We’ve got a long way to go, baby: 7 things to know for July 11
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Israel media review

We’ve got a long way to go, baby: 7 things to know for July 11

A womb breakthrough isn’t quite ready yet; Netanyahu’s promises on Khan al-Ahmar are ignored or discounted; and healing a rift with Ethiopians may take more than baby steps

A baby toddling. (Tverdohlib/iStock by Getty Images)
A baby toddling. (Tverdohlib/iStock by Getty Images)

1. Womb with a view: When one of the biggest stories of the day involves an international scheme in which a newborn baby was stolen from its mother and given to another couple, leading off your paper with the celebratory headline “Babies without pregnancy” might seem a bit tasteless.

  • Yet that is exactly what tabloid Yedioth Ahronoth has done Thursday morning, so exciting is it to preview its weekend story on what it calls a “breakthrough” on a lab-grown womb at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital.
  • Unlike previous experiments with artificial wombs, including one which looked like a fancy ziplock bag, the Israeli scientists say they have managed to create a biological womb that they think should be able to support the creation of new life.
  • “We decided to try and grow a limb from zero and saw that the tissue reacted just as it would in nature,” Dr. Dan Grisaru tells the paper. “We still have a lot of work to do, we can still run into issues, but we are optimistic.”
  • It’s not clear if the experiment has been peer-reviewed, but according to the scientists interviewed, the technology’s main use would allow potential mothers who are unable to carry a baby to term instead have children outside their bodies, without having to rely on a surrogate.

2. Where’s the kid? And without stealing a baby, which is allegedly what a couple in New York did in a case that was cleared for publication on Wednesday.

  • According to court documents and media reports, the wife of a rabbi from northern Israel was under investigation for her suspected role in having a pregnant woman identified only as “Yael,” who because of an unspecified mental condition was placed under the woman’s care, fly to New York for what she was told was a medical procedure. Instead, she was taken to a local clinic with ties to the local ultra-Orthodox community, where her baby was delivered by C-section and given to a childless couple, who returned with it to Israel.
  • Police believe Yael’s case is not an isolated one, and is part of a human trafficking network that has been operating in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community for some time.
  • The case, called “where’s the kid,” was originally opened because of an expose in Yedioth, but gagged until the court responded to a request by the Walla news site to have the case files opened.
  • “I’ve seen a lot of bad cases and this is the worst. The worst of the worst,” an unnamed “professional” who is close to the case tells the news site.
  • Yedioth describes the case as “limitless horrors.”
  • Meanwhile, Maariv runs a headline quoting the lawyer for the rabbi’s wife calling her “righteous.” “There was no kidnapping,” the attorney is quoted saying.

3. Read my lips, no more nonsense: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the headlines for telling an audience that he is done evacuating and demolishing homes, whether they belong to Jews or Arabs.

  • “No communities will be uprooted. Not those of Jews, and by the way, not those of Arabs either. We don’t uproot people,” Netanyahu is widely quoted at an event in the settlement of Revava. “We’re through with that nonsense,”
  • Haaretz notes that “Netanyahu’s remark regarding a refusal to evict Arab communities may run counter to pending plans to evacuate the unauthorized Bedouin West Bank village of Khan Al-Ahmar.”
  • And some are even more skeptical.

4. Who said Arabs? Netanyahu backers and the right, though, play up his promise to not evict settlements, such as Israel Hayom, which magically leaves out the part of the quote when he mentions Arabs, at least online.

  • In the print edition of the paper, it does mention it, though certainly does not play it up.
  • The conservative JNS newswire also downplays the Arab part of his speech, running a headline that only mentions Netanyahu’s commitment to not uproot settlements.

5. Friend of the FSU: Another friendly gesture by the prime minister is also more complicated than it seems. JTA reports that a tweet sent out by Netanyahu’s office shows him meeting Oleh Lyashko, the head of the Ukrainian Radical Party, whose membership includes ultranationalists and neo-Nazis.

  • The story notes that “Lyashko’s party includes nationalist Yuri Shukhevych, the son of Nazi collaborator Roman Shukhevych, whose troops engaged in war crimes against Jews during World War II.”
  • The meeting comes as Netanyahu has been stepping up his campaign to attract Russian speakers, which on Thursday included a tour of a nursing home mostly populated by immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
  • Former MK Ksenia Svetlova writes in al-Monitor about Netanyahu’s attempts to steal votes away from Yisrael Beytenu, whose base is elderly Russian speakers, by saying that party leader Avigdor Liberman didn’t follow through on his promises to help secularize the state and bring the community literal and figurative pork.
  • “The problem here is that the Likud is presenting a partial or even distorted picture of reality, since the Likud was part of the same coalitions,” writes Svetlova, who served in the opposition Zionist Union. “The Likud’s Knesset members also voted against those same proposed laws that sought to advance civil marriage, public transportation on the Sabbath, easing the conversion process and increasing welfare payments to the elderly.”

6. What’s the matter with Harish: If Ashkelon and other coastal cities south of Tel Aviv are Israel’s FSU heartland, then Harish, a national religious boomtown east of Hadera, is where Naftali Bennett’s (and maybe Ayelet Shaked’s) New Right reigns supreme, at least according to the latest in a series of articles by ToI’s Hebrew-language sister site Zman Yisrael looking at Israel’s political geography.

  • The number of registered voters in the town grew from around 600 in 2015 to over 4,000 in the 2019 vote, and 14 percent of them cast ballots for New Right, one of the highest numbers anywhere, especially outside of the settlements. And another 7% voted for Zehut, which is in talks to join with the New Right. (Neither party actually made it into the Knesset, which is one of the reasons Israel is now headed to a new vote)
  • While Israel doesn’t have geographical Knesset constituencies, Harish resident Yossi Ezrachi tells the news site that he sees Shaked as his “lobbyist.”
  • “If I get in touch with her and make sure to bring her votes from Harish and she in exchange will work for us in the Knesset, then we’ve profited,” he tells reporter Amir Ben-David.
  • He also notes that Harish has unique problems stemming from the fact that it was originally planned to be a city marketed to the ultra-Orthodox, meaning it was built for families with lots of kids but not many cars. So roads are not large enough, and on top of that, for many it still has some stigmas.
  • “Unfortunately, the secular are afraid to move here, because they are afraid they will find themselves in an ultra-Orthodox city, and Haredim are afraid to come, because they hear the city is totally secular,” a city official says.

7. No easy way to heal: Stigmas are something the Ethiopian community knows all too well.

  • Yedioth reports that in an effort to begin to heal wounded ties between the community and the law enforcement community, the state plans on dropping most charges against protesters arrested during protests since the killing of Solomon Tekah, except those accused of “serious violence.”
  • According to the report, the prosecutor’s office may also give Ethiopian Jews with misdemeanors on their record a clean slate.
  • Building that trust may take more than a few small gestures like that, though. In ToI’s blogs, four female members of the community weigh in the killing, the protests and the larger problem of racism.
  • “It hurts me that some, if not all, members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community do not trust the police, those who are supposed to protect us. It will take a long time for this trust to be rebuilt,” Yerus Kasiah writes in one.
  • In another, Barhan Worku writes of her surprise that the whole country was not out protesting, and some are even helping smear Tekah and the protesters.
  • “Salomon Teka was murdered by a police officer and there is a huge community that wants to put an end to violence like this,” she writes. “They want it to end so badly that they are willing to end it in any way that they can. We need all of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel, to join us in this fight.”
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