the IDF determined that despite the fact that a causal connection couldn’t be proved, the soldiers should still be listed as disabled veterans. Monday’s ruling rejected all 70 of the soldiers’ lawsuits, with the judge saying that other factors like smoking and family history could explain their illnesses. The soldiers’ lawyer vowed to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court.

Finally, Israel Hayom reports on the government’s decision not to label “price tag” attacks as terror attacks, mainly because the attacks focused on property and haven’t caused any casualties. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared that people who perpetrate such attacks are part of illegal organizations, and the paper explains that the designation would have given the army more leeway to deal with the perpetrators.

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