APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday December 23, 2012
Quote of the day:
"There is no permission to hold end of year parties with non-Jewish symbols such as Christmas trees..."
--From letter by local Haifa rabbis to hotel and event hall owners threatening to revoke kosher licenses if they hold "Christmas" or "New Year's" parties.**
Front Page News:
- West believes Assad will control one quarter of Syria
- Not just in America: The ease with which one can buy firearms in Israel
- Obama appointed John Kerry US Secretary of State
- Bennett's real face //Yossi Verter
- Genetically engineered meat coming closer to plate: FDA determined the salmon is not dangerous
- 1/4 page ad: Bennett is irresponsible - Supports refusing orders (in military)
- Head to head: Netanyahu marked his biggest opponent: Naftali Bennett
- Dreams come true - We prayed for a rainy winter and we go it: The Kinneret filled at a rate not seen in 20 years
- Universities to receive list: Leading schools in copying (exams)
- Late in life - Battling blindness and an unfaithful memory, poet Natan Zach looks at death in the eyes
- Netanyahu: A supporter of refusing military orders will not be a minister; Bennett: Likud is bringing on another disengagement (from Palestinian Territories) (Hebrew)
- They waited for him in the corner // Arel Segal
- Systemic right-wing madness // Mazal Muallem (Hebrew)
- It is not a river bank - Stormy weather brought overflowing of rivers and rise of Kinnert by 43 cm since October, mostly from last days (Hebrew)
- Premature twin babies died of infection (Hebrew)
- Syria crisis - In Israel they are convinced: Russia abandoned Assad (Hebrew)
- Storm in Ukraine: Parliament member called actress Mila Kunis "dirty Jew" (Hebrew)
- "No one who supports refusal will sit in my government" - Netanyahu directly attacked Chairman of Haybayit Hayehudi; Bennett: "I didn't call for disobeying orders"
- Touching the skies - Four women among graduates of the 165th IDF pilot's course, one is the first combat pilot navigator
- Tragedy at Schneider Hospital: Twin premature babies died from a virus
- The whole country is rivers rivers
- US: Obama appointed John Kerry as secretary of state
- Russia: Assad won't leave even if we pressure him
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's battle against far-right wing Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett and his dismissal of UN criticism over settlement expansion made top stories in today's Israeli newspapers - along with the unusually heavy and very welcome rainfall. Also in the news, Israel is officially pleased with the appointment of Senator John Kerry as US Secretary of State, but the right-wing papers expressed concerns of Israel supporters. And two small items revealed that public displays of Christmas are unwelcome by some Jews in the Holy Land.
Netanyahu is on attack against his main rival in the upcoming elections: Naftali Bennett, the new leader of far-right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party. Netanyahu fears Bennett will take the votes of religious and settler voters, which is what makes up Bennett's party as well as its coalition partner, National Union-Tekuma. Netanyahu is using Bennett's statement last week, that he would disobey IDF orders to evacuate settlers, to portray Bennett negatively. The commentators had a lot to say about this (see below).
In a television interview Friday, Netanyahu said: "I'm not interested in what the UN says about settlement construction." His words followed the intense criticism coming from abroad against Israel's massive settlement construction plans in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The following day, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority if Israeli settlement construction continues, saying E-1 was a red line, Haaretz reported.
On the record, Jerusalem is pleased with Senator John Kerry's appointment. Netanyahu called him: "Israel's good friend." But the two main Israeli right-wing papers had issues with the senator. Maariv wrote that 'some Israel supporters' fear that "like in the cases of not a few former secretaries of state, Kerry's first period in office will be characterized by activity unwanted from Israel's point of view. This is in contrast to Hilary Clinton, who throughout her four years in office keep a relatively passive attitude to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Israel Hayom noted that Kerry's grandfather was an Austro-Hungarian Jew and that his brother converted to Judaism after marrying an Orthodox Jew, but then wrote: 'However, despite his declarations over his unshakable commitment to Israel's security, Kerry opposes Israel's settlement policy and has criticized Israeli actions in Judea and Samaria, as well as the blockade on Gaza.' In a more supportive article, Yedioth noted how he supported Israel's latest operation in Gaza and opposed the Palestinian's statehood bid at the UN. It wrote that "Kerry's posititions are close to the Israeli left-wing: He believes in 'two-states for two peoples' with E. Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, which is achieved through negotiations and not unilateral moves Kerry also expressed opposition to Israeli settlement expansion and to a military option over a diplomatic one in dealing with the Iran issue."
