News Nosh 05.31.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday May 31, 2015 

Quote of the day:
"At FIFA on Friday, it was proved, again, that we understand only force. Suddenly Israel is prepared to compromise on four significant issues for the Palestinians, suddenly we are promising and begging and returning VIP cards (to Palestinians) and vowing to behave."
--Maariv's Ben Caspit writes that Israel's supposed diplomatic victory was actually a failure.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Fear: Wave of threats of boycott of Israel – Palestinians dropped their demand to suspend Israel from FIFA
  • Bill: Bring back the ‘4 (books) for 100 (shekels’
  • The shorts protest of the pupils – Why are only boys allowed to come in shorts
  • Worrying poll: Two out of three 12-year-olds watch porn on Internet
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Palestinian Football Association Chief Jibril Rajoub dropped the bid to suspend Israel from the soccer world making the top story in Hebrew newspapers today, but the interesting side story was the reactions: Israeli right-wing politicians touted it a victory –with one Israeli minister making a controversial remark against Rajoub. What Israeli commentators agreed on was that the bid was a sign of boycotts to come. Meanwhile, Maariv reported on the release of a Jewish terrorist from jail using euphemisms and without mentioning what he did.

The Hebrew newspapers made big headlines on the fact that Jibril Rajoub got slack from Palestinians for dropping the bid to ban Israel from FIFA Friday. FIFA chief Seth Blatter said the Palestinians showed a 'big heart' in dropping the bid, commending them for the 'exceptional gesture.' (Two pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted Blatter at the FIFA Congress hours before the vote. See video) Rajoub cancelled the vote at the last minute after frantic negotiations, particularly on Israel’s part. Maariv published a photo from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Facebook page showing him vacationing on the Kinneret Lake with his wife and son. The caption reported that the a ‘war headquarters’ was set up at the hotel where he stayed in Tzfat (Safed) from where he could run the crisis with the FIFA world soccer association.
Instead of a vote on suspension, it was agreed that FIFA would form an inspections committee to resolve three main complaints: of Israeli racism towards Palestinian players, blocking freedom of movement of Palestinian players and the existence of five settler teams. 

**But the most remarkable reaction, which top Maariv political commentator Ben Caspit wrote about today, came from Transportation Minister (Likud) Yisrael Katz. “Rajob failed to kick Israel out of FIFA. Now is the time to lock him in the Muqata’a (Palestinian headquarters in Ramallah) and let him play stenga with his friends,” said Katz referring to the Israeli children’s soccer game played between two kids. (Maariv) In a biting Op-Ed, Maariv’s top political commentator Ben Caspit wrote: “As you may remember, Rajoub claimed that Israel treated Palestinians with racism, arrogance, tyranny. Katz proved Rajoub was right. And this comes from the man who wanted to be foreign minister, and almost was… while all the Israeli diplomats wherever they are…try to prove that Israel is not a racist state, that we do not discriminate against the Palestinians soccer players, that we do not violate international law, that we do not embitter the lives of our neighbor athletes and that we simply want to go home peacefully, Katz revealed who we really are to the civilized world. It is our face that can be seen from his Facebook page. On Friday in Zurich we won a diplomatic tactical victory at battle, but we are far from winning the battle. In the end, Rajoub withdrew his bid, but not before embarrassing Israel, making it sweat, putting it on the pillar of disgrace and making it a candidate for dismissal from an important international forum." (Read Caspit's Op-Ed at the bottom of Commentary below.)
In contrast to Katz, Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On wrote on her Facebook page that "the fact that Israel was now in danger of dismissal from participating in international competitions of the world's most popular sport because of the occupation and the settlements, human rights violations and racism should have taught us that nothing lasts forever. Israel cannot continue to bury its head in the sand and say that the whole world is against us, and that the situation in Syria and Sudan is worse. It won’t help if we threaten that if they vote against us "we  will topple FIFA," as Netanyahu said, or if we call the Palestinians’ activity "diplomatic terrorism" and say that everyone is an anti-Semite.” Gal-On points out that the FIFA negotiations revealed three interesting conclusions: 1. International pressure is working. There is no other way to explain Israel's acceptance of the Palestinian proposal. 2. Again, as in the segregation of (Israelis and Palestinians on) buses, Israel's consent to allow athletes to cross between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which until now was not approved on the grounds of ‘security needs,’ reveals that the Israeli government is inconsistent at best and a liar at worst, when it comes to security requirements.  3. The day is not far when Israeli society will have to decide whether the benefit of the settlements is worth sacrificing Israel's international legitimacy.” Zionist Union chief MK Isaac Herzog said that the "dangerous battle of the Palestinians and the saga at FIFA over the last few days is a red light of the dangers facing the State of Israel should we not come to our senses and change our behavior profoundly in the political arena…We must be prepared for the coming challenges - and they are on the way."
