News Nosh 1.19.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday January 19, 2020
 
Quote of the Day #1:
"Our religion is the motorcycle and its horsepower. Politics remain beyond the fence.”
-Comment by an Israeli organizer of a meet at a West Bank settlement for Israeli and Palestinian motorcyclists.*

Quote of the Day #2:
"I am flooded with many hundreds of moving messages of support from students, alumni, and parents. You are an example, an inspiration and hope that one day a society will be established here, where Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Mizrachi will live together in peace and friendship."
--Long-time high school teacher Meir Baruchin posted on Facebook after he was fired for political remarks he made.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Expose - One out of three young men don’t go to the army - Dramatic jump in number receiving exemption for psychological reasons (Hebrew)
  • Second woman to be murdered since the beginning of the month
  • (Prince) Harry was fired
  • The air train: March of world leaders on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • (Knesset Speaker) Edelstein’s dilemma - to decide when to hold the plenum for voting on the establishment of a committee to decide on Netanyahu’s immunity
  • Committee on subsidized medicines released its decisions
  • He shot his girlfriend and committed suicide
Israel Hayom
  • (Knesset Speaker) Edelstein sticks to his position: The Knesset committe won’t convene this week - Edelstein rejects Kahol-Lavan’s dismissal ultimatum (Hebrew)
  • 192,000 heroes - International Holocaust Day
  • Likud: Dismiss MK from Balad who called (Samir) Kuntar a ‘shaheed’
  • “If I am elected prime minister - (Italy) will recognize Jerusalem” - Leader of Italian ‘Lega,’ Matteo Salvini
  • The change in the subsidized medicines basket: 59 million shekels to preventative medicine
  • Paying her bill: (Model) Bar Refaeli returned 8 million shekels
  • A hint about release? Mother of Naam Issachar (imprisoned in Russia) will return home today
  • “He drank and shot mom”: The horror in Petach Tikva - Murdered his girlfriend who asked to leave him and then he committed suicide

Top News Summary:
The pressure from two directions on the Speaker of Knesset Yuli Edelstein, the murder of a middle-aged woman by her boyfriend and the choices of the subsidized medicines committee were the top stories of today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also making news: Hamas said it was losing patience waiting for Israel to implement the easing of sanctions on the lives of Gazans (also Maariv) and Palestinians said they would increase sending incendiary balloons into Israel, just as a bundle of explosive balloons were found in Sderot, after which Israel responded by hitting a Hamas target in Gaza. ‘Israel Hayom’ also reported that a Hamas official said the group is striving to 'reach a prisoner exchange deal with Israel,’ but that Israel is not interested. And a Palestinian teen stabbed and injured a settler in Hebron and at Damascus Gate in E. Jerusalem, a 50-year-old Palestinian woman waved a knife around ‘looking like she wanted to get arrested,' which is what happened. Also, a very interesting look by Maariv's Jacky Khougy at the recently passed Sultan of Oman (See Commentary/Analysis) and Yedioth's Elisha Ben-Kimon interviewed Israel's former chief military prosecutor in the West Bank, Lt. Gen. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, who shared his hardline views towards sentencing Palestinians. [NOTE: Ben-Kimon did not report that Hirsch is a settler, who lives in Efrat in a house built on privately-owned Palestinian land (Haaretz Hebrew). In a profile of him in Local Call (Hebrew), Noam Rotem and John Brown looked at his sentencing history: Imprisonment of a 12-year-old (Palestinian) girl, harassing political activists protesting the military regime, imprisoning Palestinians for offenses of which they were acquitted in court, incriminating innocent (Palestinian) people, detention of children at night (illegal), preventing  Palestinian minors from getting overview reports in order to prevent them from receiving alternatives to arrest. In a 2018 interview with 'Makor Rishon,' Hirsch tells how he managed to return to prison dozens of Palestinians released in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal, how he refused to reach lenient plea bargains with Hamas activists, and how "for a person with nationalist views, it is difficult to advance in the Military Prosecutor's Office."- OH]


Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein faced pressure from both sides: His Likud party wants him to reject convening the Knesset plenum in order to prevent the discussion over - and rejection of - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s immunity request and the Kahol-Lavan party threatened to have him dismissed if he doesn’t convene it. That said, he is expected to convene it next week. (Israel Hayom Hebrew)
Quick Hits:
