News Nosh 12.13.17

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday, December 13, 2017  

Number of the day:
Percentage of Israelis who fear that their democracy is in “grave danger.” Most concerned were Jewish left-wing voters (72%) and Arabs (65%). Less than a quarter of Jewish right-wing and religious voters harbored such concerns.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
“We were supposed to come to (the high school in) Nesher like we’ve been doing for more than a decade. Apparently someone in Nesher posted something on Facebook this morning, asking people to show up at the school. There were five or six people at the school entrance, yelling intolerable chants. They wished an Arab would kill me, as well as telling me that my mother was a whore.”
—Aharon Barnea, whose son was killed in Lebanon, was to give a lecture along with other Israeli and Palestinian bereaved parents from the Parents Circle Family Forum, but instead was sent home by the Education Ministry.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The greatest of his generation - Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman passed away at age 104
  • A small great leader // Sivan Rahav-Meir
  • From darkness to light - Five months after Elad Solomon was murdered in the attack in Halamish (settlement), his wife Michal and their five children lit the first candle of Hannukah: “We will go with his light”
  • Expose - Military placement for rich only - The courses that give technological jobs
  • New section: 70 Independence - The headlines of the state: And today - Noam Shalit goes back to the moment his son was released from captivity; The house on 70 Independence St. - Today: 14 floors of co-existence in Acre
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links)
Israel Hayom
  • Death of a leader (of Haredi ultra-Orthodox public, Rabbi Aharon Shteinman)
  • Quiet and restrained leadership // Yehuda Shlesinger
  • Strong light for preserving the world of torah // Haim Shine
  • The pianist at Ichilov Hospital who causes the patients to smile
  • The recordings and the calls over the distribution of monies: (Coalition leader David) Bitan is expected to be questioned again
  • Ahead of the stage of conclusions? On Friday, the Prime Minister is expected to be questioned for the seventh time
  • Here soon? France to prohibit school children from being cellular phones
  • Tonight: Second candle of Hannukah
News Summary:
The revered leader of Israel's ‘Lithuanian’ non-Hassidic ultra-Orthodox sect, Rabbi Aaron Leib Shteinman, passed away, the coalition passed the first reading of the controversial Supermarkets Law, giving the Interior Minister the authority to close supermarkets operating on Shabbat and angering secular owners of mini-markets, and the Israeli Air Force hit Hamas posts in Gaza in retaliation for rockets launched over Ashkelon, making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

On Maariv's front page was the Channel 10 News report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron that he was willing to make compromises and concessions under the Trump peace plan. When confronted with the report, Netanyahu's office said, “We firmly deny that the prime minister was talking about compromises and concessions…Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he assumes that the Trump plan will challenge him and Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas).”

