APN's daily news review from Israel
Friday October 26, 2012
Quote of the day:
"A senior television editor told me: The elections here are being held as if we are in Sweden. There is an elephant that no one wants to talk about, and then your song came and put that elephant in the room."
--Yizhar Ashdot on his anti-war song.
Front Page News:
- Unity in the right: Netanyahu teamed up with Lieberman
- Cease-fire between Israel and Hamas
- The religious also miss a free Shabbat in the capital
- The occupation has gotten more comfortable / Gideon Levy
- What they didn't know then - Could the US have prevented the Holocaust / Tom Segev
- From the message beeper to the gossip column - Israel Police doesn't miss an opportunity to publicize a story about a well-known person
- Netanyahu and Lieberman to run on joint list - Likud Beiteinu ("The Likud is our Homeland") (Hebrew)
- The apartheid lie / Ben-Dror Yemini
- "You will continue to serve" - IDF Chief of Staff Gantz to injured Captain Shilon (Hebrew)
- Winter is already here: Tens of millimeters of rain expected to fall throughout the night (Hebrew)
- The right-wing bang - Political earthquake: Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu to run on joint list
- Hi South - Negev is on the map. Lonely Planet rated it second most recommended place in world to visit in 2013
- Report: Israel also attacked in Sudan a month ago
- "Ziv will overcome it all" - Captain Ziv Shilon's state is improving after injured on Gaza border
- In honor of the rain that arrived: Trips in search of the blooming of the autumn crocuses in the north and in the Jerusalem mountains
- Tnuva raises prices of dairy products by 3.5% - not including cottage cheese
- Israel remembers: Saturday night rally to commemorate 17 years since murder of Rabin
There was one story that blasted across the front pages of all the main Israeli newspapers: Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu united. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who heads the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party shocked everyone - including their own party members - with their announcement that their parties will run on a joint list in the upcoming elections.
REASONING: The official reason for the union, said Netanyahu at a special press conference, was that "joining forces will give us the power to defend Israel and generate social and economic change." But political commentators said it was out of fear. Recent polls indicated a drop in Likud's popularity. Yedioth's Sima Kadmon said the reason Netanyahu made a move that could decimate the Likud and distance the moderate Likud MKs, such as Dan Meridor and Miki Eitan, is "his fear to lose power. In his eyes, Netanyahu sees the Likud getting smaller, how (Ehud) Olmert, (Tzipi) Livni or even (Shelly) Yachimovich leaving the President's residence with a mandate - and drafting Der'i within a day - and maybe even Lieberman - and set-up a center-left coalition. Maariv's Ben Caspit writes that Netanyahu possibly feared that President Shimon Peres would run at the head of a center-left camp. (NRG Hebrew)
Lieberman had his own reasons. Channel 2 commentator Amnon Abramovich reported that Netanyahu and Lieberman agreed on a rotation on the prime minister's seat with the former serving for three years and the latter for one year. Both parties denied the report, Yedioth reports. Indeed, Lieberman is said to by 'eyeing Netanyahu's seat' and that the move puts him closer to the Prime Minister's seat. Lieberman is still waiting for the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to decide whether or not he will be indicted on several cases, including charges of fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, fraudulently obtaining benefits, and harassing witnesses.
INTERNAL OPPOSITION: Many perceive Lieberman and his ultra-nationalist party as immoral if not fascist. Many Likud ministers, MKs and activists opposed the move saying "Netanyahu sold us to Lieberman." Likud MK Miki Eitan said the move "will destroy Likud and threaten Israeli democracy." Another told Haaretz: "We're repulsed by this partnership with Lieberman. I don't want to run with a person like Lieberman, with the kind of values he stands for." The Likud Central Committee will convene Tuesday to ratify the agreement. But some Likudniks are calling for a secret ballot because of their opposition to the move, Yedioth and Maariv reported (NRG Hebrew).
OPPOSITION SHOCK AND REACTION:
The [so-called - OH] center-left now needs to review its political planning. Labor party chief Yachimovich called on the centrist parties to "unite to challenge the Netanyahu-Lieberman union." Ynet reported that Yachimovich and Livni were discussing joining forces with Livni taking the #2 spot. While Yair Lapid said the union signified "the continuation of the radicalization process," he also would "not rule out joining any government," NRG Hebrew reported.
Shas, the ultra-Orthodox party of the Mizrachi Jews, hopes to gain more votes from the merger, believing that many Likud loyalists will leave the party because they don't identify with Yisrael Beiteinu. "The merger makes the choice simpler. It is now obvious that there is just one party that cares for the needy and for Jewish tradition," said Shas' three leaders in a joint statement.
Also of interest:
**Yedioth's '7 Days' magazine ran a story on Israeli singer Yizhar Ashdot titled, "Singer of the wars." 'At age 54, for the first time in his life, Yizhar Ashdot suddenly found himself outside the mainstream. The anti-war song, that his partner Alona Kemchi wrote was banned from being broadcast on IDF Radio and sparked a public storm. His Facebook page filled with hate-posts and threats alongside moving letters from combat officers and soldiers. Teachers of civics taught a special class over whether the song should be banned or not. Even Wikipedia has a new definition dedicated to the song. The song 'Killing is a matter of habit' is from his new album 'Matter of habit.' (Richard Silverstein has the translation to the words here.) The song was inspired after a chance encounter between Alona and activists from 'Breaking the Silence' in a coffee shop, which continued with tours (led by the organization) of Hebron. "That all happened two to three years ago and sat in her head and waited," said Ashdot. Ashdot says that his political awareness began recently.
