News Nosh 2.3.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday February 3, 2019

 
Quote of the day:
"I know who your politicians are, listen to reports about your military plans with great interest, but I am most interested in learning about life in Israel, how the society is structured, Sephardi versus Ashkenazi. Adults and young people, trends, culture, even your legal world fascinates me."
--A well-placed academic in Iran has an illuminating conversation with Yedioth's Muslim world correspondent, Smadar Perry.

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • War over every vote
  • The loyalty test // Shimon Shiffer on Likud primaries
  • Hadash (political party and ‘new) anti-Semitism // Ben-Dror Yemini on Dov Khenin’s replacement
  • The right-wing already won // Miri Shalem on the disappearance of the left-wing
  • The guideline that will keep the (election) campaigning out of the IDF
  • Abu Mazen boycotted Rami Levy
  • The people who put their heads in the dunes - Meet the Israelis who give up on life in the big city
  • The ugly Israeli who destroyed the Sabbath - Hundreds of hikers raided citrus orchards, stole enormous amounts of fruit and caused heavy damage to farmers
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Netanyahu asks for reserved spots (in Likud party list) “due to the connections to the left-wing”
  • Cold war winds - President Trump fulfilled his threat and announced that the US will withdraw from the nuclear weapons development treaty
Israel Hayom
  • Netanyahu’s list in the Likud - Tuesday: Likud primaries; preparing for alliances: Prime Minister asks for more reserved spots
  • Attorney General: I won’t postpone the (indictment) decision; Netanyahu: “He gave in to pressure from the left-wing”
  • Exclusive - “Severe negligence in the heart surgery department at Hadassah Hospital”
  • Flowers instead of missiles - Thousands of visitors came to the ‘Red in the South’ Festival, where poppies and green replaced thousands of dunams burned by terror
  • The storm over the racist photo in the US: Virginia Governor - “I won’t resign”
  • In Yesh Atid party they insist: Lapid and Gantz still holding talks over possibly alliance
  • Shas campaign revealed: Instead of “transparent” - “Restore to its original splendor”

Elections 2019 News:
The top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers were about requests by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: He asked his party to reserve two more spots on the Likud party list for people of his choice and he had asked the Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt to postpone the indictment decision till after elections.

Likud primaries take place Tuesday and Netanyahu said that the alliances between left-wing parties made it necessary for him to reserve two more spots. But political analysts weren’t sure why Netanyahu was asking now after he had earlier asked for more and had only received one. The request has yet to be answered.

Meanwhile, the premier’s request of Mendelblitt was rejected and Netanyahu accused the Attorney General of being “pressured by the left-wing and the media to file an indictment “at any price.” Mendelblitt said that suspending the legal process would “violate the principle of equality before the law.”

Election Quickees:
  • Channel 12 Election Poll Says Israelis Prefer Gantz Over Lapid as Head of Center-left Bloc - 33 percent of respondents pick the former military chief Gantz, with 11 percent selecting the Yesh Atid chairman Lapid – while almost half choose none of the options, Channel 12 revealed. (Haaretz)
  • Israel Hayom-i24NEWS poll: 28 seats for Likud, 19 for Gantz - Benny Gantz's political debut this week appears to be hurting Yesh Atid but not Likud • Splits on both Right and Left mean that many parties might not pass the minimum electoral threshold • 38% says PM Netanyahu is most qualified to be prime minister. (Israel Hayom)
  • Yesh Atid lawmakers not ruling out joint list headed by Gantz - Yair Lapid said in the past that he'd only consider running together with Gantz if he remains number one. But the party has changed its tune following Gantz's spike in the polls. (Haaretz+)
  • Labor Party Chief: Uniting With Meretz Won't Help Us Topple Netanyahu - Citing 'ideological differences' with Meretz, Avi Gabbay says Labor is the only alternative to Netanyahu. Meretz head Zandberg: 'Confident and clear left is only alternative to extreme and racist right.' (Haaretz+)
  • Labor Party says Gantz rejected their request to join his slate - 'That’s no secret. We wanted this alliance. But we can’t force ourselves on a party that doesn’t want us.' (Haaretz+)
  • 'Inexperienced hypocrite'? Netanyahu used to call Gantz 'an officer and a gentleman' - A look back on the high praise Netanyahu had for Benny Gantz before they became political rivals. (Haaretz+)
  • Moshe Kahlon attacks Benny Gantz in speech launching Kulanu campaign - Finance minister calls main Netanyahu rival 'privileged,' attacks 'inexperienced stars' on Israel's election. (Haaretz+)
