News Nosh 03.04.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday March 4, 2015

Quote of the day:
“The state cannot discriminate against Arab communities in funding, so it gives over the handling of rural communities in the Galilee and Negev to the Settlement Division…At the same time, settlement activities in the West Bank that may breach the law are blamed on the World Zionist Organization and the Settlement Division, not, perish the thought, on the Israeli government.”
--Haaretz+ reporter Meirav Arlorzoroff explains how the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division helps the state get around its own laws to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank and avoid investing in Israeli Arab communities.**

Election Polls:
Maariv’s traveling poll: Zionist Camp gets 29% support, Likud 19% and Meretz only 2%
Center-left bloc wins majority in the cities of Ramat Hasharon and Ra'anana. Surprising was the low support rate for Meretz in the two cities where the center-left traditionally has support. Poll taken before Netanyahu's speech. (Maariv)

Front Page News:

Yedioth Ahronoth
  • “There needs to be a better agreement”
  • Survival speech // Sima Kadmon
  • One of theirs // Nahum Barnea in Washington
  • Heartwarming // Yoaz Hendel
  • Thrown into the street – Parents and their five children couldn’t pay rent
  • Yaalon and Bennett: The battle – Yaalon: Bennett was doing politics during the war; Bennett: He should give the order to publish the “Operation Protective Edge” report
  • The wall artist of Teheran – Special interview: What does the Iranian artist, known for covering homes in optimistic colors, think about us?
  • APCs against dismissals – Oxygen for the periphery: Factories to receive orders for parts of armored APCS for combat soldiers
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Give Iran conditions
  • Senator Lindsey Graham: “Netanyahu’s speech – like an alarm clock, we will pass a law requiring bringing the agreement to Congress”
  • This is how a speech of a historic moment sounds // Boaz Bismuth
  • Indictment against all the crimes of Teheran // Prof. Avraham Ben-Tzvi
  • Megilat Esther is more timely than ever // Dror Eydar
  • The commentators’ feeling of loss // Mati Tuchfeld
  • Nuclear talks continue: Iran continues to pressure for American compromises
  • Treasure for Purim: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s headdress returns to the podium

News Summary:
With the exception of Israel Hayom, the Israeli newspapers were filled with commentary (see Commentary/Analysis) that the Congress speech in which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the nuclear agreement being formulated with Iran will help Iran get nuclear bombs,
was excellent - but damaging for Israel, making the top news in the Hebrew newspapers today in addition to the right-wing physical attack on Arab MK Haneen Zouebi.

Haaretz, Maariv and Yedioth commentators agreed with US President Barack Obama: there was nothing new in Netanyahu’s speech, he did not offer viable alternatives. Democrats, 56 of whom did not attend (Maariv), were outraged by it, calling it an “insult to the intelligence of the United States" and “Chutzpah. He came to Washington to lecture us on how to negotiate.”  White House officials said Netanyahu’s demands of Iran were unrealistic. Israeli Opposition leader and Chairman of the Zionist Camp, Isaac Herzog, said the speech only harmed efforts to stop a nuclear-armed Iran and did not end Israel’s isolation. However, right-wing Chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, Naftali Bennett, slammed Israeli criticism of the speech. Before the speech, Ynet reported that US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said tensions between Washington and Jerusalem could stretch to the end of Obama’s term in 2016.
Interestingly, both Maariv and Yedioth spoke with Iranians in official positions – making Iran seem more accessible and less like the evil country that Netanyahu considers it and also raising the question whether Iran were trying to send its own message. Officially, Iranians are not allowed have contacts with Israel. Maariv’s Gideon Kotz spoke with Iranian Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar in Paris. Kotz asked Ebtekar about her response to Netanyahu’s statement that the agreement with Iran would endanger Israel. "I hope they don’t listen to him this time, as they didn’t last time when the interim agreement was signed. His words contradict the mood and the new era that has opened in the world, which he is trying to sabotage. He lives in the past. I believe that an agreement will be signed because the all of the international community needs it,” Iran’s first female Vice President told Maariv. An Iranian Foreign Ministry official called Netanyahu's speech “boring and repetitive” and said it was 'part of the hardliners' election campaign in Tel Aviv.' 