  • Bennett Orders to Bar Some Left-wing Activists From West Bank - Defense minister's decision targets activists operating with the 'Anarchists Against the Wall' organization; one of them is a Haaretz employee who was arrested last week. (Haaretz+ and Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • **Storm after Israeli civics teacher fired for criticizing army operations - Dr. Meir Baruchin, who taught for 30 years and initiated meetings between Jewish and Arab students, was fired over opinions he expressed on his Facebook page. (Haaretz+ and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Nearly one-third of young men designated for military service this year are unlikely to enlist - IDF is now battling the alarming phenomenon. With the opening of the 2020 recruitment year, the IDF sees a clear - and alarming - trend whereby more and more young people, especially males, are being exempted from service. IDF fears that one of the leading reasons for this is dramatic leap in granting mental health exemptions: "The hand is easy on the release form," former army chief said. "It is our duty to ensure that decisions regarding mental exemption are made in a professional and responsible manner that respects those who are designated for service in the IDF," wrote Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, head of the IDF Personnel Division, in a letter titled, "Steps to stop the increase in mental health exemptions,” which he sent two weeks ago to all mental health officers (CFOs) at the recruitment offices. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Macron is expected to meet Benny Gantz while visiting Israel for the International Holocaust Forum - President of France is expected to attend the commemoration event in Israel, and will meet with Kahol-Lavan Chairman, Benny Gantz, alongside meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. (Maariv)
  • Palestinians riot on Temple Mount following Friday prayers - Several hundred Muslim worshippers coming out of the morning prayer service at the Al-Aqsa Mosque chant anti-Israel slogans, security forces use crowd control measures to disperse them. Police say "will not allow disturbances to take place or nationalistic calls on the Temple Mount." (Israel Hayom)
  • Poll: Israeli, Palestinian millennials feel conflict 'will never end' - International Committee of the Red Cross survey says Israeli and Palestinian youth appear to the be most pessimistic ones among millennials in war-affected areas. (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Putin may free Israeli woman jailed in Russia ahead of Israel visit - Russian president could pardon American-Israeli Naama Issachar, 26, ahead of his visit to Israel in late January, Russian Kommersant newspaper reports, citing sources in the Kremlin. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Israel Holding Pregnant Migrant Worker in Isolation for Months, Defying UN Guidelines - Jossephine Kwabiwaa was held in isolation after she refused to be tested for tuberculosis, despite her expressing concern that radiation could affect her pregnancy. (Haaretz+)
  • Female Israeli soldiers subjected to bible lessons on the job - Lectures are conducted by civilian wife of a rabbi, whose authorization to enter sensitive military site is unclear despite strict IDF regulations; sessions include lessons on a woman's duties to her husband; IDF army says matter will be investigated. (Ynet)
  • Transcending differences, parties join forces to ban contentious Arab MK - Yisrael Beytenu and Blue and White parties to back Likud petition to the Central Elections Committee to disqualify Joint Arab List MK Heba Yazbak from running in the March 2 elections, citing her vocal support of terrorism. (Israel Hayom)
  • British Tourist Appeals Conviction for Fabricating Gang Rape Charges Against Israelis - Woman was convicted of public mischief after Cyprus authorities claimed she had made up allegations of gang rape against twelve Israelis in July. (Haaretz+)
  • Acting UNRWA head says U.S. and Israel working against it - The UN agency for Palestinian refugees faced budgetary difficulties since 2018, when Trump halted annual American aid of $360 million while its former commissioner-general resigned amid probe into misconduct allegations. (Agencies, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Italian Foreign Minister: “Laying of the gas pipeline between Israel and Europe - not a long-term solution" - Luigi Di Mayo referred to the agreement signed by his country, and made it clear that this was a short-term venture, he said, "because of its cost and construction process.” (Maariv)
  • Court orders closed-door hearings in NSO surveillance firm case - Amnesty International claims NSO profits from spyware being used to abuse activists; on Thursday, judge cites national security concerns in ordering restriction, accepting defense ministry's request to ban public, media from court sessions. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Despite BDS Backlash, This Jordanian Singer Doesn't Regret Israel Gig - 'Razz' sensation Aziz Maraka, who performed in an Arab village in Galilee, is a man with a mission: breaking down the walls of politics with music. (Haaretz+)
