News Nosh 6.19.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday June 19, 2019
Quote of the day:
"If we do not safeguard the fabric that binds us, we’ll fall into the abyss of hate that has destroyed our national home more than once.”
--Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that the internal rift in Israeli society is its biggest threat.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Rape of 7-year-old: Open case - Investigation starting over
  • #1 sword - He made history: Yuval Freilich became the first Israeli to win the European Championship in fencing
  • Expose - “Why are they harming a hero?” - Policeman Sergei Butzikin got a medal of courage after fighting a terrorist who murdered his friend. Soon his salary will be cut because he can no longer serve in combat after he was injured in the attack (Hebrew)
  • Expose - They are funding and not declaring - Members of the Judicial Appointment Committee are not required to declare conflict of interests that could affect them
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Education Minister Peretz: “Religionization? There’s secularization” - Minister just entered his position and already sparked a storm
  • Right-wing parties: unite // Tal Gilad
  • Further investigation in the rape case
  • Message to Teheran: Trump declared: “I’m read to act militarily to prevent nukes from Iran” And here: The ‘Adir’ combat jet and Israel Air Force practiced ‘war in numerous fronts’
  • Gaza, Iran - and the World Cup (soccer): Investigation against Platini reveals another part of the Qatari corruption puzzle

Top News Summary:
The Israel Police reopened the investigation into the alleged rape of a seven-year-old girl from an ultra-Orthodox settlement in the West Bank by a Palestinian man after questions arose and US President Donald Trump said he might use military force against Iran making top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news was the latest on who’s showing and who’s ditching Trump’s Bahrain conference, scheduled to take place next week.

After already indicting, 46-year-old Mahmoud Katusa, problems in the investigation and the lack of evidence in such a sensitive case has brought the top police investigator to take over and reopen the investigation. Until now, the indictment was based solely on the girl’s testimony and there is no evidence to back up the allegations. Moreover, the indictment left several questions unanswered regarding the location as well as the date of the attack, after it was revealed that the suspect presented an alibi for the date that was initially stated in the girl's testimony and afterward the prosecution removed the date from the indictment. According to the contractor, who testified as also employing Katusa: "The police initially accused him of carrying out the shocking rape on April 5," he said. "It was Friday, and on the same day the woman whose house he worked at painting the house testified that between 11:00 and 15:00 he was with her."

Maariv listed the following problems with the indictment of Katusa:
1. There is no document indicating that the child was indeed raped. There are also no forensic findings, DNA, etc.
2. The police have no clue as to whether there were two others involved in the rape, as the girl said.
3. The girl did not know how to give details about the defendant and the rape scene.
4. A woman [teacher at the school] testified that on the day and at the time of the alleged rape, on April 5, the defendant was in her home and in her presence [painting her house].
5. It is unlikely that an Arab forcefully dragged a screaming girl for fifteen minutes at noon in a crowded settlement, without anyone noticing.
6. The indictment does not include a specific date on which the rape was committed, and it states only that the incident took place sometime in February, March or April.

Haaretz and Ynet reported on these problems with the case:
1. The child interrogator said the victim's account was ‘weak and lacking’ and that she couldn't determine whether the child spoke honestly.
2. Shai Police (West Bank) station did the investigation without involving the Shin Bet, as is done in crimes involving Palestinians. Now the Shin Bet will be involved, particularly to locate the two other men the girl said were involved.
3. The Police failed to send underwear to a forensic test. It was found at the alleged site of the incident and the girl said was hers.

Maariv reported that the family of the girl requested from the far right-wing anti-Arab legal organization, Honenu, not to speak to the media in their name anymore and not to represent them legally anymore.

Katusa's Jewish employers and acquaintances are convinced of his innocence. An Ultra-Orthodox resident of the settlement who employed Katusa for years spoke to 103FM and said it wasn’t Katusa and the rapist is still free. (YouTube) “We do not want to underestimate the severity of the story. We are simply afraid here in the city that the attacker is still walking freely,” said ‘Yitzhak,’ not using his real name. (Maariv) Yaakov, the contractor who hired Katusa, said, "I know Mahmud for a few years. The guy is as straight as a ruler. Maybe there is one percent chance he is a pedophile, but I believe 99 percent that he is not. Neither the teachers nor the director of the institution where the girl is studying believe him to be guilty. How could he have crossed a military checkpoint with a 7-year-old?" the contractor wondered. "I believe almost 100 percent that he is innocent. There are many questions, for example, why did they say at first that he committed the rape on April 5, and then when there was evidence from the mother - the police changed their version?” (Maariv) Even the director of a yeshiva who knows Katusa said, "I don’t believe it. My stomach is turning upside down because Mahmud has been arrested." (Maariv)

After the Pentagon said it was deploying 1000 more troops in the Middle East region, following the attacks on the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, Trump called the attacks ‘very minor.’ Russia told Washington to drop the additional troop deployment or be at risk of war with Iran. And then in an interview to Time magazine, Trump said he would consider using military force against Iran to prevent nuclear weapons. Iranian President Hassan Rohani said his country wasn’t seeking war against any nation. That announcement came after announcing that Iran was breaking compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal due to US economic pressures.

