News Nosh 11.27.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday November 27, 2019

You Must Be Kidding: 
"What we’re dealing with now is a struggle between Israel's public and a "deep state" - a clandestine cabal of officials operating independently of a nation's elected leadership."
--CEO of far-right-wing religious party Haichud Haleumi, Yehoda Vald, writes that the corruption indictments against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are false and only an attempt to weaken the right-wing.**

Quote of the day:
"The dramatic question now is this: Are you on the side of law and justice, or are you on the side of civil unrest?"
--Former Air Force Academy colleagues of Education Minister Rafi Peretz, chairman of the joint faction of the far-right-wing religious Habayit Hayehudi and Ichud Leumi parties, wrote a letter to him voicing their concerns over his silence in the face of conspiracy claims - even from within his faction - that there is a an attempt to topple Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on made up charges.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Support without limits - Thousands came last night to demonstration in support of Netanyahu
  • The world according to Bibiers // Nahum Barnea
  • The incitement exhibit - One of the demonstrators displayed the State Prosecutors as a saw that threatens to cut off the head of Netanyahu
  • Against democracy // Limor Livnat (Hebrew)
  • The quiet was broken: Two rockets shot at Gaza periphery
  • The Yasur (military) helicopter caught on fire, the soldiers were rescued
  • 102,000 shekel check for Begin was never cashed (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • 15,000 demonstrated in favor of Netanyahu: “We won’t let the lie win”
  • The indictment and the deadlock: At the Tel-Aviv square they called “(Attorney General) Mendelblitt and (State Prosecutor) Nitzan go home”; At Kahol-Lavan they declared: “The unity story is over”
  • Demanding legal justice // Amnon Lord
  • Attorney General attacked: “State Prosecutor walks with bodyguards, this is inconceivable”
  • 7 steps of obtuseness - Adi, who is dealing with multiple sclerosis, can’t pick up her daughter from kindergarten; Tel-Aviv Municipality: “The place will become accessible soon”
  • “Naama is being held as hostage” - Naama Issachar’s attorney: “She is not connected to the hacker”
  • In the framework of a corruption affair: (Comedian) Shalom Esayag was questioned at Lahav 433 (Police Fraud Investigation Unit)
  • Again, sirens in south: Two rockets launched at Sderot and the Gaza periphery
  • Almost a disaster in the Negev: Yasur helicopter made emergency landing - the fleet was grounded

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
The rally in support of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - the admiration and the hatred, which senior Likud people attended and which didn’t (almost all of them did not), the reaction of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt (shock) and others - was the top story in today’s Hebrew newspapers alongside the Yasour military attack helicopter that caught on fire, causing the whole fleet to be grounded and the two rockets that fell inside Israel from Gaza, breaking the short silence since the IDF’s two-day aerial operation. 

According to the Israeli press, the Palestinian ‘Day of Rage’ demonstrations in the West Bank were relatively quiet, although 77 people were wounded. The protest against the US declaration that Israeli settlements were legal was only a few paragraphs in ‘Israel Hayom’ and Maariv’ at the end of their articles about the Gaza rockets, despite the fact that dozens of Palestinian were wounded from IDF fire. Yedioth printed a photo of a Palestinian man standing on a sidewalk and holding a sign and waving the national flag with a line of IDF soldiers with helmets on standing a couple feet in front of him. (See Commentary/Analysis below for the long caption by correspondent Elior Levy.)  Only Haaretz+ printed an article on the event.

