News Nosh 05.28.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday May 28, 2015 

Quote of the day:
"I'm not opposed to talking with anyone who is willing to talk."
--Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he was not opposed to speaking with Hamas to solve the situation in Gaza.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Suspicion: Qatar to pay for voting against Israel (in FIFA)
  • 40 degrees Celsius plus
  • (Singer) Shalom Hanoch to (Culture Minister) Miri Regev: Israel Festival is not a political rally
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • FIFIA: Game sold
  • The Americans caught FIFA on offside // Boaz Bismuth
  • Tropical land – It began with a heavy heat wave and ended with hot rain
  • (Coach David Blatt:) First Israeli in NBA finals
  • IDF attacked in Gaza: “Hamas is responsible for every rocket out of the Strip”
  • Senator Lindsey Graham: “I came to Israel because it is the US’ best friend”
  • Ashdod and Haifa port workers opened sudden strike yesterday

News Summary:
The arrest of FIFA officials in a corruption scandal – and whether it would help Israel, the arrest of Islamic Jihad rocket shooters – by Hamas and the arresting heat were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he supports talking with Hamas, Tony Blair quit as MidEast Quarter chief and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had some messages for each other, while the UN is in a dispute about whether to put the IDF on a blacklist with ISIS, Boko Haram and the Taliban.

The headlines in Yedioth and Haaretz+ emphasized that Hamas arrested the Islamic Jihad activists responsible for firing the rocket Tuesday into Israel. Maariv made the statement by Rivlin about talking with Hamas front page news and Israel Hayom focused on Israel’s attack response and its verbal threats. Haaretz+ reported that even the Islamic Jihad security apparatus participated in the arrest of the three who were angry over an internal dispute.  

While Israel only indirectly communicates with Hamas, some Israeli journalists do call up Hamas officials for comments and responses. Ynet/Yedioth’s Elior Levy quoted an unnamed Hamas source saying that the firing of the rocket on Israel was in opposition to the Palestinian interests. “From our point of view, the rocket fire was very dangerous. Immediately afterward we deployed our security apparatus in different places in the Strip and opened a hunt for the shooters until we arrested them.” Hamas is not interested in an escalation, Maariv reported, and Israel did not accuse Hamas of shooting the rocket, Yedioth noted. Israel only made its requisite threat that Gaza will pay a 'heavy price' if rocket fire continues. Israel Hayom noted that Hamas took the rocket shooting by the three “seriously” and arrested the culprits.
**Hamas has cursed lone rocket shooters many times in the past for shooting on Israel when it has an agreement with Israel. But it’s not everyday that an Israeli official says Israel should speak with Hamas - not to mention the President. When speaking to journalists about what happened in the south, President Rivlin said Israel and the world need to find a way to end the stalemate in Gaza and rehabilitate the Strip and that he was not opposed to negotiations with Hamas. “I’ll speak with anyone,” he said, just not about Israel’s right to exist. Rivlin also made a statement that drew ire among many Israelis during and after last summer's Gaza war. "There's no doubt that our hearts are with the residents of Gaza," Rivlin said. "We and the whole world are unable to get to a situation in which Gaza can be rehabilitated. There needs to be an international initiative with Israel's participation, in order to bring an end to the enmity against us." Israel Hayom omitted quoting Rivlin on any of these statements and only quoted him saying how the pastoral view over the border into Lebanon does not mislead Israeli citizens or the IDF. And, Yedioth did not report on Rivlin’s trip to the north. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has accused Hamas of war crimes for torturing and executing at least 23 Palestinians who it accused of spying on Hamas and reporting to Israel in last summer's war.

Meanwhile, the UN's envoy on the subject of "Children in armed conflicts", Leila Zarougi from Algeria, is recommending that the IDF be included on a black list that will soon be published that will include ISIS and Boko Haram. Israel's entry would be because during Operation Protective Edge, Israel killed more than 500 Palestinian children were killed and injured 3,300 others. But UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon leans against this, following heavy Israeli pressure and a threat that it would have far-reaching consequences on Israel's relations with the UN, Yedioth's diplomatic correspondent Itamar Eichner reported. On the other side, Palestinian and human rights organizations are pressuring senior UN officials not to give in to Israeli pressure. 
EU foreign policy chief Mogherini agreed with Rivlin about Gaza. Speaking Wednesday after returning from a visit to Israel and Palestine, Mogherini said the situation in Gaza is 'not sustainable' and negotiations must be resumed to end the status quo. A day earlier, Netanyahu asked her for the EU to stop condemning settlement construction in settlement blocs and proposed defining the areas where Israel can build without condemnation, which the Palestinians rejected. 
Also in the news, Tony Blair resigned as the Quartet's Mideast envoy after eight years struggling to break ground in peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians. Yedioth’s Eichner had some interesting insight about what pushed Blair to resign: his feeling that he was ineffective and he had lost credibility and the criticism in the international community that his job was contrary to his business interests with some governments in the Middle East. The Palestinians were pleased with his June departure. "I'm happy that Tony Blair is leaving. For the entire eight years, Tony Blair didn't make any contribution to Palestine," said Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official. "He never proposed anything that the Israelis didn't agree to, and the entire time he only represented himself. And he worked only to satisfy the Israelis and the Americans."

