News Nosh 12.17.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday December 17, 2019

Quote of the day:
"(Everyone) worked here together in agriculture. There was no difference between them. After a hard day's work in the field they sat together on the ground, each one took out the food he had brought from home, and everyone ate some of the other’s food. One told a joke, another told a story, and that’s how they passed time pleasantly. They liked one another, they laughed and they cried together.”
--Shfaram Mayor Ursan Yassin, 65, described to a group of visiting Jewish descendants his father's description of the shared life of Jews, Christians, Druze and Muslims, who lived "like one family" in the town until 100 years ago, when the Jews left for other parts.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Back to the cursed mountain - Ron Leshem talks to the soldiers who didn’t succeed in leaving the Bufour military outpost in Lebanon (Friday paper)
  • Together the whole way - Interview with Gideon Saar and (his wife, TV presenter) Geula Even (Friday paper)
  • The siren dilemma in the IDF - Expose - Senior brass think that in case of just a few rockets from Gaza, it’s not necessary to turn on sirens and that they can just trust the Iron Dome, in order to reduce the number of people who feel anxiety (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Chief of Staff: “The number of enemies we have is greater than the number of fronts”
  • The last bicycle ride of Tomer and Yaniv (hit and killed by car)
  • Netanyahu: “People are waking up, we will win”; (Gideon) Saar launched campaign: “We need change”
  • The largest logistical operation ever: This is how the Foreign Ministry is preparing for hosting 40 leaders from around the world
  • Giant exit: Intel acquired Israeli company for $2 billion

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:

Alongside the killing of two bicyclists hit by a car and the Intel acquisition of an Israeli start-up for $2 billion, today’s top stories were about the latest moves of Israeli politicians ahead of the upcoming elections.

MK Gideon Saar launched his campaign by praising his rival for the Likud leadership, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but declaring that Netanyahu has no chance of forming a government and voting for Saar in the Likud primary next week “will ensure a Likud rule, and a new government led by us," he said, adding that “A vote for Netanyahu is a vote for the next opposition leader." The battle is fierce and some pro-Netanyahu Likud activists made a video portraying Sa'ar as a terrorist, given orders by left-wingers.