  • Chairman of Israeli Arab-Jewish Hadash party reelected amid possible split in alliance - Hadash keeps Ayman Odeh as its leader, while officials discuss redrawing alliance of Arab-majority parties. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Arab Balad party picks new election slate after high-profile resignations - Mtanes Shehadeh elected chairman after winning by a margin of just 12 votes. Former MK Jamal Zahalka: Arab public will punish those who will cause splitting of Joint List. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • The Gay Index: The coalition voted down 40 legislative bills for equality for the LGBT community - According to an index published by the “Gay Front," the MKs who worked for the community are overwhelmingly from the opposition, and mainly from Meretz and the Zionist Camp. (Maariv)
  • Adelson's Netanyahu-aligned Newspaper to Cover Election With Israeli Television Network - Cooperation between Israel Hayom freebie newspaper and Patrick Drahi's trilingual i24 could see the latter becoming aligned with Netanyahu. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Iranian bot army trying to influence Israeli elections - American media company Vocativ issued a report noting an increased presence of bot accounts operating from Iran that automatically respond to events by posting on social media in an effort to influence the national discourse in Israel. (Ynet)
  • Facebook blocks 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts and groups - The social network says the fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram typically misrepresented themselves as locals with the intent of disrupting politics and elections. In Israel, the bogus Iranian accounts focused on highlighting the Palestinian issue. (Israel Hayom)
  • 'The next Knesset will apply Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria' - Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein says that views on Israeli sovereignty are changing and the idea of a Palestinian state is looking more and more like a pipe dream, and he calls former IDF Chief Benny Gantz's foray into politics "unparalleled arrogance." (Israel Hayom)
 
Quick Hits:
  • 32 Palestinian Protesters Wounded by Israeli Fire in Gaza - Two paramedics also wounded by tear gas canisters, Palestinian Health Ministry says. Hamas leader meets Egypt, UN envoys. (Haaretz+ and Maan)
  • 180 Palestinian Women Wounded by Live Israeli Fire Since Start of Gaza Protests - Since demonstrations began in March, nearly 300 Palestinians were killed, including two women, and some 6,000 people wounded, UN data shows. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel said to warn Hamas: Election won’t stop military action if it’s necessary - Jerusalem sends message to terror group via mediators that border violence must end, Channel 12 reported. Egypt reportedly offers to reopen Rafah crossing if clashes rein in. (Times of Israel and Maariv)
  • Report: Understandings reached for continued calm in Gaza - Despite border violence, Hamas prevented rioters from trying to breach the fence and cross into Israel. In meeting with U.N. Mideast envoy and Egyptian intelligence officials, Hamas agreed to uphold quiet with Israel, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Saturday. (Israel Hayom)
  • Dutch-Palestinian sues Benny Gantz in Hague for war crimes in 2014 Gaza operation - In civil suit before Dutch district court, complainant blames the former IDF chief and then-air force commander of killing six family members in bombardment of their Gaza house. (Haaretz+ and i24news)
  • Israeli bulldozers raze lands in southern Gaza - Sources added that Israeli military bulldozers razed and leveled the lands while drones flew overhead. (Maan)
  • 19 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in al-Mughayyir - Hundreds of Palestinians performed Friday prayers outside the village before taking part in the march in protest of the murder of Hamdi Naasan, a Palestinian father from the village, whom settlers shot dead when they attempted to raid the village last week. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces suppress weekly Bilin march - Israeli forces fired tear-gas bombs and stun grenades and chased the protesters, who marched in memory of Hamdi Naasan, a father of four children, who was shot and killed by Israeli settlers in the al-Mughayyir village last Saturday. (Maan)
  • Abbas receives Israeli business delegation from Breaking the Impasse, refuses to receive Rami Levy - On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a delegation of 30 members of Breaking the Impasse, an Israeli NGO of senior business people who who want to express support for renewing diplomatic dialogue in order to reach a two-state solution. Yedioth/Ynet reported that the Palestinians refused to allow supermarket chain owner, Rami Levy, to participate because he has supermarkets in the West Bank. BTI Chairman, Shmuel Meitar, told Abbas that the organization and the majority of the Israeli people are committed to achieving peace based on a two-state solution. Participants included Gad Proper, Ami Ganiger, Ruth Cheshin, Yarom Ariav and others. [NOTE: The Maan article mistakenly wrote 'Breaking the Silence,' not 'Breaking the Impasse.' Shmuel Meitar is a successful Israeli businessman, but not the head of Breaking the Silence.] (Maan and Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)
