News Nosh 3.15.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday March 15, 2018

You Must Be Kidding: 
“Now maybe all the 'intelligent' people will get it. All of those (in Kfar Vradim) who didn't want (religious) Jews because of 'racism,' will now have a mosque instead of a mikveh (ritual bath), Nakba Day instead of Independence Day, Martyrs Day instead of Remembrance Day, Expulsion Day instead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Palestinian flag instead of an Israeli flag."
One resident of Kfar Vradim wrote in a Facebook post following the news that half of the 120 plots of land in a new neighborhood were bought by Arab citizens.**

Quote of the day:
“What did you think would happen? That the Arabs wouldn’t build? So if they have no possibility of building in their communities - they will build in Jewish communities! For years Upper Nazareth has grown and spread out while the Arab Nazareth was suffocated, and the result is that 20 percent of Upper Nazareth is Arab. So let’s hope for good coexistence among the Arab and Jewish buyers…That's the situation.“
Another resident of Kfar Vradim tells residents like the first one to wake up and smell the coffee.**


Breaking News:
IDF hits Gaza after explosives target Israeli troops near border
No Israeli injuries, Maariv reports Palestinians were injured. The army is examining the possibility that an attempt was made to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the soldiers. This is the third incident in recent weeks in which the Israeli army encountered explosives at border. (Haaretz, Maariv, Israel Hayom)

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Olmert’s diaries - Prisoner No. 9032478 breaks his silence
  • Additional stipend to elderly: 6 shekels - The shame cries out to the skies
  • Storm in the Super League - Soccer star and the shameful sex video clip
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Back to the investigations (Photo of Netanyahu)
  • Crisis that doesn’t end // Nadav Haetzni
  • There is no one else // Ron Kaufman
  • State Comptroller warned: Problems in management of Metropolitan Mass Transit could delay (TLV) light-rail project
  • War of independence - Britain deported 23 Russian diplomats following poisoning of spy on its land
  • Symbolic punishment // Haim Isrovitz
  • The universe bows its head: Stephen Hawking 1942-2018
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
With the coalition crisis solved and potential elections averted, the papers reported that the Knesset was passing the 2019 budget over night with enormous reserves and little given to the needy, while Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats, English physicist Stephen Hawking dies and (Israeli physicists express respect, but disappointment in his support for boycotting Israel), and State Comptroller Yosef Shapira releases his report on numerous subjects, with some shocking information, but the papers gave the most space to the report on drafting of ultra-Orthodox making today’s top stories in the Hebrew newspapers.

Also in the news, Yedioth had excerpts from the ‘sensationalist’ autobiography of former prime minister and recently released prisoner Ehud Olmert, Israel Hayom reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to craft a strategic response to the US’s pro-Israel bias and it reported on a storm among Jewish residents in a town in northern Israel after half of the plots of a soon-to-be-built neighborhood were bought by Arabs citizens.

Just a day after the coalition came to an agreement to exempt yeshiva students from serving in the military, the State Comptroller published his report that found that the government failed to meet the ultra-Orthodox recruitment goal. That was probably the least shocking part of the report, and the one the Hebrew media focused on the most. The Comptroller also found that Israel's Defense Ministry lied to the media about defensive missile tests and about about Iranian involvement in Thyssenkrupp, the German company from which Israel is buying submarines, a deal which is under police investigation for corruption and it conveyed political messages from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. (Ynet gave a much softer description of the criticism.) The report also found faults in IDF's handling of international law and demanded that military service members, including officers, receive more training on compliance with international humanitarian law in armed conflicts. It was also critical of the army’s use of a controversial protocol, the ‘Hannibal Directive,’ to thwart a soldier’s abduction. Haaretz’s Amos Harel has an interesting take on the IDF-related part of the report. Harel noted that the report “does not provide details about what led to the debate over the Hannibal directive, which were the events of 'Black Friday,' August 1, 2014 in Rafah.” On that day the army used massive force to try to prevent the abduction of 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin, killing dozens of Palestinians, including civilians. Haaretz also noted that the Comptroller report criticized poor coordination among police, army and security service saying it hurts West Bank investigations and he rapped the Israeli police for failing to solve thefts of Palestinian land, in part due to delays in intel transfer by Shin Bet, Haaretz reported.

