News Nosh 6.5.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday June 5, 2019

Quote of the day:
"Above all, she was the face of Israel as we wanted it to be, as it was supposed to be."
--Yedioth's senior political commentator, Nahum Barnea, writes about Nechama Rivlin, wife of the President, who passed away Wednesday.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Ruvy’s Nechama, our Nechama - President’s wife will be laid to rest in the cemetery of the nation’s great
  • She returned home // Nachum Barnea
  • We were left without Nechama (Hebrew for solace): David Grossman, Renana Meir and her personal driver, Avi Makis, part from her
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • “We will miss you, Nechama” - Nechama Rivlin 1945-2019
  • Without affectations // Dani Neuman
  • Tragedy in Halilia village, north of Jerusalem: 4-year-old died in burning car
  • Celebratory project marking Maariv’s 71st anniversary
Israel Hayom

Top News Story:
Israel's prepared to part from its beloved first lady, Nechama Rivlin, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 73 after suffering from a lung condition for the past several years. The Israeli commentators could not help but compare her, subtly or outright, to the other first lady, Mrs. Sara Netanyahu. (See Commentary/Analysis below.)

Three years ago, Mrs. Rivlin wrote an Op-Ed published in Haaretz+ that eulogized her mother on International Women’s Day. She started it by saying, “It’s thanks to her that I look admiringly on all the pioneer women who came to Palestine-Eretz Israel in order to establish a state, which was only a dream when they arrived.” She ended the Op-Ed saying: “On this occasion I also salute the Arab women of my mother’s generation, who had a bond with the land and cultivated it, who raised their children with love, exactly like our mothers. Whenever I read a column by (Arab-Israeli columnist) Sayed Kashua about his mother, I think in my heart that it could have been written about my mother.”

Elections Quickees:

Netanyahu, Suspect in Three Corruption Cases, Is Now Israel's Justice Minister
The premier fired Ayelet Shaked, who failed to pass the electoral threshold with her Hayamin Hehadash party leader, Naftali Bennett.
Democracy in Netanyahu's Israel Under Greater Threat Than in Trump's America, Warns Lawfare Editor - Benjamin Wittes, one of the most sought-after commentators on legal affairs in Trump-era America, says Benjamin Netanyahu could wreak a lot of damage on the legal system in a very short space of time

