News Nosh 12.12.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday December 12, 2019

Quote of the day:
"Netanyahu did not work to sow seeds of compromise, to produce reconciliatory rhetoric or charge at the rifts before they expand into a chasm. He took advantage of these failures to increase his power."
--Commentator Nadav Eyal writes in Yedioth that the first challenge facing leaders in the post-Netanyahu era will be to deal with the hatred in society and the way in which public debate is conducted.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Shameful - The worst political crisis in the history of the state; For the third time in a year Israel goes to elections
  • One against 119 // Sima Kadmon
  • Mark of disgrace // Ben-Dror Yemini writes that
  • After Netanyahu // Nadav Eyal writes that the challenge of Netanyahu’s replacement will be enormous (Hebrew)
  • They don’t care // Limor Livnat calls for new leadership that will show that it cares about the people
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • The circus - The political establishment again shakes a whole country: After months of fruitless negotiations, Knesset voted for dispersal. Who would have believed
  • Crisis of faith // Mati Tuchfeld
  • Everyone is deep in their campaigns // Amnon Lord
  • Only the blocs will determine (the next government) // Yehuda Shlezinger
  • Knesset missed an opportunity // Gideon Allon
  • Against anti-Semitism: Trump’s historic decision
  • “We aren’t innocent of mistakes” - State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan in interview ahead of retirement

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
Throughout the night, the motion to hold snap elections passed the final readings and the Knesset approved holding a new election for March 2nd, the third trip to the polling stations in less than a year - making today's big story.

After Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz announced Tuesday that he was willing to negotiate with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government before the Wednesday night deadline - if the latter would not request immunity from being put on trial, Netanyahu consulted with his attorneys over whether it would be a legally wise move. Apparently, they did not think so, because the Knesset vote to hold elections went forward.

The papers were all appalled, but viewed it differently. Yedioth didn’t take sides. It called the move ‘shameful' on its front page over the photos of Netanyahu, Gantz and Avigdor Lieberman, the kingmaker. However, Maariv printed on its front page an Op-Ed by Ben Caspit, who wrote that Netanyahu’s ‘magic expired,’ and Haaretz blamed Netanyahu by printing Yossi Verter’s Op-Ed on its front page. The pro-Netanyahu newspaper, ‘Israel Hayom,’ did not blame anyone and seemed to blame the Knesset as a whole, sharing a photo of the Knesset assembly. (See Commentary/Analysis below.)

The papers noted how the public suffers from the numerous elections: “Patients parked in hospital hallways, people left without medication, and children left out on the street (while) the MKs bicker among themselves, and 9 million people are left to face the fallout,” wrote Ynet. Yedioth Hebrew’s Gad Lior wrote that the three elections will cost Israel a total of at least US $3.5 billion.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu and his Likud rival, Gideon Saar, agreed to hold primary elections for the Likud leadership on December 26th. Saar said that there will be other Likud MKs who will support him once the primaries are approved tonight. (Maariv) However, Netanyahu loyalist MK David Bitan said he was working on obtaining enough signatures to to cancel the primaries by secret ballot at the Likud Central Committee meeting tonight. (Maariv)

Netanyahu called on voters to give him support in the March election: "To prevent further elections, we have to win big - and that's what we will do,” he said. MK Bitan said in an interview that "Netanyahu is getting his last chance. He will have to do the job and bring it in. If he doesn't get 61 seats (from Likud and right-wing), he won't be able to form a government again next time. Now we get another chance and we have to grab it with two hands.” Bitan expressed belief in Netanyahu’s ability to get support, despite the indictments. “There is no doubt that Netanyahu will bring the mandates. If he is ousted from the Likud, ten seats will not vote for Likud. Replacing Netanyahu and expelling him from the party does not serve the party.
There are no Likudniks who dislike Likud because of Netanyahu's indictments,” he insisted. However, he noted that “if Netanyahu fails to bring in 61 seats, we will either be in the opposition or we will have to rethink.” (Maariv)

Today Yisrael Beiteinu chief, Avigdor Liberman said he would support pardoning Netanyahu in exchange for Netanyahu’s retirement from politics. He claimed he doesn't want to see Netanyahu in jail.

