News Nosh 12.31.19

APN's daily news review from Israel

Tuesday December 31st, 2019


Quote of the day:

"And perhaps the most terrifying fear of all: the fear that, in fact, all the rules have changed and nobody writes new ones in their place. Because Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad, and Binyamin Netanyahu may have nothing in common, except for one rule: there are no more rules. Everything goes."
--In a pre-New Year's Op-Ed, Yedioth commentator Raanan Shaked writes a review of the last decade.*

Breaking News:
Iraqi mourners, supporters of US-attacked militia, storm US Embassy after US airstrikes kill 25
The mourners held funerals for the 25 Iraqi fighters of the Iran-backed militia killed in US airstrikes in a Baghdad neighborhood, after which they marched on to the heavily fortified Green Zone on Tuesday and kept walking till they reached the sprawling U.S. Embassy there. Iraqi security forces fired teargas to disperse protesters. US ambasador and staff evacuated. (Ynet, Haaretz)

Front Page:


  • US attack in Iraq not expected to change policy toward Iran // Amos Harel
  • A moment before High Court discusses his ability to form a government, Netanyahu reveals the bluff of immunity // Yossi Verter
  • Netanyahu decided to request immunity, but postponed his announcement to the last minute
  • 107 kilometers of green lands disappeared in Israel in three years
  • The senior judge, whom (suspect and former Israel Bar chief Efraim) Naveh allegedly aided, did not include him in his list of conflict of interests
  • The British (young) woman who filed a complaint of rape by Israelis in Cyprus was convicted of fabricating the complaint
  • The Leviathan gas rig will begin to emit dozens of tons of pollutants this morning
  • Leads in the lies // Nechamia Shtrasler
  • Change is needed (to law requiring that PM only resign when he has a final guilty verdict) // Yechiam Weitz (Hebrew)
  • 80 years after they were photographed, a new documentary reveals 10 minutes in ghetto Warsaw filmed by a young non-Jewish Pole

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Between High Court and immunity (Hebrew)
  • The decade we will remember
  • The rules changed // Raanan Shaked
  • Collapse of the forecasters // Sever Plocker
  • Special - How is it to live in fear - After the attack at the home of the rabbi in Monsey, N.Y.: Israeli emissaries in US write about the rising anti-Semitism and about the helplessness
  • Initiative: A flu vaccine factory in Israel (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • Remove High Court from the political field - Today: High Court will discuss whether Netanyahu is able to form a government (while being indicted)
  • Lawsuit against the Arab Bank: “Systematically aided terrorists”
  • The flu plague: Talk about “chaos” is irresponsible
  • The decade statistics on the roads: More killed - and more law enforcement
  • Closing a year, opening a decade:
  • Together despite everything // Eitan Orkibi
  • Parting from the global village // Eldad Beck
  • Lights of openness // Erez Biton
  • The enlightened world, the embarrassed world // Dan Shiftan
  • Tension following the US attack in Iraq; Iran: The retaliation will be harsh”
  • Prices of prescribed drugs will drop some 10%
  • That’s how to finish the year: Beitar (Jerusalem soccer team) defeated Hapoel Haifa 4:1

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
The High Court was set to hear a petition today asking to block Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from forming a government (UPDATE: the justices dismissed the arguments) as well as to discuss his expected request for immunity (the request deadline is Wednesday midnight), and hundreds of his supporters protested the court hearing Monday night calling to ‘stop the coup,’ while the country waited for thousands of vaccines in the midst of a flu epidemic and Iran threatened to retaliate for the US attacks in Iran and Syria - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Other Top News Summary:
While US officials were concerned about Iranian retaliation to the US airstrikes that killed at least 25 members of a pro-Iranian militia in Iraq and an unknown number in Syria, and Iran blasted the US ‘terrorist’ attacks on its Iraqi ally and the militia leader vowed a “tough response,” but Israeli security establishment sources said that it was unlikely the retaliation would target Israel.