'Deal of the Century': Referring to the Palestinian boycott of the Trump peace plan economic workshop in Bahrain next week, U.S. Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt said, "The Palestinians make decisions that are not beneficial to their people" and that if Trump’s peace plan fails “I will understand why.” Greenblatt made the rare statement in an interview with Channel 12 after a White House official announced there will be no official Israeli representation at the Bahrain summit next week in order to avoid making it 'political.’ (Also Maariv) There will be no Israeli officials attending, but there will be an ex-general.  Yoav Mordechai, former head of Israel's civil administration in territories who now heads an international consultancy company, will attend, Ynet reported. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel was maintaining overt and covert ties with Arab leaders and that the conference was very important. However, Haaretz+ wondered how much he meant that and what would be left of the Bahrain conference without Palestinian or Israeli officials and possibly no Israeli or international journalists. It also said big questions remained about the contents of the conference. Haaretz reporters said that “In Israel, and especially in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s circle, there has been a collective sigh of relief at the slow yet steady downgrading of the Bahrain workshop. behind the scenes, there are those who admit that the last thing Netanyahu needs right now, in the middle of an unexpected reelection campaign, is a peace plan.”

Quick Hits:
  • Cars Vandalized, Malicious Graffiti Sprayed in Palestinian Town - Residents of Deir Istiya reported suspected hate crime to Israeli police after graffiti that read 'stones=murder' and 'stop throwing stones' found and 23 cars vandalized. Non-profit organization Tag Meir, which combats hate crimes by Israelis, said, "four 'price tag' attacks in four days should set off a red light.” (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Israel Eases Gaza Maritime Blockade, Allows Fishing 10 Nautical Miles Out to Sea - Move comes less than a week after all fishing was banned 'until further notice' following launch of airborne firebombs. (Haaretz+)
  • Solution to the pollution from Gaza: Israel will build a new sewage line that will withdraw sewage from the Gaza Strip - For more than two years, the residents of Sderot and Shaar Hanegev have been dealing with a serious environmental hazard as a result of the discharge of sewage from Gaza into their territory. The solution: A 15-million-shekel sewage line that will absorb sewage from the Gaza Strip and prevent pollution of nature in the area. (Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israeli Education Ministry Forced to Translate Matriculation Exam Into Arabic - ‘Our students are being tested not only in geography but in Hebrew reading comprehension,’ says court petition. High Court justices reprimanded the Education Ministry on Tuesday for failing to provide Arab students with a full translation of a state exam in geography. (Haaretz+)
  • *Netanyahu, Rivlin urge ‘unity’ at memorial service for Altalena victims - President Rivlin: ‘We must not allow divisive discourse to wreck every green pasture. No one knows this better than the prime minister…The greatest threat to our country, even 70 years after the nation’s founding, lies within us…“Altalenic discourse rules Israel. An accusatory discourse that is at times superficial and violent….If we do not safeguard the fabric that binds us, we’ll fall into the abyss of hate that has destroyed our national home more than once.” Netanyahu said: “We are all committed to prevent a war among brothers. A difference of opinion is an inseparable part of democracy.” (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Multi-front IAF drill simulates all-out war, sends signal to Hezbollah - Four-day maneuver includes squadrons from across the Israeli Air Force, including F-35 fighter jets. "We are training for a war on several fronts simultaneously, with the focus being the northern sector," IAF officer says. (Maariv+VIDEO and Israel Hayom)
  • False Rocket Siren Sounds in Israeli Town Near Lebanon Border - The false alarm comes at a time of mounting tensions on Israel's northern border. (Haaretz)
  • Qatar sends technical experts to Israel, eyeing new Gaza power line - Qatar has in recent years funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into relief projects in Hamas' Gaza, which it views as helping stave off privation and fighting with Israel. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • 'Israel has dozens of nuclear warheads,' Swedish research institute claims - The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute names US, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea as nine countries to possess nuclear capabilities. Report alleges Israel is in possession of between 80 and 90 nuclear warheads. (Israel Hayom)
