News Nosh 11.26.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday November 26, 2019

Quote of the day:
"Therefore, sir, liberate not only the state, but yourself, and as a man who has worked very hard in the service of the people and won all the honors and all the curses, a horizon of life full of interest and full of intellectual and artistic challenges you did not know will open before you."
--Author A. B. Yehoshua pens a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu encouraging him to step down.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • “Netanyahu is not required to resign” ruled the Attorney General
  • Release yourself // A. B. Yehoshua (Hebrew)
  • “Salary within 48 hours or we will shut down the theater” - Expose - the ultimatum of the actors of Habima national theater (Hebrew)
  • The theater is full, the cash register is empty // Sandra Sadeh (Hebrew)
  • Unemployment is at the lowest in 41 years - but the number of employed is decreasing
  • The senior doctor suspected of “black market medical services” was arrested
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Attorney General: Netanyahu can serve as prime minister
  • The indictment and the deadlock - Tonight in Tel-Aviv: Support rally for Netanyahu; (Gideon) Saar: “The Likud is not under anyone’s ownership, it is my right to run”
  • Netanyahu is right, Saar is right // Mati Tuchfeld
  • The right-wing bloc and the alliance of the paralyzed // Avishai Ivri
  • The (Palestinian) Authority is planning demonstrations: IDF increasing forces
  • The show must go on: Habima (national theater) won’t be dismantled, the management was suspended
  • Historic low: Unemployment rate is lowest since 1978 - only 3.4%

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
Attorney General Avichai Mendelbitt declared that indicted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not required to resign, while Netanyahu’s associates acted to draft the masses to a support rally tonight in Tel-Aviv and Netanyahu’s rival, Gideon Saar, defended his declaration to run in Likud primaries against Netanyahu making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with the ‘Day of Rage’ protest today in the West Bank, initiated by the Palestinian Authority in protest to the US declaration that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are legal.

Attorney General Mendelblitt said Netanyahu could by law continue as prime minister because the decision over whether Netanyahu should take a temporary leave of absence was a public-political one, not a legal one, because the Basic Law on the Government “does not exhaustively spell out the circumstances that might lead to the incapacitation” of the prime minister. However, the issue is expected to be brought to the High Court to determine.

The other issue at hand is immunity. In Kahol-Lavan, they are advancing a majority in the Knesset against giving Netanyahu immunity from the law. After Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman stated his opposition to immunity, the prime minister is in a problematic situation. He must decide within 30 days of his indictment announcement whether he applies for it. (Maariv) Lieberman said granting Netanyahu immunity would 'harm the public trust,” adding that a third election was inevitable. Gantz called on lawmakers to stop Netanyahu from “dragging the entire country to elections.”

In the Knesset, there was an atmosphere of elections, Yedioth (Hebrew) reported.  A senior politician told the paper: "We are in complete political chaos with no way out. The severe indictment against Prime Minister Netanyahu has only further distanced the possibility that the two major parties…will form a unity government. And without the two major parties, or without Lieberman with one of the two major parties - no one can form a government. Both Netanyahu and opposition leader and Kahol-Lavan chairman Benny Gantz called for unity yesterday - but on condition that they will be prime minister and not the other. Moreover, Netanyahu claimed that unity government talks were ongoing. But Kahol-Lavan and Yisrael Beiteinu denied.

