News Nosh 3.14.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday March 14, 2019

Quote of the day:
"Netanyahu, your devotion to the mission was the symbol of your strength as a soldier and a commander. Now, when the goal is only your personal survival, that ability has turned into a double-edged sword being stabbed into all of our bodies, right-wing and left-wing alike."
--Avshalom 'Abu' Vilan, who once fought in the army alongside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calls out against Netanyahu's incitement against the left-wing and asks him to think about the good of the state and not preserving his seat.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The shame of the public transportation - State Comptroller report
  • Special - “We understood that no one is protecting us” - Female prison guards say: This is how we became tools of the senior prison officials and were sent to be sexually harassed by the security prisoners
  • The Golan is no longer “occupied territory”
  • Diana was murdered in Lod - 13 years after her mother was murdered
Maariv this Week (Hebrew links)
Israel Hayom
  • Document: Barak’s complaint against Ashkenazi at the police in 2014 - New revelatiosn in the affair that got the former chief of staff (Gabi Ashkenazi) in trouble
  • Signal from the US: recognition of the Golan // Ariel Kahane
  • The transportation failure: “Traffic jams will double”
  • The (Independence Day) torch lit by a Diaspora representative: The voice that broke the heart of Minister Regev
  • The smoke and the punishment: Israelis smoked near a plane - and were given an enormous fine
  • #2 in Feiglin’s ‘Zehut’ party: Rabbi Amsalem: “Drugs, I don’t recommend”
  • Judge suspected in Effi Naveh affair: Eti Karayoff

Elections 2019 News:
Two party leaders exchanged verbal blows and the High Court debated the disqualification of far-left and far-right parties and members, after the Attorney General weighed in with his own views.

After New Right leader, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, said Kahol-Lavan co-leader Benny Gantz was “the wet dream of Hamas’ people,” Gantz said, “An education minister who compares Hamas and the High Court of Justice cannot remain in office for even another minute. They don’t even need to bring the Kahanists into the Knesset. They themselves are like that.” And later, (as if to make clear he was no Hamas wet dream) Gantz said he would resume targeted killings in Gaza if Israel were attacked.

After the Central Elections Commission disqualified far-left Jewish Hadash party candidate, Ofer Cassif, and Arab parties, Ra’am and Balad, and permitted far-right Kahanists of the Otzma Yehudit party, Michael Ben-Ari and Itamar Ben-Gvir, to run, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt urged the High Court reverse those decisions: He called to disqualify Ben-Ari and Ben-Gvir on grounds of incitement to racism against Arabs (Maariv) and allow Cassif and the Arab Raam-Balad party list to run. On Wednesday, the High Court began hearing the petitions for and against disqualifying  Cassif, the Arab Ra’am-Balad party and the mostly Arab Hadash party. Mendelblitt said that Cassif’s and Ra’am-Balad’s statements and activities were highly troubling, but did not reach a “critical mass of evidence” to support the claim that they support terror or reject “Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state.” In contrast, Mendelblitt said that Ben Ari’s main purpose and message in running was itself racism against Arabs, which means that he should be disqualified. On Wednesday, when the High Court heard arguments in favor and against disqualifying the left-wingers and the the mostly-Arab Hadash-Ta’al list, far right-wing politician, Ichud Leumi party leader Betzalel Smotrich, yelled at High Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut. While a full bench of nine justices heard arguments to bar Cassif from running due to comments equating Israel with Nazis, Smotrich made comments in a loud voice and Hayut asked him to be quiet. Smotrich yelled at the Chief Justice that she needed to respect him as an MK and to stop disrespecting the Knesset. Hayut responded that while it might be customary for people to interrupt each other and shout in the Knesset, it was forbidden in the court, where only lawyers could speak. Afterward, right-wing and left-wing activists yelled and pushed each other in the court halls, JPost reported. (Also Haaretz+) The court called Cassif’s statements ‘very grave’ and suggested he recant. On Thursday, the court heard arguments for and against the disqualification of the leaders of Otzma Yehudit. Ben-Ari’s lawyer insisted that his client was not racist, but that he only supported those who were ‘loyal’ to the State. JPost reported that Arab Justice George Kara asked Michael Ben-Ari and his lawyer, “Who decides about loyalty? Does Ben-Ari decide?" The Arab justice also asked what Ben-Ari's criteria were for deciding whether he thought Arabs with Israeli citizenship were loyal to the state or whether he would brand them as traitors, as he has. The High Court's decisions will be published Sunday.