**The title of the article in Israel Hayom about the purchase of land by Arabs in a Jewish town was more shocking to this reader than the subject of the article: "Storm at Kfar Vradim: About half of those who won tenders for buying land - minorities." (It would be interesting to imagine the reactions were a similar article published in the US about American citizens. - OH) (Israel Hayom did not translate this article to English for its daily newsletter.) Here's the translation from Hebrew:

A fierce argument broke out between the residents of the community regarding its (demographic) balance. The head of the council: "If we do not know how to provide a balanced response, we will stop marketing the land."
Only a few years after the public struggle against the construction of a mikveh (ritual bath) in Kfar Vradim for fear of harming the secular character of the prestigious community, in the past few days the community has experienced another public storm over the issue of its social fabric. Infrastructure work on "Stage 3" of the new neighborhoods aims to bring the town's population from 7,000 to 15,000. However, the results of the first tender for the marketing of land sparked a charged argument between the residents, because half of the winners of the 120 land plots for the construction of homes are Arabs. “Now maybe all the 'intelligent' people will get it. All of those (in Kfar Vradim) who didn't want (religious) Jews because of 'racism,' will now have a mosque instead of a mikveh (ritual bath), Nakba Day instead of Independence Day, Martyrs Day instead of Remembrance Day, Expulsion Day instead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Palestinian flag instead of an Israeli flag," wrote a resident of the town in a post on Facebook and provoked furious responses from both ends of the political spectrum. Many residents expressed their firm stance against such positions, which they defined as racist. Others referred to the land shortage suffered by the Arab villages in the Galilee, including the neighboring village of Tarshiha, which itself was waging a struggle to expand itself.
"Let us be clear," wrote another resident of Kfar Vradim. " In the past, time after time, the residents of (the neighboring Arab town) Tarshiha demonstrated against the building plans around them that left Tarshiha without building options. The same problem exists in other Arab communities: Visit Sakhnin, where all the hills around it are fenced and forested and populated with small (Jewish) communities that ‘Judaize the Galilee'. What did you think would happen? That the Arabs wouldn’t build? So if they have no possibility of building in their communities - they will build in Jewish communities! For years Upper Nazareth has grown and spread out while the Arab Nazareth was suffocated, and the result is that 20 percent of Upper Nazareth is Arab. So let’s hope for good coexistence among the Arab and Jewish buyers…That's the situation.“ Omar Ali, a resident of Tarshiha, explains that a large part of the land of the expansion of Kfar Vradim was expropriated from the residents of Tarshiha, including his own lands, only some of which were returned in the current tender. "I want to tell the residents of Kfar Vradim: enough. We have been living here together for more than 30 years," says Omer Ali, of Tarshiha. "All the time we talk about coexistence in a joint area, but right now it's only talking and not doing things.” Following the fierce debate, the head of the Kfar Vradim Council, Sivan Yehieli, sent a message to the residents yesterday. "From a moral point of view, and I think that I represent the vast majority of the residents of Kfar Vradim, every citizen of the State of Israel is invited to live in our community. This is the legal norm, it is the moral norm." However, Sivan wrote that Kfar Vradim is a Jewish, Zionist and secular settlement, and that "it is important to talk about the rights of the majority, including the right to maintain a community settlement that upholds and preserves agreed core values." At the end of the letter, the head of the council stated: "On the practical level, we are committed to the law, to civil rights and to the interests of the residents of Kfar Vradim. If we won’t know, with the help of the state, how to provide a balanced demographic solution that will ensure the continuity of the community, we will stop the marketing until we know to give ourselves a legal and correct response from the community perspective.”
 