  • U.K. designates all of Hezbollah as terrorist group, expanding sanctions - After defining the military arm of Hezbollah as a terrorist group in 2019, move expands sanctions and asset freezing to include organization's political branch. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump gives dramatic account of Soleimani's last minutes before assassination - In audio recording obtained by CNN, Trump says Soleimani was 'saying bad things about our country' before the strike, which led him to authorize the killing. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • In rare public remarks, Khameini says Iran can take fight beyond its borders - Despite protests following Iran's admission it shot down Ukrainian plane, top leader calls for national unity, blaming 'enemies' of using the tragedy to shift attention from the killing of top general Soleimani. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Russia: Iran was spooked by reports of U.S. F-35s when it downed airliner - 'There were at least six (U.S.) F-35 fighters in the air in the Iranian border area (at the time). This information has yet to be verified,' said Russian FM Lavrov. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran sending black boxes of plane it downed to Ukraine - Iranian authorities also prepared for French, Canadian and American experts to examine data from Ukrainian plane shot down near Tehran. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • UN official warns Yemen could face brink of famine again - UN envoy Martin Griffiths stressed the volatility and fragility of the current situation in Yemen. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 'For Sama' directors hope Oscar nod will shine spotlight on Syria - The filmmakers of the hard-hitting documentary about a life of one family amid a brutal civil war, say they hope it will 'shine a brighter light' on the conflict. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Lebanon Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters Amid Beirut Clashes - Clashes began when some protesters started throwing stones at police deployed near the parliament building. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
In West Bank, Jewish Settlers Recruit Nature to Their Mission – With the High Court’s Consent
For decades, nature reserves have been used to keep Palestinians off their land while allowing settlers to build. This week, the High Court rubber-stamped the practice. (Amira Hass, Haaretz+)
*Palestinian, Israeli motorcyclists find harmony on their hogs
With no race track available in Palestinian Authority, Petza'el (settlement in the West Bank - OH) is a refuge for riders to enjoy their hobby with like-minded enthusiasts from the other side of the long-standing conflict, and while politics are not discussed the bikers are determined to heal the rifts in their own way. (Elior Levy, Yedioth/Ynet)
A Designer Villa With a Sprawling View of the Occupation
The extension of a veteran settlement is encroaching on the fields of the Palestinian village of Deir Ballut. Under a new order by Israeli authorities, yet another swath of land is about to be seized. When the Palestinian construction workers finish building these designer homes, the iron gate in the fence will be shut, and farmer Aamar Abdullah, who is one of the owners of this land, who is accompanying us as we drive around, will no longer have access to the remnants of his olive grove. Meanwhile, sewage from plastic pipes that emerge from under the Leshem settlement villas is seeping into the grove and forming a puddle there. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
Meet Donald Trump's Lawyer: A Messianic Jew Who Loves Jesus and Hates BDS
Jay Sekulow has defended U.S. nonprofits, philanthropists and firms led by ['Israel Hayom' publisher] Sheldon Adelson accused of committing war crimes against Palestinians. (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Tell Me How Rich You Are, I’ll Tell You if You’ll Vote Netanyahu
(Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) An analysis of the last election results appears to show Israeli politics as a class struggle between warring tribes.
Ayman Odeh, the Israeli Left’s Natural Leader (Iris Leal, Haaretz+) Ayman Odeh apologized to his followers Wednesday for seeming to take a break from politics on that stormy day, which marked the deadline for submitting party lists to the Central Election Committee. He had something more important to say, for which he thought every lawmaker should stop in their tracks to think about. “Poet Leah Goldberg died 50 years ago today,” he tweeted. “Her words are no less exciting today than when she wrote then.” He then quoted from one of her more familiar poems…It was not, of course, a break from politics that Odeh took that day; on the contrary, this was one of his most political tweets (even he added, as if he was winking, that “this isn’t really a break.”) It was a delicate courtship of left-wing voters, and particularly those from Meretz. He understood the magnitude of the hour, and was confidently taking his place at the head of the camp, careful not to lose touch with his voter base or angering them.=
Arabs are not wanted in center-left political parties (Afif Abu Much, Yedioth/Ynet) Jewish politicians cannot recognize that the younger generation of Israeli Arabs is eager to integrate into society, and believe - despite evidence to the contrary - that there are a host of right-wingers ready to switch sides whom they must appease.