  • 2 Palestinian school students critically injured with Israeli live fire in Tuqu - According to local sources, Israeli forces stormed the Tuqu village and surrounded a local high school, leading to clashes among Israeli forces and Palestinian students. Israeli forces fired live ammunition and tear-gas bombs at the students to disperse them. (Maan)
  • Funerals of two slain Palestinians as Israel returns bodies - The Israeli army returned the body of Muammar Arif al-Atrash, 42, from Hebron, who was shot and killed by the IDF in October 22nd, 2018 and the body of Majd Mteir, 26, from Qalandiya refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces on December 13th, 2018. (Maan+PHOTOS+VIDEO)
  • Top rabbis call for donations to Israeli charged with killing Palestinian woman - In a letter, leading rabbis call on Israelis to give to the legal fund of the minor accused of throwing the rock that killed Aisha Rabi in October. (Haaretz+)
  • Daughters of slain Israeli couple confront suspect in court - Shira and Ayelet Riva were teenagers when their parents, Emanuel and Miriam, were shot at point-blank range while visiting the Jewish Museum in Brussels. "Nothing is like it was," Ayelet says. Suspect Mehdi Nemmouche's lawyers blame attack on Mossad. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian partially demolishes home upon Israeli order - Mahmoud Omar Jaafreh demolished parts of his home to avoid being fined by the Jerusalem Municipality. Jaafreh that he had attempted to freeze the order and that he had the necessary license paper for building. (Maan)
  • Israel orders extended closure of Orient House; PLO: Jerusalem's Palestinian identity will outlive Israel's colonial occupation - Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member, Hanan Ashrawi, condemned the Israeli Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, who signed an order to extend the closure of the Orient House as well as several other Palestinian institutions in occupied East Jerusalem, on Thursday. (Maan)
  • 'Private settler farm': Israeli activists petition High Court to revoke West Bank nature reserve's status - The petition argues that the designation of Umm Zuka area as a reserve and a firing zone are mere pretexts that allow the state to legally remove Palestinians. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli forces detain secretary of Fatah in Jerusalem - Israeli forces detained Shadi Mutwar late Thursday evening as he was on his way back from a visit to (Palestinian) refugee camps in Syria. (Maan)
  • Erekat urges UN to prevent Israel from expelling international monitoring force from Hebron - PLO secretary general says move was coordinated with Trump: 'It may be a superpower but nobody will bend us.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Member Nations of Hebron Monitoring Force Slam Israeli Decision to Terminate Mandate - Foreign ministers of Norway, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and Turkey say Netanyahu's decision represents 'departure from Oslo accords,' deny observers were acting with an anti-Israeli bias. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. officially ends aid to West Bank, Gaza at Palestinian Authority's request - Move is linked to new U.S. law under which foreign aid recipients would be more exposed to anti-terror lawsuits. Decision sees end to $60 million in aid to PA security forces, which maintain relative quiet in West Bank. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maan)
  • Families of terror victims hail end of US security aid to Palestinians - US citizens whose loved ones were killed in a wave of suicide bombings during the second intifada welcome legislation that allows Americans to sue the Palestinian Authority over its involvement in terror attacks; in response, Abbas declines annual US security funding, leaving security cooperation with Israel hanging in balance. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • EU provides €2.37 million to support Palestinian farmers - The EU said, in a press release, that 241 Palestinian farmers and agro-businesses affected by Israeli occupation in the West Bank will benefit from this new contribution. This support will help the farmers relaunch, repair or replace damaged businesses through different activities including the acquisition of agricultural supplies, rehabilitation of land and other small infrastructure works. (Maan)
  • President of Malta visits Bethlehem, Ramallah - Malta’s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca started her official one-day visit to Palestine, on Thursday and she laid a wreath on the grave of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. (Maan)
