Two weddings and a bankruptcy
Hebrew media review

Two weddings and a bankruptcy

Israel eyes closer ties with Central Asian states as lawmakers push for marriage reform and the IDF’s one-time shoemakers face closure

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Illustrative: Local Jewish communities in the Bay Area show their support for the LGBTQ community at the San Francisco pride parade. (Daniel Dreifuss/Flash 90/File)
Illustrative: Local Jewish communities in the Bay Area show their support for the LGBTQ community at the San Francisco pride parade. (Daniel Dreifuss/Flash 90/File)

No surprise that Iran and the Palestinians take top billing in the press, but for a bit of a change the issue of civil marriage makes an appearance on the front pages as moderate parties push for reform.

Israel Hayom leads off with tough words from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countering the Palestinian Authority’s protestations against the green light for settlement expansion given last week. It reports that the Housing and Construction Ministry rubber-stamped the government’s go-ahead on Sunday. Netanyahu, speaking to Likud ministers, said, “The Palestinians knew we’d build during the negotiations. It was a clear part of the process to restart talks, and it was said to them in a clear fashion that Israel won’t take any construction limitations upon itself.”

The prime minister went on to say that “all the Palestinian claims [to the effect that] it’s a violation [of the terms] are an attempt to create an artificial crisis” ahead of Netanyahu’s meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry this week.

For Maariv, the issue of the day is Israel’s attempt to build alliances with states surrounding Iran in an attempt to choke off Tehran from its neighbors. The paper writes that Jerusalem aims to draw Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan closer by providing those states with intelligence reports about Iranian terrorist cells operating in their territory.

“As part of the process, Israel also intends to propose providing them aid in dealing with Islamist radicals from the region that traveled to Syria to participate in the civil war raging there, and returned [home] possessing training and experience in military action,” the paper writes.

“Central Asian and Caucasus states — excluding Georgia and Armenia — possess a vast Muslim majority,” Maariv writes. “Therefore on the one hand there’s a basis for closer ties between them and Iran, but on the other hand the secular regimes are concerned about the influence of the ayatollahs.”

Steering away from the Palestinian and Iranian issues, Haaretz addresses domestic politics with a front page story about a proposed law pushing for legal recognition of same-sex couples. The bill, to which Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is a signatory, would legalize civil unions without rabbinic marriage.

“The new law aims to help partners who are unable or do not want to marry through the rabbinate for various reasons. Among others, these instances include couples of mixed religions or in which one is atheist or unweddable [according to Jewish law],” the paper writes. The wording of the bill is such that it does not rule out single-sex couples; for that reason the proposed law has caused increased tension between coalition partners the Jewish Home party and the Hatnua party, Haaretz reports.

Israel Hayom buries a tiny story on the Justice Ministry bill on Page 13.

Maariv also reports on the Labor Party’s marriage bill shot down by Yesh Atid in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. According to the Yesh Atid party, its bill offers a more comprehensive civil marriage arrangement than does Labor’s. Predictably, Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich panned her Yesh Atid counterpart Yair Lapid for failing to make strides toward “deep change in the lives of people and enable same sex marriage, as is customary in the enlightened world.”

Nazi art is the focus of Yedioth Ahronoth’s main story, with the paper reporting on the discovery of millions of dollars of stolen artwork in a Munich apartment. According to the paper, citing a German magazine report, octogenarian Cornelius Gurlitt was investigated after returning from Switzerland with a large sum of cash.

“Investigators, who suspected that the large sum proved that the old German was evading taxes, asked a court to issue a warrant to search his apartment — wherein they uncovered a larger treasure than they could have imagined,” the paper writes. “In Gurlitt’s apartment, in a Munich building, tax investigators found a huge art collection including no fewer than 1,500 works belonging to the best artists of the 19th and 20th centuries,” including Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and Chagall. The works turned out to have been stolen by the Nazis from Jewish art collectors.

The paper gives no indication of what the fate of the artworks will be.

Maariv also reports on the impending closure of the Brill shoe factory, founded at the beginning of the state and the long-time manufacturer of army boots for the IDF. According to the paper it could be a matter of weeks, if not days, until the factory in Rishon Lezion closes its doors for good and the 120 or so workers are left jobless.

Yedioth Ahronoth places the blame squarely on the government, writing that “the assessment is that the Defense Ministry will buy shoes for IDF soldiers from suppliers in the US as a replacement for blue-and-white products.”

An official letter given to the company by the Defense Ministry said that “[Brill] would not be issued orders for army shoes by the Defense Ministry in 2014,” thus sapping the remaining business for the shoemaking factory, Maariv reports. It writes that the factory workers had a hard time believing the government’s decision. 

“There’s no one to talk to. They’re not willing to listen to anything,” Shimon Horovitz, the man in charge of military issues at the company, told Maariv. “The excuse of the budget is not true, we told them that we’d give them a cheaper offer than the Americans but they didn’t answer us.”

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