News Nosh 12.18.19

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APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday December 18, 2019

 
Quote of the day:
"(Justice Minister) Ohana decided to stomp on the appointment process of the acting State Prosecutor, using the guise of naively saying it was his authority. He ignores the fact that the Knesset did not imagine it would ever need to legislate a law that would break the judicial legal public crisis like the one that exists today. Ohana also signals that strategically, he or his replacement, if Netanyahu wins the third election, will charge at the fortress - the head of the State Prosecution. In a paraphrase of Leonard Cohen: “First we’ll take the State Prosecution, then the Attorney General."
--Yedioth legal affairs analyst, Tovah Tzimuki, writes in today's paper about the Justice Minister's controversial decision to appoint someone 'contentious,' low ranking and not who the Attorney General had proposed.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
“Safety reasons.”
—The reason the Jerusalem Municipality gave for removing a sign it had posted at the entrance to the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City wishing all the Christian residents “a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." In its place a new sign was placed in honor of Hanukkah.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
  • (Justice Minister) Ohana chose a deputy district prosecutor as acting State Prosecutor; (Attorney General) Mendelblitt: The appointment is unreasonable
  • He achieved his goal // Gidi Weitz
  • The Minister presents: Provocation instead of a prosecutor // Mordechai Kremnitzer
  • Ohana quoted the head of IDF Intel to justify the appointment, in the IDF they were in shock // Amos Harel
  • The result of the attempt to impeach Trump is known in advance, but the drama is still ahead of us // Chemi Shalev
  • First conference on refugees: A lot of donations, little commitment to absorb asylum seekers
  • Nine minors from central Israel are suspected of raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl
  • Israel’s birds are becoming displaced because of invasive species
  • Self goal // Zvi Bar’el on declaring that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism
  • Diversity, that’s all // Netanel Ben-Porat on transferring decisions of religion and state to municipalities
  • Sick system // Orly Vilnai writes that new and modern equipment won’t help if hospitals don’t have enough staff
  • The tourists will remain home // Rina Rozenberg-Kandel writes that without a working government and budget, the tourism branch is in danger
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • 20 years after the investigation that shocked the country - New discoveries in the Kishon River scandal: 500 (Israeli navy seals) soldiers got cancer, 100 died (Hebrew)
  • Appointment of acting state prosecutor: (Attorney General) Mendelblitt against (Justice Minister) Ohana (Hebrew)
  • Coup // Tovah Tzimuki
  • Under his authority // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • (Yedioth’s) Conference of the State - January 6, Jerusalem
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Primaries also for Likud list: Ahead of the decision - Change in Likud: “It’s not certain that the cancelling of primaries for the (Likud) list was done as per rules”
  • This is how a real democracy in action looks // Eitan Orkibi
  • Storm of the prosecutor: On the way to a confrontation at the High Court
  • (MK) Rabbi Peretz opposes (MK Ayelet) Shaked: “I compromised for her and she hurt me”
  • At the last minute: A judge stopped the ‘Leviatan’ gas rig from being tested
  • Special - They immigrate to serve in the army - and wait long periods for no reason

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
Justice Minister Amir Ohana sparked a storm with his appointment of Orly Ben-Ari as acting State Prosecutor, in opposition to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt who chose someone else. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his Likud rival, Gideon Saar, began campaigning hard ahead of the vote over the Likud party leadership next week.

Attorney General Mendelblit said the appointment of Orly Ben-Ari Ginsberg is extremely unreasonable, and that there would be legal impediment to approving it. (In the meantime there was an appeal to the High Court and the swearing-in was frozen. - OH) One of the most interesting parts of today’s papers were the analyses by the papers’ legal commentators about why Ohana chose this particular prosecutor, one who is now the boss of the prosecutor who was her boss at the Central District Court. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) The question was whether Ben-Ari would have access and influence over Netanyahu’s criminal cases. According to Tovah Tzimuki, she will. (Tzimuki wrote a very interesting analysis about motivations. - OH) According to Haaretz, Mendelblitt can and will bar her access to the Netanyahu cases.