Election Quickees:
  • Rightists are angry at (actress) Yael Abeksis: "Her words testify to ignorance" - The political establishment did not remain indifferent to the actress's statement that “Right-wingers today don’t represent humane (conduct)…All the racist votes come from there.” Minister Akunis (Likud): "The leftists once again prove the real, contemptuous and condescending attitude towards Likud supporters in general and the right-wing in particular”; MK Smotrich (Ichud Leumi): "Thank you for giving us more mandates.” (Maariv)
  • President Rivlin: "These are turbulent days, the discourse is extreme and the borders are blurring" - The President of the State delivered a speech at the State Memorial Service for fallen soldiers of Israel whose burial place is unknown, and noted that "we must do everything in order to bring all the sons back to the be buried in Israel.” (Maariv)
  • Bibi or Benny? Palestinians in West Bank Refugee Camp Fear Israeli Election Will Bring More of the Same - Even a man defending the prime minister's integrity against the corruption charges argues that, whether it's Netanyahu or Gantz, Israelis only think about power. (Haaretz+)
  • Document: Barak went to police over Ashkenazi's conduct
  •  - Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak wrote damning letter to National Fraud Unit to warn that ex-IDF chief and current Knesset candidate must be prosecuted because he undermined elected echelon, document reveals. Blue and White: Allegations are rehashed. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gal Gadot demands Labor Party remove her photo from election campaign ad - 'Wonder Woman' actress says the party used the image without her consent. (Haaretz+)
  • Police investigating attempted identity thefts ahead of election - Central Election Committee receives calls from worried citizens reporting that anonymous callers claiming to be from the committee tried to get them to hand over their ID numbers • Committee warns public that it never contacts voters directly. (Israel Hayom)
  • Likud: Peace advocacy group illicitly campaigning for Left - Likud asks Central Election Committee to ban Darkenu's online activity, saying group has not officially declared itself political entity by law • Likud: Darkenu is like V15 in 2015, serving as the Left's de facto grassroots operational arm. (Israel Hayom)

Other News Summary:
The other top news was the scathing report highlighting a decade-long failure of public transportation in Israel and, for the first time, the US State Department did not refer to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as ‘occupied’ in its annual human rights report. This comes shortly after US Senator Lindsey Graham's comments that the Golan isn't disputed territory and that the US administration should recognize it as Israel. Syria responded to the senator's call, saying that the Israeli occupation will eventually end.