**Two small new items reveal pressure by the ultra-Orthodox to keep Christmas symbols and celebrations out of sight. Maariv reported that a Christmas tree placed by the Jerusalem municipality at the Old City's Jaffa Gate [the entrance to the Christian Quarter also used to enter the Jewish Quarter - OH] raised the ire of ultra-Orthodox and now, suddenly the tree is gone - a few days before Christmas. The municipality said it was planned in advance to leave it only three days. Meanwhile, in Haifa, Yedioth reports that in the city famous for its Arab-Jewish coexistence, local rabbis wrote 'upsetting letters' to hotel and event hall owners telling them they cannot hold 'Christmas' or 'Sylvester' (New Year's) parties or they will lose their kosher license. [The article did not explain that local Christian Arabs rent the halls and hold big holiday parties. - OH] "There is no permission to hold end of year parties with non-Jewish symbols such as Christmas trees, etc. Moreover, it is prohibited to advertise parties as Christmas or Sylvester parties..." The letters caused a storm. The angry hotel and event hall owners say they don't understand what the connection between a kosher certificate and respecting Christians during their holiday.
- Five Palestinians wounded by IDF fire on Gaza border - Gaza medics say the men are lightly to moderately wounded and not in life threatening condition; IDF says troops acted 'according to set procedures' when the men did not heed calls to leave the border fence area. (Haaretz)
- Jerusalem: Cabbie shot after trying to run officer over - Border Guard officer lightly hurt after taxi driver attempts to run him over; driver mildly wounded. Police say incident was nationalistically motivated. (Ynet)
- Two Palestinians break into IDF base, assault soldier and steal his weapon - Initial investigations indicate the Palestinians were able to reach the base undetected due to the stormy weather conditions; IDF is classifying the incident as severe. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- 'Price-tag' suspects released from detention - Three young men arrested two weeks ago under suspicion of a series of 'price-tag' attacks were released to house detention Friday. Aharon Sadigorsky, Yehiel Lekes and Natanel Kalerman were caught with spray paint, matches other material connecting them to the attack on Dahariya village where a car was set on fire. (More details here.) The police were supposed to indict them by Friday, but it did not and the court sent them home. It was said the defense could not convict them. (Yedioth, p. 31)
- Indian Jews from 'Lost Tribe' move to Israel - Some 50 Jews believed to be descend from one of 10 Lost Tribes of Israel make aliyah. (Agencies, Ynet)
- '124-year-old' Arab-Israeli woman dies - Mariam Amash, who according to population registry was born in 1888, dies after being admitted to Hadera hospital. Grandson: People from all over the world tell us she was the oldest woman in the world. (Ynet)
- Revenge act against priest who acted to draft Arabs to IDF - Andreas Alamiya, a priest from Nazareth who works to encourage Arabs to join the military or national civil service, was attacked over the weekend. His car tires were punctured and a cloth with spots of blood was left at his house door. The 'price-tag' attack comes after a Friday magazine article on the incitment against his colleague Priest Jubrail Nadaf. (Maariv, p. 17)
- Egypt's vice president resigns as country votes on controversial constitution - Mahmoud Mekky had postponed his resignation in order to assist President Morsi with Egypt's political crisis; Egyptians vote in second and final phase of referendum on the Islamist-backed constitution. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Lavrov: Assad is hiding chemical weapons in one or two sites - Report says U.S. and Russia have given two options to Syrian president: Step down and receive asylum, or a transfer of power will be negotiated without you. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
- Iran says to send humanitarian aid to Syria's Palestinians - Aid would be dispatched in Yarmouk, where insurgents took control earlier this week. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Lieberman's chances for speedy pre-election trial dwindle as prosecution mulls harsher indictment - The prosecution delayed indictment in order to collect testimony from further witnesses, reducing the likelihood that the case will be wrapped up by the January 22 election. (Haaretz)
- Labor party presents: Center at any price - After continued avoidance of presenting a political platform, party to reveal its principles today: Renewing negotiations and deterrence against Iran. (Maariv, p. 4)
- Rabbi who called for shooting Israeli soldiers backs Bennett - Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, who dubbed soldiers "Bibi's thugs," has apparently thrown his support behind Habayit Hayehudi chairman. Wolpe called former leaders Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon "Nazi collaborators" and said they should have been hanged. (Israel Hayom)
- Shas worries it will be excluded from next government - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he prefers a Likud member as housing and construction minister, rather than a Shas member, as at present. Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Our man worked day and night; the Likud ministers before him just sat at home and smoked water pipes. (Israel Hayom)
Two years of Arab Spring: Tunis, Cairo ... Ramallah?