The newspapers also had juicy tidbits to share about Mrs. Ben-Ari and why she was perceived as the wrong choice. Haaretz+ called her a ‘contentious figure’ and quoted a legal source who said, “More than once we wondered when she expressed an opinion whether it was purely a legal opinion or whether it was part of a move in other areas. That’s a shame because she’s an excellent prosecutor.” Another person who knows Ben-Ari said: “From the legal standpoint, she’s no different than the other prosecutors. … She never did things differently, so it’s not clear what he expects her to do differently.” Maariv wrote that she had a “murky relationship with the man she is replacing, Shai Nitzan. She called the outgoing State Prosecutor "Hitler" and “Al-Qaeda.” She served in the IDF intelligence unit 8200, where she also learned Arabic. Yedioth wrote that she was hawkish on security issues. She worked on sensitive cases such as the Tali Fahima affair, which Fahima admitted contact with a foreign agent, and the Prisoner X affair, about the Australian Ben Zygier who served in the Mossad, gave away secrets and was secretly imprisoned by Israel and died in detention. When she met with Mendelblitt after her appointment, she expressed her disappointment with his chilly reception, to which he said: "It's not personal, I will fight the appointment.” In a video interview on Ynet, Yedioth’s veteran judicial affairs reporter Tovah Tzimuki called the decision “sticking a finger in Mendelblitt’s eye with the intention of destabilizing morale and authority of the State Attorney’s Office.

Maariv reported that Netanyahu is doing a lot of field campaigning in the eight days left before the vote for the leadership of Likud. Both men’s campaigns are centered on continuously uploading "aggressive videos" on the social media networks against Kahol-Lavan and the Left-wing in an attempt to make them viral, the paper reported. “The media polls are lying," Netanyahu said in a video released yesterday. "We're going to win big in the Knesset elections. We see it enthusiastically on the ground. This time, we won’t let Gantz unite with (Arab MK Ahmed) Tibi. And this time we won't lose any votes on the right. Don't let the media and polls fool you. Only you will determine. Nobody else.” Saar is trying to portray himself as the savior of the right-wing at the ballot box. He released a video yesterday titled "Victory for Saar, nightmare of the Left." Netanyahu's supporters in the party, among them Culture Minister Miri Regev and Foreign Minister Israel Katz, lambasted Saar for running against Netanyahu, to which Saar said: "They're trying to brand anyone who dares to offer an alternative," he said. "I'm even more right wing than Netanyahu."

Ironically, Saar demanded that cameras be placed at the Likud polling stations. He turned to the Likud court after the party was not responding to his request. As may be remembered, Netanyahu and his Likud colleagues in government pushed hard to put cameras in polling stations in the Arab sector, claiming that many Arab citizens make illicit votes. It turns out that there is great concern that the Likud voters will cheat. Maariv reported that Netanyahu agreed to Saar’s request: “It will help the purity of elections.”

Meanwhile, veteran Likud MK Benny Begin called on Netanyahu to resign. "It is not only a legal question - there is an educational and moral aspect. One cannot treat the indictment as if it were rain - he cannot be prime minister," Begin said. And in the town of Yarka, Druze activists planned to demonstrate in protest of the Jewish Nation State Law during Netanyahu's visit, Maariv reported. Dr. Amir Hanifas, received threats to his life. Hanifas had organized the protest against Netanyahu and the Nation State Bill,

Other Top News Summary:
In other news, Maariv reported that Israeli security in the south was on alert for a response after the army killed an “armed terrorist” in Gaza when he walked near the border fence. (VIDEO) Ynet also noted that 2,200 people protested at several locations along the Gaza border last Friday (NOTE: That is a relatively small amount and shows that Hamas is keeping its side of the agreement - OH)

Also of interest, Congress rejected a request Monday for $175 million to support US President Donald Trump's 'Deal of the Century’ and a source told Haaretz that skepticism about the plan's release contributed to the decision. Then on Tuesday, Congress agreed to give $150 million in aid to the Palestinians, defying the Trump Administration. Half goes to the Palestinian Authority security forces and half to civilian and humanitarian programs, the latter which the Trump Administration had completely cut-off. Oddly, Israel Hayom reported that the House passed a bill with $3.3 billion for Israel, Jewish-related priorities and wrote that “no US aid will go to the Palestinian Authority.”
