News Nosh 3.19.17

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday March 19, 2017
 
Number of the day:
26.
--The number of seats the ruling Likud party would receive if elections were held today, down from 30. Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party would come in second with 25, followed by 13 each for far-right Habayit Hayehudi party and Israeli Arab 'Joint List' party.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Ad Kan (Until here) – Netanyahu in a dramatic declaration: “If we don’t reach an agreement with Kahlon over closure Public Broadcasting Corporation – I will dismantle the government”
  • As deep as the investigation // Nahum Barnea
  • Every Shabbat there’s an end // Sima Kadmon
  • The heart of (Israel Prize Laureate) Tzvika is stronger than his muscles // Gen. Aviv Kochavi
  • The Arrow Missile’s baptism of fire // Yossi Yehoshua 
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threatens to hold elections if Israel’s new Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC) is allowed to broadcast, but politicians and commentators believe there’s another reason behind it, and in what is considered a very serious incident, the Syrian army shot at Israeli F-15s, which had attacked inside Syria - making top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

*Netanyahu reneged Saturday on his Thursday agreement with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to allow the IPBC to begin broadcasting as scheduled in late April, saying he would call an early election to prevent the launch. Hints of the early elections began Friday when Netanyahu hinted in a Facebook post at a plan to combine the present Israel Broadcasting Authority and the IPBC, ‘to save taxpayer money.’ On Saturday, coalition whip, Likud MK David Bitan, made a thinly veiled threat about going to elections and after holding a Saturday meeting with several ministers Netanyahu confirmed his change of position in a Facebook post. But politicians in the Zionist Camp and Meretz, as well as commentators, didn’t believe it was about an interest in saving money, but rather about saving himself. “The Prime Minister knows that only advancing elections will save him from an indictment,” said MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Camp). Maariv’s Ben Caspit wrote that it was also the fear that US President Donald Trump would make a peace offer that would Netanyahu would not want to accept. (See Commentary/Analysis.) A new poll by Channel 10 News said the ruling Likud party would get 26 of the Knesset's 120 seats. Meanwhile, Netanyahu takes off today for a visit to China to mark 25 years of diplomatic ties between Israel and China and to increase bilateral economic cooperation.

What has become almost a usual event, has turned into a dangerous precedent-making one. It started when Israeli Air Force jets attacked an arms convoy inside Syria. That has reportedly happened before, but Israel has never taken responsibility. This time Israel did. And that is because for the first time, the Syrian Army responded shooting missiles at the Israeli F-15s, which reached as far as north of Jerusalem. In another first, Israel activated its Arrow Missile System, which intercepted the Syrian projectile on Thursday and forced the army to acknowledge the cross-border military activity. Now the Israeli Army is probing whether it should have avoided using the Arrow, in order to avoid acknowledging attacking inside Syrian sovereign land. “It could be that with more thorough thought, it wasn’t worth firing,” said former prime minister Ehud Barak. Now, Russia has summoned the Israeli ambassador over the Syria airstrike, only a day after he presented his credentials to President Vladimir Putin. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of helping ISIS in Syria by carrying out airstrikes in the country.
 
Meanwhile, another rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, landing in an open area and Israel responded hitting two Hamas positions.
Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian Teen Killed in Confrontation With Israeli Army Near Hebron - According to the IDF, soldiers saw Palestinians throwing firebombs and opened fire, wounding Murad Yussef Abu Razi. Palestinians say shooting was unwarranted as teen didn't endanger soldiers. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Jewish men hit an Arab taxi driver, but police insists attack not hate crime - Two young men arrested on suspicion of attacking Fadi Abed with glass bottles in Jerusalem. While the driver claims the two made sure he was an Arab before entering his taxi, the two claim they were intoxicated and the confrontation was over money. Police accepts the suspects' version. Driver hospitalized. (Ynet)
  • Criminal investigation launched into IDF beating of handcuffed Palestinian - Five months after a video showing Nahal soldiers beating Haisam Siaj was published, the Military Police announce the investigation. A gag order has been issued on the details of the case. (Ynet+VIDEO)
  • Bill to Annex West Bank Settlement Won't Be Voted on Sunday, Official Says - Netanyahu has repeatedly scuttled attempts to advance passage of the controversial bill, but Habayit Hayehudi party has pushed for a vote on it. (Haaretz+) 
  • BDS leader hails Israel 'Apartheid Regime' report - Omar Barghouti, who has spearheaded the campaign for boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel welcomes the report as beam of light that ushers the dawn of sanctions against' Israel. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Arab Diplomat Resigns UN Post Amid Pressure to Pull Report Accusing Israel of 'Apartheid' - UN report accusing Israel of 'apartheid' should be pulled, UN chief said; Israel's likened report by Arab-led UN commission to Nazi propaganda. (Agencies, Haaretz
  • Far-right Jewish group sets up ‘shelters’ for women who dated Arabs - Lehava has set up two apartments for Jewish women to stay in after leaving relationships with Arab men. The anti-assimilation group wants to make sure that the women don’t return to their former partners. (Ynet
  • Jerusalem Mapping Office Allowed to Reopen Days After It Was Shuttered for 'Tracking Palestinian Land Sales to Jews' - Computers and documents seized were returned to Dr. Khalil Tufakji, a former peace negotiator, who was detained and questioned. Police cited the office's work at monitoring settlement expansion on the day of the raid. (Haaretz+) 
  • Palestinians Urge EU to Stop Holding Official Meetings With Israel in Jerusalem - As U.S. mulls moving embassy, EU urged to stop 'passive policy' on Israeli actions in East Jerusalem, hold meetings with Israelis only in Tel Aviv. (Haaretz+)
  • Amona high schooler receives personal exam - Education Minister Naftali Bennett instructed his ministry to give a former Amona resident a special exam date due to her missing school to protest. (Ynet)
  • Ahead of first Mideast visit, Trump's peace envoy met with Obama negotiators to seek advice - Some right-wing supporters of Israel expected the Trump administration to make clean break with Obama-era policy, but Jason Greenblatt consulted with former diplomats before meeting with Netanyahu and Abbas. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel blacklists Palestinian fund as US envoy visits - Defense minister labels PLO's main financial body a terrorist organization; the Palestinian National Fund's 'martyrs' fund provides payments for anti-Israeli activities, including attacks on civilians. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • President Rivlin departs for a state visit to Vietnam - The president is joined by delegations of Israeli business leaders and heads of Israeli defense industry firms, and says that the state visit will 'promote prosperity and growth of both countries.' (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu apologizes for off-color remark on Mizrahim, says he feels 'connected' to all Israelis - After explaining that he had reacted rashly in his fight to block the launch of the new public broadcasting network because of his 'Mizrahi gene,' the PM tweets an apology, saying that he holds a sense of connection to all parts of Israeli society. (Yedioth/Ynet
  • Watch: IDF's new 'worm' camera - The Home Front Command is in the first stages of implementing a new 'worm' camera expected to quadruple search-and-rescue efficiency in urban disaster zones. Lt. Col. Elad Edri, the first to try the new camera, says that it will make the difference between life and death. (Ynet
  • Britney Spears is coming—I-I-I wanna go-o-o - Mrs. Oh my God that Britney's Shameless has finally agreed to come visit Israel for her first-ever performance here. It’s taking place in July, so clear your schedules. (Ynet