  • The administration of Ashkelon prison concedes to [mostly Fatah] detainees' demands - Palestinian Commission on Detainees' Affairs confirmed that (Israel’s) Ashkelon [Shikma] prison administration has begun implementing the requests detainees demanded in latest hunger strike [mostly of Fatah prisoners - OH]. The commission noted that the prison administration requested medical files of ill detainees to provide them with the appropriate treatments, it allowed relatives of all detainees to visit, and it abolished the ‘No Cafeteria’ punishment for some of the detainees. (Maan)
  • The cellular phone barrier system in the Ramon Prison was removed - to allow Hamas prisoners to use Bluetooth earphones - The barrier system disrupted the electronic devices in the prison, and at the end of the week it was removed after threats from prisoners. Senior security official: "Who runs the prison, the Prison Service or the prisoners?" Following the violent riot that took place three months ago, [when prison guards violently raided the cells when searching for cellphones, severely injuring prisoners, who  set fire to 14 cells and went on hunger strike in their demand to end the new cellular phone blocking system - OH], an unprecedented agreement was reached to provide the prisoners with public phones and keep in place the cellular phone blocking system. But, the Prison System re-operated the cellphone blocking system, despite promising to do so only after public phones were installed and they have yet to be installed. (Maariv)
  • In Rare Move, Israel's Top Court to Rehear Case on Denying Adulterous Woman Property Rights - In the 2018 ruling, High Court upheld a rabbinical court decision, by which a woman who cheated is not entitled in a divorce to half the value of the house the couple lived in. (Haaretz+)
  • Petition of Haaretz journalists: “Don’t publish Op-Eds by Natan Eshel" - 99 Haaretz and The Marker employees signed a petition following the publication of an Op-Ed (see Commentary/Analysis below) by Nathan Eshel in the newspaper's opinion section. Their claim: Because of the circumstances in which he left Netanyahu's office [sexual misconduct - OH], he should not be given a platform. Haaretz editor Amos Schocken and newspaper editor Aluf Benn declined to comment. (Yedioth and Ynet Hebrew)
  • Meretz Lawmaker Attacks Party Leader Over Fears for Future of Israeli Left Wing - Michal Rozin has thrown her support behind Nitzan Horowitz, who is challenging current party head Tamar Zandberg. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli Police Officer Who Photographed Revelers at Tel Aviv Gay Party to Be Disciplined - Two videos of partygoers engaging in sexual relations were also posted on social media, and party organizers claim it was the police who spread them. (Haaretz+)
  • Arizona approves budget for new trade office in Israel - Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signs off on a $275,000 budget for the new office, with $100,000 of it for initial setup funding. Arizona’s trade with Israel more than doubled since 2010 and a number of Israeli companies have operations in the Grand Canyon state. (Israel Hayom)
  • Egypt's ousted President Morsi buried in shroud of secrecy after courtroom death - Security agents turned reporters away from funeral and refused to allow burial at family cemetery ■ Muslim Brotherhood and UN calling for investigation into death. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • In dozens of mosques in Israel: prayers in memory of Morsi - In Umm al-Fahm, in Qalansawa and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, they held prayers in memory of the Egyptian Islamist president who was deposed and died in court. A mourners' tent will be established in Jaffa. "We are all proud of his path.” (Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israeli Arabs Mourn Morsi's Death, While Palestinian Factions Opt to Keep Mum - Israeli Arab lawmakers are demanding a probe into the sudden death of the former Egyptian president, but West Bank and Gaza prefer to eschew events in his honor. (Haaretz+)
  • Amnesty urges Egypt to investigate ousted president Morsi's courtroom death - Egyptian state television reports Morsi fainted after a court session and died afterwards. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Rockets hit Iraqi base hosting U.S. forces near Baghdad - U.S. officials said last month there was an increased threat from Iran-backed militias against U.S. interests in Iraq, and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad evacuated hundreds of staff. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Syria says it does not want to fight with Turkey as tensions mount over attacks - Since April, Syrian government forces have stepped up shelling and bombing of Idlib, killing scores of people. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • How One Tweet Claiming U.S. Rapper Bhad Bhabie's pro-Israel Got Her Jordan Show Nixed - The rapper's Amman show was scheduled for one day before her show in Tel Aviv, which is still slated to take place on July 9. (Haaretz+)
  • Qatar 2022 World Cup scandal: Former head of European football association detained for questioning - Michel Platini, the former head of European football association UEFA, was detained and questioned by French police on Tuesday over the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar. (Agencies, Haaretz)