Gantz’s Whispering in the Left-wingers’ Ears Is Sounding Better Than Ever to Them (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+)  Nitzan Horowitz and Amir Peretz increasingly like their chances of helping forge a center-left government, instead of Benny Gantz forming one with a Netanyahu-less Likud.
Is defense minister there to protect Netanyahu or Israel? (Einav Schiff, Yedioth/Ynet)  Naftali Bennett was given his long-coveted job in an attempt by the prime minister to secure his own political survival and escape his criminal indictments, and was soon threatened with dismissal when it appeared that he would not toe the line.
Naftali Bennett Has Made Itamar Ben-Gvir a Political Pariah (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) MK Naftali Bennett, who turned Ben-Gvir into a political pariah, deserves credit. He was not willing to bring a Kahanist onto the joint list of the religious Zionist factions. He argued with Ayelet Shaked, because she was prepared to consider doing it, and just before the deadline for submitting the rosters he withstood brutal pressure by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who wanted to get the Kahanists’ votes. Netanyahu doesn’t care about racism, messianism and anti-democracy. It doesn’t bother him that bringing Ben-Gvir into the Knesset also means bringing in the rest of Kahane’s disciples: Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein. That’s why it is so important that Ben-Gvir stay outside.
Rafi Peretz has destroyed Jewish Home (Amiad Taub, Yedioth/Ynet) My erstwhile political home once hoped to cater to wide range of Israeli public but has become fragmented and conflicted, excluding swathes of religious-Zionist community and distancing itself from its former values of education, society, health, and welfare.
Israel’s Kahanists and Far-rightists. There Is a Difference (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Is there really no importance to Bennett’s declaration that he’s unwilling to cooperate with someone who idolizes Goldstein? Is there no value in the fact that he’s unwilling to honor a murderer by joining up with one of the murderer’s supporters? And in general, is there really no difference between Bennett and Ben-Gvir? Is the whole religious-Zionist movement Ben-Gvir? Is the whole right really Ben-Gvir? For example, the non-Zionist left in Israel refuses to recognize the differences between Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu. We on the left must see this tendency to dismiss the nuances on the right as the direct result of the political war of attrition that Netanyahu is waging.
The political leadership of religious Zionism was revealed in its ugliness this week (Kalman Libskind, Maariv) Those who spoke for a long time about values and a sense of mission, about the people of Israel and the teachings of Israel, turned out to be a bunch of ego-centric people whose word is not worth anything, and for whom zigzagging is their talent.
Wanted: A New Israeli Right (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked had pretensions of creating “a new right”; a right that unifies while maintaining ideological purity and virtue; religious and secular Jews seeking to preserve the wholeness of the people and the land. By giving in to their fear of following through on the promise to establish a pure framework, with a stronger commitment to ideology than to parliamentary math – and by capitulating to Netanyahu, who schemes against them – Bennett and Shaked have proved that they lack the necessary leadership skills to carry out a revolutionary vision.
In Israel's Next Election, It's Either Sanity or Corruption (Friday Haaretz Editorial) The alliance on the left, of the Labor Party, Gesher and Meretz, and on the right, of Hayamin Hehadash, National Union and Habayit Hayehudi, bring into focus the true meaning of the upcoming election. Voters now have only two options. Those who want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corrupt and corrupting government to continue will vote for what in the last election was called the “right-wing bloc” – Likud, Hayamin Hehadash, Shas or United Torah Judaism. Those who want an alternative to this government, led by Benny Gantz, will vote for Kahol Lavan or one of the two electoral alliances to its left, Labor-Gesher-Meretz or the Joint List.
Netanyahu must stand trial, but we cannot agree to the distortion of the law that is going on in front of our eyes (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) I, too, as an MK, called Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert "corrupt" even before the court ruled, but the circus in the Knesset overrides everything that is customary to this day.
