Hebrew media review

Trying to understand

The Israeli press tries to comprehend the tragedy in Newtown; Avigdor Liberman steps down; and a satellite for sale

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks to party members on December 13.  He is expected to resign on Sunday to address his legal problems before the upcoming elections (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/FLASH9)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks to party members on December 13. He is expected to resign on Sunday to address his legal problems before the upcoming elections (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/FLASH9)

Images of pain and anguish from the Newtown massacre were printed across the front pages of all the Hebrew dailies as the press tried to make sense of the tragedy that left 20 children dead in the United States.

“The terror and the tears,” is the front page headline in Yedioth Ahronoth that begins its 11 pages of coverage. Yedioth includes a report on the incident, a list of children who were murdered and their ages, and a profile of Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who committed the massacre. The paper also includes a profile of the school psychologist, the principal and a teacher in an article titled, simply, “Heroes.” The article characterizes the three as sacrificing their lives for their children and includes a quote from child who said she already misses her teacher.

In an opinion piece on the tragedy, Tzipi Shmilovitz writes that this tragedy will be remembered for Obama the same way other disasters are associated with other presidents. “Ronald Reagan had the ‘Challenger,’ Bill Clinton had the Oklahoma City bombing, George W. Bush had 9/11, and Barack Obama has Newtown, Connecticut.” She writes that it will be hard to prevent future attacks because the United States refuses to face the issue. “America is not ready to talk about how it is easier to get a handgun than it is to see a doctor, not ready to speak about the video games that have extreme violence. It is just willing to sweep up everything under the carpet of tears.”

Israel Hayom notes that the incident is “the ultimate fear for every parent.” Pastor Richard Weiss described the scene. “Many children ran to me, crying and hugged me, and we waited for their parents. When they called the names of children who weren’t there, their parents were requested to move to a separate room. Everyone’s heart stopped for a moment. We knew something horrific happened to their family members.”

Boaz Bismuth tackles the tragedy in a column, also trying to understand the ‘why’ of the incident. “In March of this year, three young girls were shot in the Otzar HaTorah school in Toulouse… in Toulouse we know why. Not sure we’ll know why in Newtown.” Bismuth understands that answer the question won’t fix anything. “Answering the ‘why’ does not reduce the pain. It is only meant to reduce the frustration.” He concludes his piece by stating that the United States has a new challenge, “The US president, Congress, the governor, all the legal institutions and law enforcement now have a new challenge — to save the children.”

Haaretz discusses gun control in the United States. “Who will protect Americans from themselves?” the paper asks. The article gives a brief description of the 2nd Amendment, which grants citizens the right to bear arms and tells how the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill that makes it easier to carry a concealed weapon just hours before the tragedy. The paper also lists some statistics comparing gun violence in America to that of other countries. One of the stats the paper provides is that in 2010, 67.5% of murders in the US were committed with firearms, compared to 26.3% in Germany, and 11.7% in Israel (Israel’s data was based on 2007 figures).

Haaretz includes in its coverage of the shooting a timeline of the mass shootings that have occurred in the United States just in 2012. Included in the nine entries are the Aurora, Colorado, shooting where 12 people were killed, a shooting at a workplace in Minnesota that killed six, and a February shooting in an Ohio school cafeteria that killed 3.

Liberman quits

Maariv covers the massacre in Newtown in its first eight pages, and then allots four pages for the saga of outgoing Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. “Liberman wants: Fast and without a ‘moral turpitude’ ruling,” reads the headline, which is accompanied by a large picture of the minister leaving his home on Saturday with a bottle wrapped in newspaper (Maariv enlarged the bottle wrapped in paper so everyone could see). The article explains that while Liberman stated that nothing happened between Thursday and Friday that caused him to resign, he realized that for political reasons it would be easier to resign and plea bargain in time for the elections.

The case of Jonathan Pollard again is making news, this time for the type of information he gathered while spying for Israel. Israel Hayom reports that the CIA has revealed that the spy did not try to pass information about the United States to Israel. Instead Pollard passed along information the US had gathered on the nuclear programs, security and technical information about Arab countries, Pakistan and the Soviet Union. The revelation led Pollard’s wife, Ester, to again demand that her husband be released from prison.

The time for covert espionage may have passed. As the back page of Maariv reports, a Russian company is offering to sell its advanced satellite, and its ad campaign leads focuses on Israel by photographing air force bases in the south. The satellite, which was launched last year, has a high-resolution camera and can photograph anywhere in the world, including Israel. Alex Tantzar, a Knesset hopeful from the new Hatnua party, told the paper, “These pictures are very worrying, especially if they fall into the hands of governments or organizations that endanger Israel, like Iran or Hezbollah.” The asking price for the satellite is $55 million, and there’s no word on if there are any takers.

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