News Nosh 12.11.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday December 11, 2019

Quote of the day:
“Show me where in West Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv a man would put cameras on his drug den? He knows they won’t do anything to him. If anyone touches him he would come with his weapon and shoot. The police know, everyone knows and no one does anything. Nobody dares touch him.”
—Khaled Zeir, a resident of Silwan neighborhood in E. Jerusalem, was one of many Palestinian Jerusalemites that Haaretz’s Nir Hasson interviewed who described how Israeli police were not only not stopping the plague of drug dealers filling the E. Jerusalem streets, but preventing residents from organizing to stop them.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
Today at midnight the Knesset disperses - unless their is a last minute surprise -
and new elections will likely be held on March 2nd, making today's big story. Knesset members have until midnight to pass the bill that would determine elections will take place on March 2. Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz called again on indicted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “Give up immunity and we'll form a unity government," to which Netanyahu responded: "I call upon you to stop the spins.” Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s rival within the Likud, Gideon Sa'ar went on attack, declaring that Netanyahu has no chance of forming a government. The Likud party is expected to hold primaries for its leader soon. Netanyahu wants to go to primaries as soon as possible while Saar demanded more time, Maariv reported.

Interestingly, a poll by Channel 13 News found that if Gideon Saar led the Likud party in the next election campaign, the Likud would slip to 29 seats (from 32), and Kahol-Lavan would receive 35, but the right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc would remain the same with 55 seats. However, if Netanyahu remains the leader of Likud, the party would get 33 seats, and Kahol-Lavan would get 37, but the right-wing bloc would drop to 52 seats and the left-wing/center bloc would surge to 60 seats. (Also Maariv) An unnamed leader of one of the right-wing parties told Israel Hayom that after the election, there will be no more right-wing 'bloc.’ Parties on the Right and Left are already looking into different possible connections for the next round of voting.

Other Top News Summary:
The other top stories were the six people killed in an attack on a kosher supermarket in New Jersey and that the Justice Ministry announced plans to prosecute senior Israeli defense officials who were caught in a major bribery case. Most details of the case, including the names of the suspects, were unavailable because of a gag order. But a statement by the ministry said public servants working in the unnamed defense body allegedly received millions in bribes from companies with the aim of promoting sales deals with Israel's defense establishment. (Also Maariv)
Quick Hits:
  • Israeli-Palestinian Trade War Looms as Cattle Dispute Lingers, Defense Officials Warn - After Israel allowed Palestinians to import cattle, the PA lifted its boycott of Israeli ranchers. But pressed Israeli farmers want Palestinians to buy more, and are threatening with a boycott of Palestinian vegetables. (Haaretz)
  • Palestinians Ask Israel to Let East Jerusalem Residents Vote in PA Election - Mahmoud Abbas called for Palestiniain national elections. East Jerusalemites voted in the last election in 2006, a year before Hamas took over in the Gaza Strip. Israeli ministers to discuss request. (Haaretz+)
  • General strike in Hebron after Israel declares new Jewish neighborhood - Some residents criticize Fatah-led strike, arguing it only harms locals and does nothing to counter Israeli minister's plan for settler homes on Palestinian market. (Haaretz+)
  • In Unprecedented Step, Israeli Minister Bars Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem's Work - Move against Adnan Ghaith comes after Justice Ministry opinion approval, although law only says public security minister can ban events and says nothing about banning individuals' activities. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Study by Interdisciplinary Center: The Gap Between number of Arab university graduates and Jewish university graduates has widened - Researchers at the Aharon Institute argue that, contrary to the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics about an increase in the number of Arab college students, there is no improvement in the gap between the sectors, but only the continued growing of the gaps. (Maariv)
  • Controversy surrounding the race in remembrance of (controversial politician) ‘Gandi’ - Every year thousands participate in a race in the Jordan (Beqaa) Valley [West Bank - OH] in memory of the former minister, Maj. Gen. Rehavam Ze'evi, who was killed in a terrorist attack. This year, the event is embroiled in controversy. Director of school in Sde Eliyahu announced that this year the school will not attend the event due to allegations against Gandhi regarding his conduct towards women [i.e. rape - OH]. "We have a commitment to educating girls here," he explained. Some parents support, others oppose. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Israeli Towns to Provide Welfare Funds for Asylum Seekers – Two Years Late - The neglect in allotting earmarked funds only came to light after a High Court petition. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Delays Hearing of Accused Rapist Leifer Because Psychiatrists 'Hadn't Noticed' It Was Set  - After 60 sessions on matter of Malka Leifer, who stands accused of 74 counts of indecent acts and rape, Judge grants extension to psych panel in extradition affair that has strained Israel-Australia relations. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Driving While Texting: Army May Be First in Israel to Put a Stop to It - The IDF is seeking a startup that will equip its jeeps and other vehicles with no-phone tech for drivers. The rest of Israel will have to wait, it seems. (Haaretz+)