The Knesset has till the end of December 11, 2019 to find a Knesset member who will be able to present 61 signatures of MKs who support him to try to form a government. If no one is found, the Knesset will automatically dissolve and the state will embark on a third election campaign within a year.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s supporters in the Likud are in a “persuasion and information” campaign to get the supportive public out to Habima Theater Square in Tel-Aviv [which ironically is practically bankrupt] for a demonstration tonight titled, "Stop the Governmental Coup.” Indeed, the ‘Israel Hayom’ headline was more like an ad calling for supporters to go to the protest, than an article. Yedioth and Maariv noted that despite the request of the Prime Minister’s Office, Likud minister and MKs will be notably absent, as will be most of the colleagues from the right-wing bloc. The opposition warned of incitement that will lead to civil war. (Maariv) Likud MK and Netanyahu rival, Gideon Saar, said at a conference he held that without a change in Likud leadership, “We will pass the rule to the left-wing.” A Channel 13 poll found that Netanyahu has 53% of Likud support compared to Saar’s 40%, Maariv reported. Also, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said his party, The New Right, will not unite with Likud in the next elections and will run independently, but is open to linking with other parties. (Maariv)

Interestingly, Netanyahu's attack on the legal system creates a headache for pro-Israel groups in America because he is promoting a conspiracy theory and attacking his own attorney general,  Haaretz+ reported. And former IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gadi Eisenkot had some strong words about this as well, Yedioth Hebrew reported. Eisenkot criticized decision makers at a conference of the Israeli Democracy Institute yesterday. Eisenkot said following the criticism of the IDF for his reactions to the shooting from the Gaza Strip, "You’ll see the same characters I saw at the events (rallies) three and four years ago, the same characters who today want to overpower the court and the police, the same people and the same names are spreading these lies to serve as an agenda." Regarding allegations of excessive "legalization" in the IDF, Eisenkot said that "the shooting incident in Hebron [when soldier Elor Azariya executed an already prone and wounded Palestinian attacker - OH], the fighting in the Palestinian arena, the discourse on legalization and  “everything that has arisen in recent years is nothing new."  Eizenkot added that “This discourse has accompanied the military for over 20 years, and yet I think everything has worsened as a result of the changes - media consumption and how it comes out in the public aspect, and especially in the way public figures take advantage of this platform and succumb to emotion or political interests and do not take a stand [against illegal acts, such as executing Palestinian attackers - OH], which they may pay for in the short term but certainly it pays off in the long run.” He said, "It is impossible to detach our soldiers from the discourse in the State of Israel. Lack of a leadership position makes it difficult for commanders. A professional and values-based army is stronger and knows how to handle things.” He added further in this regard: "I don't remember a judge ever telling us to stop an attack."
Quick Hits:
  • Police Step Up Raids, Arrests in Jerusalem's Isawiyah Despite Mounting Protests - Demonstrators, political leaders appeal to mayor 'of all Jerusalem' to act to protect residents. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Woodstock meets the Bible' as tens of thousands flock to Hebron for Chayei Sarah pilgrimage - Israeli military steps up security in the area as an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 Jews converged on Hebron and adjacent Kiryat Arba to commemorate the first Jewish land purchase in Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Ten Palestinians Wounded as Tens of Thousands of Jews Descend on Hebron - Israeli sources confirm that Jews were involved in some of the clashes, but no suspects have been arrested. (Haaretz+)
  • Rocket Fired From Gaza Falls Into Open Area in Southern Israel - This is the second incident in two weeks since a ceasefire came into force between Israel, Palestinian Islamic Jihad ■ No injuries reported. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • First International Human Rights Observer Expelled Under BDS Law Leaves Israel - Human Rights Watch's Omar Shakir, the first representative ever expelled for promoting anti-Israel boycotts, will operate from a neighboring country. (Haaretz+VIDEO, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Genesis Prize Foundation launches 'Speak Out for Israel' Campaign - Genesis Prize grants to the tune of $1 million to be awarded to organizations working to combat anti-Semitism and tell the true story of Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli video on Hebrew, Arabic similarities is a hit in Gulf - Clip of two young women discussing shared traits of the two languages gets 3 million views on social media accounts of Foreign Ministry, even being shared by senior UAE officials. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israel's Rafael develops cutting-edge cyber defenses for critical infrastructure - Rafael Advanced Defense Systems built a Cyber Security Operations Center for Israel Railways, a critical infrastructure that faces 10 million cyberattack attempts a month. (Israel Hayom)