Yedioth ran an interview with Teheran’s official and famous mural artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo, which was the cover to the paper’s ’24 Hours’ daily supplement. Speaking to London correspondent, Yaniv Halili, Ghadyanloo said: “People in Iran don’t hate Israelis or Israel. People have the right to criticize a country’s policies, but there is no collective hatred for Israelis. Jews in Iran are citizens with equal rights and I am full of admiration for them. I don’t have anything against Israelis. I would be happy if one day we could leave behind the political cloud, which is hanging over all of us, and we would meet in the middle in order to speak like people. When you live in the Middle East, fear is permanent guest in your subconscious. And we all – Iranians and Israelis – have this subconscious fear.” Halili noted that the Iranian artist was speaking to an Israeli newspaper ‘despite the price he could pay in his homeland.’

Iran nuclear talks continued yesterday and today in Switzerland between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif even as Netanyahu fought at the podium to end them. Zarif reportedly rejected Obama's demand for a 10-year freeze in nuclear activity.

Quick Hits:
  • Lecturers protest course offered by rightist group Im Tirzu at two Israeli universities - Right-wing movement was found by Jerusalem judge to bear some ‘fascist’ features. (Haaretz+)
  • MK Haneen Zoabi attacked at political panel - Far-right activists rioted, storming the stage at Ramat Gan college event (on women in politics) in which Zoabi, several other female MKs participated. A Baruch Marzel activist threw a drinkon Zoabi and another hit Zoabi’s communications advisor on the head with a flag pole for which she was hospitalized. (HaaretzMaariv and Ynet including videos)
  • Attorney General ordered to probe statements made by (right-wing activist Baruch) Marzel - The order was made after Marzel, who is in the fourth slot on the ‘Yachad’ party list, wrote on his Facebook page that his people are the ones who rioted at the conference on women in elections forcing it to end up and where juice was poured on the head of MK Hanin Zoabi. (Maariv)
  • Court orders Israel Airports Authority to compensate humiliated Arab professor - After she suffered during a security check at Ben-Gurion airport over 8 years ago, Tel Aviv court awards payment but does not address inspection issue. (Haaretz+)
  • At Israel's Housing Ministry, it helps to wear a kippah - Unions declare labor dispute, assert that most senior posts have gone to settlement supporters in two years since Uri Ariel took over ministry. (Haaretz+) 
  • Herzog: "Gush Etzion will remain an integral part of the State of Israel in any peace agreement" - In a tour Tuesday of Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank, Chairman of the Zionist Camp winked to the right-wing, but stressed: "I will ignite the peace process with the Palestinians. We must advance a regional arrangement and the two-state solution." (Maariv)
  • Women to form ring around Knesset in effort to 'wage peace' - Activists to deliver 'alternative' speeches to that of Netanyahu's at U.S. Congress, urging government to renew peace talks with Palestinians. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF chief orders investigation into soldiers' use of attack dogs - Israeli human rights group criticizes army's use of dogs, cites case of Palestinian teen who was bitten after throwing rocks at troops. Senior officer: Deploying the dog was appropriate under the circumstances, but ensuing conduct by the soldier was not. (Israel Hayom)
  • UN envoy says Israel must investigate civilian killings in Gaza war - Makarim Wibisono, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said Tuesday that Israel must investigate the killing of more than 1,500 civlians during summer war and make findings public. (Agencies, Ynet and Maariv)
  • Number of Palestinians working in Israel doubled over four years, central bank says - Palestinians have been displacing foreign workers because they are more reliable and stay at their jobs longer, the central bank said. (Haaretz+)
  • Court rules state must compensate Temple Mount activist - Yehuda Glick will receive $126,000 plus expenses for being banned from visiting holy site by police; judge slams force's 'abuse of power.' (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinians confiscate Israeli goods in boycott campaign - Activists dump truckload of Israeli milk and yogurt in a main square of Ramallah to the cheers of supporters. "We entered the second phase of the campaign which is confiscating and damaging these goods," says boycott leader Abdullah Kmail. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hash stash: Tel Aviv police find cannabis hidden in Purim treats - Hashentaschen anyone? Police warn against 'making people happy' with drugs. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli government keeping Jordanian royalty-owned E. Jerusalem hotel afloat - The Seven Arches Hotel has not been privatized since 1967 in order not to provoke relations with Jordanians. (Haaretz+)
  • Yisrael Hayom boosts its press run ahead of Israel election - (Pro-Netanyahu) Freebie daily backed by Sheldon Adelson calls expansion part of its business plan. (Haaretz+)
  • Jihadi John's Jewish teacher says there was no warning of his radicalization - 'When I'm listening to the news and I hear his name I feel the skin on the back of my neck,' Jo Shuter says. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • From 'Jihadi John' to Netanyahu - Israeli kids dress up for Purim - IN PICTURES: Purim sweeps the country, with school kids across nation donning costumes from 'Jewish Halloween' - Netanyahu, ISIS stand out against classics like witches and cats. (Ynet)
  • Palestinians to file first ICC complaint against Israel in April - PA plans to file complaint against Israel for alleged war crimes once its status as member of International Criminal Court in The Hague becomes official. ICC prosecutor's preliminary review of Palestinians' claims still ongoing. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Argentina wants former Israeli diplomat to testify in attack probe - Yitzhak Aviran, the Israeli ambassador to Argentina during the 1984 bombing, said in an interview that Israel had 'taken care' of the bombers. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • WATCH: Israeli ambassador to Germany reads hate mail - German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost invites envoy to read aloud a sample of the offensive comments he is sent on daily basis. (Ynet)
  • Israeli tourism to Germany up 14% - With 869,343 overnight stays by Israeli tourists in 2014, Jewish state is sixth source market for Germany among countries outside Europe. (Ynet)

