1. Rashomon in the Justice Ministry: The crazy thing about closed-door hearings is that they are held behind closed doors. Rather than protect the public or anyone else, though, all holding it behind closed doors does is provide rich, fetid fodder for both sides to play the press and push their own versions of the story.
- Of course I speak here of the pre-indictment hearings currently being argued — or rather waged — over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged crimes.
- Depending on which news source you tune into, it’s going swimmingly for the prosecution or for Netanyahu, and have fun teasing out a source from all the supposed “reporting.” The truth? Since when is that part of the equation?
- So we have Channel 13 news reporting that Netanyahu’s defense team has failed miserably in its attempt to refute the charges in so-called Case 4000, in which the prime minister is accused of trading regulatory favors for positive media coverage.
- But uh oh, Channel 12 begs to differ. In fact the prosecution was blown away by the defense team, and now the prosecutors have to go back to the drawing board and revise their “thesis” on the case.
- Can you guess which side probably leaked which information? Here’s a clue. Netanyahu-backing Israel Hayom also claims that the prosecution’s case is falling apart.
- “[Shlomo] Filber didn’t bring the goods,” reads a headline in the paper, referring to a key witness in the case who ran the ministry allegedly handing out the favors.
- “If the case rests on Filber’s testimony, the prosecution has a serious problem,” the paper’s Akiva Bigman writes.
2. Death of a thousand gifts: Case 4000 will be history soon, though, and on Sunday the lawyers are slated to finish with it and tackle Case 1000, in which Netanyahu and his wife Sara are accused of getting expensive gifts from rich guys Arnon Milchan and James Packer.
- Previewing the defense’s arguments (again, no source) Yedioth reports that Netanyahu’s lawyers will argue that you’re allowed to get gifts from friends, they didn’t know how many gifts they were getting and they weren’t getting as much as the prosecution claims anyway.
- Walla news, which was reportedly put down as uninfluential enough to bribe someone over in the Case 4000 hearing, runs the quote “There’s no choice but to close the case,” as its top headline, referring to the defense’s argument in Case 1000.
- But Channel 13 airs what it says is new testimony from Milchan and his assistant in which they spoke about being basically forced to bring the Netanyahus “gifts.”
- “It wasn’t possible to come empty-handed. The Netanyahus would be very disappointed, to put it lightly,” assistant Hadas Klein is quoted as having told investigators.
3. Primary pull-back: Israeli news consumers have also been treated to spin thanks to Netanyahu’s sudden desire to hold a Likud primary, and just as quick reversal.
- Over the weekend, the primary suddenly turned into a meeting at which the party’s central members would skip the whole voting thing and just declare their undying love for dear leader.
- Haaretz reports that one thing the party won’t be asked to do is commit to Netanyahu being first in a rotational deal.
- Perhaps realizing he’d been outfoxed, Netanyahu rival Gideon Sa’ar said we can just skip the meeting too “and I’ll see you in the primary, sucka,” upon which Netanyahu’s spokesman celebrated: “The putsch is dead.”
- Oops, did I say Netanyahu’s spokesman? I actually meant “people around the prime minister say the Likud putsch is dead,” which is what the spokesman sent out and what was faithfully reported by each and every Hebrew-language outlet despite the fact that none of them were actually privy to conversations “around Netanyahu.”
- (You can just read my whole rant about it here.)
All Hebrew news sites are reporting that "those around the prime minister say the putsch is dead." This is a lie. Not the putsch part, which is all spin, but the reporting. None of these reporters are talking to sources around Netanyahu and coming away w/ that conclusion 1/??
— Joshua Davidovich (@Josh_Davidovich) October 6, 2019
4. And then he putsched me: As for the supposed putsch, well that is a question as well.
- “Who is the putscher,” Army Radio host Razi Barkai demands again and again, trying to figure out when announcing that you would run as a candidate in a primary suddenly became a “putsch.”
- Maariv’s Ben Caspit goes as far as accusing Netanyahu and his buddies of being anti-democratic. “When will they figure out that their amazing democracy is actually not democracy at all? When will they look at their eternal prime minister and see the Middle Eastern version of Kim Jong Un? The answer: When it’s too late.”
5. No more violence: Protests against violence in Arab community continue to gain traction, and even some press coverage (though well below all the political skulduggery in most cases.)
- Haaretz devotes the most space to the demonstrations of the mainstream Israeli press, and to personal stories behind them.
- “They describe life as being ‘like in a war.’ They say they are afraid to go out into the street,” reads the lede of the paper’s gripping account of life in Arab towns and what the protests are all about.
- The protests have been mostly peaceful (as one would expect of an anti-violence demonstration), drawing praise from the paper’s Jack Khoury.
- “Everyone was marching with uncovered faces, holding signs protesting the violence in the Arab community, and turning out on major roads and intersections in large numbers,” he writes. “Theirs was a cry directed at anyone who would listen, directed both at the country’s leaders and the Arab community: We can’t take it anymore. The Arab community isn’t apathetic. It wants personal security – and it’s the state’s job to provide it. It’s the job of the government and the police. But it’s also the job of local political, social and religious leaders.”
- But in al-Monitor, Shlomi Eldar notes that the situation may not be as cut and dried as it seems.
- “The bloodbath that could ensue should beefed-up police forces enter Arab towns such as Umm al-Fahm and Kfar Qassem to confront armed criminal gangs and seize their illegal weapons would not be an impossible or even far-fetched scenario. Those same Knesset members and local leaders who are demanding a determined police response to violent crime could be singing a different tune once armed police enter Arab communities and arrest weapons holders,” he writes.
6. No immunity: The protests get only a few paragraphs in Israel Hayom, running below the killing of young mother Michal Sela, apparently knifed by her husband, who then tried to take his own life.
- Yedioth Ahronoth also plays up the Sela killing, running a front page editorial with the unsettling headline “If it could happen to her,” repeating a refrain used by her family as a well-meaning wake-up call against domestic violence. (Unsettling because of its tacit message that Sela, a young Jewish mother from an upscale suburb, should have been immune to the violence where perhaps others were not.)
- The message is repeated by MK Aida Touma-Sliman, who heads the Knesset lobby against domestic violence, and who tells Walla news that the political deadlock means the Public Security Ministry can’t throw more money at the problem.
- “She was a social worker. That means no woman is immune from domestic violence,” she’s quoted saying. “Even women from higher socioeconomic backgrounds refuse to ask for help.”