Hebrew media review

Likud party gets picky

PM goes to war with his own people, as ruling party is set to decide who chooses its leadership

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative: Members of the Likud Central Committee vote in Tel Aviv in 2013. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Illustrative: Members of the Likud Central Committee vote in Tel Aviv in 2013. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Since its surprisingly strong showing in the elections, nothing seems to be going right for the Likud party, the Hebrew press notes on Sunday.

Problems forming a government, internal struggles between MK Gilad Erdan and other Likud ministers, an almost made-for-TV scandal involving a young party member, crystal meth and prostitutes — and now another intra-Likud battle over who decides the party’s list.

On one side, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advocates for the current primaries system in which the party members vote directly for who will represent them in the Knesset, but has thrown his weight behind a compromise that would see the party’s entire membership selecting the top 16 slots on the slate, and the central committee the rest.

On the other, the members of the central committee viciously denounce the primaries system and its champion Netanyahu and seek to retain the right to select the full slate.

The 3,700 central committee members around the country will vote Sunday to decide.

Despite being members of the same political party and therefore supposedly allies, each side lobs ad hominem attacks at one another.

“[Netanyahu] is a megalomaniac who thinks that he is the Likud. Erdogan is moderate and democratic compared to him,” Yedioth Ahronoth quotes central committee member Shlomo Madmon as saying.

Meanwhile, the prime minister accuses the central committee of weakening the Likud party. “If the power is not in their hands, next time we will get 40 seats,” he told Yedioth.

The free daily Israel Hayom makes its opinions on the issue clear, with Dan Margalit echoing Winston Churchill in his opinion piece on the matter.

“The primaries system is evil,” he writes. “But it is the lesser evil. The others are much worse.” There would be many more Oren Hazans if the central committee picked the party’s list, Margalit warns.

Oren Hazan, who Israel Hayom also ties to the Bulgarian mafia in a story next to its Likud party article, has somehow become a punching bag for both sides in this argument.

Primaries proponents point to his warm reception in last week’s central committee meeting as proof that the group would have included more members like Hazan in the party’s list, while those opposed to the primaries point to the fact that Hazan was indeed voted onto the party’s list in an open primary vote.

Haaretz, alongside its article on the internal struggle within the ruling party, also includes coverage of the opposition’s own fracas.

Following Hazan’s scandal and his subsequent barring from leading Knesset meetings, opposition leader Isaac Herzog agreed to vote along with the Likud in place of the disgruntled Hazan.

Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid denounces this bipartisan effort. “I have no idea how Boujie understood that this was the role of the opposition… Why do we have to jump in and save Likud?” Lapid tells the paper, using Herzog’s nickname.

The Zioinst Union defends the move, telling Haaretz, “There are moments when you have to put the good of the nation at the top of your priorities list.”

A video filmed on Friday showing a group of soldiers beating a Palestinian man also dominates the Hebrew media on Sunday.

The video was shot following a violent protest in the Jalazoun refugee camp, in which Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers, injuring at least one. The soldiers in the video are seen cursing at an unarmed Palestinian man and then hitting him with fists and later the butts of their rifles.

Haaretz and Israel Hayom give the story just a few paragraphs and a screenshot from the video, while Yedioth Ahronoth gives the story a two-page spread, complete with three graphic pictures, showing the assault.

No culture in Arab towns, the NAACP and a Bush interview

The Culture Ministry released a troubling report documenting a complete lack of “museums, cinematheques and art schools in Arab towns,” Haaretz reveals on its front page.

The report, which was prepared a year ago but kept quiet by the Culture Ministry, shows that only three percent of the ministry’s NIS 660 million budget reaches Arab cultural organizations, despite the country having a 20 percent Arab population.

This report, despite being prepared long before her arrival, could not come at a worse time for MK Miri Regev who has been criticized by Israeli artists for demanding that their creations be prideful and not critical of Israel in order to receive funding.

Though it is mindful of freedom of expression, the ministry says it “maintains the right to evaluate the topic of financial support” in cases of “delegitimizing or embarrassing the State of Israel.”

The bizarre story of Rachel Dolezal, the head of Spokane, Washington’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who was revealed to be, in fact, white, appears in all three major Hebrew news outlets, but nowhere more so than in Yedioth Ahronoth.

The daily paper gives the story a half-page spread, for some reason.

Israel Hayom gives itself an “atta boy,” for running an interview with former president George W. Bush on Friday.

“The world press extensively quoted the interview with Bush in [our weekend supplement],” the paper rejoices in its headline.

The paper glosses over the fact that almost solely conservative outlets, such as The New York Daily News and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, actually quote the interview, in its resounding pat on its own back for a job well done.

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