Regarding corruption in government, Netanyahu is expected to be questioned for the seventh time in alleged corruption affairs and his coalition leader and close ally, MK David Bitan, will be questioned for the fourth time in a separate corruption affair.
Quick Hits:
  • Israeli soldiers shot and wounded unarmed Palestinian near West Bank settlement - Army confirms the man was not carrying a weapon at the time of the incident, says he appeared to be reaching for a knife, prompting forces to respond. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli cops caught on video beating a handcuffed Ethiopian teen - Six officers are suspected of distributing a clip showing them laughing while a colleague hits the teen, who was drunk. (Haaretz)
  • **Education Ministry Cancels Joint Event for Bereaved Israeli and Palestinian Parents at high school - One Israeli parent attendee, whose son was killed in Lebanon, says right-wing protesters ‘said they wished an Arab would kill me.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Attorney General blasts Education Minister Bennett on Association of Civil Rights conference - In letter decrying Education Minister Bennett's decision to cancel conference organized in conjunction with Association of Civil Rights in Israel, AG Mandelblit criticizes cancelation, praises ACRI, orders minister to consult with him on future decisions on matter; Bennett originally pulled out of conference citing organization's 'pro-terror activity.' (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israeli sentenced to four years for arson at famed Galilee Roman Catholic church - Yinon Reuveni was convicted of aggravated arson and vandalism; Shin Bet says he was a person of interest even before he set fire to the Church of the Multiplication. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • *Poll finds most Israeli Jews believe Orthodox Jews are 'gradually taking over the country’; feel displeasure with leaders - Nearly half of Israelis fear that their democracy is in 'grave danger,' Israel Democracy Institute's annual report shows. (Haaretz+, YnetMaariv, and Israel Hayom)
  • Four wounded in new round of clashes with Israel near Gaza border, Palestinians claim - One of those wounded was shot in the head, Palestinian medical officials claim in sixth day of clashes following Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Arabs chant 'hands off Al Quds' in protest against Trump's Jerusalem move outside U.S. embassy - 'We won't accept' Trump's decision, protesters retorted as they gathered outside the American embassy to demonstrate against Trump's Jerusalem move. (Haaretz+)
  • (Arab) MK Zahalka: "Israeli flag is worse than a rag; I don’t hate Hezbollah" - In an interview, member of the Knesset  Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) defended former MKs Bishara and Ghattas (who were convicted of aiding the enemy), and said that he did not regret standing for a minute of silence in memory of terrorists killed. (Maariv)
  • Pence Prepares Mideast Visit, but Neither Palestinians nor Christians on Agenda - Initially billed a visit to Mideast Christians, fallout from Trump's Jerusalem decision will see Pence snubbed in both Ramallah and in Bethlehem. (Haaretz)
  • Berlin marks Hanukkah against backdrop of anti-Israel protests  - Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller light candle marking first night of eight-day Hanukkah festival. Candles in huge menorah at city's Brandenburg Gate to be replaced by lightbulbs. German leaders decry anti-Semitism in demonstrations. (Israel Hayom)
  • The elderly, who will be evacuated from the site to which the US Embassy is relocating, are demanding answers - The embassy's expected move to Jerusalem, to the place that was once the ‘Diplomat Hotel’ and now serves as a home for elderly, could affect the fate of about 500 immigrants from the Soviet Union who have lived in the residential center that has been operating there for 25 years. (Maariv)
  • Turkey blasts 'weak' Arab world reaction to Trump's Jerusalem - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan invited more than 50 leaders to agree on a response, but now accuses Arab countries of being 'very timid of the United States.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Gaza-based Islamic Jihad drops claim of Israeli drone strike - Group says it was 'work accident.' Incident comes after a week of rocket fire targeting Israel's south and Israeli retaliations on Hamas targets. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • IDF appeases religious soldiers, eases Joint Service Ordinance - In a move to accommodate religious soldiers who stand against the IDF's recent decree on co-ed army service, IDF chief Eisenkot waives several demands in the order, allowing officers and NCOs to opt out of serving with women. (Ynet)
  • (Public Security Minister) Erdan to equate Border Police wages with IDF spearhead units - Public Security Minister Erdan announced his ministry will pay for equating wages of Border Policemen to those of other IDF 'spearhead unit' soldiers serving in Golani, Givati; IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot's plan originally called to raise wages of combat soldiers, excluded Border Police. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • (Likud coalition leader) MK Bitan faces multiple bribery allegations - Rishon LeZion Businessman Moshe Yosef becomes embroiled in MK Bitan's corruption scandal, with police suspecting he laundered money for the MK, financed daughter's wedding to curry favor in winning lucrative tenders; in another incident, Bitan suspected of accepting bribes to assist in obtaining lucrative Tel Aviv building permits. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • City of Arad lights first Hannukah candle in memory of slain soldier - Hundreds of Arad residents gather at site of terror attack that claimed the life of Sgt. Ron Kokia; his parents call for unity among all residents of area, including Bedouins; 'With light we will defeat our enemies,' says Chabad rabbi. (Ynet)
  • Israeli army on hiker’s shooting of Palestinian: The hikers were attacked first; (Police continue to investigate) - The Palestinians said they only began throwing stones after one of the two men opened fire. The army has ruled out this version and the police have not yet found evidence supporting it. Police are continuing to investigate whether the shooting was in fact justified and whether the hikers had in fact been in mortal danger as a result of the stone throwing. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • 2,000-year-old Tomb Door With Menorah Found in Northern Israel - Repurposed over the ages, the slab tells the story of religion in the Middle East. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli Hotels Are 'More Expensive Than Western Europe, Standards of Eastern Europe’ - Israel’s high room rates may be driving away foreign tourists; hoteliers point to costs of labor, kosher food, security and regulation. (Haaretz)
  • Jewish cemetery firebombed in Sweden - Only a day after a synagogue was firebombed in a nearby city, unknown perpetrators attempt to set Jewish cemetery chapel ablaze; motive behind attack and connection to previous incident still unclear. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Russia's private army in Syria to stay in business, despite Putin announcing troop withdrawal - When Putin went to a Russian air base in Syria on Monday and told Russian troops that you are coming back home with victory,' he did not mention the private contractors, which are illegal under Russian law. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump Will Reportedly Allow Syria's Assad to Keep His Seat Until 2021 - Despite calling repeatedly for an Assad-free Syria, a New Yorker report indicates that the White House is now likely to enable the Syrian president to remain in power until the next elections. (Haaretz)