Quick Hits:
  • Israeli Soldier Filmed Setting Fire to Field Near Palestinian Village Arrested - Police arrested soldier who is a resident of Har Bracha settlement in the West Bank, for arson on the field between the settlement of Yitzhar and the Palestinian village of Urif. He was filmed by a B’Tselem investigator committing arson while carrying his army rifle. (Haaretz and VIDEO)
  • Israel Delays Auction of Prefab Classrooms the EU Donated Palestinians - EU demands return of structures, while Israeli officials claim buildings were dismantled after being erected illegally, but offer to restore them was rejected. (Haaretz+)
  • Girl, 4, dies when trapped in burning car in West Bank Palestinian village - Rescue workers say child was pronounced dead once flames were extinguished in village close to settlement of Giv'on HaHadasha; family members treated for shock; police investigating circumstances of fire. (Ynet and Maariv)
  • For the third time, the PA refused to accept tax revenues from Israel - The crisis with Ramallah, which broke out after the government decided to deduct the salaries of terrorists from the tax money transferred to the PA, continues. In addition, the Palestinians stopped paying the Israel Electric Company. (Maariv)
  • EU Chiefs Tell Kushner: Peace Plan Has to Take Into Account Palestinians and Israelis' Aspirations - After keeping Europeans largely in the dark about plan, senior U.S. adviser meets European Commission president and EU foreign policy chief in Brussels. (Haaretz+)
  • A number of European countries invited to the conference in Bahrain did not respond to the US invitation - The attempt to jump-start the "deal of the century" encountered another challenge, after countries on the continent invited to the summit did not respond to the invitation. The background - lack of faith in the plan and the tension between the US and the EU. (Maariv)
  • Israel Denies Arming Myanmar. But Its Officials Are Still Visiting a Tel Aviv Arms Expo - In 2017, the High Court ruled against selling arms to Myanmar and since then Israel claims it stopped providing them to the country accused of committing ethnic cleansing. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Gaza terrorist groups replenish rocket arsenal - Hamas, Islamic Jihad’s rocket supplies are back up to a level last noted before the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, The Wall Street Journal reports. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Israel’s Newly Elected State Comptroller Meets With Convicted Rabbi to Be Blessed - Matanyahu Englman, who was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s candidate, met with a former chief rabbi who was convicted of fraud. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Taxmen Pondering New Ways of Collect Money From the Public - Proposals include cracking down on exemptions for new immigrants. (Haaretz+)
  • Tel Aviv University Refuses to Reject Donations From Sackler Family Embroiled in Opioids Crisis - Columbia University and Guggenheim Museum are among institutions not accepting new donations from family members behind company that makes OxyContin. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Tycoon Hired Black Cube to Spy on ex-Finance Minister Lapid, Report Says - Idan Ofer hired the controversial intel firm in 2014 to dig dirt on the Treasury and other officials in order to influence tax policy, investigative TV show 'Uvda' reports. (Haaretz+)
  • Did an Israeli-Argentine Businessman Help Venezuela’s Maduro Stash His Fortune? The U.S. Is Investigating - Colombian newspaper reports that U.S. authorities are investigating Diego Adolfo Marynberg's role in Nicolas Maduro's money movements. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Amazon's Fleet, Delivering to the Entire World, Begins Its Journey in Tel Aviv - Israel Aerospace Industries takes used passenger jets and converts them to cargo use for the retail giant, that shocked the local industry when it started operations here. (Haaretz+)
  • Jewish Groups Set to Protest Reading of Children's Book 'P Is for Palestine' at New Jersey Library - Critics of the book took particular issue with a page that reads: 'I is for Intifada, Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or a grownup!' (Israel Hayom)
  • PM rebukes Omar, Tlaib after they request help for BDS activist - Netanyahu says radical anti-Israel congresswomen are "antithesis to the strong support for Israel” in Washington. The two were among the signatories of letter asking Israeli government to renew visa for Human Rights Watch Israel Director Omar Shakir. (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Corbyn visited Arafat in 2002 - The British Labour Party leader visited the besieged PLO president at the height of the Second Intifada, when dozens of suicide bombings struck Israeli cities, to show solidarity with the Palestinians. (Ynet)
  • Israel expects U.S.-mediated Lebanese sea border talks in weeks - Formally at war since 1948, the neighbors have long disagreed on border demarcations in the eastern Mediterranean, an issue that gained prominence in the past decade when large deposits of natural gas were found there. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Satellite Images Show Damage From Alleged Israeli Strike on Iranian Base in Syria - Newly released photos reveal the attack on the T-4 base near Homs targeted specific, portable elements that are likely part of an advanced UAV weapons system. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran: Israel fabricating evidence against us in the UN - "Israel is conveying false and fake information to the Security Council… in order to negatively influence the council's reporting mechanism," Iran's deputy U.N. ambassador alleges. "The Iranian house of lies will crumble sooner or later," says Israel's U.N. ambassador. Khamenei: Iran will continue resisting the U.S. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Sources say U.S. seeks Russian support on Iran at key Israel meeting - During a rare three-way meeting between Israeli, American and Russian national security advisers in Jerusalem later this month, the White House officials are expected to put forward a plan on how to deal with 'the primary irritant in the Middle East - the Islamic Republic.’ (Agencies, Ynet and Maariv)
  • UN: Syrian Fighters Burning Crops, Using Food as 'Weapon of War' - Russia halts UN Security Council statement on Syria's Idlib ■ Fighting rages in Idlib in past week ■ UN: 3 million people caught in crossfire ■ Hundreds of ISIS relatives leave camp in northeast Syria. (Haaretz)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
As Rivlin Mourns the Love of His Life, Liberal Israelis Pray He Retains the Strength She Gave Him to Confront Netanyahu (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+)  Nechama Rivlin’s graceful tenure as first lady stood in stark contrast to the pathetically pretentious airs of the prime minister’s faux-royal family.