‘Leader for Life’: Putin Shows Israelis What They Should Fear (Dafna Maor, Haaretz+) Xi, Erdogan and Netanyahu all took example from the Russian autocrat. Their popularity is waning, but it's not enough to guarantee democracy

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Loyalty Test in the Classroom (Sunday Haaretz Editorial) The firing of civics teacher Meir Baruchin from a Rishon Letzion high school is the latest rotten fruit of the nation-state-law government, its incitement and denial of the occupation, headed by the indicted Benjamin Netanyahu. A week after the education minister revealed his dark and dangerous worldview, the firing of Baruchin proves that the informant culture and the demand for blind loyalty to the government have been trickling down.
Fascism Just Isn't Fun Enough for Israelis (Boaz Izraeli, Haaretz+)  There's no problem for Israel to be Jewish and democratic simultaneously, so long as the two terms remain empty of content.
Hate on the Internet (Keren Ozen, Maariv) If those commenting on the internet had said their remarks directly to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt’s face rather than writing them online, they would have been investigated for a threatening murder. But in the absence of law enforcement, they spread their poison without fear.
By Barring Left-wing Activists’ Entry to West Bank, Bennett Cynically Uses Army for His Politics (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Defense Ministry's decision to issue orders against anarchists is a new low in Bennett's stint as interim minister on steroids. Moves against Haaretz employee Jonathan Pollak aren't based on Shin Bet intel. Bennett is overstepping the IDF chief.
Kochavi's star shines bright (Yossi Yehoshua, Yedioth/Ynet) From operations in Gaza and Lebanon, to the IDF's current administrative and financial woes; the chief of staff of Israel's army has made it clear he is at the wheel, even as he prepares to face the many challenges that lie ahead.
Will Trump's Middle East peace plan make a difference? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) The long-delayed "deal of the century" won't end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though it can advance realism and undermine establishment thinking that set back peace.
Israel's Settler Right Should Be Called Religious anti-Zionists (Uri Misgav, Haaretz+) The novelist Haim Be’er was wrong to call religious Zionism a “cancerous growth.” It isn’t right to pin an image of disease on a large swath of the population, whether they’re Sudanese or leftist or even religious. It’s also wrong to generalize in this way. Not all knitted kippa wearers live in settlements, vote for right-wing parties and thereby threaten Israel’s future. But Be’er was wrong even before that in choosing his words. We must stop using the term “religious Zionism” in reference to the population that does fall within those parameters. This is a false description, which we all recite in our stupidity. All the kippa wearers who belong to the settler right, whether they live in Elkana or Ra’anana, should be called religious anti-Zionists.
Religious Zionism? The Secular Zionist Left Is the Mother of the Occupation (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) My Haaretz colleague Uri Misgav corrected the novelist Haim Be’er, who called religious Zionism a “cancerous growth.” Misgav said it wasn’t right to call religious Zionism a cancerous growth, but neither should it be called Zionism. Rather, it should be called “religious anti-Zionism.” The essence of Zionism was lofty, so moral until the religious settlers came and ruined everything. We, “the sane Israel,” as Misgav put it, are the opposite of them, the insane. How beautiful we are. If we only could have gotten the religious anti-Zionists out of the way, we would have a just, moral and egalitarian Israel that didn’t occupy the territories and wasn’t colonialist. It’s so easy, and such a lie. The secular Zionist left established Zionism, as well as the occupation and the settlements. It’s the founding father of the country and the founding mother of the occupation. Religious Zionism ran amok to the place the Zionist left opened up for it. It grabbed what it could.
This is our moment (Sarah N. Stern, Israel Hayom) If the Iranian regime feels that the world is not paying attention, then they will get away with many more years of the repression and terror they inflict not only on their people, but upon the rest of the world.
An Iranian Nuclear Breakout? Not So Fast (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Israeli intel's annual assessment spawned alarming headlines, but a closer read paints a somewhat different picture.