  • Massive Mamluk Destruction Found at Crusader Castle in Israel - Debris layer discovered at Montfort Castle in the northern Galilee is first evidence of Sultan Baybars' Muslim campaign in 1266, archaeologists say. (Haaretz+)
  • Arab League condemns US reversal on Israeli settlements  -Meeting in a special session in Cairo, the Arab League said it considered the US position legally null and void and showed "unprecedented disdain for the international system." (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Vandals scrawl swastika on monument to Sholem Aleichem in Kiev - "It is urgent that we act promptly and decisively in order to avert further escalation of anti-Semitic sentiment in the country,” stresses Haim Ben-Yakov, CEO of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian Judoka Tells Israeli Counterpart: 'You're My Best Friend' - Saeid Mollaei, who defected after Iranian authorities pressured him not to compete against Israeli Sagi Muki, competed on Saturday for the first time since his receiving refugee status. (Haaretz+)
  • 'It's Time to Teach Them a Lesson': How Iran Plotted to Strike Saudi Arabia - With Tehran's hard-liners seeing Trump as a 'Twitter tiger,' this kind of strategic, carefully planned strike could herald a new era in Mideast warfare. (Agencies, Haaretz, Israel Hayom and Maariv)
  • Iran Warns Israel, U.S., Saudi Arabia: Cross Red Lines and We Will Destroy You - Head of the elite Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami made the statement in a televised speech Monday. (Haaretz)
  • "In a war with Iran thousands of missiles will fall here, we will not be able to defend all of Israel" - Brigadier General Zvika Haimovich, former commander of the IDF Home Front, warns against a military confrontation with Tehran: "Israel taking credit for attacking Iran in Syria provoked retaliation,” he said, adding “If they attack a factory, it's a declaration of war.” (Maariv/JPost)
  • The Syrians will not forget that the only country that helped them was the “Little Devil" - Commander and founder of IDF’s "Good Neighbor" program on tour for tour guides on the Syrian border: "It was a great privilege to command a unit with a mission to influence reality and bring light.“ (Maariv)
  • Chemical Weapons Body Defends Syria Attack Conclusions After Leaks - Following the release of internal email by Wikileaks, controversy grows in the international watchdog divided along partisan lines. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Syria Constitutional Talks Stuck on First Day of New Round - Opposition says government - vindicated by territorial gains on the ground - is buying time, after its delegation leaves talks early. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Despite new push, doubt lingers over ADL’s ability to fight anti-Semitism
“The ADL has failed to call out any form of anti-Semitism that isn’t borne of white supremacy, and their curriculum is more about tolerance and racism in general than it is about the unique history of anti-Semitism,” says official with Americans Against Anti-Semitism. (Shiryn Ghermezian, Israel Hayom)
Borderline crazy
As the 12th Golani Battalion wraps up several months of anti-terror activity on the Gaza border and prepares for training in the Golan Heights, everyone in the neighborhood is trying to make sure that nothing sets off an unwanted escalation. (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Post-Netanyahu Likud can only recover from Stockholm syndrome in the opposition (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) After years in captivity, party stalwarts love their kidnapper and despise the legal authorities pursuing him.
*Mr. Prime Minister, free yourself (A. B. Yehoshua, Yedioth Hebrew) We only met once. When my play, “The two went together,” about the reconciliation attempts between Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky in London in 1934, was performed at the Cameri. You couldn’t make it to the theater, so I sent you the play at your request, and after reading it you offered me to meet with you. I came to your home on Balfour Street on a hot summer afternoon, you were after a busy work day so you didn't have lunch, you asked me if I didn't mind you eating in my presence, and I answered I didn’t because I didn't want to overload your schedule anymore. The meal that came to the study looked modest and meager, and then you pointed to the plate and said ironically, "Here, these are the pleasures of my life." We did not talk about Dumas, nor did I intend to start preaching morals and giving advice. We discussed primarily the meeting between these two important historical leaders, Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky, who, to this day, constitute a significant foundation for any serious political and ideological debate. They are both absolutely anti-Diaspora…Then, when I noticed your brother Yoni’s picture standing in the bookcase, I asked you what you think was his stance on the subject of the elimination of the Diaspora, and to my surprise you said he was closer to my resolute positions than to your own. Overall it was a brief meeting. This was during the period when you and Ehud Barak considered bombing Iran's nuclear facilities and I saw that during the conversation your eyes were constantly wandering anxiously to the huge Middle East map that spreads against the wall in your study, facing the right corner, to Iran. I read once, and I do not know if it is true or not, that your father said that he thought you were actually fit to be a foreign minister and