  • Haifa Chemicals protest leads to highway closure - Protestors abandon their cars in the middle of Highway 1, bringing traffic to a standstill, in protest of a lack of government action in the face of court order that could lead to the termination of thousands of employee contracts. (Ynet
  • Israeli Authors Oz, Grossman Longlisted for Man Booker International Prize - 'In these times when walls are being built, this explosion of brilliant ideas from around the world arriving into the English language feels more important than ever,' lead judge Nick Barley said. (Haaretz)
  • Science in orbit: Israeli-Swiss company sends mini lab to space - In space, with hardly any interference from earth's gravity, cells and molecules behave differently • "Everything can be done remotely while the system is in outer space," says Yossi Yamin, founder of Swiss-Israeli company SpacePharma. (Israel Hayom)
  • You can't take us anywhere: An end-flight fight - Arkia's Eilat–Tel Aviv flight experienced one last bit of in-flight entertainment as two of its passengers got into a fight about leaving first that ended up injuring three. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Vice Co-founder Lists the '10 Things He Hates the Most About Jews' - After a visit to Israel, Gavin McInnes released a video called '10 Things I hate About Israelis,' but ended up listing his hatred of Jews instead. (Haaretz
  • Palestinian President Abbas, Egypt's Sissi to Meet in Cairo Following Months of Strained Ties - The two are set to discuss efforts to restart the peace process with Israel and the Palestinians' humanitarian, economic and security situation. (Haaretz+)
  • ISIS claims Israel attacked Sinai - The organization’s news agency reports that the Jewish state made aerial strikes in the north of the peninsula on Thursday, killing two children. (Ynet
  • U.S. Denies Attacking Syria Mosque, Insisting It Struck Nearby Al-Qaida Gathering - A U.S. official says the strike in northern Syria killed several terrorists; Syrian opposition activists say dozens, mostly civilians, were killed. (Agencies, Haaretz
  • Rwandan President Paul Kagame to speak at AIPAC's annual conference - Kagame is the first leader of an African country to address the influential pro-Israel lobby's annual D.C. conference. (Haaretz+) 
  • Anti-Semitic fliers calling for ending Jewish privilege spread at Illinois campus - The fliers claim that 'Ending white privilege starts with ending Jewish privilege' and that the 44 percent of Jewish Americans are in the top 'one percent.' (JTA, Haaretz)
  • ObamaCare and Bernie Sanders more popular than Trump, Fox News poll shows - But 93% of those who said they voted for Trump say they still approve of him. (Haaretz)


Features:
EXCLUSIVE Documents Reveal How Israel Made Amnesty's Local Branch a Front for the Foreign Ministry in the 70s
The Israeli government funded the establishment and activity of the Amnesty International branch in Israel in the 1960s and 70s. Official documents reveal that the chairman of the organization was in constant contact with the Foreign Ministry and received instructions from it. (Uri Blau, Haaretz+) 
Running for Peace
Yisrael Haas began running before his IDF service as a fun hobby. Following racial tensions post-Protective Edge, his running became a way to bridge the divide. (Andrew Friedman, Ynet)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
Who Are You Applauding, Israel? (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Israel is giving the state’s highest accolade in the realm of social affairs to an accomplice of the occupation and an accomplice of the army. That says a lot. 
The winds of war are blowing on Israel’s borders (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The Israeli strike in Syria, the Russian and Syrian responses, and the flare-up in Gaza, are bringing Israel one step closer to a military collision. The relative calm along the borders in recent years, which has become a symbol of security stability and deterrence, is gradually wearing out.
An Exam in Bennett Studies (Haaretz Editorial) The course the Education Ministry forces students to take before going on school trips abroad is simply brainwashing. 
It’s all because of Trump and the investigations: the reasons for the madness of Netanyahu over the Public Broadcasting Corporation (Ben Caspit, Maariv) There is nothing rational about Netanyahu’s battle against the Corporation he founded. Therefore he requests that people conclude that that isn’t the matter: He wants to buy time because the ‘deal’ that the US President will offer him is scaring him. 
These Academics Fight BDS on Campus Every Day. Will They Be Banned From Israel? (Colin Shindler, Haaretz+) Israel's law banning entry to settlement boycotters is a form of intellectual harassment and may mark a watershed moment in wider Israel-Diaspora relations. 