  • (Israeli-promised Guatemalan) Neighborhood on hold - A year ago, Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, set a cornerstone for a new neighborhood in Guatemala, which Israel promised to erect for the victims of the volcano eruption disaster, but until today the money has not been transferred. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Unknown persons fire at northern (Arab) Israeli council head, security guard hurt - Unknown assailants fired on Tuesday at the home of Sohil Malakham, head of the council of Jadeidi-Makr, an Arab local council in northern Israel. Several weeks ago, a similar incident occurred to Malakham, where an assailant shot at his house and burned his car. (Ynet)
  • Israeli Student Beaten on Paris Metro Train After He Was Heard Speaking Hebrew - Incident reported by France’s National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism comes week after gov't announced that it would establish a hate crimes office. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Mizrahi identity politics heads to Harvard Law School with a conference - First-of-its-kind conference uses Israel’s largest Jewish minority to shed light on issues ranging from profiling to ties to Palestinians. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Relations between China and Israel are very well' - China's Special Envoy for the Middle East Zhai Jun arrives in Israel for the first time, exuding optimism and hope. "It doesn't matter what the results of the elections will be, I am sure peace in the Middle East is our shared aspiration," he says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Trump to sign executive order on anti-Semitism that will treat 'Jewishness' as nationality - The executive order, according to White House officials, will state that title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color and national origin, will also be applied to 'Jewishness.’ (Haaretz+, Yedioth/Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Trump's anti-Semitism Executive Order Draws Mixed Reactions From Jewish Community - Jewish Democratic Senator responded with the Yiddish words 'oy gevalt,' left-wing Jewish groups denounced the move as a political attempt to limit free speech, while Republican Jewish Coalition praised it. (Haaretz+)
  • Left labels Trump an anti-Semite for defending Jews - Trump’s executive order protecting Jews against anti-Semitism on campus is embraced by Republicans, but slammed by liberals. (Israel Hayom)
  • MK Jabarin expressed support for Corbyn and sparked storm: "The right-wing is trying to create a false image" - (Attorney) Yusuf Jabarin, a Knesset member from the Joint List, expressed support for the Labor leader in Britain, who was accused of anti-Semitic views. [Anti-Arab party - OH] Yisrael Beiteinu MK Oded Forer said in response: “Israel's hatred has many forms - Jabarin makes sure to support them all.” (Maariv)
  • Gulf Leaders Attend Saudi Arabia Summit as Iran Fears Overcome Qatar Blockade - Attacks blamed on Iran this summer have unnerved the region, giving way to signs of diplomatic thaw. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Erdogan names Trump, Putin among leaders whom he admires - In a Q&A with university students, Erdogan said he struggles to name a current inspirational leader from Europe. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Iranian Weapons Storage Tunnel Detected on Syria-Iraq Border, Satellite Images Show - Tunnel reportedly appears to be meant for storing advanced weapons and large vehicles to protect them from air attack. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom, Maariv and Ynet)
  • 'If necessary, Israel will take military action to keep Iran from acquiring nukes' - Foreign Minister Israel Katz fires back to threats voiced by Revolutionary Guards advisor, who said Monday that if Israel made even a small mistake, Iran would "level Tel Aviv from Lebanon." (Israel Hayom)
  • Cyber attack on banks in Iran - New York Times Expose: Bank details of 15 million Iranians leaked to social networks by unknown source. Authorities say it is a disgruntled worker's action, but experts say: "Such a burglary can only be done by a government official." Credit companies in Israel have been alerted to fears of an Iranian attack. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • U.S. Bans Entry to Former Saudi Diplomat in Turkey Over Khashoggi Murder - Former Saudi consul general barred from entering the U.S. as Trump argues that Washington must not risk its alliance with Riyadh. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • New Nike swimsuit: A hijab (Muslim headscarf) for swimming - The new swimsuit collection of the international sportswear company will include a hijab for swimming and full body swimsuit. (Maariv)

*In East Jerusalem's War on Drugs, Residents Say Police Are on the Wrong Side
An unprecedented conference took place Friday in the Shoafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem. After prayers, hundreds of men headed into a large hall. Representatives of all the families living in the camp sat up front; on stage stood teens in gold vests bearing a logo of a fist smashing a hypodermic needle.
