News Nosh 2.19.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday February 19, 2018
 
Quote of the day:
"I wouldn't have removed my candidacy if it weren't for my feeling that some members of the committee, as it appears, are not ready, at least at this point, to appoint another Arab judge to the High Court, regardless of the candidates abilities and suitability. That fact is very regretful to me."
--Tel-Aviv District Court Judge, Khaled Kaboub, explained in a letter why he withdrew his candidacy for High Court Justice.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
"When I finally got to the front of the line, I saw the Jewish American traveler get closer. He turned to the (Ports Authority) taxi usher and said to her in English, right near my window, that he wants a Jewish driver. The taxi usher asked whether I am Arab or Jewish. I refused to answer. She asked to see my ID and saw my name was Arab and said, 'This trip is not for you.'"
--'F.,' an Arab taxi driver from Jaffa told Yedioth how the Ports Authority allows passengers to reject Arab taxi drivers, who wait in line to take passengers from Ben-Gurion Airport.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Case 4000 - Bezeq-Walla: Closest to Netanyahu (arrested)! Senior media consultant, very senior at Bezeq, senior official in government ministry (Photos of three arrested people with faces blurred); Assessment: Prime Minister will be investigated on suspicion of bribery
  • It’s no longer just champagne // Sima Kadmon
  • Netanyahu’s media advisor, Nir Hefetz, bragged about his close association to the owner of Walla and Bezeq, Elovitch
  • The new sections of the song ‘Hallelujah’ were revealed
  • The crane collapsed and Neta was killed
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a show of a speech at the Munich Security Conference, threatening to directly attack Iran as he waved part of an Iranian drone in the air (Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif called it ‘cartoonish’ and said it was an attempt to cover up his own domestic crisis), but that didn’t take the headlines from the fact that police arrested three of Netanyahu’s close confidants earlier Sunday morning in Case 4000 and he is expected to be questioned under warning.

Also high in the news, after a violent weekend between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman blamed the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees for, a rocket launched from Gaza landed in an open field in Israel. Yedioth reported that the IDF assessment is that Hamas is not interested in entering into a war with Israel. And there were two reports of discrimination. One received much attention: the first Muslim candidate to be a High Court justice withdrew his candidacy saying that members of the appointment committee members were not ready for having two Arabs justices. And, Yedioth discovered that the Ports Authority is allowing travelers taking taxis from the airport to reject Arab taxi drivers.

Two of Netanyahu’s confidants were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the Case 4000 graft case in which Bezeq Telecom allegedly received benefits in exchange for Walla news website providing positive coverage of the Netanyahu family. Shaul Elovitch, a confidant of Netanyahu, is the controlling shareholder of Bezeq and the owner of Walla news website. The police have not released the names of the people arrested, but Elovitch looks like the man in one of the blurred photos. Netanyahu will likely be questioned under warning. (Haaretz has an ‘everything-you-need-to-know about the case.) The media also shared quotes from a recording of Nir Hefetz, a former senior media adviser to Netanyahu, who bragged about his close ties with Elovitch. (Maariv) (And for fun, you can watch comedian John Oliver’s skit on discovering Netanyahu's ‘ridiculous' corruption scandals for the first time.)

*Muslim Arab judge withdraws candidacy for High Court - In a surprising move, Tel-Aviv District Court judge Khaled Kabub withdrew his High Court candidacy because he felt his chances were unrealistic. Kabub was suggested by the Israel Bar and by High Court Justice Hayut, but in recent years the High Court has reserved only one "Arab chair," so sources in the appointment committee estimated that Kabov's chances were not high. Committee members said his chances were low, especially since the head of the Judicial Elections Committee is right-wing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. He could have been first Muslim on highest judiciary. "I wouldn't have removed my candidacy if it weren't for my feeling that some members of the committee, as it appears, are not ready, at least at this point, to appoint another Arab judge to the High Court, regardless of the candidates abilities and suitability. That fact is very regretful to me." (Ynet, Yedioth, Haaretz Hebrew and Times of Israel)

**The Authority for Racism? Serious complaints: Ports Authority allows discrimination between Arab and Jewish taxi drivers in the line at Ben-Gurion Airport - *This trip is not for you: Is the Ports Authority allowing racism at Ben-Gurion Airport by agreeing to passengers’ requests not to travel with Arab taxi drivers from the airport? "I waited an hour and a half in line," said F., an Arab taxi driver from Jaffa, "When I finally got to the front of the line, I saw the Jewish American traveler get closer. He turned to the (Ports Authority) taxi usher and said to her in English, right near my window, that he wants a Jewish driver. The taxi usher asked whether I am Arab or Jewish. I refused to answer. She asked to see my ID and saw my name was Arab and said, "This trip is not for you." She went to the second and third drivers in line - and they were also Arab - and only the fourth driver, who was Jewish, got the trip. I told the taxi usher that's not her job and she said she must answer the passengers' demands and those were the orders of the directors to take into consideration such requests. Adv. Ragad Jaraisi, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which F. turned to, wrote the CEO of the Ports Authority, demanding to immediately end what he called "an improper practice of discrimination against Arab drivers at Ben-Gurion Airport." The Ports Authority did not deny the practice and said, "It is the passengers' right to choose the service giver." The Authority refused to answer why agreeing to the passengers' requests should come at the expense of the time and place in line of the Arab drivers and whether they would accept a passenger request for only an Ashkenazi driver. (Yedioth, Mamun supplement, p. 1)
 