Meanwhile, Meretz decided to keep its chairman and not hold primaries and will likely form a list with the Green Movement, headed by Stav Shaffir, and the Israel Democratic Party, headed by Yair Golan. in order to get a bigger campaign budget. And the New Right launched its election campaign featuring Naftali Bennett, but not Ayelet Shaked, who apparently has not yet decided which party she is going to join. Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman slammed Kahol-Lavan, accusing it of “cooking up a deal with the Orthodox parties” and not continuing with its last election promise to form a secular unity government.
Quick Hits:
  • Immigration to Israel surging, asylum seekers no longer arriving — state report - Report released to mark International Migrants Day shows majority of olim are content with their lives, but far fewer are satisfied with their economic status. Over 3 million have moved to Israel since 1949, with over 40% arriving in the ’90’s, though many have left. (Ynet, Times of Israel and Maariv)
  • Israel's Settlement Spending Rose, Even After Golan Heights Removed From the Equation - Data shows highest first-quarter spending in a decade, which rights group says comes at expense of communities inside Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • Pompeo slams Democrats' 'foolish' fixation on Israeli settlements - “While you are free to fixate on settlements as a barrier to peace, you are simply wrong in referring to that view as being subject to bipartisan agreement,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo writes in a strong rebuttal to 106 Democrats who had urged him to reverse his declaration on the legality of Israeli settlements. (Israel Hayom)
  • Lebanese news network claims they have draft of President Trump's 'deal of the century' agreement - According to Al Mayadeen, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas will sign the agreement that will see a new Palestinian state formed in the West Bank, excluding Jewish settlements that will remain under Israeli control. And, Jerusalem would remain unified under shared control between the new Palestinian state and Israel. (Ynet, JPost and Maariv)
  • European Union opposes the Old City cable car - Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin sent a furious letter of complaint to the EU's ambassador to Israel, protesting that the EU and the New Israel Fund sponsored an emergency conference to be held the following day, as part of the public campaign against the plan to build a cable car in the Old City of Jerusalem. The cable car program, approved in the housing cabinet, aims to improve access to the Old City for up to 3,000 passengers an hour in each direction (residents, tourists, visitors, merchants and more). Palestinians are campaigning against the plan, and the “Emek Shaveh” organization, which works for cultural and heritage rights and preserving antiquities sites as a public property, will hold an "emergency conference" against it on Thursday. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • IDF opposes shortening military service for male soldiers - The military is having a hard time bringing about a change to legislation which stipulates that the male soldiers’ service will be reduced to only 30 months. The IDF waited until now for a government to be formed, but that will be postponed and the fear is of a lack of manpower. (Maariv)
  • IDF invited only male soldiers to an event held today by Chabad Hasids in Jerusalem - The show was sponsored by the “Joint Camp" organization, which is connected to Chabad. It will also be attended by musicians Yishai Rivo, Avraham Fried, as well as Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, who called for soldiers to refuse orders and called the LGBT community “sick people taking over the state.”(NOTE: Chabad published its own - very different - article today about its work with soldiers.) (Haaretz Hebrew)
  • IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi: "Saying a lie is a violation of the contract of good faith that exists with Israeli society"
  • - The Chief of Staff spoke at a ceremony for outstanding units nd addressed the storm around the false data in ultra-Orthodox recruitment: "Honesty, truth-telling and reliable reporting are the soul of the IDF.” (Maariv)
  • IDF chief: The number of Israel's enemies is greater than the number of fronts - "In Syria, for example, the [Iranian] Quds Force and Hezbollah are operating, and in Lebanon, Iran's terrorist tentacles are solidifying their grip," Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Signs $35 Million Weapons System Deal With Montenegro - The three-year contract to supply vehicle—mounted weapons systems costs nearly half of the small NATO state's military expenditure per year. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Report: J Street sought to undermine US military aid to Israel - The plan to offset US military aid with money Israel invests in settlements, according to "The Intercept," was ultimately torpedoed by Yael Patir, the group's Israel director, who warned that J Street would lose any influence it has in the Knesset or Israeli politics in general if it endorses conditioning military aid. (Israel Hayom)