Quick Hits:
  • American millionaire Irving Moskowitz behind purchase of West Bank church compound - Right-wing activist Aryeh King plans to secretly turn Christian site into a new Jewish settlement on Hebron-Bethlehem road. (Haaretz+) 
  • (Likud MK) Hazan’s first bill: Require study of Arabic language starting from first grade - MK said that the language is recognized as an official language in Israel and “it’s unreasonable that the situation continues, in which a Jewish citizen who has completed 12 years of schooling does not know how to speak Arabic.” (Maariv)
  • U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham vows ‘violent pushback’ to protect Israel in UN - Presumed presidential hopeful visits Israel to declare support for ‘our best friend.' (Haaretz+) 
  • FIFA corruption scandal may prove fortuitous for Israel - Arrests of top soccer officials might hamper Palestinian bid to expel Israel from leading sports federation. (Times of Israel)
  • Europe's soccer body said to oppose Palestinian bid to oust Israel from FIFA - Israel's representative to UEFA talks in Warsaw says he can guarantee the body will stand behind Israel; meanwhile, FIFA congress to continue as planned, despite arrest of top officials. (Haaretz+)
  • Dispute coming to the end? Understandings between the FIFA heads and Rajoub - Mediated by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, a document of understandings was prepared between the parties according to which Israel will hold a meeting once a month in the presence of UEFA, in which it will commit to allow the trouble-free passage of Palestinian national players entering and leaving the country for training and games. The remaining dispute: Israeli teams across the Green Line. The ball is now in the hands of Netanyahu and Abbas. (Maariv)
  • Decreasing use of (settlers) hitchhiking: new armored buses in Gush Etzion - Head of settlement councils warned many times of the security dangers and told of cases where old-fashioned buses full of students got stuck in hostile areas. (Maariv)
  • Fifth soldier charged in rape scandal at Israel Air Force base - He is indicted in the rape and assault of two female soldiers, one in April and the other in November. (Haaretz+) 
  • Online database 'exposes' pro-Palestinian college students in bid to block future jobs - Canary Website keeps backers' identities hidden, calls on activists to 'ensure that today's radicals are not tomorrow's employees.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Muslim journalist who fights for freedom of speech gave a lecture in Israel - Sulan Shalbun, feminist and social activist with a column in ‘Charlie Hebdo,’ spoke during a conference at the journalists’ club in Jerusalem and rejected criticism of the French magazine. (Maariv)
  • AF chief unfazed Egypt may get Russia's S-300 - Maj.-Gen. Eshel not concerned with Cairo receiving advanced missile system, but says an Iranian delivery would pose 'a very big challenge.' (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iran: Nuclear talks with powers might be extended past deadline - French Ambassador to the US says technical details to be worked out may push off June 30 deadline for reaching nuclear deal. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Iran nuclear deal unlikely by June 30, Western envoys say - French Ambassador Gerard Araud: Even the best deal would have to spell out the technical details, negotiations could have "fuzzy" end. German Ambassador to U.S. says sanctions relief under deal won't come before end of year. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Likud MK Hazan against singer Shalom Hanoch: "I prefer (Culture Minister) Regev’s speech over an obsolete singer" - MK Tweeted in response to the singer's objection that the Minister of Culture and Sport [who has expressed support for censorship of artists critical of IDF - OH] speaks before he sings at the Israel Festival. Regev responded on Facebook: "The event is funded by the Culture Ministry." (Maariv
  • Organizers of ‘Global Village’ festival in Finland cancel participation of JNF/KKL - This year the festival is focusing on Africa and the Middle East and the theme is “Development.” The festival organized by Kepa organization says it is not political. JNF says it participated two years ago and wanted to participate again, but was refused. As a result, Jewish Finnish organizations cancelled their participation. [Reporter Meital Lior-Gutman did not get a comment from Kepa nor did she mention that recently JNF has been exposed for controversial financial practices and for handing money to settlements for years. –OH] (Maariv, p. 18) 
  • TA college syllabus featuring alleged traitor outrages students - Students assigned Emmanuel Kant essay from book edited by former Balad MK Azmi Bishara who allegedly aided Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War. Student: Using work by Bishara is "moral insanity." College: Curricula promotes pluralism of opinions. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli, US Jewish leaders discuss Jewish solidarity in times of polarization - Annual Jewish People Policy Institute brainstorming conference in Long Island focuses on changing relationships in Jerusalem-Washington-US Jewry triangle and on Jewish values and use of force in armed conflict. (Ynet
  • One Republic visits IDF's Iron Dome - American band members meet operators of Israeli missile interceptor ahead of their show in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park. (Ynet)
  • Israeli soldiers dancing to the "Golden Boy" and had to stay on base for 21 days - Israeli soldiers dancing to the "Golden unit were punished after they distributed a video in which they were dancing near the border fence in Jenin, with the Israeli Eurovision song in the background. The IDF responded: "They endangered lives." (Maariv+VIDEO)