Outgoing State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said in an interview that Netanyahu must stand trial regardless of him serving as prime minister. "According to the indictment, over a few years, he received 700,000 shekels worth of champagne and cigars, a fair amount by all opinions. Suppose there was a public figure who was, let’s say, a rapist. And you would say, ‘But most of the public voted for him.’ So what does that mean? That we are going to a people’s trial and if the public, as in ancient Rome, approves, then he won’t be prosecuted and if not, then he will be executed? It does not work that way in the modern democratic method. What I am comparing is that it is impossible to make legal decisions according to a reality program - where the public votes yes or no,” said Nitzan. (Maariv) Netanyahu responded saying, “It’s shocking he used rape victims to justify the hunt against me.”

Following a High Court petition by The Movement for Quality Government, which requested he resign from the ministries due to his indictments as was ruled in the past, Netanyahu told the High Court he would resign from all ministerial posts by January 1st, except for prime minister.

Quick Hits:
  • 'Muhammad Is a Pig': Dozens of Cars Vandalized in Arab Village in Northern Israel - Police launched an investigation into the suspected hate crime overnight Wednesday in Manshiya Zabda, where hateful writings 'Arabs are enemies — expel or kill' were scrawled. A Star of David was scrawled on one of the cars. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Allow Palestinians to Access Land That Used to Be Settler Outpost, Top Court Asks State  -Amona was evacuated by court order in 2017, but landowners have still not been permitted to enter the area as state claims ban prevents friction. (Haaretz+)
  • European Union to discuss recognition of Palestinian state - Channel 13 reported that the move is unlikely to succeed as all 28 members of the European bloc have to agree to the measure. (Israel Hayom)
  • Only 9 Percent of Israeli Arab Men Complete Undergraduate Degrees - Low graduation rate is sharp edge of sword in educational system where Arabs lag far behind their Jewish peers. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli cycling team qualifies for Tour de France for first time - The Israeli team, which includes some of the best riders in the sport today, has already made a name for itself in the Israeli leg of the 2018 Giro d'Italia and the Giro de Azerbaijan. The owners of the team, (Canadian-Israeli tycoon) Silvan Adams and (American tycoon) Ron Bar-On, welcomed the UCI's announcement. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Albania’s Prime Minister Lauds Israeli Soldiers Helping Country in Aftermath of Deadly Earthquake - Prime Minister Edi Rama, visiting the western port city of Durres on Monday, told a resident who was afraid to enter his apartment building that he could have confidence in the go-ahead from the Israeli engineers. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Trump to Sign Executive Order on anti-Semitism - The executive order 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,' treating it as a nationality and not only a religion. (Haaretz+)
  • New in German Army: Enlisted Military Rabbi - For the first time in nearly 100 years, the German army is recruiting a military rabbis for its Jewish soldiers. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Egypt Pushes for 'Collective' Action Against States Backing 'Terrorism' - Apparently referring to Turkey and Qatar, who back Egypt-banned Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says 'terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 'Very Big' Foreign Cyber Strike Thwarted, Iranian Minister Says - In September, Iran reviewed preparedness for cyberattacks, following media reports of Washington weighing possible attack on Tehran. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Iranian Airline for Transporting Lethal Aid - Also blacklisted was an Iranian shipping network involved in smuggling weapons from Iran to Yemen on behalf of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Russia, Turkey, Iran Say Concerned About 'Terrorist Presence' in Syria's Idlib  -The three countries also said they rejected attempts to create 'new realities on the ground, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives' and that they were opposed to the illegal seizure and transfer of Syrian oil revenues. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey says will retaliate against any U.S. sanctions over purchase of Russian S-400 missile system - American lawmakers are set to vote for a bill imposing sanctions on Ankara for purchasing the missile defense system. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Thursday: U.S. Senate Approves Bill to Impose Sanctions on Turkey - To become law, the bill would have to go through the House, which passed its own Turkish sanctions bill in October, and be signed by Trump. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Aramco Tops Saudi Crown Prince's $2 Trillion Target Despite Doubts - The Saudi Crown Prince has made the Aramco initial public offering (IPO) the centrepiece of his plan to diversify the Kingdom's economy away from its dependence on oil. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia says Houthi rockets targeted hospital in southern city - The Iran-backed Houthis have claimed several rocket and drone attacks on Saudi territory in recent months. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • How White House Veterans Helped Gulf Autocrats Build a Secret Global Hacking Empire - Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism czar to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, warned the U.S. Congress after 9/11 that the country needed more expansive spying powers - he later took that idea to the UAE. (Agencies, Haaretz)

