News Nosh 2.27.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday February 27, 2020

NOTE: "Cutting off East Jerusalem from the West Bank" - APN holding briefing call with Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann (Friday, 2/28, 11:00am EST) More details here.

 
Quote of the day:
"Every occupying state has gone down this path – a coarsening of the soul, a loss of good character, burgeoning violence and oppression, an addiction to authority, hatred, evil and lucre. And then, riding on all this, a contemptible man always attains power, a corrupt man devoid of restraint who gathers evil men in his own image around him – people who market hatred and wickedness, who dance on the blood of others, holy priests with the greatness of God in their mouths and bribes in their pockets. And the masses are always drawn to their charm, because hatred is always stronger than enlightenment."
--B. Michael writes about the occupation in today's Haaretz.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
Israel halted the removal of an illegal West Bank outpost at the request of a settler, but did remove a Palestinian protest tent in the area, based on the same regulations by which it originally planned to remove the outpost.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
  • Health Ministry calls on public to avoid all unnecessary flight travel abroad
  • Lieberman rejected establishing government with Netanyahu: “There is no more unity”
  • Sanders doesn’t stop - and these are the bad news for Netanyahu // Chemi Shalev
  • The man who paid for spying on Gantz: Attorney Yossi Cohen
  • Senior citizens are again returning to the polling stations
  • Senior official in Bnei Brak municipal kashrut system transfers millions to company he owns - Haaretz probe
  • High Court will discuss today whether its possible to forcibly give electric treatment to psychiatric patients
  • Riots in India exacerbate: 21 people killed and mosques set on fire
  • Into the 21st century // Yossi Melman calls for ending Israel’s censorship institution
  • Poor people as a nuisance // Ariella Melamed
  • National Security Council is pushing to set up compensation mechanism for those harmed by the coronavirus and the shopping malls are benefitting from the panic in the meantime
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Don’t fly - The dramatic instruction of the Health Ministry
  • The “J’Accuse” speech of a Meglan unit fighter - Eli Chayut, who became paralyzed because of a failure, stood before senior IDF officials: “Listen to your soldiers, no one paid attention to me” (Hebrew)
  • Why did I remove the sign (portraying Palestinian leaders as humiliated and defeated)? // Tel-Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
The big story in today’s Hebrew papers was that now Israel’s Health Ministry has asked Israelis not to travel abroad due to the coronavirus. (Today it was reported online that an Israeli who arrived from Italy was tested positive for the virus - Israel’s first. Israeli scientists claim they are three months away from a vaccine, meanwhile, Israel’s tourism industry fears the virus’ effect will be catastrophic.)

The other big story was that Kahol-Lavan chairman MK Benny Gantz has ‘removed his gloves’ and was forcefully battling the ‘libels’ by Likud, accusing his opponent, Prime Minister and Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu of ‘poisoning’ Israel with divisions.

It was also big news in the Hebrew newspapers that Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders’, called Netanyahu a ‘reactionary racist’ on the stage of the Democratic debate and said that he would consider moving the US embassy back to Tel-Aviv. Netanyahu said Sanders was wrong to call him a racist. Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz called the statements a 'horrifying comment.’ Maariv ran a 1.5 page spread on page 4, including an interesting analysis by Haim Isrovich (See Commentary/Analysis below.). The analysis had a misleading title to the making it seem as if the article were illustrating that Sanders is the BDS organizations’ candidate, when, in fact, Isrovich pointed out the changing relationship between the Democratic party and Israel and called on decision-makers in Jerusalem to take note. Only Yedioth ran a tiny item - on the second to last page of the paper - titled ‘Sanders against Netanyahu.’