Quick Hits:
  • Documentary on Israeli Lawyer Defending Palestinians Accused of Terrorism Shortlisted for Oscar - Five finalists for award will be announced next month. ‘Stay Close,’ co-produced by Israeli Nevo Shinaar, shortlisted in the documentary short category. (Haaretz+VIDEO and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Arab community leaders: Why were Arab infants sent to Sweden for adoption? - Almost 200 children were dispatched to Scandinavia from Israel over three decades, which Israeli officials say was due to lack of willing candidates for adoption in the country; Hebrew University law prof.: I tried to get answers 20 years ago but AG stonewalled me. (Ynet)
  • Wave of arrests in Arab society: Business owners detained for questioning over suspicion of criminal activity - Numerous police and judicial units carried out an operation during which a number of people were arrested and taken for questioning in to the Anti-Fraud Unit 433 following serious deficiencies found in the businesses they conduct, such as: tax evasion, health standards violations, fire safety violations, employing Palestinians without permits, stealing electricity, etc.  The activity was carried out in Ibilin, Tira, Abu-Snan, Umm al-Fahm, Hadera and Haifa. (Maariv)
  • Israel to Compensate Palestinian Shepherd Injured in West Bank Military Firing Zone - Hussein Rafaiqa was 15 years old when he lost four fingers after picking up an unexploded grenade in an area court ruled wasn't cleared properly by the army. (Haaretz+)
  • **The ruling religion over the sign - The Jerusalem Municipality surprised the passers-by at the Jaffa Gate, and hung a sign at the entrance to the Old City for a Christian holiday: "The Jerusalem Municipality wishes all its Christian residents a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." The sign was written in three languages, Hebrew Arabic and English, but those who rushed to rejoice at the burst of tolerance of the capital were disappointed to find out yesterday morning that the sign was removed  for "safety reasons" and in its place a new sign was placed in honor of Hanukkah. The municipality says that "due to a mistake in installing signs, the Christmas greeting sign will be moved to its intended location.” [NOTE: Jaffa Gate is the entrance to the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. - OH] (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Officials Slam Defense Minister: Withholding Bodies Won't Help Return Israelis Held in Gaza - Newly-appointed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered the army to withhold all bodies of Palestinians, regardless of which terror organization they belonged to. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Court Delays Gas Rig Test as Locals Decry Threat of Pollutants - The Leviathan facility, whose lead partner is Houston-based Noble Energy, was scheduled to begin test operations this week and emit pollutants such as benzene, a carcinogen. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Tour guide waves Israeli flag on Temple Mount - A tour guide taking Israelis on to the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem waved an Israeli flag before being forced out of the area by Islamic Trust (waqf) guards and Israeli police. (Ynet)
  • First time: Strawberry exports from Gaza to UK and Gulf coordinated by Israel - For the first time, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has coordinated the export of tons of strawberries from the Gaza strip to the UK and Gulf countries via Israel in an effort to strengthen local Gaza growers and improve the economy in the Strip. (Ynet)
  • Hamas Reveals 'Failed Israeli Attempt' to Recruit Agent From Group's Ranks - Lebanese TV reports Shin Bet operators directed double-agent to plant GPS devices in missile launchers. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Hamas: Abbas not serious about holding Palestinian elections - Unnamed member of group says president has yet to issue official decree that should have gone out last week, with no explanation for delay; analyst warns PA doesn’t recognize Hamas authority over Gaza, which will pose major stumbling block to holding vote in Strip, while Israel objects to polling in East Jerusalem. (Ynet)
  • Bible-era Temple Found Near Jerusalem May Be Linked to Ark of the Covenant - Unusual slab uncovered in 3,100-year-old Beth Shemesh temple recalls biblical ‘large stone’ on which the ark once rested, suggesting kernels of history in the Bible are much older than thought. (Haaretz+)