Under the controversial slogan, "Let's save the state from the coup d'état," thousands of people showed up to the Netanyahu support rally to protest the "attempted coup" against the acting prime minister. The newspapers, with the exception of Israel Hayom, were not sure how many actually went last night Haaretz wrote ‘several thousand,’ Maariv wrote ‘only a few thousand,’ Yedioth wrote ‘assessments were between 5,000-14,000,’  and Israel Hayom declared ’15,000.’ But what no one could argue about was the glaring absence of almost every high-ranking Likud persona, ministers and MKs alike. The only Netanyahu loyalists to attend were Culture Minister Miri Regev and MK Miki Zohar. Yedioth’s (Hebrew) Amichai Attali wrote an insightful description of the people who attended the rally: “In the depth of the audience you see a fascinating mix. A boy with a huge woolen kippah, sideburns dangling beside his cheeks and a shirt with a painting of the Holy Temple plus a call to rebuild it immediately, next to female Likudniks wearing revealing clothing and moving rhythmically to the sounds of Omar Adam's songs. The admiration for Binyamin Netanyahu, and not least of all, the hostility toward the elites and the centers of power, created a rare Israeli stew yesterday: The leader of the ultra-Orthodox nationalist-Zionists, Rabbi Zvi Israel Tao, is almost never at an event where men and women are mixed. Yesterday he was stuck on the sidelines of the stage as the event MC, Galit Distell Atbrian, passionately complemented the outward appearance of Shimon Riklin…There were endless encounters of people on the edges of society, Danielle Weiss, one of the founders of the settlements enterprise, waited patiently behind the scenes alongside Gadi Taub, a new right-winger who just recently joined the National Camp…I don't know how to name the numbers, yet I can describe the energy. And it was very strong. Burning. For hours, I walked around the stage and all that was around me were energies of passion, of love for Netanyahu, quite a sense of collective persecution and above all a hostile animosity towards the Attorney General and State Prosecutor. This could be seen extensively in the exhibits and slogans uttered in the style of '(State Prosecutor) Shai Nitzan to interrogation,' 'Arrest (Deputy State Prosecutor Liat) Ben-Ari,' and 'the left hand tries to cut off the head of the country.' At a particularly ugly moment, the bubbling hostility toward the media seemed to overflow: a journalist of the public broadcasting authority who covered the rally was attacked by some of the protesters around him."

*That hatred caused concern and right-wingers (Limor Livnat) and left-wingers and commentators alike warned of the incitement and where it could lead. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) And the papers all quoted Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit who said he was shocked by the lies and the slander. “I’m hearing threats. I’m hearing baseless slander. It’s shocking,” he said. Moreoever, the fact that two of the most senior prosecutors, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and his deputy, Liat Ben-Ari,  “now have bodyguards solely because they carried out their duties is inconceivable,' Mendelblitt said. (Also Maariv) Friends of Education Minister Rafi Peretz from his Air Force academy days rapped the former Habayit Hayehudi-Ichud Leumi leader for his silence following the claims of an attempted government coup against Netanyahu. In a letter, they called on him to “intervene to avoid an Israeli civil war,” Yedioth reported. Peretz’s former colleagues voiced their concerns over what they said was "resounding silence" from Peretz and his party. “The dramatic question now is this: Are you on the side of law and justice, or are you on the side of civil unrest?" the letter read. "In 2005, even though you had strong objections to the Gaza disengagement, you stopped your students from crossing the red line of rebelling against the country, you were a symbol and an example to anyone who knows there's nothing more important than stopping a civil war."  Peretz received a similar letter from MK Stav Shaffir of the Democratic Union. "I call on you," Shaffir's letter continued, " don't side with an accused man who besmirches law enforcement authorities and calls proper democratic proceedings a coup d'état."

Netanyahu’s top challenger, Gideon Saar, said he would quit if he were in Netanyahu’s shoes. The Likud lawmaker stressed that Netanyahu should resign solely due to his failure following two election rounds in the past year. He said he believes he could form a government in the current Knesset, following Netanyahu's two failed attempts. However, a poll found otherwise. With Netanyahu remaining at the top of the party, Likud is only one seat behind Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, according to a Channel 12 News poll. With Saar, Likud would win only 26 of the Knesset’s 120 seats in a general election. Meanwhile, Netanyahu loyalist's push to cut the election season in half, which the Elections Committee said was “unreasonable.