Smotrich and Lieberman have joined forces (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) Bezalel Smotrich is afraid of the serious attempts being made in recent days to unify the religious-nationalist camp, which is why he is helping Avigdor Lieberman stir the hornet's nest of religious-secular divisions.
Time to Unite the Left (Haaretz Editorial) The opportunity that has been created for a possible change in leadership, and to stop the right from moving ahead on extremist plans to annex territory in the West Bank and destroy the judiciary, makes it essential for supporters of peace and democracy to unify their ranks ahead of the September 17 election. At the very least they must prevent an unnecessary, dangerous squandering of votes for parties that fail to meet the minimum quota for getting into the Knesset, as happened to the smaller right-wing parties in the last election.
Netanyahu Might Need a War Before the Election (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The three months of waiting for the election is a dangerous period. Ostensibly we have a transitional government with limited authority, but it still has enough maneuver room to harm the country's stability and security. The conventional wisdom is that embarking on a war or a major military operation is risky for a leader’s political future. The saying that it’s easy to get into a war but harder to get out of one is especially true before an election. The thing is, the country is now run by someone whose only consideration is how to stay out of prison.
Russian-speaking Israelis: An untapped electoral treasure trove (Ariel Bolstein, Israel Hayom) Russian-speaking immigrants want to help shape the country's future and bear responsibility for its fate. The political entity that identifies this aspiration and truly integrates them will discover an electoral treasure trove; not just in the next election but for generations to come.
After standing bravely in the face of the ultra-Orthodox blackmail, Lieberman can for the jackpot (Menachem Ben, Maariv) After his heroism, Lieberman must turn to his natural reservoir of votes - and reap the fruits of his latest moves.
Why are Israeli liberals suddenly courting a far-right nationalist? (Edo Conrad, +972mag) Liberman’s political maneuvering may just bring about King Bibi’s downfall, but that doesn’t mean secular liberals should forget the reasons they opposed him all these years.
Kahol Lavan’s Mission (B. Michael, Haaretz+) There are growing calls for Yair Lapid to give up his rotation agreement with Benny Gantz. This is a wise and necessary demand. Firstly, the agreement was strange and unnecessary from the outset. Secondly, voters don’t like to choose half-leaders. Thirdly, Lapid’s proximity to the lofty seat is too difficult for Haredi lawmakers to accept and prevents any chances of launching a dialogue with them. But Lapid must give it up mainly because he’s about as deserving of the title of prime minister as that of NBA champion. For seven years he’s been in politics and it seems he has never succeeded in moving beyond the confines of groveling mediocrity. Lapid needs not only to give up on rotation but also one of the holy cows he has embraced: conscripting the ultra-Orthodox. It’s time to do away with the “equal burden” slogan.
More irresponsible separatism by the Right (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) Despite statements about having learned their lesson, leaders of the unsuccessful right-wing parties are going to do the same thing in September that they did in April, putting both the right-wing camp and the nation as a whole at risk.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Israel Needs More Real People Like the President's Late Wife Nechama Rivlin (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) When you saw Nechma and Ruvi together, you could believe that not everything in Israel had been wrecked, that all was not lost.
*Going back home (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) Nehama Rivlin's heart and mouth were equal. Who she loved and what she loved were without end. Those she despised the things she loathed, she despised without end. She was so genuine in her attitude to people, so direct, that those who loved her - and I was one of them - were concerned that the (diplomatic) restraint required of the wife of a president would make life difficult for her. We were wrong about her, of course. She was a wonderful first lady, a beam of light and warmth to all those who had a difficult life or circumstances and she was an example to all Israelis. Above all, she was the face of Israel as we wanted it to be, as it was supposed to be. Every high-ranking guest at the President's Residence, every head of state who hosted the President and his wife in his palace, immediately joined her, without ceremony. Her directness, so rare in a diplomatic and political environment, captivated every heart. She was born in one of the most rooted moshavim in the country, Herut in the Tel Mond area, from which she brought the love of the land, the vegetation, the flowering, and the knowledge of the land. A blooming tree spoke to her. Money did not speak to her, nor did gifts from strangers' money.
The bombing in Syria was meant to prevent an Gaza scenario in the Golan Heights (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) The unusual (strong) response to the rocket fire on the Israeli Mt. Hermon was intended to prevent the northern border from being transformed into another border of daily confrontation, such as on the Gaza border.
The Jews have never been ruled by Jewish law (Chen Sror Artzi, Yedioth/Ynet) Other than creating headlines for far-right MK Bezalel Smotrich, talk of Halacha a system of laws is unrealistic and undesired for most Israelis, for a Jewish and democratic state must aspire to values of equality and civil rights.
At Odds With Military, Netanyahu Uses Gaza Fishing Zone for Collective Punishment (Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz+) In recent months, following border escalations, fishing has become a lever for pressure on Gaza residents, who rely on it as a major stable of the economy.
Russia has unexpected message for Iran on Syria (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The fight over control of strategic assets in Syria has gone up a notch after Russia expels pro-Iranian militias from Tartus port, ahead of Russian-American-Israeli summit over future of Syria and recognition of the regime by US, Israel in exchange for restricting Iranian activity in the country.
Israeli Arab Actor Finds Quiet, and a Booming Career, in Europe
Yousef Sweid, who in his latest role plays an Israeli army officer on a fictional soap opera, says that unlike Israel, in his new home in Berlin 'the political thing and my national identity are not the main subject.’ (Interviewed by Nirit Anderman in Haaretz+)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.