  • Concern in Egypt: Turkey is planning to establish a military base in Tripoli - Turkish newspaper Haver Turk quoted sources as saying that Ankara has completed the feasibility study needed to establish a military base in the Libyan capital, noting that its establishment gives new meaning to Turkey's allies and rivals. (Maariv and Reuters)
  • Head of Iran’s Quds Force in Yemen, Who is Behind Saudi Oil Attack, ‘Identified’ - Western intelligence sources cited by the French newsletter Intelligence Online say Gen. Reza Shahi has 400 fighters behind him. He’s just one card in the hands of the Tehran regime, says CIA veteran. (Haaretz+)
  • Trump administration refrains from endorsing recognition of Armenian Genocide - Turkey had summoned its U.S. ambassador after the House recognized the genocide and condemned the Syria incursion in another blow to Turkish-American relations. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Australia sentences 2 brothers over plane bomb plot foiled with IDF help - Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat are sentenced to 36 and 40 years respectively after they'd planted a bomb on their third brother, due to his homosexuality, by handing him an IED disguised as a meat grinder ahead of his Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in 2017 (Agencies, Ynet)


Features:
Terror village
The Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, next to Armon Hanatziv, has been a hotbed of terrorism since the Second Intifada. Is it because the residents are poor and desperate? Not really – many of the Jabel Mukaber terrorists come from well-off families. [NOTE: This article does not seriously examine the reasons that numerous young residents make attacks against Israelis for which in most cases they know they will be killed. The writer interviews a Jewish ‘experts’ and only in the very last paragraph does he interview a ‘well known figure in the village’ - probably by phone. It appears he did no ground work, because he had interest in hearing from the people themselves. Shame. - OH) (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom)
Soccer between the West Bank and Gaza
Football at the Palestinian Authority level is unlike what is happening with the national team, which has made significant improvements thanks to the invitation of players with Palestinian roots from around the world - it even participated in the last two Asian Championships. Due to geographical and security restrictions, there are two separate leagues [in the Palestinian Territories]: the West Bank, which is stronger, and the Gaza Strip, both are considered relatively inferior to the Asian Football (soccer) Association. The Gaza Strip champion does not participate in the onshore competitions, while the West Bank champion plays only in the Asian Cup - the equivalent of the European League - and not in the Asian Champions League. To reach the Champions League stage, Hillel al-Quds team from East Jerusalem has to go through a playoff with a senior opponent. In January, the team will be waiting for a pair of matches against Sur, the Omani Cup holder. Hilal al-Quds is considered the top team in the West Bank and has won the last three championships, but this year things are not going well for the team, which ranks only sixth out of 12 after nine rounds…In a way that is reminiscent of the teams in Netanya and the Moshava, the West Bank also does not have a sufficient amount of proper soccer fields, and the clubs are divided between them. The Faisal Hussein Stadium in A-Ram (E. Jerusalem) is the busiest, and Hussein Ben-Ali Stadium in Hebron also hosts more than one group. Some of the most prominent names in the league are players who grew up in Israeli soccer clubs, such as the Palestinian national goalkeeper and Hilal Rami Hamada, who grew up in Maccabi Netanya. For those players, it is an opportunity to get regular minutes after not finding themselves in the Israeli senior leagues, and thus try to get back there and maybe even go higher on the Palestine national team. In this context, midfielder Ayman Harbat, who grew up on the Beitar Tubruck team in Netanya, excelled last year on Jabel Mukaber team and signed in Kfar Saba - but he isn’t playing because of a serious knee injury. (Yair Kattan, Yedioth Hebrew sports)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu's Poodle at the Justice Ministry Will Achieve His Goal (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Amir Ohana's pick for a key job raises the possibility that Netanyahu is looking for a legal fight, not a plea bargain.
