You shouldn’t have, really: 9 things to know for July 16
Israel media review

You shouldn’t have, really: 9 things to know for July 16

Trump’s ‘defense’ of Israel only serves to drag the Jewish state into his racist tiff, angering many American Jews while Israelis barely take notice

US President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, July 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

1. Wedgehammer: Much of the American Jewish community is up in arms after US President Donald Trump decided to cover for his racially insensitive tweets against a group of freshman congresswomen of color by citing their criticism of Israel.

  • “He doesn’t understand the fundamental challenges of the Jewish community in fighting anti-Semitism,” Amanda Berman of the Zioness Movement tells ToI’s Eric Cortellessa. “People like to say that Jews are privileged white people and who can’t engage in intersectional battles or social justice spaces. He contributes so substantially to that dialogue, which is inherently anti-Semitic. And he is fueling it by connecting Israel to his own white supremacist tweets that attack congresspeople of color.”
  • Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz almost comes off as polite in telling the president to STFU.
  • “Many Jewish Americans reject the President’s transparent attempt to divert the country’s attention from his own moral failings, just as we reject his attempts to politicize Israel and the rise of anti-Semitism,” Jewish Democratic Council leader Haile Soifer writes in CNN.
  • Michael Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum writes in The Forward that “Any and all responsible pro-Israel American Jewish leaders with a modicum of backbone will stand up and denounce Trump’s racism for what it is, and make it clear that they see no connection between his latter-day McCarthyism and any coherent defense of Israel. Those who do not will bear their own share of the responsibility when they wake up a few years from now and Israel’s standing among Americans is finally confined to pockets of Republicans, evangelicals, and politically conservative Jews.”
  • “Even the ADL thinks Trump is abusing ‘anti-Semitism’ accusations,” reads a headline in Russia Today.

2. Whats wrong with a little racism? Many prefer not to confront Trump.

  • The Republican Jewish Coalition tweets out its agreement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, who called the “squad” of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan “communists” who hate Israel and the US and are anti-Semitic too, just for good measure.
  • Once upon a time, Graham was actually critical of Trump, as were many others who now defend or parrot him: “Graham, who’s up for reelection in 2020, must figure that if he denounced Trump, he will lose the Republican senatorial primary. And if that happens, he will not be replaced by a relative moderate but by a rabid Trumper. Cui bono, as the lawyers like to say. Who benefits? No one,” Richard Cohen writes in the Washington Post.
  • JTA notes that at a conference on hate and anti-Semitism at the Department of Justice, three government officials on a panel were reluctant to criticize Trump.
  • “Asked to what they attributed the rise in hate crimes, and if they considered Trump’s often polarizing behavior as one of the causes, all three [panelists] — representing the Attorney General’s civil rights division, the FBI’s criminal investigation division and the US Attorney for the District of Columbia — declined to offer any reasons,” the service reports.
  • New York GOP head Nick Langworthy, touring Israel, tells the New York Post that “We’ve seen an increase in anti-semitism and violence, and then the high level of anti-semitism from Rep. Ilhan Omar and AOC [which] I’ve condemned.”

3. Finding what to agree on: Even with all the division, though, at least everyone can agree that cancer sucks.

  • Also on the agreement express, Yossi Beilin, no supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, writes that a US-Israel defense pact may indeed be in the offing, something almost anyone would have trouble criticizing.
  • “Even if it stems from Trump’s efforts to save Netanyahu from an election defeat on Sept. 17, I suggest welcoming and encouraging it,” he writes in al-Monitor. “I am greatly disturbed by Trump’s term and the way he is running America, as well as by the childish pronouncements and eccentric character of a man who presumes to lead the free world. However, if he were willing to undertake such a move with his penchant for cutting Gordian ties with the swing of a sword, I would salute him.”

4. Trump who? Trump’s tweets may be the biggest story outside of Area 51 in the US, but in Israel, it barely merits a blip on the radar.

  • “They hate Israel,” reads a nuance-less headline on a five-paragraph story buried on the bottom of page 20 of Yedioth Ahronoth.
  • In Israel Hayom, the kerfuffle doesn’t even merit that much.
  • Haaretz’s Hebrew edition also pays almost no attention, devoting only a tiny corner of a back page to coverage, but in English, Allison Kaplan-Sommer writes that Trump and IfNotNow are succeeding in turning Israel into a 2020 wedge issue.
  • “Between the determination of the small but loud Jewish group and Trump’s Twitter bear hug, Israel and the Palestinians have become an anomaly: A foreign policy hot potato in the early stages of a presidential campaign when, normally, all eyes are on domestic issues,” she writes. “Israelis themselves can only look on nervously, a bit baffled by these developments and deeply skeptical as to whether all of this attention can possibly be a good thing.”