Israeli Foreign Ministry and sports officials warned that Israel's deterrence is eroding and that Israel's next battle will be over the Olympics.
The last prisoner imprisoned from the Bat-Ayin Jewish terrorist underground was released after 13 years, Maariv reported. Shlomi Dvir was released Friday. In his report Alon Hachmon refers to the “Jewish underground” – a euphemism for Jewish terrorist group. Interestingly, the article makes no mention of what they tried to do: explode a Palestinian girls school on the Mt. of Olives in E. Jerusalem. In February, Ofer Gamliel, one of the two heads of the Bat Ayin Jewish underground was released. Also in the group were Shachar Dvir-Zeliger and Yarden Morag. In 2003 they were sentenced to 15 years for attempting to make a terror attack. Shachar was sentenced to eight years for being a member of a terrorist organization, the paper reported. But did not say what terrorist organization, whether it was Kahane Chai or otherwise. (There is no link to the article. NRG also reported on the release and also referred to the 'underground' and only reported that it "planned to take revenge on Arabs for the wave of terror attacks that washed over the country."

Quick Hits:
  • Israel axes controversial West Bank land procedure in wake of petition - State attorney’s office rescinds practice that let Civil Administration declare West Bank land state property without telling Palestinians thereby preventing Palestinians from the opportunity to appeal the way in which the state land lines were drawn, when the land was actually theirs. (Haaretz+) 
  • Netanyahu assumes veto power over potential Knesset legislation - Knesset's standing as judicial authority gradually weakening. (Haaretz+) 
  • MK Ghattas: We need to abandon the two-state idea and implement a one-state solution - Joint List MK Basil Ghattas published an article stating that "the results of the last elections and the return of Netanyahu to power are the final nails in the coffin of the idea." His position is contrary to that of the platform of the Joint List. (Maariv
  • Israelis take part in nationwide security and emergency drill - Sirens will sound across the country as civilians, Home Front Command, IDF and emergency services hold five-day annual practice. (Ynet
  • ISIS in direct threat to Israel: In the coming days we will shoot at the port of Eilat - Organization "Ansar Beit al-Maqdis", affiliated to the Islamic State and operating in the northern Sinai, condemned Thursday Hamas for negotiations with Israel and threatened to "take over the Gaza Strip.” (Maariv)
  • Palestinians reportedly tie up snake to ambush Israeli soldiers - Israel Police says soldiers spotted the snake while taking cover at West Bank village of Silwad. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli Arab arrested for pro-ISIS Facebook posts - An indictment was filed Thursday against 22-year-old Mohammed Abu Ra’ad from Umm al-Fahm. (Haaretz+)
  • Lapid says won't join government as foreign minister, despite Netanyahu's offer - Likud officials deny Yesh Atid leader's claims that aides to the prime minister offered him to join the coalition. (Haaretz+)
  • Haaretz poll: President Rivlin is Israel's most popular public figure - Meanwhile, some 46 percent of Israelis are satisfied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's performance. (Haaretz+)
  • Christian (Arab) school students in Israel protest for more funding - Hundreds rally outside Education Ministry demanding end to budgetary discrimination; Catholic leaders reportedly pushing for Pope Francis to intervene by turning to PM Netanyahu directly. (Haaretz+)
  • Rivlin: Academic boycotts against Israel are first-rate strategic threat - President meets with university heads to weigh the impact of the boycott movement and discuss strategies to fight it. (Haaretz+) 
  • IDF planning harsher sanctions against draft dodgers and defectors - Army preparing series of legal moves in attempt to deter draft dodgers and defectors, including limitations on passport or driver's license renewal. (Yedioth/Ynet