*Ohana’s trailer (Tovah Tzimuki, Yedioth) The conduct of Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who appointed Orly Ben-Ari as acting State Prosecutor, in opposition to the stance of the Attorney General, is the direct continuation of the incitement of his patron, Binyamin Netanyahu, according to whom the State Prosecutor’s Office made a coup in deciding to put him in trial. Since he began serving Ohana has been limited in making decisions due to the transition government, but he has been determined to act, with the initiative or blessing of the prime minister, a anti-coup that will turn the State Prosecutor’s Office from an independent body into a politically dependent one. Yesterday, Ohana used his authority to appoint a State Prosecutor in opposition to the stance of the Attorney General, who is his direct ‘boss.’ The goal: To put his and the prime minister’s joint stamp on this and to create a contrarian public atmosphere towards the general prosecution. This is how Ohana behaved when he held a press conference under the office of the Attorney General on the eve of making decisions in the Prime Minister’s cases and in which he spoke about “stitching up cases” in the past and conspiracies in the present of the (deep state) the “Prosecution within the State Prosecutor’s Office.” Ohana decided to stomp on the appointment process of the acting State Prosecutor, using the guise of naivete, saying it was his authority. He ignores the fact that the Knesset did not imagine it would ever need to legislate a law that would break the judicial legal public crisis like the one that exists today. Ohana also signals that strategically, he or his replacement, if Netanyahu wins the third elections, will charge at the fortress - the head of the State Prosecution. In a paraphrase of Leonard Cohen: “First we’ll take the State Prosecution, then we take the Attorney General." In such days so sensitive for the democracy, in which the guarantee for ruling stability is the proper conduct of the apolitical professional establishments, Ohana chose to skip over the professional echelon’s head and to drop on it a done act. (Attorney General) Mendelblitt hinted yesterday in his letter to the minister that in such a sensitive period, during which most of the dealings are with the criminal cases of the Prime Minister, it is unreasonable that a political person, who is the political appointee of the Prime Minister, who has an agenda contrary to the judicial system, would make such a high-ranking appointment. Who better than Ohana knows, and every prosecutor in the country, that the path to a considerate plea bargain, a pardon and even immunity, passes by the head gatekeepers - the State Prosecutor and the Attorney General. An acting State Prosecutor, who is appointed in opposition to the stance of the Attorney General, could “take a look at” all kinds of potential formulas that would be comfortable to the Prime Minister - plea bargain, pardon, immunity or just to browse through the cases again. This move will bring appeals to the High Court, which will be caught again in a political dispute from which nothing good will come out of. IF the appointment is approved, the minister won. If it is ruled that it is cancelled - Ohana and Netanyahu again will win. This will be the eternal proof that the Attorney General and the High Court are running the country and not the “elected echelon.” And all this because of the trailer for the central decision: Who will be appointed as the permanent State Prosecutor after a government is formed.
Ohana's move is a contrarian message to the Attorney General's approach in Netanyahu's cases (Matan Wasserman, Maariv) Orly Ben-Ari Ginsberg, who Justice Minister Ohana appointed to the position of temporary State Prosecutor, is not the highest ranking person for this kind of appointment. She will fulfill her role at least until after the Knesset elections and the establishment of a new government, which can take months. The unique situation created by her appointment is that she will be have authority over the attorney who had authority over her until now. Her appointment is, in effect, a contrarian message to the elite of the State Attorney’s office when it comes to the prime minister's cases. Contrary to Attorney General Mendelblit's preferred candidate, Deputy State Attorney Shlomo Lamberger, who was a member of the State Attorney's Office and who decided on bribery in all of Netanyahu's cases, the appointed attorney was not at the center of decision making.
Legal piracy (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth) The choice of Orly Ben-Ari Ginsburg as State Prosecutor is not the best choice. But it's completely clear that the appointment - temporary - is found within the authority of the Justice Minister. But the Attorney General announced that it was unreasonable and he turned the unreasonable into not legal. I suspect that the Attorney General crossed red lines.
Israel's Justice Minister Will Take Care of It (Haaretz Editorial) Justice Minister Amir Ohana’s choice of Orly Ginsberg Ben-Ari as acting state prosecutor, defying Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, is but the latest attempt by the caretaker government headed by the indicted Benjamin Netanyahu to undermine the rule of law. It also dovetails with Netanyahu’s battle cries against the State Prosecutor’s Office after the release of the attorney general’s decision to try him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
The State Attorney's Office cannot come make itself out as a victim - it must prove its innocence (Oded Tira, Maariv) In the interviews he gave to the media, outgoing State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan ignored the main power of the prosecutor's office: the decision about which cases to deal with and which to close, which cases to to make an effort and prepare an evidentiary basis, and which facilitate and get rid of. Indictments are not math. There is great leeway for impressions, emotional influences and more. The attorney can cause his loved ones' cases to not be treated as diligently as other cases. I'm not saying the power has been misused - I claim it exists and Nitzan’s conduct as if it he is unaware of this possibility is suspect.