  • British government to pass anti-BDS law, senior Conservative says - Lord Eric Pickles tells Jerusalem conference that 'BDS is anti-Semitic, and should be treated as such'; new bill expected to pull rug from under feet of UK anti-Israel organizations as London strives to tighten trade ties with Jewish state, boost cooperation with Mideast nations. (Yedioth/Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Jewish Agency urges greater effort to recover lost Jewish property in Arab countries - Jewish Agency to call a special conference to address recovery of assets estimated at $150 billion. Foreign Minister Israel Katz: Ignoring the issue serves Palestinian propaganda. (Israel Hayom)
  • Mossad chief during Yom Kippur War tells senior CIA official to 'kiss his ass' - Former head of Mossad Efraim Halevy shares story of war's first dramatic days and what his predecessor had to say to CIA deputy director. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu denied permission to leave Israel - High court rejects petition from man who revealed country’s nuclear secrets in 1986. Vanunu is still under restrictive conditions, which prohibit contacting citizens and foreigners. However, the judges urged the state to try to find ways to ease Mr Vanunu’s conditions in Israel. (Irish Times and Maariv)
  • Boys in Religious Zionist System Score Lowest on International Test Among Israel's Jewish Schools  -Former official says religious schools have less general studies, waste resources due to gender segregation, and emphasize teachers' values over professionalism. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Regulator Approves Sharply Reduced Compensation in Egypt Natural Gas Dispute, Israel becomes major energy exporter - Israel Electric will get just $500 million, to be passed on to customers, for Egypt’s cutting off exports in 2012. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Winners of the Sami Michael Award - The Sami Michael Prize for Equality and Social Justice for 2019 was awarded this year to sociologist Prof. Sammy Smooha, musician Neta Alkayam and filmmaker Ibtisam Marana-Menuchin. The award given by the Sami Michael Association, the Heksherim Institute for the study of Israeli Jewish culture and the Herzog Institute at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was given to individuals who contribute to reducing gaps in society and providing equal opportunities. The prize amount is 21,000 shekels, which is evenly distributed among the three winners. [NOTE: Sami Michael was born in Baghdad, where he was in the communist underground and worked as a journalist. He moved to Israel in part out of fear he would be arrested by the Iraqi government. In Israel he wrote books and worked as a civil servant. Today he serves as the President of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. - OH] (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Ancient Roman Garum Factory Found in Israel, Suitably Far Away From Town - The Romans loved their raw fish guts sauce and, appropriately for an industry based on fermenting fish offal, the factory found in Ashkelon was nowhere near homes. (Haaretz+VIDEO)
  • WATCH: Trump Touts Same Story About Israel Four Times, Each Time Mentioning a Different Jewish Friend - On at least four occasions over the past few months, Trump has told the same story about U.S. policy befitting Israel, each time featuring a different Jewish figure. (Haaretz)
  • Over 300 Iranian protesters killed within four days, revised Amnesty estimate says - 'Testimonies suggest that almost immediately after authorities massacred hundreds of those participating in nationwide protests, they went on to orchestrate a wide-scale clampdown,' rights group says. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanon's political deadlock lingers as president delays naming new PM - Michel Aoun was expected to name Saad al-Hariri prime minister again, even though he resigned in October following protests. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Sudan says it will shut down Hamas, Hezbollah offices - Report quotes official who says that Sudan has "no ties to these terrorists." Decision believed to be an attempt to have Sudan removed from US list of state sponsors of terrorism. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pentagon chief to Iraq: Stop attacks on bases housing U.S. forces - Mark Esper's call came after a senior U.S. military official warned last week that attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq were pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Qatar says broke stalemate with Saudi Arabia, in talks to end boycott - Efforts to end two-year Gulf row intensified after September attack on a Saudi oil plant. Last week, Qatar's premier attended the Gulf Arab summit in Riyadh. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Netanyahu's Party to Blame for Corbyn Defeat, Says French Far-left Leader - Jean-Luc Melenchon says 'networks of influence from Likud' were to blame for Labor's worst showing since 1935. (JTA, Haaretz)