"A few months ago I began to understand that I'm in the left-wing and I'm not ashamed. Artists don't need to be scared to share their views."
How is it to be in the line of fire?
"It's a new place for me, but I'm fine with it. I'm also embarrassed, but also aware that the song created a public discussion, and that is wonderful. Everyday new things happen. Teachers call me. A reserve Lt. Col. wrote me a letter of support. A senior television editor told me: The elections here are being held as if we are in Sweden. There is an elephant that no one wants to talk about, and then your song came and put that elephant in the room."
The most painful responses were from youth: "They write: 'You're an Arab, and 'If there is something worse than an Arab - it's a left-winger.' You see how the youth demonize the Arabs...you see they are shaking with fear because next year they will be drafted."
And Haaretz ran a story in its Hebrew paper that was quickly censored on the web to remove the name of the Education Minister Gideo Saar. Jewish blogger Richard Silverstein translated the amazing uncensored story here.
- Israel launches diplomatic blitz against Palestinian statehood bid at UN - PA expected to seek UN General Assembly recognition as 'non-member observer state' in November; Israeli envoys warn move could spark third intifada or collapse of Palestinian Authority. (Haaretz)
- Tense Egyptian-mediated truce takes hold in south -Despite one mortar falling on Israel Thursday morning, Israel and Hamas say Egypt helped restore calm • Hamas suffered serious blows and asked for a cease-fire, says Moshe Ya'alon • Sderot mayor goes on hunger strike to protest budget cuts to his beleaguered city. (Israel Hayom)
- Gaza militants fire mortar shell at Israel, despite informal truce - Both Israel and Palestinians held their fire overnight, after two days of cross-border rockets and air strikes. (Haaretz)
- UN investigator calls for boycott of firms linked to Israeli settlements - UN investigator on human rights alleges that companies dealing with settlers are in violation of international human rights laws. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Expose: Neighborhood for security forces families to be established next to (Arab E. Jerusalem neighborhood) Tzur Baher - Israel Lands Authority allocated land for 180 housing units on edge of Armon Hanatziv, near the Arab villages of A-Sawahra and Tzur Baher. Land to be given without a tender for police and officers in IDF. (Yedioth, Bonus supplement, p. 1)
- Former MI chief: Israel may benefit from U.S.-Iran direct talks - In a new research paper, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin claims that engaging Iran in negotiations may lead to better results than diplomatic pressure or a military strike. (Haaretz)
- Israeli, US troops come together to meet 'Austere Challenge' - Israel, U.S., Germany and U.K. all participate in Austere Challenge 12 military exercise. Assistant U.S. secretary of state calls it the "largest and most significant joint exercise in the allies' history." (Israel Hayom)
- Peres: Rabin's way is the only way - In a ceremony marking 17th years since late PM's murder, president says Rabin's path will guarantee strong, Jewish and democratic state for generations to come. (Ynet)
- Tel-Aviv University to take part in East Jerusalem dig funded by pro-settlement group - Silwan residents say excavations in City of David promote Elad's political agenda. Tel Aviv University: It's an academic project. (Haaretz)
- CBS releases data about Israel's Muslim population - Most of Israel's Muslims live in north, have fewer babies than last year, Central Bureau of Statistics data show. (Ynet)
- Israel Police pulls out of civilian web network amid cyber attack threat - An intelligence tip indicated that a virus would be inserted into the police's central computer system via a disk-on-key or CD. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Israeli conscientious objector begins 10-day sentence for refusing to serve in IDF - Moriel Rothman, 23, a former student president of the national board of "J Street U," and a Jerusalem native who lived in the US for two decades, says his act is done in 'solidarity with the Palestinians living under occupation.' (Haaretz)
- Defense Ministry accuses Mossad legend of posing as arms dealer - Renowned former Mossad agent Rafi Eitan is accused of falsely presenting himself as government representative in arms deals, according to report. Eitan, who led the Mossad operation to capture senior Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, denies charges. (Israel Hayom)
- Report: Israel sells drones to Azerbaijan - Global Post reports Israel, Russia and Iran violating UN-imposed embargo by selling arms to Armenia, Azerbaijan. Observers: Border skirmishes may escalate to wider regional conflict. (Ynet)
- Egypt fears jihadi car bomb attacks in Sinai - Security officials in Cairo say forces to operate in Sinai through Eid al-Adha holiday in light of intel indicating terrorists may use stolen government cars to attack tourist hubs. (Ynet)
- Western sources: Iran placed last centrifuge in underground nuclear facility - Iran only disclosed the existence of the Fordow plant, built inside a mountain to shield it from air strikes, in 2009 after learning that Western spy services had detected it. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Journey from India to the Golani Brigade - Ronen Birvdaker decided to immigrate to Israel from India at age 24, recently completed his training and became a Golani Brigade infantry soldier. (Israel Hayom)
- Khamenei: US and Israel seek to divide Muslims - Iran's supreme leader accses American, 'Zionist' agents of pitting Muslims against each other. (Agencies, Ynet)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.