These South African Jews Hate the Occupation as Much as They Hate BDS
After helping end apartheid, liberal Jews have turned to the occupation and formed South Africa’s answer to J Street | Part 3 of a special report. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
What does the Jewish-American liberal think about Judaism, anti-Semitism and Israel?
A new study shows that American liberal Jews think not just like other liberals, but not exactly like other Jews. (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv)
PHOTOS - Haaretz at 100 Capturing Journalism in the Moment: Day and Night at Haaretz
A special edition of Haaretz's Photo Blog celebrating the newspaper's 100th anniversary. (Daniel Tchetchik, Haaretz)
When Palestinian Arabs and Jews fought the Nazis side by side
12,000 Arabs from Mandatory Palestine volunteered for British Army in a largely forgotten chapter of history; Israeli researcher: They believed it necessary to postpone nationalist demands to fight as one against the Germans. (The Media Line, Ynet)
First They’ll Take Area C, Then They’ll Take the West Bank (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) What does it mean to roll one’s eyes? Well, in Hebrew it means to try to look innocent, to play dumb. The eye-roll has caught on and become policy. It’s the foundation on which the settlers have built their expansionist theory, which is based on building illegal outposts and creating a warped separation between systematic land grabs known as “settlements” and the "land grabs by chance" known as “outposts.” But this is all passé now. Now the time has come for the festival of the new glaring lie, the pinnacle of the settlement movement’s achievements: annexing Area C of the West Bank. What’s so bad about an annexation that would merely put most of the “legal” settlements and “consensus” blocs under Israeli sovereignty? Nobody wonders anymore about which law lets the settlements enjoy such status.
Loose lips sink ships (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) It seems that recently, the IDF feels it has to boast its abilities and brag about its accomplishments, even though history has shown us how dangerous such hubris can be. The IDF should focus on the missions at hand, and leave the flamboyant rhetoric to Nasrallah and his Iranian and Syrian patrons.
Morsi Symbolized the Triumph of Egypt's Revolution – and Its Collapse (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Mohammed Morsi's win in Egypt's first free presidential election was seen as the victory of democracy – until people realized that he had no intention of following through.
Bahrain has effectively been canceled (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) The Americans put the cart before the horse by announcing the Bahrain economic workshop before making sure that all parties involved would take part. The event scheduled for June 25 is now a business meeting, nothing more.
As its economy tanks, Iran may have to talk with America (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) The regime is growing desperate as the forecasts tumble from a bit of growth to deep bear territory, and other options just aren't there.
Israeli Support for Trump Clash With Iran Willfully Ignores Danger of Devastating Hezbollah Missile Attack (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Netanyahu puts country’s trust and fate in hands of impulsive president with little experience and no achievements.
Iran May Soon Try to Provoke Israel to Gain the Upper Hand in Its Conflict With the U.S. (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Intelligence assessments suggest that Tehran might initiate a provocation along one of Israel's borders in order to exacerbate the crisis, using one of the groups it operates in the region.
Without a plan and with burning lies: Netanyahu's status quo vision (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) He slams “the witch hunt against my wife” and the leaks from the investigations against him. But as far as the Gaza Strip is concerned, he is filled with tolerance and understanding, with a tactical wink of any eye saying ‘trust me.’
Israeli Leaders Like the Lowest Lehava Activists (Haaretz Editorial) On Monday it was reported that a Palestinian had been charged with kidnapping and raping a 7-year-old Israeli girl. The accused, a 40-year-old resident of Deir Qadis in the West Bank, who has an Israeli work permit and no criminal or security record, worked in a settlement as a cleaning and maintenance worker at the girl’s elementary school. Immediately after news of the incident broke and without a shred of proof that it was a terror act, senior Israeli officials, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, seized on it as if they had found some great political treasure.
Democracy vs juristocracy (Moshe Koppel, Israel Hayom) None of the constraints on the court taken for granted elsewhere exist in Israel. Those who hysterically argue against any limitation on judicial review are actually trying to create a juristocracy.
The Occupation’s Damage Has Reached Berlin (Eli Yassif, Haaretz+) The saga of Peter Schäfer, who recently resigned as director of the Jewish Museum Berlin after the institution tweeted its support for the freedom of expression of the movement to boycott Israel, is at its height, so it’s worth examining the controversy from several angles that will provide context. The first concerns the man at the center – the (non-Jewish) scholar of German Jewry, Prof. Peter Schäfer. For decades, he has been a full participant in Israeli conferences and studies and has cooperated with leading Israeli researchers. He has held senior academic posts in Berlin, at Princeton and at a prestigious German publishing house, promoting the study of European Judaism and providing exceptional support for the achievements of Israeli scholars. I can’t think of another non-Israeli scholar who has done so much to promote Jewish studies worldwide. Thus to depict him as someone who hates Israel and works against it goes far beyond stupidity. It's pure evil.
Haaretz Celebrates 100: A Letter From Publisher Amos Schocken (Amos Schocken, Haaretz) Haaretz is the strongest advocate for an Israel that is a liberal democracy living in peace with its Palestinian neighbors and that guarantees equal rights for all its citizens.