As dramatic music played in the background, one of the teens read a declaration signed by all the family representatives: “I resolve to put family security above the drug dealers. I resolve to boycott them, to not give them respect, to not invite them to weddings and not to attend their funerals.”
It was the first community gathering of its kind in Shoafat's war on drugs.As anti-drug activists attempt to combat the flood of cheap drugs, often marketed to children, residents say the police ignore, if not encourage, the problem. Residents of East Jerusalem say that there was always a serious drug problem, but now it has become an absolute plague. In almost every neighborhood, residents know where to find the local dealer, where the addicted lay helpless and recount stories of the drug-related violence that erupts periodically.
Many blame the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service. Residents say that the Israeli authorities prefer that the youth of East Jerusalem be busy with drugs rather than firebombs – that drugs are part of the security services' toolbox to maintain quiet in the eastern part of the city. This isn't a new claim, but it seems that over the past few months the situation has further deteriorated. The East Jerusalem drug market has been flooded with cheap drugs like Nice Guy and Mabsuton, and dealers have started to market the stuff to teens and children. According to a number of East Jerusalem sources, a child can get a dose of Nice Guy for 10 shekels ($2.88) or less. Some dealers give out the first dose for free to hook clients. Around a month ago the A-Tur neighborhood held a similar conference of youths and family heads against drugs and drug dealers, but it was forcibly dispersed by the police, who even fired tear gas at attendees. The police reported that they’d broken up the event because of disorderly conduct.
(Nir Hasson, Haaretz+)
Meet the Legal Crusader Fighting Israel’s Kahanists and Exclusionists — and Winning
Orly Erez-Likhovski is a key warrior in the battle against extremism in Israel, including the ongoing struggle to secure an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
Inside the Unlikely, Unofficial Ties Between Israel and the Kurds
Israel has been a strategic supporter of the Kurds for many decades, even speaking out on the ethnic group’s behalf after the recent Turkish incursion into Syria. Now, though, some Kurds are saying actions speak louder than words. (Wilson Fache, Haaretz+)
As Pilgrims Descend on Bethlehem for Christmas, Palestinians Look Beyond Religious Tourism
A new form of tourism has taken root, focused on the city's residents, their culture and history and their struggles under Israeli occupation. (The Associated Press, Haaretz)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Hang on Until Midnight (Haaretz Editorial) . It bears repeating the obvious: The reason for the political deadlock is no mystery. Despite the lies the prime minister is feeding the public, neither Kahol Lavan nor Avigdor Lieberman are the reason that there is no government. The person dragging an entire country to the ballot box for a third consecutive time is none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, who is “holding Israeli citizens hostage to his legal battle,” as Benny Gantz said so well in response to the inflammatory campaign of incitement that Netanyahu has launched since the announcement of the indictments being served against him. Kahol Lavan members deserve kudos for not falling into the trap Netanyahu laid for them with his insincere talk of unity, and we can only hope that they won’t be tempted to do so in the remaining hours. Netanyahu has no interest in unity or in healing divisions. The only thing on his agenda is his legal fate and reinforcing his rule, even at the price of damaging the systems of governance and public faith in these institutions.
Blue and White compromise exposes Netanyahu's bluff (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Gantz's party has relinquished its demand for the prime minister to step down as last-ditch effort to prevent a third round of elections in a 12-month period, but as that failed it became clear that Netanyahu had no intention of preventing another vote in the first place.