  • Judge rules police can physically force suspect to unlock phone - District court judge allows Tel Aviv police to use 'reasonable force' on drug trafficking suspect to unlock his fingerprint-protected cellphone in order to search for evidence. Lawyers warn decision violates right to avoid self-incrimination. (Haaretz+)
  • Court orders release of 9 activists detained in Ethiopian-Israelis' protest against police violence - Police initially asked to extend their remand by six days, but judge said only 'minor incidents' occurred after mass demonstration. Activist leaders insist 'only 20 people out of 20,000 were making a mess.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Knesset prepares for mass-casualty event with 3-day course - The training, provided by the Israel Defense Forces Homefront Command, will allow the employees to serve as de facto first responders in major terrorist incidents or natural disasters • Course involves training on hydraulic tools in mock earthquake zone. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Recognizes Five Asian Men as Victims of Human Trafficking and Slavery - Workers’ rights groups have long complained about a lack of government supervision of agricultural employment; investigations into current cases are underway. (Haaretz+)
  • 'It's like building a synagogue in the Muslim Quarter' - The Al-Disi Mosque has been renovated after years of standing vacant on the cusp of the Old City of Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter, where local residents fear its planned reopening will disturb the peace and jeopardize the fragile status quo. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Mossad opens its doors even wider to disabled candidates - Spy agency already employs over 100 people with disabilities across all of its branches, including operational, technological and intelligence. Mossad director: This community "is a blessing for the organization, their families and the people of Israel." (Israel Hayom)
  • Erdogan Orders Release of Detained Israeli Arabs After Meeting Ahmad Tibi, Other MKs - Israeli Arab lawmakers travel to Istanbul to discuss arrest of three Israeli Arabs who came to Turkey for a kidney transplant. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • WATCH 'Artwashing:' BDS activists ramp up pressure on Eurovision 2019 in Israel - The movement sees Eurovision 'as artwashing - whitewashing through arts' of what it calls Israel’s decades-old regime of military occupation and colonialism, its co-founder Omar Barghouti told Reuters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Support for boycotting Israel is low in Britain, poll finds - The largest-ever poll on the popularity of the BDS campaign in Britain won't make the movement leaders happy. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Brazilian cartoon slams IDF soldiers helping with dam collapse - Following arrival of an Israeli delegation in Brazil to assist search and rescue efforts in the wake of the dam collapse in the country, Carlos Latuff publishes a cartoon showing IDF soldiers with blood on their hands; Israeli comic book artist Uri Fink retaliates with his own cartoon. (Yedioth/Ynet and Maan)
  • WATCH Ilhan Omar says U.S. should call out Israel like Iran, 'chuckles' when Israel 'upheld as a democracy' - Democratic Congresswoman made the remarks during an interview with Yahoo News. (Haaretz)
  • Trump’s peace plan goes into hibernation, but U.S. officials insist it’s on track - When will we find out if the skeptics were right, or if the administration has managed to surprise everyone? Probably not soon. (Haaretz+)
  • Iraq and Jordan reopen border crossing, boosting ties - As part of a deal signed between the two countries, Iraq will supply Jordan with 10,000 barrels of oil a day at a lower price. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran kicks off celebrations marking 40 years since Islamic Revolution - Tehran's buildings lit up in the national colors and helicopters dropped flowers to mark the day Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned home from France after 14 years of exile. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran unveils new long-range missile for Islamic Revolution anniversary - Islamic Republic appears to have expanded its ballistic missiles program despite US opposition as a presentation of a surface-to-surface missile with a range of 1,300 km marks the celebrations of 1979 revolution. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Europe launches non-dollar trade mechanism with Iran to skirt U.S. sanctions - Washington's major European allies opposed last year's decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Senate rebukes Trump, pushes legislation opposing abrupt withdrawal from Syria - Senate votes in favor of amendment drafted by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that Islamic militant groups in both countries continue to pose 'serious threat' to the U.S. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Despite international disapproval, Lebanon forms new coalition after months of deadlock; Hezbollah picks health minister - Hariri will face a big challenge in his third term as prime minister in trying to deliver reforms to address the dire state finances and unlock billions of dollars in pledged aid and loans to boost low growth. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Venezuela to sell 15 tons of gold to UAE in return for euros - The U.S., which is backing an attempt by the opposition to force Maduro to step down, warned bankers and traders not to deal in Venezuelan gold. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Mariah Carey shakes off boycott calls for her Saudi concert - Carey is the highest-profile star to perform in the kingdom since it began loosening decades of restrictions on entertainment. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
Palestinian Teen Hiking With Friends Was Killed in Israeli Army Ambush. He Posed No Danger
The soldiers hid behind the tallest oak tree in the valley. That’s where the six teenagers were headed, as they descended from their town, Silwad, northeast of Ramallah, into the deep, steep valley to hang out together on that Friday afternoon. On the way, they bought potato chips, sunflower seeds and chocolate, and they planned to boil water for tea over a campfire. Suddenly, without warning, a gunshot rang out. The teens had no idea where it came from. Ayman collapsed, rolling over and landing on his back. A bullet had sliced through his chest from the left, below his neck, and exited from his hip. When Mohammed tried to approach, to pull him out of the line of fire, another shot rang out. Mohammed was hit in the arm and ran for his life. Ayman lay on the ground, dying. (Gideon Levy and Alex Levac, Haaretz+)
Nazis' descendants delight in volunteering with Holocaust survivors
Alex Dietze was shocked when his grandfather gave him a Nazi medal for a birthday gift, but it prompted the young German and his wife to get involved in helping survivors in Israel. (Amir Alon, Ynet)
The pact on the ground
Most of the $38 billion in US military aid to Israel over the next decade has been earmarked for the Air Force and its vital role in defending the country, but the ground forces will not be left out, and can look forward to some new, state-of-the-art bases. (Yoav Zitun, Ynet)
 
Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
No to Netanyahu: Israel's Attorney General Made the Right Decision (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) Those who want to prevent the public from knowing the attorney general’s conclusions are obstructing democracy and belittling the people.
Whether he is innocent or not, Netanyahu is entitled to attack the police and the attorney general (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) The prime minister is allowed to criticize Mendelblitt, the prosecution and the police without being accused of "destroying the rule of law." History has already proven that these systems are not immune to mistakes.
Crime and Punishment for Israel's Left Wing (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) There are very few cases in Israeli politics in which justice is meted out as it is to the Labor and Meretz parties, which have abused their office and are now being punished.
Last Gantz saloon (Limor Livnat, Yedioth/Ynet) After a speech that ticked all the right boxes, made all the right noises and even included a contradictory statement or two, the former IDF chief still has to persuade voters that he is a fresh voice and time is running out.
Leftists, don't jump ship (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) Despite the deep desire of all those who hate Benjamin Netanyahu to finally see him ousted after so many difficult years, abandoning the left in this election to vote strategically would be a crime against conscience.
The battle over Israel's security
(Yaron Dekel, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu has based his political campaigns on the claim that he alone can defend the country, but he has a poor track record of running against generals, and this time he is facing a joint challenge from two or even three former Israeli army chiefs.
Everybody’s Corrupt but Netanyahu (Haaretz Editorial) The prime minister's attempt to delay a decision on the corruption indictments until after the election is the real ‘political interference’
Post-Netanyahu, Israel must shake up its judicial system (Daniel Friedmann, Yedioth/Ynet) While the prime minister is the last person to complain about rough treatment from the judicial system, it does some serious problems that need to be addressed. Imagine if Robert Mueller were also Donald Trump's adviser.
A military coup coming to replace Netanyahu (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Maybe it isn’t surprising that a system whose task is to fight Israel's real enemies rebels against Netanyahu, the expert in inventing imaginary foes.