There will be no peace: The medicine (Trump envoy Jason) Greenbelt is trying to prescribe us will kill us (Prof. Aryeh Eldad, Maariv) Trump's envoy to the Middle East will fail where his predecessors failed: he will also try to promote the two-state solution without understanding that this is a religious war. 
Latest Gaza Border Incident Could Signal Dangerous New Approach by Hamas (Amos Harel and Gili Cohen, Haaretz+) The Israeli army destroyed explosive devices near the fence in a buffer zone that Hamas is supposed to patrol. 
In the Supermarket of Nations, millennials aren't buying what Israel is selling (Joanna Landau, Yedioth/Ynet) Israel's current offering is focused too much on its policies, and not enough on what else it has to offer: a young and vibrant country, exciting business sector, a huge contributor to social causes and sustainability, and much more. This trend can and should be reversed. 
Netanyahu Is in Trouble, So He Is Inciting Children (Ofra Edelman, Haaretz+) 'Today, too, Persians are trying to destroy us, but today, too, they won’t succeed,' the Israeli leader told children on the Purim holiday — in his latest effort to deflect attention from his own problems.
Assad's confusion and the conspiracy theory: behind the Israeli attack in Syria (Alon Ben-David, Maariv) Next time Israel wants to attack an arms convoy to Syria, the risk of a Syrian response, and perhaps even a Russian one - will be greater.
What Role Did Russia Play in the Israel-Syria Missile Clash? (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Syria's missile fire at Israeli warplanes may indicate that Assad and his Russian protectors are not fully coordinated. 
Bennett’s display of hypocrisy (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) If academic freedom of speech does not give lecturers the right to discriminate against a certain group of students, why should an educator in a pre-military academy be allowed to preach against drafting girls? 
Erdogan, Netanyahu Play Politics of the Diaspora to Get Ahead at Home and Abroad (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Local politics played on a global scale can become explosive as seen last week in Holland. But it is becoming more and more common. 
An inevitable conflict in Gaza (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Hamas has not responded to the recent Air Force strikes not because of political moderation or a desire to get involved in a regional solution, but quite possibly because it has yet to complete its preparations for another round of fighting. 
Israeli Ministers Are Fed Up With Netanyahu, but Don't Eulogize the Government Just Yet (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) For the prime minister, free media is an existential threat greater than Iran, but it seems there's nothing he can do to thwart the new independent public broadcaster.
Threatening freedom of opinion (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) Defense Minister Lieberman's threat to harm the Bnei David pre-military academy over comments about female combat service interferes with freedom of speech and education and harms democracy.
Secular Israeli Ashkenazim Are Yearning for Their Messiah's Second Coming (Ofri Ilany, Haaretz+) Why Israelis are flocking to see a new documentary that amounts to an interview with a former politician. 
Liberal Jewish zeal fuels the alt-right (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) In promoting their political agenda and demonizing Trump while pretending to be motivated by ‎religious principles, liberal Jewish leaders are actually empowering the radical Right.‎
Israel-Syria Clash: With Missile Fire, Assad Is Trying to Change the Rules of the Game (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Israel has avoided directly commenting on airstrikes in Syria. Until now. 
Israel, the Driverless Nation (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) This week’s milestone for Israeli technology was also a reminder that Israel is increasingly divided into a high-tech elite and those who have no way in. 
Putting free speech to the test (Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Israel Hayom) Closing down a pre-military academy because of a rabbi's comments is going too far. As Voltaire said, even if we reject what someone says, we must defend his right to say it. 
Putin Is the Middle East’s New Boss (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Six years after the start of the Syrian civil war, an Assad victory now seems assured thanks to Russia’s military intervention. But Israel’s biggest concern is Iran’s increasing influence in the region.