The inspiration for the Arab Spring came from young people in the street, but it seemed to bypass the West Bank and Gaza. Haaretz tracks down the Palestinians still talking about a revolution. (Amira Hass, Haaretz)
Welcome to Rehovot, the Israeli Ohio
Where, then, is Israel's Ohio? Haaretz went back to 2009 and compared the breakdown of Knesset votes for the various parties in Israel's big cities. (Haaretz)
In Israel, our rabbis are our commanders (Haaretz Editorial) Conscientious objection is not a crime in liberal society, whose characteristics include an acceptance of views and beliefs that are not the consensus.
My friend, my enemy (Nabil Shaath, Yedioth/Ynet) Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath remembers Lipkin-Shahak, who told him: 'It's time to stop the killing.
The IDF, Netanyahu and the next war (Amir Oren, Haaretz) Israel doesn't gain time but borrows it at an exorbitant rate, because down the road is a world ever more hostile to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies.
We all need Netanyahu (Kobi Niv, Haaretz) There's no reason to ask whether there might be a credible opposition or alternative to Netanyahu. There are none, because there is no need.
E1 not Israeli territory (Miriam Leedor, Ynet) According to int'l law, 'state-owned' lands in West Bank can be used only for the benefit of the local Palestinian population.
The Bennett scandal and the settlement non-debate (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) No one is considering evacuating even a single Jewish settler - they just keep building - but the obviously irrelevant statements of one man, Bennett, have generated a mega-scandal.
Truth or dare (Noam Sheizaf, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Instead of offering a clear answer to the security reality and presenting her position, Tzipi Livni promises an abstract "peace" and proves she learned nothing from the failure of Oslo.
Disqualifying Zuabi, forgetting Zionism (Dmitry Shumsky, Haaretz) Israel's leaders, represented on the Central Election Committee that disqualified Balad party MK Hanin Zuabi, are not interested in remembering Zionism as a liberation movement.
Systemic right-wing madness (Mazal Muallem, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) It would be a mistake to consider the Bennett's refusal storm as a specific event in which the political establishment, and at its head Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, attack Bennett. Bennett's support for refusing orders in the midst of an election campaign reveals the right-wing madness that has taken hold of the political establishment. When the Labor party is afraid to say the word "peace" aloud and ignores all discussion of diplomatic affairs in order to bring right-wing and religious voters on board, when in Likud-Beiteinu they understand that the real battle is with Bennett, then they all radicalize their positions even more. Even Bennett's being an officer in the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit cannot alleviate the seriousness of what he said. Now we just need to wait for the polls to see how many he will have to pay - if at all - for supporting refusing orders...What is even more severe is the fact Bennett has - at no stage - apologized for what he said. He has merely sought to explain it and attack Netanyahu because he knows that if he recants, he will inflict electoral damage on himself a month before the elections...
An unacceptable disqualification (Haaretz Editorial Friday) MK Zuabi has the right to express her views in the Knesset as she sees fit, even if they aren't music to the ears of many Israeli Jews. Now, the Supreme Court must ensure that this will indeed be the case.
Not necessarily a third Intifada (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) Our main problem with the Palestinians is not a security problem, it is a demographic problem.
Win-win warfare in Gaza (Jonathan Shimshoni and Ariel E. Levite, Haaretz) After Gaza, both Israel and Hamas can point to military successes and limited losses, endowing both with strategic bounty, possibly offering a way to escape the cycle of revenge that would have been triggered by the humiliation and defeat of either side.
Bennett's benefit (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) The emergence of Naftali Bennett could be described as a social-communal awakening, a re-emergence of the Religious Zionist public.
Protect France's Jews and Muslims, while tackling radical Islam (Brett Kline, Haaretz) Rabbis, imams and the mother of a Muslim victim of killer Mohammed Merah all want more government and grassroots help to confront the growing number of Islamist radicals - and to ensure their personal safety.
Europe, face reality in Jerusalem (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Dividing Jerusalem is not only impossible, it also contradicts the will of the majority of the city's residents, Jews and Arabs alike.
Netanyahu's love-hate relationship with Likud's two traditional partners (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz) For the prime minister, winning the election is the easy part; the tough part will be forming a coalition the day after.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.