**The Israeli government's twilight zone that helps settle the West Bank
The World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division is a completely private entity, whose funding is entirely from the government - thereby helping the state get around its own laws. The Settlement Division is the state’s key conduit for investment in the West Bank. In fact, the state has virtually privatized management of settling the West Bank (and the Negev and Galilee) by placing it in the hands of the Settlement Division. ( Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz+)

Netanyahu's splendid speech and the carnage in its wake (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Golden boy Bibi delivered the goods for his campaign and for the Republicans, leaving behind embittered Democrats, a fuming White House and no change on Iran. 
Instead of keeping Israeli interests away from public criticism, Netanyahu insulted Obama (Ron Miburg, Maariv) A performance of absurdity: the leader of the only nuclear power in the Middle East spoke against another country's ambition to go nuclear. 
Netanyahu presents Congress with a warped view of the Mideast (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) The Israeli prime minister forgets that Iran is on the Americans' side on several fronts, and he doesn't chastise other countries for transgressions similar to the Iranians'. 
Public hazing: the unprecedented confrontation between Israeli Prime Minister and the US President reached a zenith (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Nothing like this has ever happened and it’s doubtful that it ever will again. The chance that Netanyahu's speech will win the elections for him is higher than the chance of stopping Iran… Netanyahu knows better than all of us that the chance for a nuclear agreement is low. He is updated, he reads the intelligence reports, he knows this round of talks will probably not lead to an agreement. But Netanyahu has identified a rare political opportunity, and he as the last person not to use it. Netanyahu is a political genius, especially when it comes to his own survival. For the long-term, his speech yesterday caused a lot more harm than good. Short-term? Bingo. He traveled to address Congress, ignoring the warnings, making a public hazing of the President, burning the last bridges we have left in the White House. But in a week or ten days, when the negotiating parties notify the end of the talks without an agreement, Netanyahu will announce that it was because of him. On the central issue Netanyahu is right. The points he made in his speech are correct. He should warn, explain, you wave the right flag and rip the mask off the faces of the ayatollahs. The thing is the how. In what way. Instead of becoming a welcome guest in the White House, the closest ally of President Obama, one who can influence from the inside (as Netanyahu's predecessors - Sharon, Olmert and even Barak did), Netanyahu became a persona non grata in the Oval Office. He should have acted respectfully towards the US president to create a relationship of trust with him, offer a gesture or two, tell the truth. He did the opposite. He tried to oust Obama, under the influence of his patron Adelson, he sold the Israeli national interest in exchange for narrow and foreign interests - and then complained that Obama was not listening…
Netanyahu was preaching to the choir (Omer Benjakob and Roei Eisenberg, Yedioth/Ynet) Despite his attempts to butter up the American public with Biblical references and home-grown phrases, Netanyahu failed to find new buyers for his aging snake oil; if not for disingenuous GOP applause, his speech would have fallen on deaf ears.
The real existential threat to Israel (Haaretz Editorial) In his Congress address on Iran, Netanyahu failed to mention the one thing that endangers Israel's ability to survive as a Jewish and democratic state.
I went, I saw, I was shocked: Maariv political affairs correspondent Dana Somberg writes about the Zoabi incident at the women elections conference (Dana Somberg, Maariv) Instead of an academic discussion on representation of women in politics, women's rights and women's leadership, we got the video clip of the ‘Chocolate flight’ (Israeli passengers attacking steward who wouldn’t sell them chocolate without VAT) and the ‘Eilat Hotel’ clip (Israeli guests attack hotel workers for not letting them park in handicapped spot) on election campaign steroids.