If Gantz had prepared the IDF for Operation Protective Edge the way he prepared for his speech - we would have won
(Ben Caspit, Maariv) After the sulha (reconciliation) with (former chief of staff Gabi) Ashkenazi and the deal with (former chief of staff and new politician Moshe) Ya'alon, it’s hard to believe that not long ago center the center-left bloc looked like a group of dwarves against Gulliver. And also: Why Netanyahu should not be responsible for the National Cyber Authority. At an international cyber conference that took place here, Erel Margalit suggested transferring that responsibility to the Shin Bet during the election period. Margalit explained that what happened in the US, and also in Europe, in cyber-related election events. In America, the event is featured in the well-publicized investigation of Robert Mueller, who has already arrested most of Trump's advisers. Margalit shows the pattern of cyber intervention in the elections: an external body usually associated with an external government, collaborating with an internal party and distributing huge amounts of Fake News to divert public opinion, while hacking into the headquarters of the collaborator's political opponents from within. In the United States, this has helped Donald Trump to be elected. Will that happen again also in Israel? quite a few networks of bots and/or robots that spread the network through false propaganda have been identified. There is no problem in doing this in Israel, or breaking into Gantz’s or anyone else’s headquarters and obtaining explosive information that will be distributed later on WikiLeaks, or on another platform. This column recently reported that Gantz has already experienced, it is suspected, having had his computer system hacked.
Gantz owes his sudden ascent to 20th-century cult of generals and 21st-century 'reality-politik' (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) But his campaign may have blossomed too prematurely to yield the sweet fruit that Netanyahu's opponents crave.
Gantz needs Lapid to really takeoff (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) Teaming up with former chief of staff Ya'alon is not enough. Joining forces with Gabi Ashkenazi, and Knesset member Orly Levy-Abekasis would be helpful. But only teaming up with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid would boost Gantz's chances to bring dramatic change in the April elections.
Netanyahu's worst nightmare is a last-minute move by top rival Gantz (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Polling after Benny Gantz's debut this week showed that Netanyahu could be toppled – on the off chance that a certain megalomaniac politician is ready to play second fiddle.
Don't put too much stock in polls (Shimon Shiffer, Yedioth/Ynet) Begin and Peres didn't believe in polls, as they could be misleading, especially those released immediately following the introduction of new candidates like Benny Gantz. Are the polls predicting a major upset? I wouldn't bet on it just yet.
Netanyahu Recruits Israeli Army to Election Campaign as Pressure Mounts (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Some IDF commanders asked to be relieved from hosting the PM. Incitement against attorney general has reached a dangerous point.
An imaginary centrist messiah (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom)
The imaginary Center will eventually have to decide where it stands on controversial issues. But they don't want to. So what do they do? They obfuscate the messages and hope the public will swallow it. What does that say about how they view the people?
Yair Lapid, the Underdog Who Believes He's the Man to Unseat Netanyahu (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The slap he got in the army ■ The lengthy period as both a journalist and a politician (without full disclosure) ■ The crash as finance minister ■ The conviction that he’ll come back big-time ■ A chronology of the rise of Yair Lapid.
Ignoring the elephant in the room (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) The difference between the camp that strives for peace and the camp that blocks the peace process is one of night and day, of life itself. Israelis can't keep avoiding it to focus on candidates' personalities.
Unite to Change the Government (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Joining Yesh Atid isn’t enough. The center-left camp needs the Labor Party headed by Avi Gabbay by its side, and must expand its political ranks and reach out to more partners.
Same old game of musical chairs on the Left (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) As center-left parties continue to draw votes away from one another, the Likud must take note: Unify the Right, form a respectable Knesset list and work hard. These are the keys to electoral success.
Red Flags and Headscarfs: Clinging to Communist Past, Hadash Party Hopes to Reunite Israeli Arabs Behind It (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The party’s new Jewish representative Ofer Cassif is a radical firebrand sure to become the right’s favorite punching bag.
At least Gantz didn’t spew hatred (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) The most refreshing part of Gantz's speech is what it was missing: the incitement.
What if Netanyahu gave one speech that didn’t boost fanaticism and divisiveness? (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) Even after four terms as PM, U.S. Jews have heard plenty of ugliness and equivocations, but not what Netanyahu really believes on peace and war, religion and state. That makes advocating for Zionism in America that much harder.
Exciting Election? Israel Is Snoring (Salman Masalha, Haaretz+) Every election in recent years has been called 'crucial.' Parties pop up and disappear. Generals come and go. And the country still needs a new left.

Commentary/Analysis:
To understand Israel, look at its veneration of the dead (Eva Illouz, Haaretz+) One of the greatest paradoxes of Israeli national identity is that it draws strength from the lives that are lost in its name. This process has grown particularly twisted among radical settlers, who use death to generate meaning.