Why 88 Israeli Arabs Were Murdered This Year, but Only 27 Cases Were Solved
Shooting deaths of Israeli Arabs are surging, but investigators are hamstrung by a lack of evidence and eyewitnesses who won’t talk. The result? Lenient plea deals. (Josh Breiner, Haaretz+)
A question of alarm
The increasing numbers of victims of anxiety and injuries while running to bomb shelters, alongside the increased number of false alarms, have led senior officials in the IDF to consider whether, during regular periods only - to give up sounding the alarms and to only rely on the Iron Dome anti-missile battery. The Home Front opposes: “The price of a single rocket that causes deaths, even if it’s unlikely, is greater than all the suffering from anxiety and physical injuries.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
*Jewish Israelis Find Their Roots in This now-Arab City
About 100 years ago, the last Jew left Shfaram, now a predominantly Muslim city in northern Israel. Last month, its mayor hosted dozens of descendants of the Jewish community at an event that was part history, part coexistence. (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+)
Trump, Israel and the Middle East: Mayhem, betrayal and 'America First'
Allies, officials and now the Congress have sounded the alarm about the U.S. president's foreign policy. From Syria to Iran, Haaretz takes a deep dive into the impact of three years of Trumpism in the Mideast. Click on 'hotspots' and 'administration' for the complete breakdown. (Alexander Griffing and Esther Solomon, Haaretz+)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
The right-wing camp needs to go out to the polls and determine the fate of our people (Dr. Haim Misgav, Maariv) The one who is now stands at the head is Netanyahu, and behind the ballot curtain we must forgot everything they accuse him of. It may all be right - and it may all be wrong. The vote for him is a vote for "the camp" of the right-wing.
Don't eulogize the Right just yet (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Contrary to what some in the opposition would have you believe, the 55-member right-wing bloc is alive and kicking and the rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.
The source of the gap between the will of the people and what politicians think it wants (Rabbi Avi Berman, Maariv) Politicians communicate with us mainly through the media. This situation led them to adopt a divisive discourse. The algorithm defeated the people on the ground and with it the perception that the people were interested in a schism in society.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Let Us Speak Arabic Too (Rana Ghanem Zeen El Deen, Haaretz+) Israel must stop perceiving language as a national-identity issue and start to perceive it as a resource. Think about those who are not finding their place in the job market due to the language barrier. About those who sign up for unemployment or work at jobs that don’t make use of their abilities.
Hebrew, speak Arabic - a tool for coexistence (Michael Milstein, Yedioth Hebrew) The lack of knowledge of Arabic among Jews is multi-dimensional: It makes direct dialogue and developing relationships difficult, and it especially prevents knowing the world and the culture of the Arab citizens. Jews who were asked why they were put off about learning Arabic gave a variety of answers: Security fear, lack of understanding how it is useful, and cultural contempt. Those who learned Arabic in middle school and high school were taught mainly the Arabic of literature. Soken Arabic, which is the real key to direct personal dialogue, is practically not taught at all.
Bennett, the Battle for Judea Has Been Decided (Shaul Arieli, Haaretz+) The imaginary “Kingdom of Judea” envisioned by Naftali Bennett and his pals from Gush Emunim, in all its transformations, has fallen. The truth is, it never really arose after its destruction following the failed Bar Kochba revolt. The defense minister has known this for some time. His decision to expand the Jewish enclave in the old city of Hebron – by adding a neighborhood lying on the rooftops of stores in the former and now abandoned Hebron wholesale market – will not change reality, a gloomy one in his eyes. It will only increase the price Israel will have to pay one day for its restoration to sanity.
Is it time for Israel to codify its national security strategy? (Yaakov Lappin, Israel Hayom) For years, Israeli governments have made strategic decisions without formal principles on how to conduct national security efforts, including the use of military power.
Israel’s Left Has Forgotten What It Means to Be Leftist (Issawi Freij, Haaretz+) “We promised and we’re delivering,” announced Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz a few weeks ago in a Facebook post in which he enumerated the agreements he’d reached with Kahol Lavan regarding the formation of a coalition that never materialized. Everything was there, in those agreements — minimum wage, contract workers, free education from birth, public housing and many other worthy and important demands made by Labor. Everything but one item that was once the essence of the party’s identity and is now not even part of its coalition demands — the quest for peace.
Right-wing Jews are not 'weaponizing anti-Semitism' (Adam Levick, Israel Hayom) The lead drafter of the IHRA Working Definition of Anti-Semitism attributes its inclusion in Trump’s executive order on anti-Semitism to “right-wing Jewish groups,” but fails to explain support for the measure from the AJC and ADL, among others.
Trump is actually undermining America's relationship with Israel (Susie Gelman, Haaretz+) Despite offering a veneer of commitment to Israel, the White House is shaping an environment that is less stable and less safe for the Jewish state.
American Jewry is here to stay (Alon Pinkus, Yedioth/Ynet) No Jewish community has thrived more, prospered more and enjoyed religious freedom more than the one in the United States; one cannot ignore the anti-Semitism that does exist there but one cannot say that it poses an existential threat.
How Trump and Netanyahu split ways on Iran, pushing Israel to act alone (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Though many on the pro-settler right still think Trump is a divine miracle, senior Israeli officials have come to the disquieting realization that, in its hour of need, Israel can't rely on the president.
El-Sissi has created a dilemma for the US (Itzhak Levanon, Israel Hayom) Egypt can buy aircraft from Russia and be punished by losing American aid, which will cost the US leverage. Or the US can sell it the F-35, which would fail to ensure that Israel keeps its qualitative edge.
If Israel has to manage without its American strategic partner, it will still survive (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) As the Israeli economy has grown, the need for American assistance has decreased and the actual costs for Israel of a dependency on American arms are becoming more evident.
Israelis Love Trump. They're Not the First to Fall for His False Promises (Benjamin Parker, Haaretz+) If he’s re-elected, Trump won’t need to appease eagerly pro-Israel evangelicals anymore. He’ll able to indulge his natural inclinations, which might not be quite as friendly toward the Jewish state.
What About Israel’s Refugees? (Haaretz Editorial) The first Global Refugee Forum opened this week in Geneva. Organizations and countries from around the world sent delegates; Israel sent officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority. It is important for Israel to be represented at the conference, since it too is affected by the refugee crisis. It’s highly doubtful, however, that its representatives will speak openly about Israel’s ineptness in dealing with the global refugee crisis. According to Population and Immigration Authority data, 29,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan live in Israel. Some have been here for over a decade, but their applications for asylum were never approved. They are forced to live here without legal status, devoid of rights and of hope. That, despite the fact that the fence that was installed on Israel’s border with Egypt completely prevents any additional asylum seekers from entering the country.
Lebanon’s Protest Have Only One Solution, and It’s Nowhere in Sight (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) With long and tiresome negotiations expected over the country's next government, the question is how long the public can wait while avoiding violent clashes.
ISIS Is Still Alive and Well in Sinai, and Israel Fears a Major Attack on Its Egypt Border (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) ISIS may have been crushed in Syria and Iraq, but the group's branch in the Sinai Peninsula is continuing to function without any noticeable problems.

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