In Israel’s Top Court, a Test Case for the Rights of Patrilineal Jews
Widows and widowers of those born to Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers are being denied the immigration rights afforded to those who were married to matrilineal Jews — and it could have consequences for American Jews. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
"It's a slap in the face": The (Druze) children who will be forced to leave the schools in Haifa
After the Haifa Municipality's decision that only Haifa students can study in the city, the children, whose fathers serve in the country’s security branches, talk about their bad feelings: "It is upsetting and insulting.” Eyal Alu, 12, from Usafiya town: "I feel like I'm being expelled from the city of Haifa, disconnected from everything I know, as if I'm different from the other children. I don't want to be cut-off from Jewish culture. What's wrong with me? What's not right about me? How am I different?" (Sigal Ben David in Maariv magazine supplement, pp. 4-5)
U.K. Election: ‘Thanks to Corbyn, There’s Never Been as Much Unity Among British Jews’
Baroness Julia Neuberger literally wrote the book on anti-Semitism. While she is skeptical of claims that U.K. Jews will leave if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister, she is adamant that the community shouldn’t vote for him in Thursday’s election. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
There's Only One Man Responsible for Israel's Third, Redundant Election (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) What has long since crossed the lines of absurdity and logic is the obsequiousness to Netanyahu of his right-wing bloc members.
Netanyahu is now facing himself and his fate, and his chances are not great (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The prime minister did not give up until the last minute, pleading with anyone he could plead to implore in order to urge him to give him eight months in office. At Gantz's Kahol-Lavan party, they would hear nothing of it. The original deal was six months. Besides, the question was who would take the first step? If Netanyahu announced the waiver of his immunity, he won't be able to go back. This is an irreversible step. What to do if Kahol-Lavan breaks its promise? And vice versa: If Kahol-Lavan agreed at the last-minute to the format Netanyahu proposed, before he announced his waiver of immunity to the Speaker of the Knesset, who can promise to the Gantzes that Bibi will not disappear at the last minute, leaving Kahol-Lavan with shattered credibility and a breach of promise to the voter?..At the end it's a story of credibility...The problem is that he conducts the negotiations through a messenger. Usually Isaac Molcho, but not only. At the moment of truth, when the bills need to be repaid, Netanyahu disappears...The political cemeteries are filled with mass graves of those who entered with him into a "draft" or "alliance" or negotiations. The wind carried them away and their ashes dispersed in the eternal hunting fields. Now that his credit  is emptied of any trust, he has been trying to scramble for months on end, probably to try to get a lenient plea deal with the court system, which, at the same time, he is trying to dismantle. If nothing dramatic changed in the last three hours until the 21 days expired (and the Knesset dissolved), Netanyahu understood yesterday that the ceremony is over, the magic expired. He is now facing himself and his fate, and his chances are not good.
Lieberman is the only one today offering an alternative to secular and liberal right-wingers (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) As strange as it may sound, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu may want exactly what he says he wants: to cut off the harmful identity between the right-wing and the ultra-Orthodox.
The Ultimate Chutzpah (Haaretz Editorial) As if our politicians hadn’t already broken enough records with their wanton behavior, on Wednesday the Knesset was set to push through a bill — holding all three mandatory votes in the same day — that gives the political parties tens of millions of shekels more in campaign funding. The existing law already gave the parties an exceptionally generous funding package, relative to other democracies. The new law was described as a “compromise,” but it would be more accurate to characterize it as an agreement of the cats over how to divide up the cream among themselves. Someday there will be a government, and it will have to pass a budget that will address the enormous deficit that has accrued and to cut spending. How will our elected officials be able to look the public in the eye as they reduce social services, after having taken tens of millions of shekels for the third election campaign in under a year?
Going to another election should have brought Israeli citizens into the streets (Abraham Tirosh, Maariv) The third election protest must not be abstention. On the contrary, it would be a commandment to go to the polls and punish those you see as the main culprit.