Pro-Bibi until proven otherwise: The perils of being Israeli in America (Asher Schechter, Haaretz+) Israeli expats have been forced to defend Netanyahu’s speech in Congress even if they think it is the worst idea in the history of the world. 
The alternative to Obama (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) In taking a stance in the capital of the free world, Netanyahu is shattering the misguided fixation that rational Western standards can be imposed on radical Islamist groups. 
Netanyahu's Congress speech was much ado about nothing (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) Netanyahu seemed like he was making plans for the day after his defeat - not a 'time-out' from politics like the one that followed his 1999 loss, but a bid to become defense minister in Isaac Herzog’s government. 
Is this Netanyahu's last hurrah in Washington? (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The aim of the prime minister's controversial trip to Washington is to ensure that next time in town, he’ll be a White House guest, not a private citizen. 
Netanyahu's speech showed that America loves us, but something about the compliments sounded forced (Meir Uziel, Maariv) Members of Congress got knee pains from the amount of times they rose to applaud Israel, and Israel received a lot of terrible stomach pains for the same reason. 
A lifetime achievement – destruction of the State of Israel (Niva Lanir, Haaretz+) Netanyahu the coward is sometimes even more dangerous than the diligent fool. After all, his speech to Congress showed he has the ‘courage’ to endanger Israel-U.S. relations. 
Two Likud seats and an ego boost (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Netanyahu's speech to Congress will not achieve any of the goals he sought, but salvation for Netanyahu may come in the form of Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei.
Netanyahu hopes to ride rhetoric to electoral victory (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) And two weeks before an election, opposition leader Isaac Herzog loses with his logical but lukewarm response.
Why is Netanyahu treating Obama so badly? (Alon Pinkas, Yedioth/Ynet) While US president hasn't expressed his love for Israel publicly, his military-security and diplomatic aid to Israel has been impeccable; yet for six years, Israel's prime minister has failed to develop a relationship of trust with him.
Gaza and Cairo are feeling winds of change blowing from Saudi Arabia (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Saudi Arabia’s recent moves reflect a change in its foreign policy. This could force Egypt’s president to change his stance against Hamas, and push the latter back to the Arab orbit. 
It’s all talk: Magic. He is a magician. How he gave it to them on Iran and big time. And about the Holocaust. (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) He is amazing in giving speeches. See how he pulled one over on them – in American language. How he gave it to them about Iran. And the Holocaust. About missiles on the south of Israel. It’ll cost whatever it to our future. 
Who is a Zionist? (Salman Masalha, Haaretz+) There is no national solution other than the geographic and national division of the land, with everything that implies: A Hebrew state on one side and an Arab one on the other.
A speech that can save many lives (Dr. Gabi Avital, Israel Hayom) Netanyahu's address to Congress could spare Israel and the international community a military move against Iran. 
Patience is Israel's best strategy against Iran (Natan Sachs, Haaretz+) The powers must proceed slowly in the nuclear talks and let the pressure on Tehran take its toll. Israel must show restraint and coordinate with Washington. 
Netanyahu speech will be tested by its effect on Iran deal (Nahum Barnea, Tuesday Yedioth/Ynet) It doesn’t matter how many times Congress members interrupt the prime minister's address with applause; if nothing changes in the terms of the nuclear agreement with Tehran, all he has done is fly 9,000 kilometers and return with a Churchill bust.
Congress gave Netanyahu right to veto American policy (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) If Netanyahu succeeds in foiling an accord and attacks Iran's nuclear installations, who will bear the responsibility for the destruction wreaked by this armed confrontation? 
The Purim story as a model for fighting anti-Semitism (Rabbi Michael Knopf, Haaretz+) The 2,000-year-old tale of heroes and villains offers important lessons about successfully responding to hatred in our own time.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.