When history met herstory
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Hebrew media review

When history met herstory

Stories about getting to the bottom of past sins compete for real estate in the Hebrew press with coverage of Clinton’s speech and what she wore

US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses delegates on the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016. (AFP/Robyn Beck)
US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses delegates on the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016. (AFP/Robyn Beck)

The ghosts of the past and faint echoes of the future resonate through the Hebrew print press Sunday morning, as stories hearkening back to darker times – times of war, of (possibly) kidnapped children, of racism and genocide — compete with coverage of the US elections (and Hillary Clinton’s virginal white pantsuit) for real estate.

A decision by Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to reveal new details about the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in 2006, which led to the Second Lebanon War, has given Israelis a chance to relive and revisit that terrible chapter, including on the front page of Israel Hayom.

“This is how [Imad] Mughniyeh prepared the kidnapping of the two soldiers,” reads the main headline on the tabloid, giving the terror group some free advertising for an upcoming TV program on the incident.

Like a TV junkie recapping Game of Thrones for the Internet and calling it journalism, the paper gives a faithful if blurby play by play of the Hezbollah program, as well as reporting on the terror group’s claim of a more recent vintage that Saudi Arabia is working with Israel and abandoning the Palestinians, though by reporting I really mean quoting Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah wholesale and calling it a day.

Hezbollah lashing out at Riyadh, though, seems like child’s play compared to bickering among Israeli politicians over how much Israel knew about Hamas’s tunnels and what it did to thwart the Gazan threat in the lead up to the 2014 war. In a pretty blatant display of toeing the Likud line, the paper — which is seen as a mouthpiece of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — plays up the party’s attempt to discredit claim’s by Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid and Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett that there was no substantive discussion on the issue.

The tabloid shows off Facebook posts from Lapid from back in the day in which he said there were just that, proving that Lapid is indeed a politician. As for Bennett, the paper makes good use of the passive voice, quoting a “harsh response” from “Netanyahu’s surroundings” in which it is said that Bennett’s words are “crude lies.”

Thanks to political opacity, the world may never know the truth about how prepared Israel was for the tunnel, but it seems the country is one step closer to finally learning the mystery of the lost Yemenite children, whom the government claims died in the 1950s but the families suspect were kidnapped by the government, after Minister Tzachi Hanegbi seemed to give credence to the relatives’ long-dismissed claims.

“Hanegbi: Many hundreds of Yemenite children were maliciously abducted,” reads the front page headline of Haaretz. While the paper reports that the minister is the first major figure to confirm the claim, it also notes that there were many unanswered questions that Hanegbi himself – and by extension the Israeli people trusting him to get to the bottom of the case — may not be able to find out, despite his high-level clearance.

“Hanegbi said he was not given access to all the
 material — adoption records, for example. He explained that only a judge can allow records of this type to be unsealed,” the paper reports, going off an interview Hanegbi gave Channel 2 Saturday night. “He said the government is seeking a solution that would allow him to see such files as part of his investigation.”

The front page of the paper also features a picture of Pope Francis visiting the Auschwitz death camp, but interest in the past pales in comparison to papers’ excited coverage of the future of the leadership in the US, despite not having a say in who the next president will be.

While Clinton’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination may be old news, it came too late to make the papers’ weekend editions, and thus Sunday represents their first crack at it.

Yedioth Ahronoth shows how spectacularly it can mess up that crack, piecing a shattered glass ceiling back together with a fashion criticism piece on Clinton and her pantsuit running alongside the paper’s actual coverage of the convention speech. After claiming that her clothes are the talk of America (this writer, currently in the aforementioned land of the free and home of the brave, can attest to the contrary that perusing Yedioth is the first he heard about it), the paper’s fashion critic Sahar Shalev goes on to try to put a feminist spin on her duds.

“The look was clean, elegant, and more than anything tied to the history of women in the US and the suffragette movement, which used to wear white while marching and protesting for the right of women to vote,” Shalev writes.

The analysis of correspondent Orly Azulai isn’t much more incisive, portraying Clinton as Jesus after his second coming, putting much stock into a de-riguer post convention poll bounce.

“This weekend, at the DNC in Philadelphia, she rose like a phoenix, recording an impressive jump in the polls, surpassing her rival Donald Trump, and charmed thousands of delegates in a speech that did exactly what was expected of her: she peeled a bit of her toughness away and showed Hillary to be flesh and blood, someone who knows how to have a sensitive touch but also to shoot poisoned arrows into her rival’s temple,” she writes.

Israel Hayom, long thought to be in the Trump camp, gets hyped up for the real race to finally begin, visually implanting an image of the Republican candidate punching Clinton in the face with the headline “Trump: The gloves are off.”

Trump may be able to just sit back and watch the fight, though, with columnist Boaz Bismuth in his corner throwing all the low blows for him.

“Hillary, so her supporters claim, gave the speech of her life on Thursday. Hillary’s speech of her life is a mediocre speech for Bill,” he writes. “If her best speech ever pushes her in a Reuters poll to just 41 percent support, it’s a sign that there’s something worrying about Hillary’s candidacy.”

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