Not a Disaster, a Sign of Hope: Israel Needs This Third Election (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) Yair Lapid giving up his spot as potential PM shows the Kahol Lavan leadership has learned, and might finally bring about Bibi's downfall.
The ultra-Orthodox must prevent another election (Yitzhak Nachshon, Yedioth/Ynet) The looming third national ballot signals a chance for the Haredi leadership to protect the interests of its community above all else, like thwarting public transport on Shabbat, even if it means abandoning a long standing alliance with Netanyahu.
Just before being dragged to the polls - there are some questions that need to be asked (Isaac Ben-Ner, Maariv) Everyone is preparing for the election and in the absence of any tweets by Yair (Netanyahu), there are some questions that must be asked to reinforce doubts and heresy before the people vote for the paralyzing and despairing tie. Is the law for a prime minister, who can legally continue to serve with serious indictments on his head until the end of his trial, the same law as for an outgoing prime minister, who wants to be his party's prime ministerial candidate again, with the most serious indictments on his head - and who is authorized to decide and decide on this issue? The President? The Attorney General? The Knesset? The three of them together? High Court? Is there no authority that prevents the prime minister from exploiting with irresponsibility, as he does, security and national problems for his election campaign - starting with the removal of ambiguity on military and intelligence activities, through arrogant threats and senseless policy statements - such as annexation of the Bekaa Jordan Valley, contrary to the opinion of the defense establishment, the majority of the public, the Council of Europe and warnings from Jordan about the damage to the peace treaty with Israel?
Israel needs a good shakeup (Amihai Attali, Yedioth/Ynet)  The powers that be are completely dysfunctional, campaign budgets are skyrocketing and there is still no leader in sight to bang on the table and demand that if we're going into another election cycle, for everyone's sake, at least make it a quick one.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Don't Mess With the Army, Bennett (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The army and the defense establishment are very angry with Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. The man makes too many pronouncements, boasts about killing Iranians, announces a change in rules of the game toward Hamas and plans to expand construction in Hebron. He’s insufferable and even dangerous. So dangerous that top military and other security officials devoted an entire meeting to “the minister’s public statements,” a report this week in Haaretz said. They believe that his statements not only harm Israel’s security, but, perish the thought, are “an attempt to belittle the importance of the security work of past senior officials such as the previous chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot.”
The difference between 'loving Israel enough' and 'dual loyalty' (Moshe Hill, Israel Hayom) US President Donald Trump is trying to embrace American Jews by encouraging appreciation for a common ally of America and the Jewish people.
Why was the Jewish establishment silent and unresponsive to Trump's problematic remarks? (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) (Speaking at the annual conference of the Israel-American Council,) If the President had said the phrase "Some Jews in the US do not love Israel enough" at an event of any another Jewish organization, his insulting words would certainly have provoked a wave of outrage from senior Jewish leaders. President Trump voiced the insult to American Jews as the guest of honor at an organization owned by Sheldon Adelson. Trump said what he said at Sheldon Adelson's side and in his shadow. That is why it did not upset, did not annoy and did not outrage the community if at all. Trump appeared and addressed the organization conference not because his friends and activists love Israel enough, but because the organization's patron and co-founder, Sheldon Adelson, is a major contributor to the Trump election campaign and has donated $100 million to fund Republican candidate campaigns in the 2016 elections and the half-term elections. The disregard of Jewish organizations and leading Jewish personas toward the remarks that smelled of intentional anti-Semitism that was limited to American Jewry has revealed Sheldon Adelson’s status, more specifically, his non-status in the community. He is a rejected brand, wrong in the eyes of the vast majority of American Jewry. He is cut off from the Jewish leadership, even those who identify as right-wing and he is ostracized by the liberal majority in the community. But it is mutual. Sheldon Adelson is known as someone who despises and mocks the Jewish leadership and anyone who identifies with it. He even enjoys the declared alienation towards him by senior Jews and is even proud of the contempt and dismissal of him by intellectuals and academics in the (Jewish) community…It is impossible and unfair to overlook the success of the Jewish-American community organization within a few years in which it has turned into an active institution that pursues activities among expat Israelis, including their second generation, with the aim of keeping and preserving one of the slogans of the organization: ”Israel in our heart, Israeli in our spirit." The organization's leaders and businessmen have demonstrated that they know well and skillfully how to use the funds that Sheldon Adelson invests in financing the organization's existence and operations. But those who are active in Adelson's shadow have given up in advance on the recognition, the presence, and the influence of the Jews of the United States.