Interestingly, while the papers also reported on the fear among ultra-Orthodox Jews living in Monsey, New York, following the stabbing attack there, Israel Hayom published an article, without naming the writer, suggesting it was unreasonable to put any blame on US President Donald Trump for the “rabid anti-Semitism in the US.”

Quick Hits:

  • Report: Israel and Hamas closer to deal on prisoner swap - Kuwaiti paper claims Israel and Hamas drafting agreement, first since 2011, which may include release of prisoners who were released and subsequently recaptured by Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Stormy confrontation in debate on "Kaminitz Law": "Shut your mouth, you garbage" - Turbulent winds in the Finance Committee debate, in a proposal to freeze the amendment to the law that exacerbates the penalty for illegal construction.  (Arab) MK Ahmed Tibi and (right-wing) MK Keti Shitrit exchanged barbs. Tibi was outraged by a representative of the (right-wing anti-Arab) Regavim movement, who issued a press release claiming that Tibi was "extorting" the Minister of Justice. "You are racist garbage. Erez Kaminitz, these are your friends. They defend your law. These are human scum,” Tibi said, calling out to a Regevim representative. "You are a human scum." In response, Shitrit replied that “You support the martyrs, you support the terrorists." Tibi started answering her in Arabic and Shitrit responded by saying, "Don't speak to me in Arabic. I grew up in Lod." Tibi slammed: "Shut up. Who are you to tell not to talk in Arabic, you garbage." MK Tibi told Maariv that "today's debate was a step in the right direction for repealing and freezing the draconian Kaminitz Law. The Israeli government's 100-day team has determined that the background and motives for unlicensed construction are a planning failure by state authorities and instead of planning short-term and long-term, they are demolishing and talking to us in the language of bulldozers. The fines are unprecedented and inhumane without allowing appeal and it turns out that the law harms Arab and Druze communities and moshavim. Former Minister Shaked has stated that she is in favor of enforcement against Arabs only and releasing Jews from this terrible law. Just for that, everyone must unite to end this injustice. Today it begins.” [NOTE: Illegal construction is most rampant in the Arab sector where the state does not allow the villages and towns to change agricultural lands into residential lands for the expanding population. - OH] (Maariv)
  • The wave of violence (in the Arab sector) continues: Man who was to serve as a witness in a murder trial was shot dead - Mohammed Kamal Sa'di, a resident of Bassem Tivon, was allegedly murdered while he was in his vehicle with a 20-year-old young man who was seriously injured. His brother was murdered at a wedding in his locality 3 months ago. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Cyprus court: British teen guilty of fabricating gang rape claims against Israelis - Announcing his verdict, judge says the defendant didn't tell the truth and tried to deceive the court with "convenient" and "evasive" statements in court. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli convicted of assault for spitting on Polish envoy - Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court defers sentencing of Erik Lederman, 65, who under a plea bargain is spared an additional charge of criminal threats against the envoy, Marek Magierowski. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli victims of terror file massive lawsuit against Arab Bank - Exclusive: Arab world's largest bank is being sued for over $5.8 billion for allegedly supporting and financing terrorist actions from 1995-2005 that killed hundreds of Israelis and left thousands more wounded. (Israel Hayom)
  • 'We're Not Guinea Pigs': Fearing Pollution, Israelis Leave Homes as Offshore Gas Production Begins - The processing platform off the Carmel Coast is to emit carcinogenic benzene, but the authorities say the situation is being monitored to ensure residents are not at risk. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Lebanese Protesters Defy Capital Controls in Sit-in - Protests inside commercial banks continue into Monday, as demonstrators decry 'illegal' withdrawal limits. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Seizes 'Illegal' Oil Tanker in Gulf - Semi-official news agency said that the ship had 1 million liters of illegal oil on board in area rife with fuel smuggling. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey Fast-tracks Bill to Deploy Troops to Libya - Foreign minister, after meeting with opposition leader, says bill would be submitted on Monday, more than a week earlier than initially expected. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Displaced Syrian Nasrallah grows mushrooms to feed family
With money too tight to support his loved ones and meat prices skyrocketing due to the years-long civil war, the former civil servant from Hama hopes a kilo of spores from Turkey will generate 20 kilos of food. (AFP, Ynet)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu's Pyrrhic victory (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The fiercely right-wing Gideon Sa'ar has been branded a leftist, not due to ideology but because he had the audacity to challenge the leader; let us hope affairs of state don't get swept aside as they did at Likud party primary.