Quick Hits:
  • Court to determine admissibility of Duma arson defendants' confessions - Families of main defendant Amiram Ben-Uliel and the other suspect say state has asked the district court to recognize 'special measures' used in interrogations as lawful and submissible in court; 'They're asking a court in Israel to recognize torture as legal,' relative says. The attack, which took place in late July 2015, claimed the lives of three members of the Dawabsheh family and left another seriously wounded. (Ynet)
  • Azaria seeks early release: 'I shot a murderous terrorist, release me today' - Military prosecutors won't oppose cutting 14-month sentence by a third, allowing him to be released May 10, but Chief Prosecutor emphasizes that Azaria has shown no remorse for his action. Lawyer of the soldier convicted of manslaughter (for shooting and killing Palestinian assailant Abdul Fattah al-Sharif 11 minutes after he’d already been incapacitated and disarmed), argues Azaria's 'impeccable behavior' in prison, the fact he is favored by prison authorities, and the fact the IDF chief mitigated his sentence, should serve as reasons to grant him early release. (Ynet and Haaretz)
  • Charlie Azaria: "My wife and I have been living a nightmare for two years, our health is deteriorating" - Father of Elor Azaria: “My son is sitting between four walls while his friends are traveling abroad, this is surreal.” (Maariv)
  • Arab lawmaker suspended from Knesset for week after calling Israeli soldiers 'murderers' - Knesset Ethics Committee said MK Haneen Zoabi’s remark was unworthy of protection under freedom of expression. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Military court sends leading Palestinian nonviolent activist to prison - Munther Amirah is chairman of the Palestinian Popular Committees in the West Bank. The terms of his sentence will make it impossible for him to continue organizing non-violent protests against the occupation. He was arrested in late December at peaceful protests against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the arrest of 17-year-old activist Ahed Tamimi. (+972mag and Maan+VIDEO)
  • Report: Israel detains 1,319 Palestinians, 274 minors during January and February - Among the detainees were 274 children, 23 women and four journalists. (Maan)
  • Video: Israeli forces attack Palestinian medics attempting to save injured youth - Video captured shows Israeli forces assaulting four Palestinian medics in al-Bireh as they attempted to aid a Palestinian who had been shot during clashes. The three male paramedics were able to free one of the two youth and transfer him to a nearby ambulance, while Amireh, 19, remained behind, fighting off two soldiers in attempt to save the second youth. (Maan+VIDEO)
  • Israel to uproot olive, grape trees to pave settler-only road near Bethlehem - Israeli forces handed residents of town of al-Khader notices they intend to uproot their olive trees and grape vines in order to open a road designated only for Israeli settlers. (Maan)
  • Israel orders 5 Palestinian families to halt construction of homes in Bethlehem area - Israeli forces issued the stop-work orders to five homes under construction in Nahalin village, under pretext they were being built without difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued construction permits. Deputy Mayor, Hani Funoon, said Israeli authorities have “escalated their measures against Palestinians in the town.” (Maan)
  • Israel ranks 11th in UN 2018 world happiness report, Palestinian territories at 114 - Israel's healthy life expectancy rates made it to the top five countries in the yearly index as the U.S. drops four spots to number 18. (Haaretz)
  • Standard of Living in the West Bank Is Dropping for the First Time in Years, World Bank Warns in New Report - The unemployment rate in adults under 30 in the West Bank stands at 40 percent, report says; Gaza, in the meantime, continues to hurtle towards collapse, and aid cuts to UNRWA will only exacerbate the crisis. (Haaretz+)
  • UN seeks $540 million for Palestinian relief efforts - "A man-made tragedy is unfolding daily" in Gaza and 75% of funds need to be directed there, says U.N. humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick. World Bank says Gaza's economy "cannot survive" without connecting to outside world, urges blockade relief. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gallup poll finds Americans' favorable views of Israel at 17-year high - Vast majority of Americans, 74%, have favorable view of Israel, the highest score recorded since 1991, when Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israel in the Persian Gulf War. Republicans account for much of overall increase in support for Israel, poll finds. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hamas closing in on culprits of attempted hit on Palestinian PM - As terror group continues to sniff out culprits behind attempted assassination of Palestinian PM Hamdallah, several workers of two cellular communications companies are arrested by Hamas for failing to cooperate in their investigation. (Ynet)
  • Israel halts asylum seeker deportations — for now - Israeli authorities signal they plan to keep the deportation plan on schedule. (+972mag)
  • Last asylum seekers released from Holot detention center as mass deportation campaign moves ahead - Those released from Holot are forbidden to live or work in Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, Eilat, Netanya, Bnei Brak, Ashdod or Jerusalem – cities that have sizable concentrations of asylum seekers. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • USS Iwo Jima docks in Port of Haifa - After participating in massive joint exercise with Israeli Navy, USS Iwo Jima aircraft carrier drops anchor in Port of Haifa, as the weary sailors on board set out to travel the country. (Ynet)
  • International Monetary Fund Says Israel Should Use Growth to Upgrade Lagging Infrastructure - Report sees 3-3.5% growth ahead, but says congestion on the roads and low participation of ultra-Orthodox communities in the labor market hurts economic growth. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Image Makers Find Their Reputation in Tatters as They Join Growing Suspect List in Netanyahu Probes - Many media advisers (four of whom advised Netanyahu) have become 'prostituted. In the most recent cases, the work they were doing wasn't about what a media consultant does,' a PR expert says of the issue. (Haaretz+)
  • Roger Waters recites Palestinian poetry to protest US policy - Pro-Palestinian former Pink Floyd frontman joins up with Nazareth band to mark 70 years since Palestinian "catastrophe" • He recites Mahmoud Darwish poem accompanied by music. Waters says poem speaks to "all victims of settler colonialism everywhere. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli pop sensation duo lands seven-album, $5 million deal with Haim Saban - Static and Ben El Tavori snag 10-year international recording contract with Capitol Records. (Haaretz)
  • Israel National Trail now goes through your computer - In joint project to encourage more people to see wealth of nature on Israel's most popular hiking route, Society for Protection of Nature in Israel and Survey of Israel mapping authority digitize full map of 631-mile trail. Map can be downloaded free. (Israel Hayom)
  • Russia: U.S. Planning to Bomb Damascus, We Will Respond if Threatened - Valery Gerasimov, head of Russia’s General Staff, says Moscow has intel on U.S. planning an airstrike on the Syrian capital in response to a fake chemical weapons attack planned by rebels. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran downplays impact of Pompeo appointment on nuclear deal - Tehran ascribes firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in favor of CIA chief Mike Pompeo to "frequent and multiple" changes in Trump's administration. Gulf states relish Tillerson's removal, as hawkish Pompeo's view of Iran is similar to their own.
  • (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • BBC appeals to UN over 'collective punishment' of its staff in Iran
  •  - "Attempts to persuade the Iranian authorities to end their harassment have been completely ignored," says BBC chief • Harassment has included arbitrary arrest and detention of family members in Iran, confiscation of passports, travel bans and defamation. (Israel Hayom)