Quick Hits:
  • Two Gaza teens killed by Israeli fire after approaching the border, Palestinian ministry says - The bodies of the two were found in the morning in southern Gaza. Two others were wounded and taken to the hospital earlier from the same area. (Haaretz)
  • Islamic Jihad plot to bomb Lieberman convoy foiled - Terror cell planned to plant explosive on road the defense minister was scheduled to travel on; second Islamic Jihad terror cell planning to carry out shooting attacks against soldiers and civilians in Gush Etzion also apprehended. (Ynet, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Sarah Silverman calls for release of detained Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi - “Jews have to stand up EVEN when — ESPECIALLY when — the wrongdoing is BY Jews/the Israeli government,” Silverman tweeted. (JPost)
  • Two Palestinians arrested after trying to ram through checkpoint - They were arrested after a Border Policeman shot out their vehicle's tires. Investigation into the suspects revealed that they were wanted by the Israel Police on suspicion of car theft. (JPost, Maariv and Ynet)
  • Where Exactly Is the Green Line Between Israel and the West Bank? That’s Classified Military Material - When a private Israeli citizen requested the maps, he was told it was classified information, for it may 'undermine the state’s international relations.’ (Haaretz)
  • Polish PM says 'Jewish perpetrators' remark was a call for 'open discussion' about the Holocaust - Mateusz Morawiecki releases clarification following uproar, says 'each crime must be judged individually.' (Haaretz)
  • Polish gov't: 'Jewish perpetrators' comment not Holocaust denial - Polish government insists Prime Minister Morawiecki's comments 'were by no means intended to deny the Holocaust, or charge the Jewish victims of the Holocaust with responsibility for what was a Nazi German perpetrated genocide.' (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu tells Polish PM in phone call: Comparing Polish and Jewish perpetrators of Holocaust is baseless - Morawiecki said yesterday that the Holocaust had Polish perpetrators, just as it had Jewish ones. 'I told him that such a comparison is false,' Netanyahu said. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Swastikas sprayed on Poland's Tel Aviv embassy day after 'Jewish Holocaust perpetrators' remark - Police investigating graffiti found at entrance to Tel Aviv embassy. On Saturday, Polish PM said Holocaust had Polish perpetrators 'just as there were Jewish ones.’ (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • The Wandering President: He will hold the activities of his office in seven different cities - In the course of the 70th year, Rivlin will conduct his activities, each time for one day in a different city and in the spirit of "Israeli Hope" - the flagship program promoted by the President to strengthen the partnership between the different tribes in Israeli society. The first location is Maalot-Tarshicha. (Maariv)
  • Soldier emulates iconic Second Lebanon War photo - Emmanuel Zerah, 22, of Jerusalem flashed photographers the V symbol as he was wheeled into Hospital after being seriously wounded when explosive device went off near Gaza border; Combat Engineering officer hurt in attack remains in serious condition; Golani soldier undergoes surgery on his eyes. (Ynet)
  • Pilot of downed F-16 released from hospital - After more than a week of hospitalization and life-saving surgeries, the IAF pilot seriously wounded after being hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile is discharged due to his good recovery status. (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu Investigations Prompt New Israeli Bill Limiting Tax Exemptions - Meretz lawmaker to submit a bill that would amend the so-called Milchan Law, which gives tax breaks to new immigrants and Israelis returning from abroad. (Haaretz)
  • Lapid details his connections with Milchan: "I worked for him once more than 20 years ago" - Knesset member and former finance minister, Yair Lapid, wrote on Facebook about his relations with the businessman who is at the center of Case 1000: "The attorney general decided there was no conflict of interest.” (Maariv)
  • Bereaved father blasts return of terrorists' bodies - Issam Ottman, whose son Youssef (a private security guard at the military checkpoint) was killed by a terrorist last year in a shooting attack, says return of his murderer 'tramples on our honor.' (Ynet)
  • The (E. Jerusalem Palestinian) driver who caused the deaths of the Golani fighters: "It was dark, I did not see them" - Anwar Abu Zina, the truck driver who was involved in the road accident on Highway 6, which led to the death of Bar Yakubian and Eshto Tespo, said: "I regret what happened, I wish the wounded a speedy recovery.” (Maariv)
  • Former Herzog campaign chief convicted of orchestrating Yachimovich smear operation - Shimon Batat, head of Opposition Chairman Herzog's Labor party 2013 primary campaign, convicted as part of plea agreement of failing to apprise state comptroller of donation received to pay party activist to run smear campaign against Herzog's opponent Yachimovich; state calls for suspended sentence. (Ynet)
  • Israeli Astronauts Complete Mars Simulation Experiment in Negev Desert - The participants were investigating fields relevant to a future Mars mission near Mitzpe Ramon, whose surroundings mimic the Martian environment. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Austria to help Israel join Security Council as non-permanent member - In meeting with Netanyahu on sidelines of Munich Security Council, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says Austria to change U.N. voting pattern on Israel. Meeting, held at Kurz's request, is first since his party formed government with far-right Freedom Party. (Israel Hayom)
  • Arbitrator: (partially Israeli-owned) EMG due $1.03b From Egypt Over Canceled Gas Contract - Decision comes six years after supplies were halted, forcing EMG shareholder Ampal into bankruptcy. (Haaretz)
  • Turkish students on Temple Mount declare 'Jerusalem is Islamic' - "Zionist Israel must be defeated in these lands by the unity and solidarity of the [Muslim] nation," says Turkish delegation leader • Jerusalem advocacy group: "Turkish passport has become an ID that protects instigators from the State of Israel." (Israel Hayom)
  • Fake Trumps! U.S. President Proves 'Yuge' Draw for Israelis Dressing Up at Purim - Anyone planning to buy a Trump mask this year could face disappointment as they are selling out across Israel. But before the news goes to Trump’s head, he should know who’s set to outsell him next year. (Haaretz)
  • 5 years later, Syrian wounded no longer surprised to be let into Israel - IDF continues providing medical assistance to Syrians arriving at the border seeking help, with the focus being on children. 'Only last year, we treated some 1,000 Syrian children,' Northern Command officer says; Ziv Medical Center to provide hearing aids and glasses to Syrian kids. (Ynet)
  • EPA Head Postpones Trip to Israel Due to Criticism of Recent Travel Costs - An EPA spokesperson said that the agency decided to postpone the visit, and that Pruitt is 'looking forward' to visiting Israel in the future, say reports. (Haaretz)
  • 'Mossad agent' sentenced to death in Iran granted Swedish citizenship - Stockholm-based scientist Ahmadreza Djalali was arrested in Iran for allegedly providing information to help Israel assassinate senior nuclear scientists. Swedish Foreign Ministry demands access to "our citizen" and that death penalty not be carried out. (Israel Hayom)