The leader who showed that one can be a friend of Israel and Iran at the same time, and stay alive (Jacky Khougy, Maariv) Sultan Oman, Qaboos bin Said, sat in his chair for 49 years, developed a positive foreign policy and gained the trust of the Arab street. It is a pity that he was not asked to mediate between Israel and its enemies. Parting from a friend…With great effort I tried to find in the Arab press this week critical articles on the leader of the Sultanate of Oman, Qaboos bin Said. Qaboos died Saturday from a serious illness, ending 49 years in power. He was buried within a few hours in a small funeral, away from the cameras. A few more hours passed, and the heir was announced, his cousin Haitham bin Tareq Al Said. Upon his appointment, his replacement made a brief speech, in which he pledged to preserve the legacy of his predecessor. In less than a day, the transfer of power was completed in the distant sultanate, for the first time in five decades. No shocks effects, with modesty and elegance, as befits Omanis. Imagine how things would have taken place if it had happened in a neighboring country. With the death of Sultan Qaboos at the age of 78, the depth of appreciation of his neighbors once again became apparent. Although he had critics, especially from home, whose who protested the centralized rule and the lack of freedoms and rights of expression. However, there is no Arab country around which there is a consensus like the Omani sultanate. Qaboos never needed public relations nor self-glorification. In foreign policy, he has tended to invest in building trust with governments in the region, staying away from whims and maintaining responsible adult behavior. Thus, the Omanis succeeded in mediating between Iran and the powers, and reached the nuclear deal with it four and a half years ago. This agreement is currently on the table again, and is being challenged again due to a change in the White House's stance towards it. But diplomatic achievement cannot be ignored. To be clear, this was the best agreement that could be extracted from the parties at the time. Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevi told IDF Radio this week that he met Sultan Qaboos for the first time 45 years ago. That is, only four or five years after he took power (when he ousted his father). The meeting was held in London. Halevy attended as a representative of the Mossad, and as such was received by the young Sultan. This detail reveals how deep and long are the relations between Muscat and Tel Aviv. Another two decades have passed, and formal relations have been established between Israel. In 1996, an Israeli delegation office opened in their capital, and an Omani diplomatic mission established its residence in Tel Aviv. [Two years after the signing of the Oslo Accords - OH] Four years after the relations became public, the Second Intifada broke out, and official relations between Israel and Oman were stopped. But the contacts with it are long-standing, continuous, and there is mutual appreciation. You can see them as a mini model, with the necessary changes, of the secret relationship between Israel and King Hussein of Jordan. Relations with the Kingdom of Jordan are also affected, and often challenged, by the Palestinian issue. After the death of Qaboos, Netanyahu said he was a great leader. The Foreign Ministry issued a condolence notice, calling him “a friend." Jerusalem, as is well known, does not usually disperse compliments to those who did not find it appropriate. In April 2019, Oman surprised with a statement regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its Foreign Minister, Yusef Bin Alawi, recommended that his Arab brothers change their perception of Israel. Instead of seeing it as an enemy, look at it as a scared child. Not to fear, but to accept. Bin Alawi appeared at the World Economic Forum club (Davos Forum), which convened in Sharm El Sheikh. To the cameras, he said: "There is a key point to consider here. Israel, despite its power, is not calm about its future as a non-Arab country in the Arab Ocean of 400 million people. It is not confident in its continued existence in the region. We Arabs must think about this, and strive to alleviate its fears through real agreements between us, the Arab nation, and Israel.” It was an Omani attempt to reduce the sharp gaps in trust between Israel and the Arabs. The Honorable Minister knew that there was no chance of (the acceptance of) his proposal in the short term. But he wanted to sow the idea in the minds of the Arabs, maybe one day it would bear fruit. Meanwhile, from these things one can learn mainly about those who said them. Yusef Bin Alawi knew Israelis, and during his 23 years in office he learned the history of the Jewish people. But his expression indicates a deep and unusual understanding of Israeli DNA. When he offered the Arabs to see themselves as a responsible adult and not as a persecuted child, he gave them strength. Israel, on the other hand, became more humane and less biting, and thus he sought to help get it accepted. In saying "real agreements,” he criticized the peace agreements signed between Israel and the Arabs. The implied criticism was directed primarily at them, not us. Throughout the history of the conflict, there has been no senior Arab who has shown such an understanding of the state of Israel's existence, and its central place in shaping national perceptions and processes. Bin Alawi