Israel’s William Barr Trashes the Justice System to Please Master Netanyahu (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Tussle over next state prosecutor pits Israeli democracy against Netanyahu kleptocracy.
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-s-william-barr-trashes-the-justice-system-to-please-master-netanyahu-1.8285922
This year has shown that democracy can also degenerate into anarchy (Yossi Ahimeir, Maariv) As far as the disgraceful vision seen in the Knesset last week was alarming - what is expected of us in the next 80 days should be of great concern to us all. It will be a harsher, more extreme, more violent election campaign than its previous two. Already, the shocking pair of words - Civil War - has been thrown into the air. In the 71 years of the state we were several times on the deck of one like that. For example, in the Altana case, or after Rabin's murder. We somehow managed to overcome these traumas, perhaps because of the leadership of those times. What will happen in the next three months? Will we end up with a calm and finally a functioning government? Israel is a democracy above and beyond, but this year has shown that democracy can also deteriorate to the brink of anarchy. This is the sting we should fear and be careful of. This is the responsibility of all party leaders, most notably Kahol-Lavan and the Likud. The red light was already flashed on. Without expressions of national responsibility, what was previously avoided would not necessarily be avoided in 2020. Leaders of all parties, remember Menachem Begin's call: Civil war, never!
Wake up: Netanyahu fails in all important areas (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) A million people walk with their eyes closed following the "best prime minister we have ever had here,” as his supporters say again and again. It's time they open their eyes. Security: Iran is getting stronger and our forces are deterred in the Gaza periphery. In education, the international PISA exams show Israeli students were defeated. In health: the systems are collapsing. In transportation: the roads are filled with traffic jams. In the economy: the 30 billion shekel deficit requires deep budget cuts. The Arab citizens: Violence, weapons, killing, without police capacity of law enforcement. And also, a racist nationalist law (Jewish Nation State Law) that sparks strong protest against us in European institutions and at The Hague. Diplomacy: Trump is distancing himself from his twin, Netanyahu. Putin, another friend, is strengthening his alliances with Assad, Teheran and Erdogan and holds Israel hostage. A defense alliance with the US? Annexation of the Beqaa Jordan Valley? Ha! Prime Minister: The country is stuck since April with a frightened and grovelling transitional government, a corrupt ruling elite, and a prime minister who is a ‘Mercedes’ on a tow truck, with three heavy indictments, who will break everything on the way to achieving immunity from criminal conviction. He is solely responsible for the country being stuck, for the three rounds of elections and for the conduct of the criminal attack on law-abiding, investigating, judging and communications institutions. He incites, disseminates and fuels the lies and hatred about "persecution" and “stitching up cases” and causes a large and threatening rift among the people. And all this is before he will be investigated for his part in the Submarine Affair (Case 3000), the agreement to sell submarines to Egypt without the knowledge of the defense minister and the chief of staff, the involvement of his cousin Milikovsky in Thyssenkrupp and his profitable shares from his cousin.