5. Classless society: Instead, Israelis are lasered on more domestic issues, including the fact that the start of the school year is, gasp, a month and a half away.

  • Yedioth reports that despite promises of making sure to do background checks and only hire teachers and caregivers who aren’t criminals, the government is already saying it has no way of completing the task by September 1.
  • “Most [daycares] will continue to operate this year without any oversight or control,” the paper writes.
  • Forget nannies. Even real schools are facing a massive shortage of “quality teachers,” Israel Hayom reports, under the headline: “Professional teacher? Not in our school.”
  • But don’t worry, the government is making sure to protect kids from the scourge of off-brand pencils and Amazon Prime Day deals. “The stuff you bought online does not have our oversight,” Economy Ministry wonk Yaakov Hechtel chides parents on Army Radio. “You should look for our seal on any product.”

6. Ties for sale: The education system isn’t the only government body in trouble. Yet again, diplomats have begun a labor action to push for higher wages, threatening to put Israel’s diplomatic initiatives at risk.

  • “While lamenting poor pay and an ever-shrinking budget, the union has once again ceased providing basic consular services and is threatening to disrupt Israel’s diplomacy, including a planned trip to Tokyo by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in protest of the ongoing erosion of their professional home,” ToI’s Raphael Ahren reports. “Perhaps more importantly, the diplomats’ current labor sanctions aim to hurt Israel’s economy by sabotaging million-dollar arms deals and jeopardizing lucrative flight routes, according to the union.”
  • According to Haaretz, Foreign Minister Israel Katz is looking to bring in more moolah for his ministry by selling the diplomatic corps as a money tree.
  • “Under his plan, diplomats’ performance would be evaluated mainly on how successful they are at promoting economic relationships. The foreign minister also wants to attract more recruits to the foreign service course who have an economic background,” the paper’s Noa Landau reports.
  • “Some Foreign Ministry staffers expressed the hope that Katz’s plan will persuade the treasury that the amount of money the foreign service brings in through improved trade relations far exceeds amounts that are being targeted in cuts, and therefore that the ministry budget should not be curtailed,” she adds. “But others fear that a greater focus on economic ties will necessarily come at the expense of the diplomatic issues that have been the ministry’s core job.”

7. Red dawn: Whether Katz will even have a chance to see his initiative through will depend largely on elections, and parties are still working out who and who they won’t be joining up with.

  • Channel 13 reports that Likud is upping its play for Yisrael Beytenu’s Russian-speaking base, hosting a meeting with some 25 activists interested in making a beyxit from the party.
  • “Netanyahu attacks: Liberman sold out his voters,” reads the top headline in Israel Hayom, often seen as a mouthpiece for the prime minister.
  • Alik Soltonovitz, a former deputy mayor of Ashkelon, tells Army Radio he participated in the meeting because “after what happened in the last elections, I saw that Liberman doesn’t care about the country. We were with the ultra-Orthodox for years, and what’s happening now does not seem natural to me.”

8. Left behind: Yedioth reports that merger talks between Labor and Meretz are heating up after internal polls by both parties showed a boost should they join forces.

  • According to the paper, running separately would give Meretz seven seats and Labor five. But getting together would give them 14 seats total.
  • A showing of five for Labor would be a historic low, even worse than the record low of six seats they suffered last time around, which may be why party head Amir Peretz is so eager to hook up with a partner.
  • Even with the desperation, Haaretz quotes a Labor source saying that getting together with former prime minister Ehud Barak “is not on the table.”

9. Barak losing credit: What has happened to Barak that he has suddenly become untouchable? Two words: Jeffrey Epstein.

  • In an interview published Monday, Barak tells The Daily Beast that he indeed met with Epstein, but not for sex parties or anything like that.
  • “I never attended a party with him,” Barak tells the outlet. “I never met Epstein in the company of women or young girls.”
  • However, he does admit to visiting Epstein on his private island. That’s not necessarily bad in and of itself, but according to a recent Associated Press report, locals nicknamed the atoll “Pedophile Island,” which is not a good look for any politician seeking to make a comeback.
  • At least Barak can happily retire to his penthouse if elections don’t work, that is if he has any money left. Filming a cliched falafel stand stop Monday, the former prime minister decided to make fun of Netanyahu by showing how he gets out his wallet and can pay with cash or credit card, flashing his Visa, and not bothering to cover up any of the numbers.
  • “Yalla guys, we have an account with $2.3 million, pizza for everyone,” tweets a user named Daniel Levi, along with a zoomed in picture showing his full credit card details.
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