is neither Egyptian nor Jordanian nor Palestinian. H was raised far away from the Gulf beaches. The appreciation of the Arabs towards the Sultanate of Oman can also be learned from the names of leaders sent to express condolences. The list included Syria's foreign minister, [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh, representatives from Iran, Saudi officials, Qatar and other countries. Qaboos wasn't even Sunni. He belonged to the stream of Ibadi, an ancient branch of Islam, that flirts with Shiism. In his five decades in power, Oman proved that you can be a friend of all without upsetting anyone. And there is no obligation to intervene in others’ matters in order to survive. They did everything in the channels of quiet diplomacy. Anyone who needs to know, knows. Not that they don’t have anyoone to learn from. Oman is located in the heart of an area from which the best of the subversive guys came. Iran on the one hand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other. In his five decades in power, Oman proved that you can be a friend of all without upsetting anyone. And there is no obligation to intervene in other matters to survive. Everything they did on the channels of quiet diplomacy. Anyone who needs to know, knows. Not that they have nothing to learn. Oman is located in the heart of an area from which the subversive good guys came. Iran on the one hand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other, four states that turned the intervention in others’ matters into a profession. All of them are regimes gripped with fear and existential danger, which adopted this policy in order to hurt their haters, recruit allies, or buy a potential enemy. Oman also needs enemy protection belts, because you never know where the evil will come from. But it chose to build its power through positive assets. Under the leadership of Qaboos bin Said, Oman showed that it it is possible to exist well even without stirring up the matters of others. It is a unique genre of tribal wisdom. About two weeks ago, less than a day after the killing of Revolutionary Guards chief Qassem Soleimani, a senior emissary from the Oman sultanate traveled to Tehran. He offered his brokerage services between Teheran and a friend from across the ocean, America, to prevent deterioration of the situation. The Iranians politely refused, and leaked to the media his visit to show that their faces were turned not toward talks, but toward deeds. The Sultanate put others in mediation positions between Israel and its enemies. If Sultan Haitham Ben Tarek continues the activist neutralist policy outlined by Qaboos, we may see in the coming years also the distant Omanis mediating between us and our enemies.
The Hand of God and the Soleimani Miracle (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Iranian Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani was a religious man, but no more so than Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, as can be seen in a totally serious article [he wrote] (“Haman and His Aides; Let Us Bless the Miracle”) in the totally serious newspaper Makor Rishon. There, a leader of the totally serious religious-Zionist movement, which is shaping Israeli society more than any other movement, has written that Soleimani was eliminated by the Holy One, blessed be He. Through detailed analysis, Bin-Nun provides evidence of divine intervention in the assassination and compares it to an event in the Book of Esther, which describes how the Jews of Persia were saved from annihilation. A secular Israeli finds himself isolated, surrounded by crazed religious fundamentalists. American evangelical Christians believe in redemption through Jesus; Shi’ites see the fourth caliph, Ali, as the sole heir of Mohammed; and religious Zionists see Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel as the beginning of Redemption. Bin-Nun’s worldview is becoming the dominant one in this country. These people don’t see me. For me, they’re cut from the same cloth. They love and understand one another much more than they love me. They’re my enemies.
Why flooded Israeli F-16s do not bode well for an Iran war (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The havoc wreaked by winter storms last week raises questions about Israel's readiness.
The notorious “It’ll be okay“ culture continues to be active, even in the IDF (Rafi Carasso, Maariv) At an IDF base, where rainwater caused damage to aircraft , there was a similar flood about 7 years ago. Of course, an investigation was conducted, conclusions were drawn and lessons learned, just a pity they were not implemented.
For Egypt, a new sparkling army base instead of a risky military adventure in Libya (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Cairo’s latest venture highlights the bitter rivalries between Egypt and Turkey over the increasingly fraught battleground of Libya.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Serial Abuser of Diaspora Jews (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Israeli governments traditionally engage with Diaspora Jews by requesting they donate money, give unquestioning support and shut up. Netanyahu has gone way further.
Holocaust politics is bad for the Jews (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Has Yad Vashem’s commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz been hijacked by Israeli political rivalries and the long reach of Vladimir Putin?