As Many Arab MKs as Possible? Why? (Abed L. Azab, Haaretz+) An Arab proverb says: “A tribe without young people will lose its property, a tribe without its old people will scatter like sand in the wind.” I recalled this while reading the article by Rogel Alpher calling for as many Arabs as possible to enter the Knesset in the coming election (Haaretz, December 15). In his enthusiasm to see as many of his cousins (us) as possible in the Knesset, Alpher hopes for the demise of Meretz – Democratic Union in its new iteration – and the Labor Party, with or without Orly Levi-Abekasis. He has logical reasons: The two parties that he hopes will die out are an impossible patchwork called the Zionist left. The internal contradiction shouts to the high heavens. Zionism and the left can’t live together….One important fact is that the people of Israel (Jews and Arabs alike) have not exactly been blessed with the Finnish mentality of progress and tolerance…There’s another fact, even more painful: When push comes to shove, I don’t trust MK Ayman Odeh and his colleagues to act reasonably and for the good of their voters rather than for the good of some Palestinian leader who lives comfortably in one of the Gulf states. I’m not sure that they would prefer working toward the equality of the Arab citizens of Israel over working toward fiery interviews in the media in the Arab world and for martyr festivals.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Sow Exclusion, Reap Low PISA Scores for Israeli Arabs (Ophir Pines-Paz, Haaretz+) The publication of the results of the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment gave Israelis clear proof of the growing gaps between Jewish and Arab children in Israel. The scores expose a gap between population groups that is, to our great disgrace, greater than in any other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member state. The performance on the PISA of Israeli Jewish students is discouraging, but that of their Arab peers is downright disturbing. It’s difficult to avoid the impression that the talk about the great gaps centers on the symptoms, not the problem. One cannot speak about the allocation of resources to the Arab community and the creation of genuine equal opportunities for middle-school students without addressing the systemic discrimination against its elected representatives. In Israel, anyone not sitting around the cabinet table will never be able to truly benefit from the resources the state can and does provide to anyone it sees as a political asset – and representatives of the Arab community never really sat at the table.
I prefer my future grandchildren study abroad as long as the education system in the country continues to be rotten (Nir Kipnis, Maariv) I found myself trying to persuade my children into living their adult lives in exile. Anyone who wants can immediately categorize me as anti-Zionist. It was only after years of silencing the discussion at home that I found out that I was not alone: quite a few of my friends had similar conversations with their children. This is no longer a "slump of disloyalty," as once a secular martyr defined the ‘Yordim’ [means those that go down- like emigrating is negative - OH] but of people who love their country from the days when they became acquainted with its scenery on youth movement trips, who fought in the combat units in the IDF, who got an education and worked in rewarding jobs. So much so that they were able to put their children in a good starting point towards independent living. What makes people like me worry so much that I prefer to see my future grandchildren mainly on Skype? You will be surprised, but these it’s not Netanyahu cases, not housing prices and the cost of living, nor the security situation nor any of the acceptable materials that make up the middle-to-high class despair in Israel. All of these are grounds for protest, demonstration, yearning for a government revolution, but not for total despair from the Zionist horizon. This despair is made up of completely different materials - and although you will find among the despairing more left-wingers than right-wingers, more secular people than religious people, and more Ashkenazi than Mizrachim, this is a despair that crosses political, religious and sectarian camps. Last week I watched the Reshet Morning Show, while making sandwiches. Two new celebs were hosted there (after a week ago they had a telephone interview). Thanks to what did the couple get publicity? Thanks to their affection for "Black Friday"! That means the two, who have a penny in their pocket, fly every year to go shopping abroad on "Black Friday.” Beyond the fact that this simply ridiculous (add flight and hotel costs to the story - and find out how the "savings" is completely erased), I admit it's hard for me to understand how a prudent person like Niv Ruskin takes a wide-eyed view of promoting this repulsive discourse. But wait, let's jump from shopping in Rome to PISA. Not the city with the slanting bell tower, but the PISA international achievement exam, the one that, even after deducting the dubious results (not without racism) of the Arab sector, we are left with very dismal statistics in relation to the level of Israeli students. Contrary to popular thinking, whenever we talk about crowding in classrooms or lack of assistance, our education system is actually rich: the increase in the education budget in Israel is well above the increase in student numbers. So where's the catch? In the complex structure of the ministry, in the teachers' organizations, that sanctify the mediocrity that is in the system instead of prioritizing new and high-quality personnel, and how not? Even slack education ministers (funny to those who dream of Naftali Bennett defeating Nasrallah and Haniyeh, after being defeated by Ran Erez), none of whom dare to fight for the future of education in Israel, even at the inevitable cost of disabling the system for a long time. Right-wing organizations like to (and rightly) show Westerners how barely five cents of every dollar donated to Palestinian refugees go to the needy themselves, as proof of the inherent corruption in the gang mechanism that runs their lives. This is true of course, but it is doubtful that any of them have checked how many pennies from every shekel added to the education budget come at the end of the road to improve the level of education in Israel. It will be made clear immediately: Even if it is not a criminal corruption, it is a systemic decay, one that requires rebooting. Ever since the prayers at the few temples replaced the sacrifice of the sacrifices at the Holy Temple, the nation of Israel became the People of the Book. The modern expression of this was in parents who ate less in order to finance a good education for their children. The 1977 government upheaval [Likud taking power with support of mainly Mizrachi Jews from periphery -OH] brought about the sanctification of “the plainsfolk.” We are lucky that we got this, I say without cynicism, but along with the murky water that has paved (mostly) certain layers [of society] into the channel of studies, the baby was also thrown out with the bath water, the one that was born of a mating of progressiveness and higher education. The seed of calamity was sown earlier, not for nothing, the lighthouse of the national kibbutz movement, Yaakov Hazan, said: "We wanted to raise a generation of Epicureans and we raise peoples of the lands,” and he meant that secular socialism, which simply wanted to unite between the book and the ‘Capital,’ trampled on the thirst for knowledge. Be it religious or secular, Mizrahi or Ashkenazi, right or left: If you did not notice that the love of the book that we lost is more dangerous than any centrifuge in Iran, you are probably ripe for the alternative content offered by the Keshet Morning Program.
