You got some ‘splainin’ to do
Hebrew media review

You got some ‘splainin’ to do

Spokespeople’s skills are put to the test as the Finance Ministry gives rich port workers a raise, Israel doubles down on East Jerusalem building; and an army unit is still left doing reserve duty for Pillar of Defense

Children playing in Ramat Shlomo in 2010. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Children playing in Ramat Shlomo in 2010. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

If people were paid by the importance of their jobs, teachers and nurses would be billionaires and soccer players and app developers would be scrounging around for change between the couch cushions. Alas, the world doesn’t quite work that way, but Yedioth Ahronoth is still incensed by the fact that port workers, who already average NIS 35,000 monthly salaries, will be getting NIS 4,000 raises, while Israel’s nurses, on strike now for over two weeks to get a little more than their NIS 13,000 average, are getting bupkus.

According to the story, the Finance Ministry had little choice but to give the workers the raise, since they had already agreed to it in principle back in May, despite the bad timing of having to sign on it now. The paper details why being a longshoreman is not a bad gig to have. “The average salary of the port workers is an object of jealousy: It’s higher than the Bank of Israel, the Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel Military Industries and even the banks,” the paper writes, adding that many of the workers take home over NIS 60,000 a month gross. Gross indeed.

Meanwhile, the ministry agreed to give the nurses a 2.5 percent raise, but only if they work an extra two shifts a week, an idea that likely won’t go over too well for the group, which already says it’s overworked.

Who should be getting a raise, however, is the government’s corps of spokespeople, which is now tasked with defending to the world the decision to push ahead with 1,500 new homes in East Jerusalem (and a few thousand more after another likely approval on Tuesday.) The news leads both Haaretz and Israel Hayom, the latter of which the state should be reading if it wants pointers on how to back up the Ramat Shlomo building plan.

“Strengthening Jerusalem,” the paper’s headline reads, leaving no doubt as to where it stands. The story quotes a government source saying that, with every project the state approves in East Jerusalem or the West Bank earning rounds of condemnation, the state should look to approve as many homes as possible in one go. (Why approve two projects of 750 homes each and get chewed out twice when you can combine the projects and just have to deal with international outcry once?)

Analyst Nadav Shragai praises the move and calls on the government to make like John Wayne and approve homes confidently, without needing the prime minister to get involved, like other projects in Israel proper. “Policies like these will ensure that Jerusalem will never be divided again. We said it in the past and we need to say it again and again without embarrassment, without blinking and without stuttering.”

Haaretz, on the other hand, sees the issue a little differently, writing that the plans will “change the Jerusalem map.” According to the story, building in Givat Hamatos will landlock the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa within Jerusalem. “Creating the neighborhood will make it impossible to apply to Jerusalem the maps presented in the Geneva accords, that connect Beit Safafa to a Palestinian state,” the paper writes. “The new neighborhood will also hook up the existing Jewish neighborhoods in the area to create one giant Jewish bloc in the south of the city and cut it off from Bethlehem.”

Forgotten soldiers

Maariv leads off with two more stories that beg some ‘splaining. First up is a piece reporting that hundreds of pedophiles are roaming the streets of Israel, right next to you, yes you, right there, behind that bush. No, not that guy, the other guy, yes him. According to the story, 215 pedophiles who have been released from prison were able to return to society with no oversight, no registry, no mental help, no halfway houses, no nothing. “Pedophiles who are defined as dangerous can return and hurt again,” Dr. Yitzhak Kadmon, a children’s advocate, tells the paper. “There are no halfway houses designated for pedophiles and in other halfway houses where freed convicts live, they refuse to take in pedophiles.”

If you think that’s bad, try getting called up to emergency reserve duty for a war and then having to stay in reserve duty even after the war fails to materialize. That’s what happened to one unit, which was apparently “forgotten” after being called up for Operation Pillar of Defense (remember that? Us neither), even though it’s nearly a month since the ceasefire was signed. The soldiers, who are guarding northern Samaria, were told that they would have to stay on until December 19, because the army couldn’t muster any forces to take their place.

“We thought they were having a laugh at first,” one soldier said. “It couldn’t be that we would be here so long, but as we learned in our regular service, there’s no logic to the army. They told us nobody would replace us because that would ‘destroy the reserves graph of the army.’ Because of this ‘graph’ I haven’t seen my kids in over a month, even for a short furlough we weren’t let out. There are independent contractors whose businesses are being destroyed…”

Liberman’s biggest fans: Palestinians

In Yedioth’s op-ed page, Akhram Atallah writes (in a piece originally printed in Al Ayam and translated from the Arabic into Hebrew) that Palestinians were actually quite fond of foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who officially stepped down this morning, and will be sad to see the brash politician step down.

“In the last few years Liberman has been good for Palestinian PR around the world, especially his personal slandering and rough ways. Most of the world’s leaders don’t take him seriously, and who would have thought that an American secretary of state would ever evade having to meet the Israeli foreign minister?” Atallah writes, though he forgets that Clinton and Liberman met on several occasions. “During Liberman’s term, the Palestinians managed to isolate Israel and expose its ugly façade. During his time, Israel gained new enemies and the boycott movement against it strengthened.”

Haaretz’s op-ed tackles the opportunity missed earlier this week when Israel backed out of a European transportation reform program that would have seen airline prices lowered. The government said it didn’t want to make big decisions before an election, but the paper sees darker demons lurking

“The answer is probably linked to the forces that oppose the reform and the competition it envisions. El Al, for example, used lobbyists to influence MKs, workers’ unions at Israeli carriers threatened to punish the government in the election, and the pilots, too, voiced their opposition to the move, which might have cut their handsome salaries. And so the Netanyahu government once again caved in to the interests of those who enjoy the fruits of market failings and a corrupt system, even at the expense of the public.”

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