1. Stabbing Kurds, stabbing Israel: The hours before the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, are for observant Jews ones of awe and dread, when their fates for the year to come are about to be sealed. This Yom Kippur, even non-observant Israelis are filled with a sense of foreboding after seeing US President Donald Trump, in his “great and unmatched wisdom,” seemingly leave the Syrian Kurds in the lurch.
- “Trump’s decision to remove US forces from northwest Syria and abandon the Kurdish allies, who believed the US would stand alongside them after a three-year battle against IS, should set off every red light by us,” writes Yedioth’s Shimon Shiffer, who calls it, together with Trump’s seeming unwillingness to confront Iran, no less than a “stab in our back.”
- Channel 13’s Nadav Eyal, who calls the decision “anomalous even for him,” reports that “Israel sees the latest developments as more proof that Israel can no longer rely on Trump regarding Syria, at least in terms of diplomatic backing for Israeli strikes there.”
- Haaretz’s Amir Tibon writes that Israeli officials didn’t even have such a move on their radar.
- “Several sources also said that the American decision was also not seriously discussed, and possibly even wasn’t discussed at all, during Sunday’s security cabinet meeting, which focused on Iran and the Palestinian arena,” he reports.
- But speaking to Army Radio, former national security adviser Jacob Nagel says Israel never relied on him.
- “America is a friend, but we don’t rely on it to protect us.”
2. Deafening silence: Haaretz’s Amos Harel writes that the affair is the latest episode making one wonder “whether too much reliance hadn’t been placed on Trump, at the cost of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu distancing himself far from the Democrats and undermining traditional bipartisan support in Washington for Israel.”
- Indeed, even as some Republicans have publicly broken with Trump over the move, Netanyahu and his men have stayed screamingly mum on the matter.
- Israel Hayom, which backs both Netanyahu and Trump, is the only major print news organization not to lead with the story and instead buries it on Page 23.
- What coverage it does give does not lead with the Kurdish fears or abandonment of the ground to Turkey but rather Trump’s bellicose threat to destroy Ankara’s economy.
- Not everyone is so silent. Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid makes a strong statement against the move and Yamina MK Naftali Bennett throws what journalist/analyst Neri Zilber calls “mild shade.”
Israeli politician #2, this time from the right. Bennett backs Kurds & throws mild shade at Trump admin. https://t.co/t0VIiqCcMV
— Neri Zilber (@NeriZilber) October 7, 2019
3. Don’t have a cow: While he doesn’t have much to say about the Kurds and Trump, Avigdor Liberman has plenty to say about everyone else in a blistering interview to Maariv’s Ben Caspit.
- Like Don Rickles but less funny, Liberman hands out insults everywhere, alleging that Netanyahu is having him followed, calling Foreign Minister Israel Katz “a pathetic liar” and Culture Minister Miri Regev “an animal.”
- Asked if he wants to apologize, he says sure: “I apologize to the animals.”
- Regev is the only one of the three to bother responding, calling Liberman “the most hated man in the country.”
- On Twitter, Meretz activist Avi Buskila predicts, though, that if push comes to shove, Netanyahu will embrace Liberman and send Regev out to pasture if it means his political survival.
4. Meet your coalition maker: In the spirit of the holiday, Haaretz’s op-ed columnist Nehemia Shtrasler writes that it will be Netanyahu’s day of judgment, after Liberman threatened to throw out some new ideas for a unity government after the holiday should talks remain stuck.
- “When Netanyahu hears the shofar at the end of Yom Kippur, his knees should shake not only from the judgment he receives on high, but also from whatever Liberman is preparing for him down here.”
- Channel 12 news would rather not wait for Yom Kippur, and reports that a series of proposed bills put forward by the party in the last few days already points at what kind of government Liberman’ll try to form: one without the ultra-Orthodox.
- “He’ll try to form a government with his party, Likud and Blue and White, or one with the ultra-Orthodox, Likud and Blue and White, in which case he would stay in the opposition.”
- It’s not clear how such a proposal would change the calculus, with talks stuck more over personalities and a rotation deal than ideology.
5. Drawing blood over DNA: One of the things Liberman has been vociferously pushing against is the rabbinate’s use of DNA tests to confirm whether someone is Jewish.
- ToI’s Marissa Newman takes a fascinating dive into the science behind the method and how it went from a lifeline for those seeking to prove Jewishness without acceptable paperwork to the center of a bloody battle over state and religion.