Should Israelis also boycott Haredim and settlers? Or just get over their fear of Arabs (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Lieberman and Bennett’s portrayal of Israeli Arabs as the enemy reflects a mainstream opinion, but it’s wrong and works against our national interest.
Woe to us if the energies behind Rothschild's protest are allowed to die (Ran Adelist, Maariv) The demonstrations on Saturday night have become a place where the cost of housing meets with that of the occupation, and they all have a place. This Sabbath - same time, same place, same people.
Say no to the tyranny of the majority (Sami Michael, Yedioth/Ynet) All over the world, we Jews are obsessed with interpreting democracy as a shield and wall for minorities, crying out whenever we suffer as a religious minority; in Israel, however, we seem to have forsaken a decent interpretation of democracy.
Appalled by Trump and Betrayed by Netanyahu, Liberal American Jews Feel Alone and Abandoned (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) They can no longer reconcile between the enlightened Israel of their dreams and the theocratic-settler regime that exists in reality.
Enough with the conspiracy theories (Polly Bronstein, Israel Hayom) If the Right truly wants to preserve its power and stay in government, it must acknowledge the strength of feeling on the streets and act courageously to jettison corruption from its ranks.
The Uncompromising Palestinians (Shlomo Avineri, Haaretz+) One could have expected a different response to Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem from Palestinian leadership, if only it was attentive to claims other than its own.
The state of the democracy - Is Israel crying or laughing? (Deputy President of Israel Democracy Institute and law professor, Yedidiya Stern, Yedioth) The group picture that rises from the democracy index (poll) reflects a manic-depressive society. A young state at the age of national adolescence, which is characterized by changing moods, internal contradictions and lack of confidence regarding its identity. What stands out positively is the fact that the overwhelming majority, some 75%, believe that despite the special security and societal problems, the type of government that suits Israel is a democracy. Is this a testimony to the beginning of a transition from stormy and confused adolescence to quiet and stable maturity?
The State of Israel as the ultra-Orthodox Minister's Grocery Store (Haaretz Editorial) Taking control of municipal bylaws by giving them to a ministry controlled by the ultra-Orthodox Shas party is a mistake. This effort to dictate how others behave on Shabbat is unacceptable.
As in 2014, fragile situation in Gaza can rapidly deteriorate into war (Elior Levy and Yoav Zitun, Yedioth/Ynet) In the summer of 2014, when all eyes were focused on the inflamed West Bank, the Gaza situation suddenly escalated into war; the latest round of rockets suggests Hamas not exerting concerted effort to prevent launches by 'rogue factions'; unfolding events, destroying terror tunnels may turn Hamas desperate, lead to renewed conflict.
After a Dozen Gaza Rockets in a Week, Israel Is Being Backed Into a Corner (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Frequent rocket fire from Gaza would disturb the feeling of security and would put pressure on Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman to act more resolutely.
The ‘lab’ uncovering cross-border tunnels from Gaza (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The latest report of an attack tunnel on Israeli territory proves the IDF has successfully completed the underground ‘thwarting circle’; Hamas’s frustration, however, could lead to a temptation to escalate the situation in the strip before Israel unearths all the other tunnels.
Palestine's Vatican Envoy: President Trump, You Poisoned the Peace Process - and Our Christmas (Issa Kassissieh, Haaretz) The U.S. president's Jerusalem decision is a black hole that will swallow every achievement of the Mideast peace process and dealt a harsh blow to moderates. But as a nation, we Palestinians will be resurrected again.
Trump's pragmatic deal (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom)
You don't have to be a billionaire to understand that when the time comes to make a deal, both Israel and the Palestinians will need to make concessions.
Three Reasons We Aren't Seeing a Third Intifada (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz) Unlike the previous outbreaks in 1987 and 2000, the key elements needed to spark another Palestinian uprising do not seem to be in place
Israel and Turkey on a course of collision? (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet) Despite Sunday’s heated exchange of words between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Erdogan, Israeli officials believe the Turkish leader won’t sever diplomatic ties with Israel, as he would lose the option of helping the Palestinians in Gaza and would have no access to the Temple Mount.
Criticism of EU is justified (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom)
After years of the EU aligning itself with the Palestinians, it is no wonder that Israel prefers to weave ties with individual European states rather than try to deal with the crumbling bloc as a whole.
Russia Will Have to Decide How It Wants to Split Syria With Iran (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Moscow is withdrawing troops, but both it and Tehran have experience achieving influence by other means.
"The next time we fight, the Palestinians won’t remain here, we will drive them across the Jordan River"
Maj. Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin supports a Palestinian state, but presents a belligerent line: "The occupation is an existential threat, but if they break agreements, we will tear them apart.” (Interviewed by Eyal Levy in Friday's Maariv Magazine)

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