*Israel after Netanyahu (Nadav Eyal, Yedioth Hebrew) There is a feeling of an end (to Netanyahu's leadership) in the air. On the right, they say there will be no "bloc" after the election, Bezalel Smotrich [Ichud mentioned yesterday that "he always betrayed us," and on television, they are broadcasting features that cover his political life. In the Likud, for the first time in years, a heavyweight challenger, Gideon Sa'ar, has been running a campaign without unnecessary finesse. Faced with these final signs are the capabilities of one of the world's most skilled politicians. Any obituary for Netanyahu is too soon, until he says the words - I retire. But the image of the state after his reign is already becoming possible. Whether it is Kahol-Lavan, or the Likud, or the two major parties, they will have to reshape Israel after more than a decade. The challenges facing the leaders after Netanyahu will be tremendous. The first is a stern treatment of hatred and the way in which the Israeli public debate is conducted. In recent years the conversation has become acidic and violent. Netanyahu did not deal with sowing seeds of compromise, producing reconciliatory rhetoric or charging at the rifts before they expand into a chasm. He took advantage of these failures to increase his power. While his government has initiated many meaningful plans, say in the Arab public, it has failed to create a new and respectable dialogue. Netanyahu, quite simply, threw himself and allowed others to throw themselves into making unprecedented attacks at rival political camps, at minorities, at the media, at the justice system, at his opponents in the Likud and in the right-wing camp.
Right-wing liberals also need a home (Sofi Ron-Moria, Israel Hayom) The nationalist camp needs to understand that the symbiosis between the haredi parties and Likud comes with an ideological and electoral price, which we no longer have the luxury of denying.
The Perfect Lawyer for Netanyahu (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) “The Devil Next Door, the documentary series on the Demjanjuk trial, gives an additional perspective to the place of attorney Yoram Sheftel in Israel’s public life. What a long way he’s come from his branding as public enemy number one during that trial, in which he defended the man identified as the sadistic Nazi criminal Ivan the Terrible, to his present status as the prosecutor and spokesman of Israeli fascism, someone who defended Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian assailant. This is an image turnaround that is no less than inconceivable. At the Demjanjuk trial, Sheftel stood alone, facing Israel’s holy of holies, the project to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust. Not only did he thwart the efforts to convict Demjanjuk, he claimed that the whole trial was staged only for show, objecting to the submission of testimonies by survivors. Why do we need to hear these, he provocatively challenged the judges, arguing that these testimonies had nothing to do with establishing Demjanjuk’s identity as Ivan the Terrible. “Why do we have to hear this?” he said on the air before the entire nation, surviving and even prospering. His whole manner exuded a cheapening of the survivors’ dignity and of the commemoration of the Holocaust, which the trial was intended to serve. There is no greater sin in Israeli society. There is supposedly no way back after committing it. And yet, miraculously, Sheftel is now the darling of the extremist Jewish right wing in Israel, the one making the most intensive use of the Holocaust as justification for its worldview, the one embracing it as a central pillar in the formation of its identity. What a paradox.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Israeli Army Fears New Election Will Kill Opportunity for Gaza Deal (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Military officials describe one-time chance for a long-term agreement with Hamas, but politicians will have a hard time making a move that could be seen as a concession.
Trump's anti-Semitism order is a Rorschach test for Jews (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) If you are against federal action to stop anti-Semitic discrimination on college campuses just because Trump is doing it, then you’re the one with the problem.
Four reasons for concern following Trump's speech at the IAC conference (Vice President of ‘Reut’ organization, Naama Keller, Maariv)  Don't be blinded by with the moving pictures of Shalva Choir (Israeli choir of mentally disabled singers), and start worrying about the words President Trump said on stage and their impact on us Israelis. Last Saturday night, a Jewish-American student named Blake Playton tweeted on his Twitter account against Trump, using the hashtag #disloyal. Playton is a Jewish student who loves Israel and who only recently published a poignant article in the New York Times that accuses American society of bipartisanship that prevents liberal Jews from participating in human rights protests unless they choose to condemn Israel. What causes a young man, with a very strong connection to the US and Israel, to respond to President Trump's speech at the IAC (Israeli-American Council) conference Saturday night, through a bleak expression of lack of loyalty, reminding us of dark times in the history of the Jewish people? We, the Israelis who listened to the speech, may be blinded by the important and correct things Trump dealt with in his speech: addressing the issue of the Iranian nuclear power, denying aid to the Palestinian Authority, opposition to BDS, the derogatory standard of the United Nations' double standards for Israel, and of course, the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan and the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. For dessert, we also got the hug the Shalva band, which is a source of Israeli pride. At the same time, the American Jews, who are the largest concentration of Jews outside of Israel, hear the very same speech, and shrink in anxiety. The unimaginable gap between how the speech is perceived between the two communities requires us to rethink our relationship and to be concerned. Here are the main reasons:
1. "Some Jews Don't Like Israel Enough" - This Trump argument raises the question of who Americans Jews are loyal to, and to whom they are not. The charge of double allegiance or disloyalty to the government is an ancient anti-Semitic claim…
2. Israel becomes a party political issue - as a continuation of a series of events that we have been experiencing in recent years, Israel is becoming more and more affiliated with the Republican side of the American political map, and is dropping off the agenda of the Democratic Party. This charge erodes one of the most important strategic assets in alliance with the American power: bipartisan support.
3. Adding fire of anti-Semitism - In his speech, Trump called attendees wealthy killer real estate agents who will vote for him because they don’t want to lose their riches. Such statements fuel the classic anti-Semitism in the United States that is currently on a dangerous rise.
4. The effect of this speech on the relations between Jewish Americans and Israelis in America, who are the living bridges that connect between Israel and the local Jewish communities.
Are you Jewish? Don't show it (Dudi Caspi, Israel Hayom) Hatred of foreigners is once again rearing its ugly head in the Land of Freedom and Opportunity. Times change and technology marches on, but anti-Semitism is here to stay.
Our Hit Men (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Israel loves to revel in its bloody memories – how we killed, how we eliminated, how we murdered, what heroes we were. Every so often another so-called documentary, which is nothing but propaganda in favor of murder, extols Israeli heroism, always worshipfully, always with admiration for the heroic hit men, always with a sly, knowing wink, without asking questions, without casting doubt, without serious debate. There aren’t many countries that send kill units to off their enemies in their sleep, in front of their wives and children, let alone boast about it, running to tell their friends, as the Hebrew joke goes, and even turning these murders into a positive value as the media cheers them on. Israel murders, and the media marvels. Even if it were possible to somehow understand the motivation or even the justification for the murders and targeted killings — which were never particularly wise — making the murders into exemplary behavior is unthinkable. Perhaps it’s an unavoidable necessity — very doubtful — but a source of pride? Mass entertainment? Murder as amusement? Thus last week Kan public television broadcast a movie on the planned wholesale elimination of the entire Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip, which thankfully was not executed. (Operation Anemone Picking, the plan was called, and it was described as the “dream of every intelligence agent"). Now Channel 13 is broadcasting “Reshimat Hisul” (“Hit List,” another exemplary series, which surveys Israel’s murders and praises their executors to the high heavens.
The new EU push for Palestinian statehood (Yoni Ben Menachem, Israel Hayom) Israel must make it clear to Europe that negotiations are the only acceptable path toward Palestinian statehood.
Leifer Extradition Snafu Is Gut Punch for Israel-adoring Australian Jews (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The Maccabiah Bridge disaster was strike one. The protracted and corruption-riddled extradition process of an alleged ultra-Orthodox sexual predator is strike two.
South Africa Is Not the World's Second Most anti-Semitic State (Karen Milner and David Sacks, Haaretz+) The ADL ranks South Africa's population just below Poland's as holding the world’s most anti-Semitic attitudes. We think that’s wrong.
ADL downplays anti-Semitism among European Muslims
(Andrew Bostom, Israel Hayom) The abject failure of Jewish and other religious and civic leaders to denounce institutionalized Islamic Jew-hatred is a lingering disgrace.
The British Election Where Racism Came to the Fore (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Both Jewish and Muslim leaders fear that it will take years to detoxify the bigotry on the left and the right.
The ayatollahs’ anxiety is showing (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) Faced with internecine strife and external pressure from the United States and Israel, Iranian honchos appear to be growing agitated.
In Iraq, Iran is facing a new strategic dilemma (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Tehran is attempting to retain its influence by experimenting with new methods of fighting. If it won't use more force, Iran may lose its grip there.
From the Gaza Border to Oxford: Israel’s New Rhodes Scholars Love Their Country but 'Reject Hasbara Approach'  
Lev Cosijns and Anat Peled both served in the Israeli army and have a shared love of Harry Potter. But that’s where the similarities end for this pair of impressive young students. (Interviewed by Allison Kaplan Sommer in Haaretz+)

'I hope Jews who left can come back to Venezuela,' minister says
Julio Borges, the foreign minister of Venezuela's shadow government says renewing diplomatic ties with Israel, severed in 2009, is a top priority for President Juan Guaidó. (Interviewed by  Shlomi Diaz in Israel Hayom)

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