Quick Hits:
  • Graffiti Sprayed, Cars Vandalized in Suspected Hate Crime in West Bank - Perpetrators were caught on camera entering the Palestinian village of Jab'a and spraying hateful writings in Hebrew as well as Star of David on vehicles and walls of kindergartens. One of the writings read "Revenge Bat Ayin," most likely in reference to the settlers evacuated hours earlier from a tent they erected near the Bat Ayin settlement and their Israeli olive grove the IDF destroyed. [It was probably built on privately-owned Palestinian land - OH] (Haaretz and JPost)
  • Israel charges leader of extreme Jewish group with incitement - The indictment  for violence, racism and terror is a result of an 8-year battle against the leader of LEHAVA, Bentzi Gopstein, Infamous for strongly opposing marriage between Jews and non-Jews, and for praising violence against against Arabs and those who have carried it out against Arabs. 'Stay in your village if you want to be safe,' he urged Arabs in one interview. (Haaretz+, Ynet and Maariv)
  • Dutch Gov't Defends Labeling Israeli Settlement Products Despite Challenge From Parliament - European Court of Justice ruling doesn’t single out Israel, government tells lawmakers. (Haaretz+)
  • An Archaeologist's Nightmare: NGO Petitions High Court Against Jerusalem Cable Car Plan - ‘Emek Shaveh’ challenges transition government's jurisdiction to decide such a monumental and expensive project. (Haaretz+)
  • Visit by Japanese Defense Officials Canceled Due to Cuts at Israeli Foreign Ministry - Israel had hoped to keep the warm ties going on the back of the first visit to the country by Japan's military chief. (Haaretz+)
  • Ex-Israel Bar Chief Charged With Illegally Exiting Country by Tailgating Passenger - Efraim Naveh wasn’t caught when he left the country, but when he tried the trick again upon his return Population Authority inspectors caught him. (Haaretz+)
  • The man who established the ‘Oketz’ canine unit passed away - Joseph Lubbock, who was one of the military dog unit's founders, died yesterday at the age of 81. His friends say it all started after the severe terror attack in 1974 in Maalot, where pupils were taken hostage. In the course of the complex rescue, there was difficulty for the forces on the second floor where the terrorists were barricaded. It was Joseph Lubbock who then contacted the chief of staff directly, claiming that trained dogs could greatly assist in the rescue of the hostages. Lubbock was then instructed to establish the new unit. For many years the unit was secret, and only in 1997, following the Helicopters Disaster, in which 73 IDF soldiers perished, was the Oketz revealed for the first time during action in the zone of the disaster. The book "Thinking on Six Feet," written by Meira Gunt, tells the story of Lubbock. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Intel Israel Develops AI Bot to Educate Online Haters - Project seeks to use computer language processing to identify hate speech and warn the speakers or explain the problem with their statements. (Haaretz+)
  • Income Inequality in Israel Rises for First Time in Seven Years, Figures Show - Israel still has some of the highest rates of inequality among developed countries, and also one of the highest poverty rates. (Haaretz+)
  • NSO Employees Countersue Facebook Over Blocked Accounts - Plaintiffs say denying access to social media accounts amid legal battle over alleged phone hacking was unjust. (Haaretz)
  • WATCH Video that WeWork's Neumann 'helped Kushner create' for Middle East peace found - On Monday, after reports that disgraced WeWork founder Adam Neumann helped “craft Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan,” BuzzFeed News’ technology reporter Ryan Mac tweeted that he believes he found Neumann’s contribution to Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity Workshop hosted this June in Bahrain. (Haaretz)
  • Errant Tank Fire From Egypt Hits Building in Southern Israel - Tank shell caused damage to the civilian building in in the Bnei Netzarim community, but no casualties, Israeli army investigating the incident. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Gaza man defies gravity by mastering rare skill of balancing art - Mohammed al-Shenbari, 24, finds the “balancing point” between two objects to make them stand in a way that appears to defy the law of gravity. “You just need to know the fulcrum of the object and you get it,” he says. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • After two thousand years, Jesus' manger returns to Bethlehem in time for Christmas - The Vatican has decided to send a piece of the Holy Manger, in which the faithful believe baby Jesus slept, back to its home in the Holy Land. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Bipartisan Wisconsin Assembly delegation visits Israel - The 12-member Assembly delegation, comprising both Republican and Democratic leaders, completed tour on Monday. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • A nightmare for Israeli gymnasts in Istanbul - This is not how the gymnastics group imagined to end the competition in Estonia. A group of Israeli gymnasts from Kfar Saba, sixth graders, who flew to Estonia via Turkey, were detained and humiliated by the security check at Istanbul Airport, on their return flight, valuable equipment was confiscated and they missed the next flight to Israel. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Egypt Releases 200 People Swept Up in Crackdown, Lawyers Say - Rights groups said security forces detained over 3,000 people, including journalists, activists and foreigners, following small but rare protests against President Sissi. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanon's Hariri Withdraws Candidacy for PM, Leaving Economic Crisis for 'Someone Else' - Departing leader's 'final' decision leaves no clear frontrunner to form a government amid massive wave of protest. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Russia Hopes to Close New S-400 Missile Deal With Turkey Next Year - Washington, who has suspended Turkey from the F-35 program over the missiles, has also warned of possible sanctions, saying the missiles are not compatible with NATO defenses. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Russia Warns Syria’s Kurds Against Relying on U.S. Support - Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday accused Syria’s Kurds of failing to abide by a Russia-Turkey deal that halted a Turkish offensive into Syria. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Brazil’s Iconic Rabbi Henry Sobel, Who Challenged the Country’s Military Regime, Mourned by All - Jews and non-Jews alike remember Rabbi Henry Sobel, who in 1975 refused to bury journalist Vladimir Herzog at the Jewish cemetery’s suicides wing, rejecting the military regime's version that he had hanged himself. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • UK chief rabbi: What will be the fate of Jews if Labour ‘poison’ comes to power- Sharp attack by Britain's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis against prime ministerial candidate Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Labor Party. "The nation's soul is in danger," he warned in an Op-Ed he wrote for The Times, in which he called, just two weeks before the election, to refrain from voting for him. Canterbury Archbishop Justin Wolby's head, the leading Christian figure in Britain and the head of the Anglican Church, supported him. (Yedioth Hebrew and Times of Israel)