not a prime minister. History has proven that your father was wrong and unable to fully appreciate your strength. You have been a staunch prime minister, a total landlord in the political system, with the decisiveness and an incredible work ability. When I saw you standing, at the invitation of Putin, in Red Square, on Revolution Day, on the same street where Stalin and Brezhnev stood, and surveying the army parade, I said to myself: This man is a political media artist. And with all my fierce and furious objections to your political decisions and deep dislike of your style of incitement, I also trained myself to objectively examine your actions and the actions of your friends, to know how to fight you politically and ideologically more determinedly and effectively, so as not to get caught up in a total fever of total negation. Now you are at a crucial juncture in your political life. You are clutching the state at its throat just to try to save yourself from a trial on the indictment filed against you. You intend to drag the state into a third election campaign that will impose more slime, regurgitation and division on the people without bringing any new decision. It is in your power and ability to liberate the state from such an unnecessary election campaign and to try to prove your innocence in a court of law as a loyal citizen of his people and his homeland. I have never sat on the throne, but I am sure that if you arrive at the court as "liberator" and not "courtier", the sentence, whatever it is, can properly assess the position you have taken. Therefore, sir, liberate not only the state but yourself, and as a man who has worked very hard in the service of the people and won all the honors and all the curses, a horizon of life full of interest and full of intellectual and artistic challenges you did not know will open before you. And you will know, you and your family, experiences and people you didn't even know existed. Then you might really taste the "pleasures of life," which you claim were not given to you. Yes, it's time to tell you politely, but firmly too: Enough, let go. In the United States of America, to which you are deeply connected, the President and all office holders change every four or at most eight years. And the American country is not collapsing but rather renewing. And finally, as a writer, I sometimes take the authority to speak in the name of those most of whom I can imagine: your true friends, including those who have already passed away, people who have faithfully and ideologically accompanied you in many ways, and now some of them can no longer tell you simply: Binyamin Netanyahu, release the political system that that you were so good at controlling, and in that way free yourself to a new horizon.
Netanyahu is out of tricks (Dr. Baruch Leshem, Yedioth/Ynet) PM is master of painting himself as victim of endless conspiracies, but in announcing his indictment, AG Mandelblit sought to preempt any such efforts, leaving embattled leader with no more gimmicks to rely on.
Some things are more important than power (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) For years, many on the right decried the justice system, but most Likudniks remained apathetic and hesitant to echo the cries of the settlers and haredim. Now they are starting to feel the wrath of these bodies and are willing to join and even lead the fight.
Scribbled Note, Kept in a Safe, Shows How Key Players in Netanyhau Case Tried to Cover Tracks
(Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) The stars of the Bezeq-Walla case, Case 4000, in which Prime Minister Netanyahu was charged with bribery last week, acted from the get-go as if they had something to hide.
Netanyahu Is No Victim (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) A gift in the guise of media coverage really is very unusual on the criminal landscape. It may be a precedent. On the other hand “tailoring” a new criminal construct, which is being polished up for the first time on our senior officials, really is not a precedent. For Ehud Olmert they invented a new crime. Case 4000 is simpler. The tycoon is Israeli, and he wants specific things. One of Netanyahu’s lines of defense is that he doesn’t help friends. It turns out that Netanyahu repeatedly went out of his way to help Shaul Elovitch. Judging by his attempts at concealment in real time, it’s clear that Netanyahu also realized all along that what he was doing was criminal.
Establish a Committee of Inquiry (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth Hebrew) In recent days, the country is full of independent advocates for Binyamin Netanyahu. Some belong to the blind Hasidic camp. They concluded that charges should be filed against the police officers and state prosecutors, and Netanyahu should head a special field tribunal. And there are others, not necessarily familiar names, who have published fascinating analysis of the indictments. I worked for a few years in the field of white collar (crime). Their claims, one must admit, are not delusional. The serious ones admit that this is inappropriate behavior. But, they add, that it is not criminal.
Netanyahu’s choice: Hold onto power, or let his ideas prevail without him? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) He may hold onto his party’s leadership after being indicted. But if he can’t form another government, what is his duty to the principles he’s spent his entire life defending?
Israeli Youth Needs to Take a Stand (Yossi Ben Ari, Haaretz+) Israel's youth must stand up to Netanyahu's all-out war on the state.