High Court Stands at the Gate (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) On Tuesday the High Court of Justice will discuss a petition that seeks to stop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming the next government when he is under indictment. Beyond the important debate as to whether or not this petition would help Netanyahu in the upcoming election, the essence of the petition is to confront Israeli democratic norms with the populism that is working to bring down the state, which is the basis for the concept of democratic norms. It is important to note here that Israeli democratic norms, which are active when it comes to the Jewish majority, decides in the case of the Arab public to distance itself, perhaps with a profound sense of patriotism, in favor of systems that discriminate and deprive. For instance, the Shin Bet security service, which is involved in the appointment of teachers in Arab public schools and other injustices. And that’s without mentioning the occupation, which is separated from proper government by vast expanses of darkness. In recent years a revolution has taken place in Israel, when an alliance was formed between the classic right, which was reflected in the Likud, and the messianic right of the settler leaders. The messianic right is willing and even happy to sacrifice all the legal systems for the sake of continued control in the occupied territories, as well as for the sake of ideological control of all the systems.
While PM fights for immunity, the people fight for their health (Sarit Rosenblum, Yedioth/Ynet) The recent outbreak of a nasty strain of flu has left us all to fend for ourselves in the face of a crumbling health care system, meanwhile public officials remain quiet, and Netanyahu continues to think only of himself.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Gaza Deal Is an Israeli Interest (Haaretz Editorial) Last week, in what was otherwise a particularly aggressive speech, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said the military sees an opportunity for a deal in Gaza and supports significant steps to improve the Strip’s economy. Even people concerned by his battle cry against Iran in this speech can embrace Kochavi’s bottom line: A long-term cease-fire agreement with Hamas is good for Israel. In an effort to nip criticism from the right in the bud – especially since we’re in the midst of an election campaign, when parties are vying to show which is the most staunchly right-wing – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the security cabinet on Sunday to discuss the indirect talks with Hamas. He did this lest Defense Minister Naftali Bennett or Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich go to the media and demand that Israel “defeat Hamas” at a time when the prime minister appears to be in sync with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and could be depicted as making concessions to Hamas.
Will Bernie Sanders become the first Jewish president? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Experts claim that the septuagenarian socialist’s chances to win his party’s nomination shouldn’t be discounted. But if he wins, it will be a disaster for Israel and the Jews.
U.S. Draws Red Line With Iraq, Syria Strikes, but Iran Policy Unlikely to Change (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Trump wanted to send a clear message to Tehran, but he won't rush to replace economic sanctions.
US attack in Iraq: Despite the tension - the conflict is far from Israel (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) The US's aggressive action has raised concerns in the Israeli security echelons about the impact on the tensions on the northern front. It appears there is no cause for concern right now. And in the future? Time will tell.
2020 and the confrontation on the way (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) In Israel, they are preparing for a clash between the US and Iran and identify an opportunity. The possibility that Iran will involve Israel in the developing military conflict between it and the US is an opportunity in terms of the Israeli security establishment. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett is sending a clear message to the IDF Chief of Staff: We are moving up a gear. From retaliatory attacks against Iranian targets in Syria to proactive and continuous attacks. In other words: If Israel is attacking Iranian and Syrian targets today only when it discovers Iranian military equipment that reached Syria with the aim of strengthening the Iranian military infrastructure in Syria and Lebanon, now the defense minister thinks it is time to change strategy, not wait for the equipment to arrive, but to hit Iranian targets while charging a heavy price, until the smuggling route from Iraq to Syria dries out and the Iranians realize that investing in a confrontation with Israel is simply entering a swamp.,7340,L-5651726,00.html