Features:
How international performers are unwittingly brought to Israeli settlements
A Honda-sponsored racing event is moved from a settlement into Israel proper. Organizers admit they didn’t inform the headliner that it was in occupied territory, and the racer says he wouldn’t have participated if he had known. (Edo Konrad, +972mag)

Commentary/Analysis:
The Graft That Netanyahu Unwittingly Admits To (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) In the flood of information about the cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what he said about Channel 10 didn’t get much attention. “I worked to close Channel 10, of which he [friend and benefactor Arnon Milchan] was an owner. If it weren’t for the attorney general’s instructions, the channel would have closed,” Netanyahu said to defend himself against bribery allegations. It’s hard to begin to explain how crazy and shocking Netanyahu's remarks were.
This time, it’s not just cigars or champagne (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet)The multiple cases the prime minister is allegedly involved in, the growing number of suspects around him and the multiple circles closing in on Netanyahu can no longer be ignored by senior Likud members and by his coalition partners; this disgrace must end.
Revoke the 'Milchan Law' That Buoys Billionaires (Haaretz Editorial) Israel is turning itself into one of the world’s most valuable tax shelters, putting it on the same footing with countries like Bermuda and Panama.
Media Cases Show Netanyahu's Bid for Tyranny (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz) Mendelblit reportedly sees that Netanyahu’s ties with Bezeq’s Elovitch had a criminal nature.
(Coalition ministers) Kahlon, Bennett, Deri and Lieberman can not be cleansed of their collective responsibility for abomination (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The mills of justice grind slowly, but surely. As far as Netanyahu is concerned, the train left the station. He would have done himself well had he sought for the final deal of his career: retirement in return for merging and closing the (corruption) cases.
The Bibi Graft Cases: The Same Old Israeli Arrogance (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Netanyahu is trying to turn the perpetrator into the victim, akin to the Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu's performance in Munich - A show of weakness (Alex Fishman, Yedioth) The government and the one standing at its head need to deal with determination with the security threats everywhere, and not to whine and mock Israel as a fear-stricken country with a rope tied around its neck.
Not Just a Gimmick: Netanyahu's Drone Stunt Is a Direct Threat to Iran and Assad (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) To imply that Israel, the greatest military power in the region, is a helpless victim of Iranian aggression misses the truth – and damages Israel’s deterrence.
Netanyahu's speech in Munich: Sparkling packaging, but very little substance (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The prime minister made an impression and showed part of the Iranian plane that was downed last week, but behind the stunts there wasn’t much: Netanyahu threatened Iran and expressed his determination not to allow it to establish itself in Syria, but the hour has not yet come.
American Presence in Syria Is Becoming a Hollow Spectacle With No Viable Purpose (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) If Trump decides to 'punish' the Kurds and deny them the funding that his administration is giving them, Russia would be happy to step in.
To Push Iran Back, Israel Ramps Up Support for Syrian Rebels, 'Arming 7 Different Groups' (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) With the Assad regime's advances the civil war and America's reduced involvement in the region, Israel has been forced to make significant changes in its policies in the Golan Heights.
The order of things in Gaza (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Saturday's serious border attack should prompt Israel to look for a better solution than relying on Hamas to ensure calm along the Israel-Gaza border.
Fence protests as an infrastructure for terror attacks (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) In a small and painful operation Saturday, the Popular Resistance Committees succeeded in undermining the stability along the border fence and leading to escalation; Hamas likely fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets in an attempt to imitate Syrian aerial defense, which last week shot down an F-16 plane.