  • Johnson Says Chief Rabbi's Remarks on Labour anti-Semitism Is 'Very Serious Business' - 'Under a Labour government anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in any form, whatsoever,' Corbyn says in response to harsh allegations of failing to root out bigotry. (Agencies, Haaretz)

With Brutal Sophistication and No Internet, Iran Was Quick to Stamp Out Protests
Tehran fears a mass boycott of upcoming elections that might chip away at its legitimacy even more, Israeli intelligence officials say. (Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz+)
"Trump was excited that I was a combat soldier and asked if I killed anyone"
Without intending, the owners of ‘Beit Kandinof’ in Jaffa have fulfilled the wet dream of every restaurateur in the world: a booming article in the New York Times. They have since been flooded with American tourists, including one named Sarah Jessica Parker who requested and received a private tour of the place. In a joint interview, Nadav Rappaport, Amir Ehrlich and Lior Sadan talk about the meeting with the US President, about the famous client Uri Geller, who bends them all the espresso spoons, and how their space became one of the hottest places in Tel Aviv. (Amir Kaminer, Ynet Hebrew/Yedioth’s ’24 Hours’ supplement)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
In pro-Netanyahu Rally, the Ruling Party Took on the State in the Guise of a Popular Movement (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Burning hatred for state symbols could be felt in every corner. Now come the election campaigns and attacks on judges.
Netanyahu's war for survival (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) A way must be found to allow the prime minister, who is now eyeing his place in the history books, to leave the public stage with dignity, but his furious reaction to his indictment is not making it easy for anyone.
Netanyahu indictments are shifting few Israeli voters (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) The only move has been among some of his supporters who fear having the greatest and longest-serving leader in Israel’s history end his career on a low note.
Israelis Didn't Show Up to 'Stop the Coup.' It's Time for Netanyahu to Face Reality (Haaretz Editorial) The absurdity screamed to the heavens: Who headed the judicial system that they were now besmirching like teenage anarchists if not the settlers’ representative in the government, Ayelet Shaked? Who was the minister responsible for the police if not Gilad Erdan of Likud? Who appointed their sworn adversary, Roni Alsheich, as police commissioner or Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit who is now the enemy of the people? And who was at the helm of government and all those other systems which they were condeming if not criminal suspect Netanyahu?
Netanyahu claims he is being framed, but is that not a serial victim's allegation? (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) The Prime Minister, like his political and moral twin Trump, is also facing an impeachment plot.  In the meantime, he is plotting to take the entire country hostage.
If Netanyahu Wants to Fight a ‘Coup,’ His Rally Shows He Lacks the Troops (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Protest was all about the insult of disparate, isolated Israeli micro-communities who feel that their country is slipping through their fingers.
**It's not an attack on Netanyahu, it's an attack on the whole right-wing (Yehoda Vald, Yedioth/Ynet) The recent charges against the prime minister are nothing more but the continuation of non-stop attacks against the entire right-wing bloc, meant to cover up the rise of non-mandated powers within Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu works tirelessly to guarantee Israel's defense…All the while, the media spills his figurative blood on a nightly basis - defaming him, his acts and his personality. So where's this corruption they're all talking about? Is it because he dared ask a certain news website to write something positive about him and play a different tune to the rest of the left-wing media? What we’re dealing with now is a struggle between Israel's public and a "deep state" - a clandestine cabal of officials operating independently of a nation's elected leadership. [Writer is the new CEO of the far-right-wing religious pro-settler National Union Party, led by MK Betzalel Smotrich - OH]
When Netanyahu Called Me to Say: You Know I’m Not Corrupt (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) This happened a few months ago, on a Friday afternoon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was en route from Jerusalem to his home in Caesarea, picked up the phone. He sounded hurt. You know I’m not corrupt, he said. You know I’ve always worked for the good of the country... so because of a few cigars I got from a friend, you commit such character assassination against me? Netanyahu was responding to an article I had published that Friday in which I accused him of corruption. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that even today, Netanyahu believes he isn’t corrupt and that all his actions were legal. And on one thing I’m willing to agree with him: He didn’t take office as a corrupt person. He didn’t seek power for the purpose of receiving cash-stuffed envelopes, South American-style. Yet his many years of running the government (13 and-a-half) made him degenerate into arrogance, moral corruption and lose his sense of caution. He has also suffered from two serious diseases – stinginess and an obsession with the media, diseases which incubated inside him for many years and finally burst out into the open as ravaging bacteria that destroyed him.