  • Netanyahu urges Likud lawmakers: Keep the primaries - Likud debates whether to abolish the primaries. The prime minister fears the party's corrupt image of years gone will return. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Israel's Burning Man' festival damages archaeological site - The burning of the Midburn fest's 'temple' harmed ruins from the Middle Paleolithic period 150,000 years ago and the Epipaleolithic period 15,000 years ago. (Haaretz+)
  • Egyptian religious man convicted of being a sniper - even though he is blind - A court in Egypt sentenced Rabia Abu Eid to 15 years in prison for a series of crimes, including shooting a police officer – even though he could not do such a thing in his condition. In the past, he was jailed for calling for boycotting the Egyptian constitution. (Maariv)
  • Leader of Al-Qaida in Syria says 'Assad's fall won't take long' - Nusra Front leader warns Alawites to renounce Assad, 'return to Islam,' in a rare interview with Al Jazeera. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Islamic State looks to captured phosphate mines for funding - The jihadist group has also published a Russian-language magazine, targeted at attracting Muslim fighters from the Caucuses. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Middle East updates / ISIS militants execute 20 men in Palmyra amphitheater - Video exposes divisions among Iran lawmakers over nuke talks; Erdogan promises private jet for top Muslim cleric; Arab forces strike Houthi-held Yemen military port, local official says. (Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia lists two senior Hezbollah officials as terrorists - Khalil Youssef Harb and Mohammed Qabalan allegedly involved in spreading 'chaos and instability.' Hezbollah has repeatedly criticized Saudi Arabia over both its military operations in Yemen and its support for rebels in Syria. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Brooklyn food co-op again becoming BDS battlefield?
Both supporters and opponents of boycotting Israel say the other side is spewing lies. That is, when they're not busy rushing the stage. ( Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Haaretz+)
Can Israel save its tourism sector by taxing tourists?
That’s what two leading figures in the industry are proposing, but the Hotels Association, for one, isn’t buying it. (Rina Rozenberg, Haaretz+) 
Eyewitness report: On tour with Hezbollah
After imposing strict restrictions on what they could film and photograph, Lebanese terror group takes foreign journalists on an unusual trip to its positions on Syrian border. (Sara Hussein, AFP, Ynet)
Let the people 
of Gaza go (Haaretz Editorial) Both the Israeli army and Shin Bet are in favor of issuing more work permits. We cannot allow hostility toward Hamas exacerbate the conditions in the Gaza Strip. 
Rocket fire challenging Israeli and Hamas leaderships (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The Grad rocket fired into Israel on Tuesday night may have been a message from Hamas' military wing to the organization's political leadership, but it was also a reminder that Israel's new government must adopt a strategy against the occasional rocket fire as soon as possible.
What Obama got wrong about anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism (Peter Beinart, Haaretz+) By implying that these are the same, the president isn't doing U.S. Jews any favors. He's helping them evade realities they must understand to help Israel survive.
Until the next whim: how Israel found itself trapped in the Gaza Strip (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The firing on Israel was a local decision of a junior commander of Islamic Jihad, but when the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip isn’t moving forward any small incident can spark a fire.
BDS must spell out what it wants from Israel (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) I am no enemy of the boycott movement. I just want to hear what it believes in. I'm asking for clear goals. And straight talk. 
Bad environment: What is the message received by Iran following Obama’s defense of Israel (at the Mideast NPT conference)? (Ran Adelist, Maariv) International supervision of Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor would require the exposure of the treatment of nuclear waste. It is not clear what Israel fears more here: revealing military potential or ecological damage.
Netanyahu's right-wing government is sexist, too (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Not only has Israel’s new government failed to increase representation for women - which is paltry by Western standards - there are even fewer women than before.
The Foreign Ministry? No, the Ministry of Divine Promises (Aviad Kleinberg, Yedioth/Ynet) As far as Tzipi Hotovely is concerned, her job as deputy foreign minister is to tell diplomats what her friends in the Yesha Council want to hear.
Maybe FIFA can still bring peace to the Middle East? (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Arrests of senior FIFA officials a few days before vote on expulsion of Israel from international football association is certainly fodder for conspiracy theories.
Troubles of the many: There is no peace for the narrow government that just was established (Hila Korach, Maariv) Who can think of ideology when you need to supervise border control for MKs in order to avoid the government from falling? 
David Blatt and Israeli cynicism (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) David Blatt’s success in the NBA is an amazing story about him, but also a sad story about us. Israel is such an impressive place, but it’s also seriously plagued.
The strategic American (Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, Israel Hayom) President Obama hopes to leave behind a new world as his legacy -- with an old, familiar ‎scapegoat.

Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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