  • Prison Service: Almost half of Jewish teen detainees are of Ethiopian descent - Rate of Israeli Ethiopians at Ofek detention center is almost 12 times bigger than rate of the community in the general population. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Unemployed drone operator? Shin Bet has a gig for you - Security service puts job listing on website, calling for someone 'able to work under pressure, in conditions involving vagueness and uncertainty.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Military investigator charged with assault on handcuffed soldier - Indicted for repeatedly hitting, kicking soldier, who refused to cooperate with his interrogation; two other soldiers charged for falsifying report of incident, another for failing to do enough to stop it. (Haaretz+ and Maariv
  • Israel to honor long-overlooked Jewish World War II veterans - More than 250,000 Jewish soldiers died in battle during the war, many were among the first to liberate the Nazi death camps. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Palestinians seek energy independence from Israel - PA approves national plan to reach 10% power generation from renewable sources by 2020 in an effort to cut dependency on Israeli energy. (Ynet)
  • Qatar: "Israel has approved the new construction projects in the Gaza Strip" - Qatari head of the reconstruction of Gaza said that "The process of building Gaza is proceeding well, while construction materials are delivered every day without encountering obstacles." (Maariv
  • Ex-Hamas minister: Gaza road paved in preparation for right time to attack - In first comments on road Palestinians are paving some 300 meters from Gaza border fence, former Hamas interior minister says it is being prepared for 'window of opportunity to attack'. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli sites possibly targeted by suspected Hezbollah operative in Cyprus - Lebanese-Canadian man arrested with 2 tons of explosive material in basement; possible connection to Hezbollah under investigation. (Agencies, Ynet and Haaretz)
  • Hezbollah-inspired film imagines the 'liberation of the Galilee' - A group of Lebanese academics are creating a 'Hollywood-style' film which imagines Hezbollah taking over the Galilee in 2019. (Ynet
  • Washington State court ruling opens door to suit over Israel boycott - Washington Supreme Court reverses a ruling that protected the Olympia Food Co-op from lawsuits over its boycott of Israeli products. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • U.S. billionaire set to save Israel's debt-strapped Channel 10 - The RGE Media group, which includes Len Blavatnik, agreed to buy a controlling share in the TV station, which would have been forced to shut down within weeks. (Haaretz)
  • 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls woo (Israel Hayom financier) Adelson at NYC gala - Ted Cruz, Chris Christie attack President Obama's Iran policy, promise stronger support for Israel at event attended by wealthy Jewish GOP donors. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran, US eye 'intense' month to seal historic deal - With exactly one month left before self-imposed June 30 deadline and pressure from hardliners at home, Kerry and Zarif to meet to discuss 'really tough sticking issues'.Tehran still digging in its heels for immediate lifting of sanctions, world powers demand access to Iranian nuclear sites. (Agencies, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Middle East updates / World powers agree on 'snapback' mechanism for restoring Iran sanctions - Islamic militants blow up Sinai gas pipeline, Egyptian officials say; Saudi-led coalition hits rebel bases in Yemen capital, as shelling from Yemen kills border guard in Saudi Arabia. (Haaretz)
  • ISIS posts photos of appalling conditions in Syria's Palmyra Prison - The terror group releases photos of the infamous prison, site of the 1980 massacre by Rifaat Assad; ISIS executes 20 locals in the Roman amphitheater at Palmyra. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iranian report: Israeli arms found in Saudi embassy in Yemen - Iranian report claims Saudis asked Israel for 'state-of-the-art weapons to supply the terrorist groups in Yemen.' (Haaretz)
  • Video purports to show secret arms shipment from Turkey to Islamist rebels in Syria - Security forces allegedly discovered weapons parts on trucks belonging to state intelligence agency in early 2014; Erdogan previously said shipments only carried humanitarian aid. (Agencies, Haaretz)

A venture capital fund’s rough ride in boosting Israeli Arab industry
The fund's main failure has been its plan to invest in traditional industry using the private-equity model. And oh those management fees. (Tali Heruti-Sover and Inbal Orpaz, Haaretz+) 
Sea of questions: What was really behind the purchase of the new Navy ships?