Features:
Shimon Peres, as Captured in a Confidant's Diary: Suicidal Thoughts, Manipulations and Locker Room Talk
For nearly three decades, Avi Gil was a senior aide to Shimon Peres. Now, the discreet adviser has published a memoir in which he reveals what he saw close-up: Peres in his greatness and pettiness. (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+)
This Could Have Been a Great Comedy About Muslims in France
'Some Like It Veiled' starts with a bold idea: a comic approach to the tensions between Muslims and the rest of the population in France. But the result is tinged with embarrassment. (Uri Klein, Haaretz+)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
Don’t Fix It, Just Nix It (Haaretz Editorial) The nation-state bill in its current form enables de-facto geographic separation between Arabs and Jews; Israel's deputy state attorney has already warned it is a 'blatant discrimination against human beings'
Preparing for the day after Abbas (Menachem Klein, +972mag) Mahmoud Abbas’s heir apparent, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, will have to prove himself by distinguishing his path from that of his predecessor, widely viewed by Palestinians as a failure.
Abbas has made himself irrelevant (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) PA President Mahmoud Abbas has given Israel and the U.S. the cold shoulder, reserving his place in history as another Palestinian leader who missed the chance to shape a better future for his people.
There is no one else: the government is lying to us regularly, and no enforcement agent can stop it (Ron Kaufman, Maariv) We really did not need the State Comptroller's report on the drafting of ultra-Orthodox and the reserves in the state budget to know that our government is constantly lying to us, and that no enforcement agency in the country can stop the continuity of lies and deceit. The public does not know how much money was paid for the temporary peace in the coalition. All the political preying cats that exposed their fangs and teeth and growled menacingly since the beginning of the month have calmed down immediately. Someone apparently promised to continue pampering the coalition partnership. What, they are lying to us again? Gentlemen, the time has come for us to get used to it, because this is a method that proves itself over 70 years…The shocking figure in the state budget of a government that defines itself as “the most social-welfare minded in the history of the state" is the reserves - tens of billions in the  budget every year. But the prime minister and his band tell us that there is no money to care for disabled people, Holocaust survivors, hungry children, lethal and primitive infrastructures on the roads, subsidized medicines, the establishment of hospitals (a public hospital has not been built here for already 43 years), the adding of hospitalization departments for existing hospitals and other things wrong in society. But there is always money for the Netanyahu government to purchase three unnecessary submarines (according to professionals in the field), because that is how they take care of close associates. How could Attorney Shimron (Netanyahu’s cousin and personal lawyer) allegedly demand and receive scandalous fees, in partnership with Mickey Ganor? And how will we take care of attorney David Molcho? It’s clear, everything comes from the security reserves, which spoils the confidants.
How Israel's Opposition Thwarted the Fall of Netanyahu (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz+) Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay pushed for early elections during the government's latest crisis, but colleagues convinced him to reverse course.
The opposition is irrelevant (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) If anything, the latest coalition crisis shows that the opposition is incapable of scoring even a single point from political tumult.
No one had Israel’s best interest in mind when solving coalition crisis (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) Don’t let them tell you stories about national responsibility and about responsible adults working behind the scenes out of concern for the Israeli public. We’re dealing with cynical politicians whose main concern is their seat, and when something threatens them—they charge themselves with super powers to save their skin.
Netanyahu May Be Wreaking Havoc, but the Worst Is Yet to Come (Emilie Moatti, Haaretz+) In the next elections, we'll have to put our ideas of open-mindedness and pluralism on hold and fight to stop the planned assassination of democracy.
Stop funding Haredim, reward soldiers instead (Haim Ramon, Yedioth/Ynet) Instead of serving as a yeshiva conscription army, the IDF should exempt all Haredim. A young Haredi will be like any other young Israeli exempted from military service. He won’t be funded by the state and will be able to do as he pleases: If he wants to study—let him study; if he wants to work—let him work; and if he wants to join the army—let him join the army.
The draft law drama is definitely not fake, it's a fundamental problem that will not pass (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) The crisis that came and seemed to have passed this week, got the headlines of a fake crisis. But the truth is, it really is not. This is an issue that erodes the cohesion of Israeli society.
Getting the Democracy We Deserve (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) There is nothing to stand up against Netanyahu. The regime he created has no opposition, and it seems to be the opposition's own fault.
With its hand on the pulse: Israel has little to gain in American public opinion (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) Israel has grown used to the good in America to the point that every slight movement of the needle to one side or on the other gives rise to excitement and anxiety. The truth is that Israel could lose a lot of (US public) support without it causing real damage.
The Israeli Left must address declining support among Democrats (Daniela Tolchinsky, +972mag) Progressive Americans are angered and alienated by the policy choices and rhetoric of Israel’s right-wing government. This is why the Israeli Left should care.
At long last, 'The Crown' will visit Israel (Elliott Abrams, Israel Hayom) Prince William's visit is praiseworthy because it treats Israel as a normal nation. This is in line with Trump's effort to stop unfair treatment of Israel at the U.N. and recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.
Isolated From Europe and U.S., Britain’s Theresa May Has No Power to Threaten Putin (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Expulsion of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a double agent is unprecedented since the Cold War, but will cause little damage to Russia. And why is Benjamin Netanyahu silent?
 