My Encounters With Rafael Lemkin, the Penniless, Persistent Hero Who Coined the Term 'Genocide' (Lili Eylon, Haaretz+) Rafael Lemkin was often considered a shabby, dogged nuisance when I met him at the UN in the 1950s. He'd lost 49 family members in the Holocaust; only seven mourners attended his own funeral. But his moral and legal clarity gave the world a new way of defining - if not deterring - mass murder.
Poland and Israel's loss of diplomatic wisdom (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) Polish President Andrzej Duda's decision to skip the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem next week, which top world leaders will attend, highlights the crisis in Polish-Israeli ties.
 
Interviews:
EU should ban BDS in Europe, top Italian official says
In an exclusive interview, Matteo Salvini, head of Italy's right-wing Lega party, says the EU has a long way to go to effectively fight anti-Semitism and pledges that when he is elected as prime minister, Italy will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Interviewed by  Eldad Beck in Israel Hayom)

Trap for (Military) Prosecutor’s Office
For 20 years, Attorney Maurice Hirsch served as Judea and Samaria's (West Bank) Military Advocate and has managed hundreds of cases against terrorists and stone throwers. But since he was released, he has been standing alongside bereaved families in their struggles and criticizing the legal system's incompetence. "The State Attorney's policy is not to shake the ship,” Hirsch says in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth and blames: “The court is completely cut off from the bereaved families. In the cases of stone throwing, the prosecutor's office wants to reach lenient plea bargains. It's a blow to the fight against terrorism. Because those who today throw stones, which can of course kill, tomorrow will go to (throwing) Molotov cocktails and from there, the distance to a stabbing attack or a short car-ramming attack is short. These things must not be given in to and the law must be executed. We must insist on severe punishment." Hirsch is not willing to give up on this fight. And he also knows why. Two weeks ago it was revealed in Yedioth Ahronoth that the military prosecutor is formulating a light plea bargain with a terrorist who threw an explosive charge on a youth in Samaria. (The light plea bargain was) partly because the charge did not explode. That news joins the grim data revealed a few days ago and describes the harsh reality of Judea and Samaria residents [settlers - OH]: In 2019, according to the data, 1,671 cases of stone throwing and 536 cases of Molotov cocktails occurred. (Interviewed by Elisha Ben Kimon in Yedioth Hebrew ’24 Hours’ supplement, cover)
What is your view on the death sentence?
“My stance on the death penalty is clear. I think this is a first-rate deterrent. We see a lot of terrorist attacks in the area where terrorists want to stay alive and not commit suicide. They receive money and expect to be released in one (prisoner exchange) deal or another. But that is not applicable in the State of Israel. It is not on the country's scale of values and it is not the policy, so the prospect of this happening is zero, but the house demolition policy has to be hardened. It is unacceptable that since the murder of Rina Shenrab, the house of Samar Arabid, the main terrorist who plan the whole operation, was not destroyed yet.”
Will you continue to work for the families for free?
"It's a mission for me. As long as no one is holding contacts with them, it's a disservice. We'll fight every case until they realize it saves lives."
IDF Spokesman Response: "The allegations are baseless and outrageous. The military prosecution in the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) is the 'final leg' in the battle of the IDF and the security forces against the terrorist units in Judea and Samaria. The military prosecution is working hard to fulfill the law with defendants in security offenses, including throwing stones and throwing Molotov cocktails. Every year thousands of cases are dealt with by the military in Judea and Samaria in a professional, businesslike and thorough manner. A decision in association with a defendant for a plea bargain is made after a detailed examination of each case, taking into account the gravity of the offense and all relevant data. The plea bargains are presented to and approved by the military courts. "The Judea and Samaria (military) Attorney's Office attaches great importance to communicating with victims of offenses and their families. Although the Crime Victims' Rights Act has not yet been formally applied to the military courts in the Israeli military courts in Judea and Samaria, the military prosecution applies the principles of the law, and makes sure to give the victims and their families personal, human and respectful treatment, updating them throughout the criminal process.”

'Israel is only a decade or two from impenetrable air defenses'
Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav, the IDF's top man when it comes to air defense, talks to Israel Hayom about what the third Lebanon War will look like ("people will be killed"); next-generation air defenses (lasers); and "zero difference" between men and women in air defense roles. (Interviewed by Yoav Limor in Israel Hayom)
 

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