And what didn’t get much traction in the Hebrew media, was that, following the UN report alleging that Israel may have committed war crimes when Israeli soldiers intentionally fired at demonstrating civilians, Israel is opening a criminal investigation into the deaths of 11 Gazan demonstrators mentioned in the report. (This comes despite Israel’s rejection of the report’s conclusions - something that did make the news. - OH)
Quick Hits:
  • J Street to Offer Competing Free Trip to Israel for Those Fed Up With Birthright - First trip, in July, will include visits to Palestinian cities and an Israeli settlement; organizers believe it’s the kind of ‘nuanced trip that our generation wants to go on.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Two 15-year-old boys suspected of firebombing Temple Mount police post - 17 more Palestinians arrested on suspicion of disturbing police. Temple Mount opened to worshipers on Wednesday without incident. (Haaretz+)
  • Christians condemn acquittal of suspected Jerusalem vandals - Wadie Abunassar, an adviser to church leaders in the Holy Land, says court's decision to acquit those suspecting of sprawling anti-Christian graffiti on Dormition Abbey several years ago is "unacceptable." They weren't "brought to justice," he says. (Israel Hayom)
  • New report: 26% of all households in Israel are below or close to the poverty line - The Adva Center publishes a study that examines the upper margins of the poverty line, in which 13.5% of Arab households reside, and 7.2% of Jewish households - 22% of which are Ethiopian. (Maariv)
  • Threats mounting against witnesses in Netanyahu corruption cases, state prosecutor warns - Law enforcement believes removing the gag orders will increase the pressure on the two, who had been Netanyahu’s close associates. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli-Arab lawmaker appeals closure of case against cops suspected of shooting him - Appeal charges police were 'trigger-happy' the day of the incident in which Ayman Odeh claimed he was hit in the head and injured by a sponge-tipped bullet. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli group honors Nikki Haley with coin - A group calling itself the Sanhedrin is behind the coin emblazoned with the face of Nikki Haley, US President Trump’s pro-Israel UN ambassador; Proceeds to ‘go to construction of third temple;’ Earlier, group minted coin with Trump alongside ancient Persian King Cyrus. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Fact-checking Netanyahu’s claim that Israel is the nation-state of Jews alone - As far back as 1996, the Supreme Court ruled there was no contradiction between Israel's identity as a Jewish state and a state of all its citizens. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli woman who was raped abroad recognized as terror victim - N. was visiting the Netherlands when she was raped by a Palestinian man who called her a "stinking Jew" • Defense Ministry denied her claim. Tel Aviv District Court ruled government must award N. the benefits given to other victims of terrorism. (Israel Hayom)
  • Protesting award to Robert Kraft amid prostitution scandal, Genesis Prize board member quits - Prof. Rivka Carmi tenders resignation citing frustration and disappointment to proceed with honoring the New Englands Patriot owner, recently charged with soliciting prostitution. (Haaretz+)
  • Syrian flag placed opposite Knesset as gesture of goodwill - As part of 9th annual Jerusalem Marathon, the city's municipality decided to place flags of all 80 countries participating in the event — and by sheer coincidence, the flag of Israel's war-torn neighbor ended up outside the parliament building. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israel's third-largest bank to pay $195 million over helping clients evade taxes - Bank engaged in schemes to hide clients’ funds so they could avoid paying U.S. income taxes between 2002 and 2012, according to Justice Department. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Turkish, Israeli name-calling covers 'tyrant' to 'dictator' - Netanyahu described the Turkish president as a ‘dictator’ committing ‘genocide against the Kurds’ in response to Erdogan calling the Netanayhu a ‘thief’ in reference to corruption allegations he’s facing. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Satellite Images Show Missile Manufacturing Plant in Army Compound in Northern Syria - Facility near Lebanese border is likely Iranian, intelligence report says. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • U.S. Senate Rebukes Trump on Saudi, Votes to end support for Saudi war in Yemen - Democrats and Republicans reintroduced the resolution two weeks ago as a way to send a strong message to Riyadh - and to Trump - about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Sen. Bernie Sanders: U.S. should not be supporting a "catastrophic war led by a despot."(Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Florida bill defines anti-Semitism, prohibits discrimination - House bill to outlaw dehumanizing or stereotypical allegations about the Jewish community or comparing the policies of the State of Israel to those of Nazi Germany, as well as "criticizing collective power of the Jewish community," approved unanimously. (Israel Hayom)
  • Sanders aide apologizes for dual-loyalty remark about Jews - "In a conversation on Facebook, I used some language that I see now was insensitive. Issues of allegiance and loyalty to one's country come with painful history," said Belén Sisa, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' national deputy press secretary. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran warns Israel of firm response if oil shipments targeted - After Netanyahu said navy could act against oil 'smuggling.' Iran's defense minister says such intervention would be considered "piracy" and the Iranian military has capabilities to protect shipping. (Haaretz, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • US aims to cut Iran oil exports by 20% starting in May - Sources say goal is to cut Iranian oil exports to under 1 million barrels per day. Customers will be required to reduce purchases to comply with U.S. sanctions. Administration fears total shutdown of Iranian oil would send global prices skyrocketing. (Israel Hayom)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu vs. the left-wing - How doesn't his hand shake? (Avshalom 'Abu' Vilan, Yedioth) Binyamin Netanyahu, Shalom. We have known each other over almost a jubilee of years, part of them under fire during military operations that have never been revealed. Because of this, even when I criticized your conduct and decision-making, I was always careful not to express doubt in your sense of commitment to the country and its security. But the wild incitement now that you are leading in the last few weeks against the left-wing, to which you have added the Attorney General and the judicial elite, raises the suspicion that despite your important contribution to the state - its good is no longer in your sight...I admired you very much for your way of conducting battle and your expansive military perspective. Yet, the wild incitement against the left-wing through which you are trying to preserve your rule is foreign fire whose end will crack Israel's democracy into pieces. How doesn't your hand shake from the de-legitimization you are trying to do against the left-wing, half of the Israeli public, 'the enemies of Israel'? You must remember that the one who saved you from death in the Suez Canal was Amatzia Ben-Haim (RIP), a member of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and a leftist, who was killed later by a terrorist in Gush Katif. Also your good friend Haim Ben-Yona (RIP) was a leftist, a member of Kibbutz Yechiam. I am familiar with the secrets of politics, the American techniques of isolating and of the base and the rest of the various election maneuvers. But we are not in America. The strongest democracy in the world will survive Trump and others. It is in doubt that Israel, with all its tribes and citizens, will survive the wild incitement whose only purpose is to get another Knesset seat or two, in order to reach 61 members of Knesset and more. Netanyahu, your devotion to the mission was the symbol of your strength as a soldier and a commander. Now, when the goal is only your personal survival, that ability has turned into a double-edged sword being stabbed into all of our bodies, right-wing and left-wing alike. Your hatred and incitement will become unbearable. I know that you are in a legal battle, which from your point of view is to be or not to be, and in its framework, all means are acceptable - but I hope that when you are alone late at night, you will do the soul-searching and ask what is really important to the State of Israel. What brings broad consensus among us about the question of what is life and, when there is no choice, what do we die for. Those are more important things than how much time you will continue to serve.
Yes to the Arab Slate, No to the Kahanists (Haaretz Editorial) The Supreme Court should reject any effort to draw a symmetry, a comparison of 'the extremists on both sides.’
Moshe Feiglin is already the winner (Yaron Dekel, Yedioth/Ynet) The ultra-nationalist is drawing crowds in leftist, secular Tel Aviv, with his separation of religion and state and promises to legalize marijuana, but these ostensibly liberal policies hide a draconian attitude to Israel's Arabs.
The Israeli Opposition Must Follow This Model's Lead (Ehud Barak, Haaretz+) Martin Luther King once said, 'The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.' We must not find ourselves there.
This election cycle is full of strategy but devoid of values (Ariela Ringel Hoffman, Yedioth/Ynet) Everyone is talking about voting tactically on April 9, but this is costing Meretz and Labor a dangerous chunk of its electorate; the public is exhausted, and this election season is void of all ideology; is a real leader with real values too much to ask?
Forget Marijuana, Feiglin’s Been Smoking Some Pretty Strong Ideological Stuff (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) His Zehut Party offers a bizarre platform of Torah, Milton Friedman and Meir Kahane. On paper it doesn’t make sense and in the real world, it would be a disaster.
When the center moves wildly to the right, Judge Meltzer goes it with it (Ran Edelist, Maariv) The problem with Ofer Cassif (of Hadash party), as with Michael Ben-Ari (from Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party), is that they take their truth to the end. The first was jailed when he refused to serve in the (Palestinian) Territories, he lectured at the Hebrew University and served as a combat soldier in the Nahal paratrooper brigade. Putting him against Ben-Ari the test of the normative and enlightened world community is embarrassing and shameful for the entire State of Israel. And that’s where the head of the Central Elections Committee, High Court Justice Hanan Meltzer, comes in. In the days of defensive democracy, he refused to use his own voice to rule in the case of the (Arab) Balad party, Ofer Cassif, the Otzma Yehudit party, and Michael Ben-Ari. Meltzer was always a consensual type. Now, as the center moves wildly to the right, he moves with it.
What a Netanyahu Election Victory Will Mean for American Jewry (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) The prime minister’s religious coalition partners are inching toward supporting a law that will shield him from indictment; non-Orthodox Jews will pay the price if such legislation passes.
Gaza awaits a new Israeli government (Doron Matza, Israel Hayom) For now, Israel will likely tread carefully. But after the election, it will have to choose whether to play according to Hamas' rules and get dragged into a confrontation or change them and impose its will.
The left-wing parties must demand the education portfolio in the next term (Yuli Tamir, Maariv) Most of the people who want the education portfolio now want to ditch the secular system, and if it does not stop now, we will be in an impossible situation right after the election campaign.