Interviews:
Avi Buskila: "The Meretz leadership mobilized around Tamar Zandberg out of fear"
The former CEO of Peace Now is fighting for the party leadership, responding to everyone who calls him a "populist" and speaking about the attempt to stop him from running. Buskila, 42, grew up in Moshav Mishmar Hayarden in a traditional home, together with four brothers and a sister. He is one of the leaders of the struggle of the independent reservists who fought in Operation Protective Edge and one of the leaders of the protest “Reservists and Gay Reservists Demand Equality." In April 2016 he was appointed Secretary General of Peace Now, replacing Yariv Oppenheimer. In January, he resigned from his post in order to run for Meretz party leadership. Today he lives in Tel Aviv with his partner, Shimri Segal. “Both of my parents are Moroccans," says Buskila. “In many people’s perspective, it appears as if the Mizrahi families are less advanced, but compared to religious Zionism, they are very advanced in perceptions, equal rights, etc. My father still votes for Bibi (Netanyahu), my mother voted in the previous elections for Kahlon (Kulanu party). She is very strong and she’s the dominant one in the house." (Interviewed by Carmel Milner Saar in Maariv supplement, cover)

What do you answer to those who call you a “populist"?
"To speak the language that the people speak and at their eye-level is not populism, that's why I'm running. We’ve become accustomed to elitism in the Meretz party, so any other language is considered populist.”

Which issues will you promote if elected?
"There will be quite a few issues, but I will start the struggle for equal rights for women, the gay community, minorities and struggle for rights for the disabled, Holocaust survivors, etc. I will also work to prevent violence among teenagers, women, sexual abuse and cyberbullying. Of course I will work for equality between the periphery and the center of the country, equality in the fields of education, workplaces, public transportation and culture. We must provide enough jobs for the residents of the periphery, improve the education system and health, and bring more culture there. And of course I will bring the dialogue on a political settlement back to the stage, but more than that, I will make sure to operate throughout the country, so that it will be clear that without a political settlement, Israel will remain stuck and isolated and without real security.”

In January 1997, while serving as a platoon commander, Buskila overpowered Noam Friedman, an IDF soldier who opened fire on Arabs in Hebron and wounded seven people. The incident led to his publicity and even to receiving a medal from the Prime Minister's Office.
In light of your personal case, it is impossible not to talk to you about the Elor Azaria affair.
"Elor Azaria violated every Israeli military procedure and value, and of course he has violated the laws of the state. The problem in Hebron is not only the soldiers, it is in the hands of extremist (Israeli) civilians who use soldiers to serve their own agenda. I would expect from (Azaria’s) commanders, who were at the scene at the time of the incident, to take responsibility and to manage the combat zone, not to abandon it to civilian hands. In Azaria's case, I did not sense that that was happening. According to the videos of the incident, Elor's commanders stood by and did not intervene. That is not similar to my incident in Hebron."
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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