Liberman's campaign against the ultra-Orthodox (Yakov Palbinsky, Yedioth/Ynet) Yisrael Beiteinu chair's verbal assaults on ultra-Orthodox community may be born of political interest, but they're helping percolate dangerous political ideas from Israeli society.
Delusional run to the polls (Ariella Ringle Hoffman, Yedioth Hebrew) It may be that more than the sea of words that has been on our heads for weeks, the best person to describe the catch that we have all been in would have been an anonymous writer who put the situation online with ten words: "Is it possible to vote with a direct debit? I don’t have the energy for another time.” Wise and sharply funny were it not that the whole joke, to stick to the well-known cliche, is at our expense. We already dropped our jaw when it turned out that the second election was taking place. And now we’re ‘going’ - what is ‘going’ - to another election? Descending - to elections for the third time? A third time that is not too much again, it is complete madness. Just judging by the flood of statements that fall on us like acid rain day after day, this is probably the more likely option. And here again one must wonder what is reasonable in all this craziness. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has already made it clear that he has no intention of intervening in the question of whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with indictments on his head, should declare he is taking leave of absence. This is not a legal question, he said, it is a public-political question, and it is no longer clear where the boundary between the legal and the political is within this porridge. While politicians, for their part, are exacerbating the power of statements, raising the wall between parties, turning the word negotiation into an empty concept. An expression that everyone continues to adhere to even when it is already clear that this is exactly what is not going to happen, and what is needed is just to ensure that the blame falls on the other side.
Leftists, dash your fantasies of a Likud rebellion to oust Netanyahu (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) Despite corruption indictment and a growing challenge from within the party, what irks Likudniks the most is someone from outside trying to show them who’s boss.
Left needs to hold its horses (Dr. Eithan Orkibi, Israel Hayom) The Left likes to say its members have earned the right to gloat, but truth be told, barring the AG's Decision to indict Netanyahu, they would have had to wait years to have any chance at the polls.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Israel Becomes a Member of a Dubious Club (Haaretz Editorial) Since legislation was passed enabling Israel to deny entry to foreigners who call for political boycotts of either Israel or its settlements, this is the first time the government has used this law to deport a permanent representative of a human rights organization, which happens to be one of the largest and most important in the world. The deportation was approved by the Supreme Court, whose justices – Noam Sohlberg, Neal Hendel and Yael Willner – rejected HRW’s appeal, saying they found “no flaw” in Interior Minister Arye Dery’s May 2018 decision not to renew Shakir’s work and residence visa. Unlike a great many other injustices that take place in Israel every day under the auspices of protecting its occupation project, in this case, Shakir isn’t leaving as a victim. In the coming days, he will embark on a round of lectures and meetings on this issue in Europe and will also remain HRW’s point man for monitoring human rights violations in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, doing the job from another nearby country, most likely Jordan.
Settlements are legal (Prof. Talia Einhorn, Israel Hayom) There is no need for Israel to annex Judea and Samaria if it wants to apply Israeli law there – it already has that right because of the laws dating back to the British era.
U.S. and Israel Seek Assurances on Iran From Each Other, but for Very Different Reasons (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) With Netanyahu's legal woes and a new defense minister looking to score political points, Israel's security establishment has one responsible adult.
Strategic deterrence has its limits (Daniel Schueftan, Israel Hayom) Israel’s efforts to generate deterrence have succeeded in ensuring wide gaps between hostilities, as well as in minimizing the damage they inflict, but they cannot produce a constant lull.
Like schnitzel, anti-Semitism has become part of the cultural fabric of Europe (Ben Cohen, Israel Hayom) The three most common stereotypes neatly encapsulate the triangular denunciation of the Jews: They dominate the economy and financial markets; they are more loyal to the State of Israel than they are to the continent; and they talk endlessly of their suffering during the Holocaust.
The German Jews Who Think Now Is the Time to Leave, Before It’s Too Late - Again (Robert Ogman, Haaretz+) In Germany, every Jewish celebration is a collective act of defiance against a rising, violent far right. But shadowed by thousands of armed extremists, and an ascending political far right, they face a fateful choice: Stay, or go.
Why European opposition to Israel should not be dismissed (Gol Kalev, Israel Hayom) The re-establishment of the Jewish state and its astonishing success seems to have provided a new outlet for European anti-Semitism.

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