Netanyahu Isn't the Problem. The Israeli People Are (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The apartheid did not start with him and will not end with his departure.
Are Jewish Lives More Threatened by the Left or the Right? That's the Wrong Question (Petra Marquardt-Bigman, Haaretz+) There's just one problem with the entire debate about whose anti-Semitism is worse: neither are the post-WWII source of the abuse and murder of the most Jews. That distinction belongs to Islamists.
Fear and loathing at IDF checkpoints (Douglas Altabef, Israel Hayom) It seems inconceivable that foreign nationals would be allowed to harass soldiers protecting their own country, and would face no pushback, yet until recently this was the reality in Israel.
Netanyahu Outfoxed Russia, Iran and ISIS With His Cynical, Ruthless Syria Policy (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) If Netanyahu has one valid claim to remaining in office, it’s his Syria policy and the fact he was one of the first world leaders to recognize the threat of ISIS.
Public criticism, private cooperation (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) Jordan's king knows he can get away with slamming Israel at every turn because, behind the scenes, Israel will still do all it can to keep his teetering regime from crumbling and falling into the hands of the Islamists.
With Gaza a Priority, Israel Seeks to Quell Temple Mount Tensions (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Meanwhile, Israeli defense officials say Assad has no idea what Hezbollah is doing under his nose in the Golan Heights.
Walking a fine line between the Bedouin and the Palestinians (Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom) The Arab Spring largely passed Jordan by, in part because the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood supported King Abdullah, who now has to juggle the contradictory demands of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Bedouin and the country's Palestinian majority.

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