Against democracy (former Likud minister - Limor Livnat, Yedioth Hebrew) The rally last night at the Tel Aviv Museum Square was a demonstration against democracy. Likud members who organized it and made great efforts, including bus shuttles from all over the country, urged the public in huge press announcements to stop the "government coup" - a phrase coined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech last Thursday, about an hour after Attorney General Dr. Avichai Mandelblit announced his decision to file three serious indictments against him. The innocent reader might think that but a coincidence meant that thousands of Netanyahu's fans and supporters gathered last night under the very same headline he used in his speech. And not it wasn’t. All this was done deliberately. It was a demonstration meant to go against Netanyahu's attorney general, who was appointed by him, and against legal decisions made by law enforcement agencies. Even if there is room for criticism, and even if, over the years mistakes took place under their control that need to be probed, it cannot be led by anyone who heads the state…For two days, the Prime Minister's Office leaked that he was considering attending the demonstration, and at the same time his office was pressuring ministers and Knesset members, the heads of municipalities and senior members of the “right-wing bloc" to arrive. When it became clear that everyone was busy except Miki Zohar, the tune changed, and then they announced that they wanted ministers and MKs not to attend. Is it possible that people are seeing the truth? Could there already be light at the end of the tunnel?
Why Isn’t Netanyahu Being Charged With Tax Evasion? (Efrat Neuman, Haaretz+) Netanyahu may owe taxes for the illicit gifts he allegedly received, but tax evasion isn’t mentioned in the charge sheet.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Truth-telling to advance peace (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) By changing the discourse about settlements, the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for realistic negotiation.
Anyone but Corbyn': For Britain's Jews, Fear of a Labour Government Is Now Overwhelming (Nicole Lampert, Haaretz+) A 'poison…has taken root in the Labour Party': If you’re shocked at the Chief Rabbi’s tone, you haven’t been listening to UK Jews. But what to do when his opponent is a racist narcissist like Boris Johnson?
The lack of a diplomatic achievement also prevents a military victory from becoming decisive (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Israel's military victories fail to truly change the reality of our lives. Israel won in most wars, but a diplomatic move was recorded only during the War of Independence and the Yom Kippur War.
Controlled fury (Elior Levy, Yedioth Hebrew) A week after the announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the legality of settling in Judea and Samaria, a Palestinian day of rage was held yesterday. Most of the day was focused on rallies that took place in Palestinian city centers, away from the friction points with Israel. Thousands of people participated in these rallies, most notably the rally in Ramallah. At the points of friction, there were a few hundred protesters in all centers. Even if no one declared it - behind the scenes, it was agreed that the concentration of rallies in the city centers was meant to cause the number of protesters in the clashes to be relatively small and so the event would be under the control of the Palestinian security forces. The number of wounded in the clashes was several dozen, most of them light wounds. The purpose of the day was to allow the public to release steam that has accumulated on the Palestinian street and demonstrate a public protest against the US decisions. In Ramallah's leadership, this goal seems to have been achieved.
Israel should not worry about Arab outrage (Jason Shvili, Israel Hayom) Arab states just pretend that they care about the Palestinians in order to appease their respective populations.
The November 29 test (Alex Fishman, Yedioth Hebrew) The security establishment is thrilled that it has managed to force Hamas to keep calm along the fence for the past two weeks, including the unusual cancellation of mass protests on weekends. But did Operation Black Belt create a significant change in friction with the Gaza Strip, or is the quiet of the past two weeks another Hamas tactical move? The first test for this will be this weekend already: On Friday, the Palestinians, like the Israelis, will mark 72 years on November 29, 1947, the day the United Nations decided to divide the land. If the lull is maintained along the fence, or only symbolic demonstrations are held - this will be a clear sign of possible change. If the days of rage in the West Bank do not leak into the Gaza Strip - it would be an even more positive sign. Only then can one begin to think in terms of a "window of opportunity" for a long-term arrangement in Gaza.
The Slaughter in Syria Still Goes On (David Stavrou, Haaretz+)  Kurds who were in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria during Turkey’s military operation in October belie Ankara’s claims that it’s only fighting terrorists.
US should sanction the European Court of Justice (Ken Abramowitz, Israel Hayom) The United States should overreact to the European court’s anti-Semitic ruling on the need to label food produced in Judea and Samaria.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.