- “The introduction of two kinds of genetic testing in state rabbinical courts over the past few years — one that seeks Ashkenazi Jewish markers through mitochondrial DNA by comparing it to databases, and one to confirm a family tie — flew under the radar at first, but erupted into a massive uproar in March when several cases hit the headlines,” she writes.
- She adds: “Now the practice faces a High Court of Justice challenge submitted by the Yisrael Beytenu party, which represents Russian-speaking immigrants, that seeks to ban the rabbinical courts from using genetic testing in its examinations of Jewishness. Yisrael Beytenu has also vowed to try and pass Knesset legislation outlawing it.”
- Rabbi Isroel Barenbaum of Moscow’s top rabbinical court says the whole thing is much ado about nothing: “Halacha always utilizes new tools if they can supply effective solutions.”
- But Rabbi Seth Farber of the Itim organization says it is being misused by authorities and others warn of a slippery slope: “The main point is that they say ‘we don’t force anyone…’ But the facts are that when they say ‘we recommend that you take a test and without that we can’t certify you to get married,’ they are essentially forcing it,” he says.
6. Time to forgive: Other outlets also try to connect the holiday to recent news.
- “If you managed to forgive me, I will also forgive myself for not knowing what you were going through,” writes Yulia Aharon, whose children attended a kindergarten run by abusive caretaker Camel Mouda and who blamed herself for not discovering the abuse sooner, in Israel Hayom. “My children, you’ve given me the strength to forgive myself, to know that I am not guilty, to know that she hid well what she was doing.”
- After a year that saw large protests against police violence in Israel’s Ethiopian community, Dani Adino Ababe writes in Yedioth that Israelis would do well to learn a lesson from the images of Dallas cop Amber Guyger being hugged and forgiven by the brother of Botham Jean after she was convicted of killing him.
- “It would be good if on the eve of Yom Kippur, the acting head of police would call Solomon Tekah’s mother and ask forgiveness for him and his organization for the horridness that they subjected her and her son’s generation to. It would be good if the officer who shot him would bend his knees in front of the mother and cry out in a clear voice: I have wronged you, have mercy on me.”
7. The Journalist’s Vidui 2.0: Much like fasting, wearing silly shoes and sticking caffeine pills up your tuchus, another Yom Kippur tradition is the vidui, or confession, service, a litany of wrongs people are supposed to attempt to atone for. In recent years, many modern vidui services have been published, updating the roster of iniquity and targeting it at specific populations, professions or problems. In 2016, I published a journalist’s vidui in that style and I hereby present a second version with yet more wrongs (yes, it seems there is no end to our professional malpractice) I and many of my colleagues might do well to right:
I have committed journalistic sins of commission.
I have committed journalistic sins of omission.
I have stolen others’ work.
I have not given proper credit.
I have not quoted women as experts.
I have not quoted Arabs or other minorities as experts.
I have wrongly attempted to pass myself off as an expert.
I have been a false prophet.
I have been haughty.
I have been a slave to preconceptions.
I have not truly listened to the other side, to those I might not agree with.
I have leveled accusations without letting the accused party respond, or with only very little time.
I have ignored information which does not comport with the thesis of my reporting.
I have let my biases seep into my work.
I have used social media as a crutch to put out things I would never put in my name otherwise.
I have been insensitive to others’ tragedies.
I have let cynicism get the best of me.
I have used puns when not appropriate.
I have made horrific, evil jokes.
My keyboard has clacked with iniquity, with wickedness, with laziness, with injustice.
I have knowingly piggybacked on others’ bad reporting for the clicks.
I have quarreled with colleagues.
I have failed to put the reader first.
I have failed to put the truth first.
I have relied on Wikipedia.
I have relied on unverified tweets.
I have helped my sources obfuscate.
I have helped the government distribute propaganda.
I have lied about who my sources are in hopes of better access.
I have been unethical.
I have not fact-checked, or only selectively fact-checked.
I have relied on canned statements and press releases rather than actual reporting.
I have copied and pasted.
I have ended pieces with “only time will tell.”
I have been quick to criticize others.
I have sloughed off others’ rightful criticism of myself.
I have fished for compliments.
I have failed to compliment others’ good work.
I have misled with photo choices.
I have misled with headlines.
I have mis-leded stories to sensationalize them.
I have broken a sacred public trust.
I have spread gossip.
I have spread rumors.
I have slandered.
I have libeled.
I have trolled.
I have failed my readers.