Protest, but don’t block the road (Udi Etzion, Yedioth/Ynet) Protesters find that it is easier to disrupt the lives of thousands of innocent drivers and passengers, with the consent of the police, than take their grievances to those truly responsible: the government; Those who disrupt the lives of so many people must pay a price, not be awarded with sympathy and understanding.
What Trump Should Have Learned From Netanyahu Before Eviscerating His Own Intel Chiefs (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Over the years, Netanyahu has had differences with defense officials over the Iranian threat. But he was never so openly hostile as the U.S. president. Israel's moves against Iran in Syria have almost reached their limit
Where are Palestinian politics headed? (Dr. Ido Zelkovitz, Israel Hayom) PA President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to show he is still powerful and can dismiss the government as a way of meeting political challenges at home and on the diplomatic front.
Police's convenience isn't a good enough reason to forcefully take suspect's fingerprint (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) Force must only be used as a last resort, not something the police hasten to approve as a matter of routine or of little importance.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day was a mistake (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The day of remembrance has been desecrated. For Corbyn, Sarsour and Netanyahu it's just political cover: have as many anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying friends as you like and still pretend to venerate Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The questions not being asked (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom)
Although U.S. President Trump looks set to present his much-discussed "deal of the century" in a matter of months, if not weeks, Israel's election campaigns have yet to focus on the diplomatic firestorm at our doorstep. Voters must demand answers.
The Absence of Strategy in Washington's Syria Policy (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) After disconnecting from the Syrian theater both militarily and diplomatically, Congress seems to have produced legislation that will likely not impact the conduct of the Syrian regime, but will certainly harm its civilians.
Ireland's surprise attack (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) Legislation recently passed by the lower house of the Irish parliament amounts to economic warfare against Israel and threatens Israelis, Palestinians and the Irish economy.
Tempted to Compare anti-Semitism With Anti-black Racism? Just Don't (Bentley Addison, Haaretz+) When white Jews ‘impersonate’ Black Americans to draw attention to the very real threat of anti-Semitism in America today, and its heightened effect on Orthodox Jews, it’s tactless, divisive, factually incorrect – and unnecessary.
 
Interviews:
Israeli Politics and SpongeBob: Conversations With Palestinian Security Prisoners
The rift between Fatah and Hamas, the suffocating conditions, canteen allowances and dental health: Over the past few months, Haaretz has visited several security wings in local prisons, observing the conditions of incarceration, speaking with prisoners, former prisoners, and current and retired prison guards. The prisoners of today talk about politics in Israel, about the chances of being released, about society’s attitude toward them and also about the conditions in prison. The latter issue has made headlines of late, most recently in light of the Israel Prison Service video footage that surfaced this week, showing a particularly brutal raid by warders – ostensibly in search of cell phones – at the Ofer, Nafha and Gilboa prisons, which reportedly resulted in the injury of dozens of inmates and some guards. That incident was preceded earlier this month by a declaration by Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan about plans to toughen prison conditions. It will likely take some time until his scheme is implemented, if at all. The security cabinet has yet to convene to discuss the matter, and one must also take into account a ruling by the High Court of Justice, to the effect that the current conditions in Israeli jails are inhumane. The chocolates in the prison canteens tell only a very small part of the story, and offer no hint of the repulsive conditions in which security prisoners are held. The walls of their cells are peeling, they eat their meals on their beds and the bathrooms are tiny and toilet-less, mere holes in the floor. And then there's the extreme overcrowding. The average cell that houses eight prisoners measures 19.5 square meters – under 2.5 square meters per person (the High Court ruled that 4.5 should be the minimum). There is a pervasive, suffocating feeling. (Interviewed by Josh Breiner in Haaretz+)

*Israel, Syria and the world through Iranian eyes
Smadar Perry has an illuminating conversation with an well-placed academic in Iran, who shares his thoughts on – and interest in – Israeli society, as well as the true powerbrokers of the Middle East, his own country and America's reversal on the nuclear agreement. (Interviewed by Smadar Perry in Yedioth/Ynet)

Pioneering Hajj Reporter Is (Literally) Charting a Path Toward Mideast Peace
This week at the Tel Aviv airport: Anisa Mehdi, an Emmy winner who believes hiking the Middle East could bring Israeli-Palestinian coexistence and works with The Abraham Path. (Interviewed by Liat Elkayam in Haaretz+)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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