Hold on tight, the 2020s could get bumpy (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom) After years of convincing ourselves that technological advancements were turning the world into a borderless "global village" without identities, the last decade came along and showed us this was an illusion.
A Jewish Mutation (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Our eyes gleam: Money. One million and a million more. We salivate a little. Let’s take some more from them. This time, let’s say 149 million shekels ($43 million) [ reference to the $43 million that Israel took from the Palestinian Authority tax monies Israel collects and is supposed to transfer to the PA. Israel said it was taking it because the money goes to terrorists and their families - OH]. It doesn’t matter how it’s calculated. The main thing is that we can. Just as we can, and do, shrink their economy, so they’ll remain dependent on handouts and our whims. A contemporary anti-Semitic plot is being written before our eyes: A Jew, blue-eyed and standing tall, with a dirty-blond forelock and a turned-up nose, counts real bills with virtual fingers, and sends them down the drain, aka to the Israeli treasury. Turn the page: A Palestinian girl from Hebron doesn’t get a vital treatment because the Jews, as they explain in the government hospital, stole the money that pays for the medicines.
The new reality for US Jews (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) As anti-Semitic hate crimes rise, US Jews are puzzled and mostly, afraid. Especially as much of the violence doesn't come from Islamists or neo-Nazis, but from their neighbors who share many of their values.
Years of fear (Raanan Shaked, Yedioth Hebrew) Ten years, go try and remember them. And in the case of the last decade: ten years, try to forget them. Because we would be happy to forget quite a bit of them. But we have no way not to remember. What did we know when we were just starting out with this decade? In the early moments of the decade, it looked pretty good: the Arab Spring (democracy for everyone! At least for two minutes) followed by the elimination of bin Laden, and we all applauded for ourselves. But a second later you could already see how the Arab Spring became the Western Winter and then the Eternal Summer and finally something that could be summed up in three words: Honey, the climate went crazy. The forecast for tomorrow: Not similar. To anything. And it happened completely during our shift, and it was turned over on us in less than a decade, and we will all tell our heat-stricken and frozen grandchildren that we were there when Haiti's land was crumbling, when Fukushima was burning, when Australia and the Carmel were on fire, when the hurricanes kicked New York to Kansas and back - and when a girl named Dorothy - sorry, Greta -  stood and asked why, and where were our heads. We would try to answer her, but after the round he did on us, a little earlier, a Muslim organization with the non-catchy name "ISIS,” no one was comfortable trying to remember where their heads were. It was mostly scary. Because the 2010’s were the decade of fear. First of all, the existential fear, which continued to drive the huge wave of global refugees, and we all preferred to turn our heads until the image of the corpse of a Syrian toddler ejected ashore was more than a human heart could handle. And there were all the other fears: the fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, because the shooting could start in an American high school or a newspaper office or a Parisian rock show, and if not shooting, you might also be run over in the heart of European capital or possibly in Jerusalem. And the Israeli fear throughout (military) operations, and then double operations, when we're all in uniforms, in shelters, in protected spaces or just lying on the road with our hands on our heads; the fear that it will never end. And the fear of losing ourselves - or our privacy - to social media networks whose interests are not the same as ours; And the fear of losing our children to a screen that looks flat and still draws them in; And the female fear of unavoidable harassment that reached the point of don’t-return-Harvey-Weinstein and to the dizzying breaking out of the #MeToo movement; And the male fear, the day after, of improper conduct, of misunderstanding the new gender order. And perhaps the most terrifying fear of all: the fear that in fact all the rules have changed and nobody writes new ones in their place. Because Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad, and Binyamin Netanyahu may have nothing in common, except for one rule: there are no more rules. Everything goes. A new world - and a global one - which we will destroy to its foundations, and in its place we will crown, for now, a kind of chaos. And all in just ten years. Well, at least William and Kate got married. And Meghan and Harry. And Quentin and Danielle. And Neta (Barzilai) and the Eurovision. We have love, and it may not win, but she it is what remains. The twenties will have to be a little more than that.

'Iran could deploy its militias in Iraq to the Golan Heights'
"We shouldn't be surprised if we are also attacked within the framework of Iran's fight against the US," Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser tells Israel Hayom.


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