Israeli Jews must learn Arabic for the sake of society (Michael Milstein, Yedioth/Ynet) Young Arabs are increasingly present in all aspects of Israeli life, from academia to finance, from the public sector to the media and almost every member of the community has a command of the Hebrew language; the same cannot be said for their Jewish counterparts, and the rift between sectors is growing.
French Parliament Resolution on anti-Semitism: A Victory That’s Entirely a Defeat (Dmitry Shumsky, Haaretz+) There is no doubt that the negation of the right to national self-determination of the Jews in Israel, and any attempt to abolish that right, are anti-Semitic by their very essence. After all, the idea of the self-determination of Jews as a national collective is the national and improved reincarnation of the principal of individual Jewish emancipation. The catch is that the dominant practical and political significance of contemporary Zionism – as the State of Israel presents it today as an occupier and settler beyond its borders – is far from expressing the mere right to legitimate national self-determination. On the contrary, everyone sees the essence and purpose of Zionism in the early 21st century as both increasing the civil oppression and subjugation of the Palestinian people and the incessant robbery and plundering of their land in the name of Judeo-Christian biblical theology.
Pompeo brings down the House (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) The US Secretary of State turns the tables on the false correlation between the existence of settlements and the lack of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
According to the French National Assembly, Macron Is an anti-Semite (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) At the time, French President Emmanuel Macron had one thing to say about the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: It caused deaths. People died. The statement infuriated the Israeli government. It was a punch in the gut to the new nationalistic and imperious form of Zionism. At the beginning of the month, the French National Assembly voted to declare that anti-Zionism is a new form of anti-Semitism. Macron’s remarks were anti-Zionist, so based on the new parliamentary resolution, the French president is an anti-Semite. Last month, the European Court of Justice ruled that all of the countries of the European Union are obligated to implement the 2015 EU decision to clearly label products from West Bank settlements as such. That is an explicitly anti-Zionist decision, and therefore not only the court but also all of the EU member states that have implemented it are anti-Semitic.
Israel must be wary of two-faced Jordan (Ken Cohen, Israel Hayom) The threat to Israel now is that Jordan is a very unstable partner in maintaining security in the Jordan Valley.
Israel Becomes Battlefield in New Era of Computing (Sagi Cohen, Haaretz+) Intel’s acquisition of Habana Labs spotlights country’s key role as world’s tech giants look to cloud competing.
Israeli civil defense: A critical tactic, but a poor strategy (Elliot Chodoff, Israel Hayom) Israel has made a serious mistake by shifting civil defense from a defensive tactic to mitigate civilian casualties to a strategy of restraint that is eroding the country’s deterrence and sovereignty.
Leviathan: Boost for Israeli Energy Security, Not for Natgas Competition (Ora Coren, Haaretz+) After years of delays, the country’s biggest natural gas reservoir is due to go on line shortly.
 
Interviews:
'For the first time, I'm ashamed to be a politician'
Former Justice Minister blames Blue and White for the third round of elections, and says that people are being hurt by the ongoing political crisis. (Interviewed by  Gideon Allon in Israel Hayom)

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