There is no civil war on the horizon (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) The strength of a society is measured by its ability to overcome problems, and Israel excels at that. Other western democracies, which do not face the challenges Israel does, are sinking.
Between a rock and a hard place: Israel must choose between regional interests and its relations with the EU (Dr. Emanuel Navon, Maariv) French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced his intention to begin a dialogue with Russia, saying only talks could convince Moscow to reduce its cooperation with China and to reduce his aspirations in Eastern European. France's policy change is an opportunity for Israel. If Paris can adopt a policy of realpolitik towards Russia - Israel should not be expected to be more Catholic than the Pope.
How the Malka Leifer Case Finally Forced Australian Jews to Speak Out Against Israel (Dina Kraft, Haaretz+) Much of the Australian-Jewish community is angered, frustrated by perceived Israeli foot-dragging over alleged child abuser’s extradition to face 74 charges related to sex crimes, including rape.
Another Shameful Israeli Act in Malka Leifer Case Furthers Australian Distrust (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) The latest in the legal circus that is accused rapist's extradition affair, hearing delayed because psychiatrists 'hadn't noticed' it was set.
Israel’s Shameful Role in Myanmar’s Genocidal Campaign Against the Rohingya (Charles Dunst, Haaretz+) Peace icon turned pariah Aung San Suu Kyi is in The Hague defending Myanmar from genocide charges. Israel gave Myanmar’s military regime the tools and diplomatic space to carry out those atrocities.
Time to Cancel the State-religious School System (Or Kashti, Haaretz+) Last week, when Israel’s poor results in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) exam was reported, the education ministry announced that a committee would be named - yet another one – that would “leave no stone unturned” to try to figure out how Arab students ended up at the bottom of the rankings. The issues to be reviewed, they promised, would include the curricula and efficacy of allocating resources – areas in which the ministry has generally ignored the desires of Arab citizens, or their needs, for many years. And yet the debate on the incomprehensible gaps between Jewish and Arab students would not be complete without a closer look at how the country’s Jewish religious students enjoy budgetary and pedagogical favoritism, making the picture of inequality even more dire.
Opponents of a defense alliance with the United States do not understand the new reality (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Israel faces a formidable threat from Iran, a mini superpower with a regional hegemonic ambition and with a considerable technological and scientific capability, infused with a fanatical religious ideology whose desire is to destroy Israel. Israel is no less than Iran in any of its capabilities in these and other areas, and even surpasses it. However, Israel has an Achilles heel: the home front. Israel’s land is minimal and the population and economic concentration in the central areas create a potential state of super vulnerability to Iranian missiles or their emissaries. Although Israel has advanced and sophisticated missile defense measures, there are financial limitations, despite US aid, in terms of quantity and possibilities to deploy them. Iran also has capabilities that the Arab states don’t have: action via its emissaries: Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Shiite militias based in Syria and Iraq.
Soleimani's multi-national army is destabilizing the Mideast (Yaakov Lappin, Israel Hayom) The commander of Iran’s Quds Force is more than a military leader, say Israeli observers. Active from the Lebanese coast to Yemen, his activities have stirred up powerful “antibodies” in the region.
Why we should fear a nuclearized Saudi Arabia (Yoel Guzansky, Israel Hayom) A dangerous loop has been established between Iran and its Middle Eastern neighbors – Arab countries that feel threatened will step up nuclear activity, which in turn will make it more difficult to rein in the Islamic Republic.
Why Israel Can and Must Help as Jordan's Economy Implodes (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) The kingdom’s economy risks going the route of Lebanese chaos. Its neighbor can help by creating business and jobs before it’s too late.
Just what is Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh up to? (Shahar Klaiman, Israel Hayom) For the first time in a year and a half, Egypt has allowed the head of the terrorist organization to leave the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh is in Turkey, and slated to visit Qatar, Russia, Malaysia – but not Iran.

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