Jesus and the Israeli Right (Ziva Sternhell, Haaretz+) The German myth of a resolute nation, uncorrupted by liberal Western culture, is devoutly preserved today by settlers in the West Bank hills. 
Leave secular conscientious objectors alone (Aviad Kleinberg, Yedioth/Ynet) A refusal to serve in the territories is perceived as a refusal to accept the majority’s political decision. It is no different, however, from a refusal to serve in the army due to the norms of a religious community. 
Trump’s big mouth is now his own worst enemy (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The president's new budget sounds like Netanyahu's dream come true - it decimates the values and institutions liberals hold most dear.
Israel’s Social Equality Ministry Is More Like the Crony Hiring Ministry (Tali Heruti-Sover, Haaretz) Minister Gila Gamliel is doing a lot to help Israeli Arab society, but she's making odd appointments at a ministry some say was set up just for her.
Communication Breakdown: Netanyahu should have known better what it’s possible to think and what it’s prohibited to say (Meir Uziel, Maariv) The Prime Minister announced that he has a Mizrachi gene, the media reported that, immediately and rightly so. As of Saturday night, his genes decided that the Broadcasting Authority remains and the Public Broadcasting Corporation won’t be broadcast. That is, until he changes his mind again. 
By Threatening Elections, Netanyahu Is Taking a Huge Risk - Why Now? (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Common wisdom is that if the threat is real, Netanyahu's motive is not his aversion to the public broadcaster, but a looming indictment on graft charges. But this still doesn't explain his timing. 
Netanyahu’s Attitude Toward the Media Is Irrational - and Pathetic (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The Prime Minister is the Supreme Leader of Israeli politics but his obsession with the media is driving him bananas. 
Who Runs Israel's Army? (Friday Haaretz Editorial) The proper way to formulate the army’s manpower policies is through political direction from the government and legislation by the Knesset. That’s the norm in democratic countries. But not here. 
The Conscientious Objectors Threatening the Israeli System (David Zonsheine, Haaretz+) It would have been easy for three young women to avoid military service. Instead, they're taking a principled stand against the occupation. 
The Israeli Facebook Warrior Who Became a People’s Hero (Iris Leal, Haaretz+) Igal Sarna, defending himself against the Netanyahus’ libel suit, knew his followers wanted him to surf from the virtual to the real, and act as a free man in the real world. 
For Israel, It's Either Religious Zionism - or Zionism (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) The political system must understand that the golem of the settlements has turned on its creators. 
Overturning the Offensive Muslim Travel Ban Is Only a First Step (Ari Plost, Haaretz) We must keep supporting minority communities, and not just in diehard liberal, multicultural cities. In a conservative Maryland county, the majority white, Christian community's commitment is a true example. 
Patience is a virtue (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) A political declaration of Israeli sovereignty over all the land of Israel can only come after a long process of shaping our national identity • But this sovereignty is the only way for us to avoid the existential threat a Palestinian state would pose. 
Why I asked my neighbor to yell anti-Arab slurs at my kids (Sayed Kashua, Haaretz+) I can't let my kids return to a country that hates them unprepared. 
Anti-Semitism can't be liberal American Jews' priority right now (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) The Republican healthcare plan will lead to a moral disaster for America. We U.S. Jews must fight this outrage, not out of self-interest, but because of our duty to stand up when injustice afflicts our fellow citizens.  
A Global Economy and a Closed Society: Can Israel Swing It? (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Many on the right seem to think so, but it will be very hard to square free trade and investment with chipping away at freedoms and the rule of law.
 
Interviews:
Michael Sheen talks hummus, Richard Gere and Masters of Sex
The Welsh actor is in the new movie Norman by Israeli director Joseph Cedar. In an interview with Ynet, he talks about his introduction to Israeli culture on the set of the movie, what it was like working with Cedar and Hollywood star Richard Gere, and the last season of TV show Masters of Sex. (Interviewed by Smadar Shiloni in Ynet)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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