A test of Israeli deterrence (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The next few days will tell us whether the IDF's powerful response to Saturday's bombing has prompted Hamas to calm things down in Gaza, or whether tensions will continue to boil.
Reporting from the ground superficially (Eilat Levy, The7Eye.org) Channel 10 Arab Affairs reporter, Zvi Yehezkeli, paints a picture of the Muslims in Europe lacking any complexity. Ever since Zvi Yehezkeli's new series, "Under a False Identity," has been broadcast, there have been quite a few reviews criticizing his stereotypical approach and inflammatory style. Criticism is certainly justified, and there is no doubt that Yehezkeli recycles the motif of scaring people that "Islam is taking over Europe," a perception often fed by erroneous and biased data of extreme right-wing elements in the West. But beyond the stylistic aspect, the series gives the impression that "Muslims,” especially in Europe, are made of one piece of cloth and that their main characteristic, under the influence of what is happening in their countries of origin, is religious extremism.
Israeli Drone Aficionados in the Service of the Army (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The IDF has apparently come to the point of enlisting civilians for detective work that endangers the lives of Palestinians and protesters.
Why settlement construction isn’t the answer to terror (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) There is no justification for letting one public’s outcry dictate a policy that is pushing us deeper into the mud; if the government works to implement the one-state vision following every act of terror, we must admit the Zionist vision is being defeated by terror.
Take Down That Wall in Arab East Jerusalem (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) Concerns about demographics shouldn’t lead to a division of Jerusalem, but rather to measures that would stem the outflow of Jewish residents from the city.
The end of Israel's 'enlightened' occupation (Michal Luft, +972mag) A decision to apply Israel’s higher education law to the West Bank exposes as a ruse Israel’s claims that it administers the occupied Palestinian territories according to international law.
Grossman, Don’t Accept the Prize (Avigdor Feldman, Haaretz+) Do us a favor, Grossman, and don’t accept the Israel Prize from those people.
Politics again won: In our country, we won’t appoint a Muslim judge - regardless of his skills (Ron Kaufman, Maariv) With the withdrawal of Judge Khaled Kaboub from the race for High Court Justice, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked can mark the first victory in the battle she is running to appoint her candidates to the High Court. The perception of the High Court as a body that relates exclusively to the law turns out to be a sham.
Why Israel is so worried about Qatari outreach to American Jews (Mitchell Plitnick, +972mag) Qatar has been focusing on prominent American Jewish leaders as the isolated Gulf state seeks to repair its image. Why American Jews? It’s about Saudi Arabia.
How Poles Are More Vilified as 'Bestial' Brute Jew Killers Than German Nazis Themselves (Danusha Goska, Haaretz) Increasingly, ordinary Poles, caricatured as staunchly Catholic, simple-minded and chauvinistic, are positioned as the quintessential Holocaust perpetrator. That's far more comfortable than blaming 'elite' German Nazis.
Have they no shame? (Dr. Shmuel Atzmon-Wircer, Israel Hayom) How can the Polish prime minister call a Jew that went through the Holocaust, regardless of whether they collaborated with the Nazis or not, a criminal?
What Poland's PM wanted to achieve with outrageous 'Jewish Holocaust perpetrators' remark (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+) Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's effort to compare Jews to Poles in this context is an anti-historical distortion.
Were There Actually 'Jewish Perpetrators' of the Holocaust? (David B. Green, Haaretz+) Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says there were, along with Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and German. Israeli historians say it's part of an ongoing campaign to blur the line between the murderers and the victims.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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