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Material evidence of Netanyahu's weakness (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) What the prime minister is trying to conceal in downplaying his criminal investigations is not any real proof of guilt, but rather the extent to which he is driven by his own unbridled impulses.
Israel’s Right-wing Must Stop Splintering – and Reach Out to the Arab Community ([Netanyahu confidante] Nathan Eshel, Haaretz+) I know that I will lose support and infuriate many good friends by what I’m about to write, but we must tie our fate to that of Israel’s Arabs. Most of the Arab community is interested in three things: education, the economy and personal security. As part of this common denominator we must build a shared life and set aside issues that have no solution in the foreseeable future. For hundreds of years, Jews lived in Muslim countries, flourished there, prospered and felt protected. Now that the situation is reversed and the Jews are the majority, there is no reason why the Muslim minority can’t live here in comfort and with full cooperation, including a partnership in leading the country. It’s precisely the Israeli right that can and should build a bridge to the majority of the Arab community. Over the past two years I have met with many Israeli Arab leaders who are not afraid of identifying with these goals. They feel that the Israeli left exploited them for decades and used them as political cannon fodder, and admit that what is being given to them by the right-wing government, in terms of budgets and respect, is something they never received in the past.
Netanyahu's message of unity (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The appointments of Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich to head the education and transportation ministries were intended to debunk the false impression that Likud's alliance with the religious-Zionist camp is falling apart.
The Israeli Opposition's Real Problem (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) If the leaders of Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party want change, there will be change. To our regret, however, they want to be Likud’s Siamese twin.
Labor must look back to go forwards (Amnon Abramovich, Yedioth/Ynet) The once great party that built the state should reinstate Amir Peretz as leader after the disaster wrought by Avi Gabbay, as the next generation of lawmakers are either too inexperienced, too delusional or too young.
Lieberman's declaration will lead him to be the big winner in the elections (Mami Peer, Maariv) If I were a moderate ultra-Orthodox, I would vote for the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu. Even more so were I a traditional person or a secular person and even a religious one who was fed up with ultra-Orthodox coercion.
Do an end-run around Yisrael Beytenu (Edith Druyan-Ohayon, Israel Hayom) The only way the Right can win the election and form a government committed to national values is if the parties to the right of the Likud forgo ego and run as a joint list.
Dianne Feinstein’s Billionaire Husband and His Love Affair With Israel
In a straight-talking conversation with Haaretz, Richard Blum refers to BDS as ‘bullshit’ and calls the Israeli prime minister a ‘jerk’. (Interviewed by Judy Maltz in Haaretz+)

Being a Mizrahi Woman in Israel: This Yemeni Author (who writes in English) Explains Identity Politics to English Readers
Ayelet Tsabari’s memoir, ‘The Art of Leaving,’ offers a rare narrative about a globe-trotting woman who flees home. Now that she has reconciled with her Yemenite roots and (partially) with Israel, she explains what drove her away. Her first published short story in English was about her military service and is an evocative example of her writing. While most Israeli writers who have written about the army describe their combat service and the collective national trauma of war, Tsabari writes about teenage angst and the rage she felt at being pushed around by commanders her own age. In one of the harshest parts of “The Art of Leaving,” Tsabari recounts the sexual harassment she suffered while serving in the army. She describes facing unwanted advances from a girlfriend’s father, and how the girlfriend subsequently accepted her father’s version of events and pushed Tsabari away. (Interviewed by Joy Bernard in Haaretz+)

'Bahrain peace conference 'not about buying Palestinians off'
In exclusive interview with i24NEWS, Trump's representative for international negotiations says Palestinian boycott peace efforts prompted administration not to invite Israeli officials to the in "Peace to Prosperity" workshop next week. (i24News and Israel Hayom)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.