The dark Nazi past of the shipyard, the lack of transparency, the decision not to hold an international tender, the anger of the countries competing, and most importantly, did we need them at all? (Sara Leibovitz-Dar, Maariv)
The boys from Balata
In Balata, the West Bank's largest refugee camp, residents still yearn for family homes they have never seen and talk about 'return,' university education and resistance. Part 1 of 'Walking the Green Line' series. (Nir Baram, Haaretz+) 
Meet the Jewish billionaires shaping the 2016 presidential election - A quick look at the list of top political donors for 2014 reveals a striking fact: At least a third of the most generous 50 mega-givers were Jewish. (Nathan Guttman in Haaretz)

Israel must not feel complacent after staving off Palestinian FIFA expulsion bid (Haaretz Editorial) FIFA made it clear to Israel: The occupation is unacceptable, and its continuation will result in a series of boycotts whose cost would be unbearable to Israel. 
To most Israelis, a colonial regime is preferable (Zeev Sternhell, Haaretz+) This is the reality that the Labor Party refuses to address for fear of losing half its voters.
More diplomatic challenges await Israel after FIFA victory (Shlomo Cesana, Israel Hayom) In the last ten days alone, Israel has had to deal with at least four international initiatives against it, but it has so far come out victorious.
Rajoub is riding the right horse (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The Palestinian Football Association chairman is taking advantage of the automatic anti-Israel majority at international institutions to position himself as a fighter against racism; there is no greater absurdity, but this absurdity is winning.
Israel gets a yellow card from FIFA (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) Once again Israel was pulled into a redundant public struggle with the Palestinians which only did damage to its international standing.
No red card for Israel (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub realized that a Palestinian state wouldn't be declared in Zurich and withdrew his demand for Israel's suspension from FIFA.
The IDF view of the Palestinian struggle (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The main concern is what will happen in the fall, once the nuclear talks with Iran are over, at the time of Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days; meanwhile, Palestinian Authority is getting weaker. 
Legislating against BDS undermines Israeli sovereignty (Ayalon Eliach, Haaretz+) Illinois' attempt to fight the delegitimization of Israel is praiseworthy, but it must not come at the expense of the Jewish state's moral agency.
Time Out: It is impossible to exaggerate the damage Netanyahu caused to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv+) It turns out now that the prime minister is not aware of, and maybe does not want to be aware of, the scope and depth of the crisis in relations with Obama, and is not preparing to devote special efforts to renew ties.
The obvious and curious South African angles of Israel’s FIFA challenge (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The irony of history: Former ANC leader and anti-apartheid activist Tokyo Sexwale is pegged to monitor Israeli policies towards Palestinian footballers.
We must all stop living in illusions (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) The Palestinians are wrong if they think the State of Israel will disappear into the Arab ocean; the Jews, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, are wrong if they think they can play for time – and survive. 
Is Benny Begin a masochist? (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) Benjamin Netanyahu's treatment of Likud stalwart Benny Begin is the latest humiliation for the ideological, right-wing idealist. 
Why no one is talking about Gaza 'rounds' anymore (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The main achievement of Operation Protective Edge is concealed in the fact that Israel and Hamas have discovered no one is going to help them and they will have to get along on their own.
Israel must not use Judaism to justify the occupation (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Deputy FM Tzipi Hotovely's appeal to religion is not motivated by a drive to have religion take control over the state, but rather to validate an imperialistic act. 
Listen up, Canada: You can't advocate free speech and criminalize dissent at the same time (Hadani Ditmars, Haaretz+) Canadian Conservatives are now conflating BDS campaign with hate speech. What the country really needs is to recognize the dangers of stifling speech. 
Pope Francis proves how stagnant Israel has become (Yossi Sarid, Haaretz+) The new spirit Pope Francis is trying to bring to the world isn't suitable for us Israelis. 
It’s not Netanyahu, it’s Israel's voters (Tal Niv, Haaretz+) The prime minister is not more or less of a tyrant than David Ben-Gurion. It’s Israel’s citizens that got small. 
Why news and reality TV is all you can see on Israeli television (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Channel 10 has had an adverse effect on Israel's major commercial station, Channel 2, with Israeli viewers the biggest losers. 
Bibi, alone at the top by design (Yoel Marcus, Haaretz+) Netanyahu feels more secure in his position than ever before. There are no talented people threatening him, and he is certain he will prevail over Obama. 
Take Netanyahu at his word on negotiations (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Why do so many people rush to believe Abbas' peace declarations but not his comments to the Palestinians but the opposite when it comes to the Israeli PM?
Israel and Hamas maintain a fragile truce (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) In Gaza, as in Lebanon, the situation could deteriorate into warfare, even though neither side seeks a conflict. 
American Jews: Living Republican, voting Democratic and not repentant (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) American Jewry is virtually a one-party state and all the talk about a drift toward the GOP has little basis in reality. Liberal values are in the Jewish DNA, it seems. 
For the Israeli army, the taxpayer's money is up for grabs (Guy Rolnik, Haaretz+) The real battle in Israel today isn't between left and right, free market or big government: It's between interest groups and the man on the street. And the most powerful interest group is the army. 
An ethnic war in Iran is only a matter of time (Guy Bechor, Yedioth/Ynet) Imagine the Islamic Republic falling apart like Syria, Iraq, Libya or Yemen in a civil war with armed militias – and nuclear facilities all over the area.
Netanyahu's narrow coalition starting to close in (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The strain of operating a government with the slenderest of majorities manifested itself this week with new portfolios, compensation packages and furious mayors.
**FIFA is only a promo, the State of Israel is walking on thin ice (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Imagine if on the eve of the fateful FIFA vote (which did not take place) to suspend Israel, Katz was Israeli Foreign Minister Katz and he said that ‘We need to lock Jibril Rajoub in the Muqata’a and he can play stenga there with his friends.’ Would Israel’s situation be improved following such a statement by the #1 diplomat? Would this statement aid the tremendous effort Israel invested in order to escape from international infamy? Of course not. Katz’s statement won great popularity over the last two days. Katz played it well. He got a lot of "Likes" by Likud members and members of the center. He came out a real man. He showed Jibril and put him in his place. On the way, Katz proved Jibril's original claim for demanding the suspension of Israel. As you may remember, Rajoub claimed that Israel treated Palestinians with racism, arrogance, tyranny. Katz proved Rajoub was right. And this comes from the man who wanted to be foreign minister, and almost was. In the diplomatic court you should first of all be smart - and only afterward right. We live in a pretentious world. Palestinians get an automatic majority in any forum. Luckily, in the Security Council we have an American veto. (At this rate, we will lose that, too). Therefore, when fighting an initiative like that of Rajoub, we have to act wisely, quietly, modestly, creating leverage, enlisting support. Exactly what (Israel Football Association chief) Ofer Eini and his men did successfully. And while all the Israeli diplomats, wherever they are, including the prime minister and the president and the former president try to prove that Israel is not a racist state, that we do not discriminate against the Palestinians soccer players, that we do not violate international law, that we do not embitter the lives of our neighbor athletes and that we simply want to go home peacefully, Katz revealed who we really are to the civilized world. It is our face that can be seen from his Facebook page. On Friday in Zurich we won a diplomatic tactical victory at battle, but we are far from winning the battle. In the end, Rajoub withdrew his bid, but not before embarrassing Israel, making it sweat, putting it on the pillar of disgrace and making it a candidate for dismissal from an important international forum. This is a dangerous precedent that allows the bloodletting of Israel in other forums. The very fact that such a proposal was discussed, and almost voted on, that caused the state of Israel to use all its means and powers of persuasion to escape impeachment, makes it the victory of Rajoub. FIFA is only promo. The sprouts of boycotts and labeling of [settler – OH] goods began in the days of the previous government and at the current pace, the drizzle will become a flood. Israel is walking on thin ice, every unplanned move can cause a disaster. We must not make mistakes and we must be smarter and less right. At FIFA on Friday, it was proved, again, that we understand only force. Suddenly Israel is prepared to compromise on four significant issues for the Palestinians, suddenly we are promising and begging and returning VIP cards (to Palestinians) and vowing to behave. It’s a pity we got into this situation and even more of a pity that we are acting now as if we just won the Six Day War. Our expertise to turn very early victory into a late defeat, no one can take from us.

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