Also worthy of noting, for some reason, Haaretz's English website ran a brilliant 2017 Op-Ed by Noam Sheizaf that summarizes the Israeli occupation. It also published a sharp Op-Ed by B. Michael on the same sore subject and Yedioth published an interesting piece by the mayor of Tel-Aviv about why he ordered the removal of the billboards that showed Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Abbas in a humiliating position. See Commentary/Analysis below for all of the above.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment Quickees:
  • Bleeding seats, Gantz changes his strategy days before Israeli election - Gantz makes new moves to woo left-wing voters as recent public opinion polls show that Netanyahu has widened the lead over his Kahol Lavan party. (Haaretz+)
  • Lieberman Says Government to Be Formed Without Netanyahu: No Chance for Unity - 'We'll have 61 seats without Netanyahu, Dery or Litzman,' kingmaker in previous elections says of chance to build a coalition after the March 2 vote. (Haaretz+)
  • Letter from ultra-elite commando unit and the Navy Seals soldiers: "Don't Let Netanyahu Form a Government" - Following the letters of the pilots, the CEOs and the professors, 314 combat soldiers and commanders from Sayeret Matkal and Shayetet 13 also join the demand not to allow someone accused of bribery to form the government. "We risked our lives knowing that our leaders were free of foreign considerations.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Netanyahu Rival's Party Says Hit by Russian Bots, Then Blames PM's Party - Yisrael Beiteinu hired an intelligence firm to investigate site purporting to be run by ex-Soviet immigrants and calling Avigdor Lieberman an 'existential danger.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Olmert launches scathing attack at Netanyahu, says his reign 'will soon be over' - Ex-prime minister believes career of 'liar, divisive' Israeli PM coming to a close after election. “There is a difference between Netanyahu and I,” Olmert said. “He met with murderers and I met with Abbas, who fights terror.” [NOTE: I think the murderer reference is to the ‘Shooting Soldier of Hebron,’ Elor Azaria, who murdered an already injured, prone and ‘neutralized’ Palestinian assailant in 2016. - OH] (Maariv, JPost and i24NEWS)
  • Gabi Ashkenazi on Netanyahu: "He is not Mr. Security, he is Mr. Failure" - The former chief of staff and senior Kahol-Lavan party member attacked the prime minister at Maariv's business conference, revealing: "Only recently he offered me the defense minister post in his government." About the Druze, whom Netanyahu said Ashkenazi derided: "I know them for years, I support them.” (Maariv)
  • Netanyahu appeals to the Arab sector: To hold election conference in Tamra - The Prime Minister was to assure his listeners at the conference that he will address the crime problem in the sector, look into the repealing  the Kaminitz Law, which exacerbates the punishment for illegal construction. Likud officials say the goal is to lower the level of Arab support for the (mostly Arab) Joint List. In response to the prime minister's planned arrival in the Arab city, a demonstration was planned and held at the location and an event was even opened on Facebook. The invitation described Netanyahu as a racist. Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh: “He’s sucking up to Arab.” (Ynet and Maariv/JPost)
  • Netanyahu visited Tamra for ten minutes, and they wondered there why he even came - After plowing the entire country, the prime minister arrived in a city where he received 29 votes. The police prepared the horses, dozens demonstrated, but the Arabs did not flock. One of the organizers of the protest against his arrival: He has nowhere left to go, so he throws a hook at Tamra. (Haaretz Hebrew and Yedioth Hebrew and VIDEO)
  • Ben Gvir to Netanyahu: "I will retire from the Knesset race if you cancel the Oslo agreement" - Itamar Ben-Gvir, chairman of Otzma Yehudit [Kahanist] Party, presented a series of terms to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday for the party's withdrawal from the race for Knesset. We are not interested in jobs," declared Ben Gvir, addressing the prime minister. "In order for us to withdraw, we want you to announce the cancellation of the Oslo Accords and that a Palestinian state will not be established. (Israel Hayom Hebrew)
     
Quick Hits:
  • Israeli Court Allows Tel Aviv to Remove Billboards of Blindfolded, 'Defeated' Abbas and Haniyeh - Group sponsoring the campaign claims it isn't offensive to the public because it does not depict harm to Jews. (Haaretz+)
  • **Thursday: Israel Halts Evacuation of Illegal West Bank Outpost at Request of Defense Minister's Aide - Civil Administration did, however, remove a Palestinian protest tent in the area, based on the same regulations by which it originally planned to remove the outpost, which Avi Roeh, former aid to the defense minister (then Benjamin Netanyahu) for settlement affairs, instructed the administration to freeze. (Haaretz+)
  • Thursday: Naftali Bennett signs order to seize $4 million transferred from Iran [allegedly] to Hamas - The minister issued a directive to seize the cash, which was to be delivered through a money changing company owned by a Gaza businessman, as part of an effort to disrupt the financing of Hamas. (JPost and i24NEWS)
  • 'Israel builds hospitals for Hamas, while my son is still in Gaza,' thousands rally for KIAs return - In a massive event held in the southern city of Be'er Sheva, the relatives of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, as well as mentally ill Israeli citizen Avera Mengistu, beg the government to return them from Hamas's captivity. (Yedioth/Ynet and Maariv)
  • Planned Western Wall Train Will Threaten Historic Jerusalem Spring, Report Says - Water has flown from what might be the most famous spring in history for millions of years – and work on an underground train could end it. (Haaretz+)
  • Military chief bans religious lessons to female soldiers while on duty - The decision comes a months after it was first revealed a civilian and wife of a rabbi has been entering a sensitive IDF base in Israel's south, lecturing female field intelligence troops on the virtue of marriage and other religious content. (Ynet)
  • Thursday: Israeli Military Says It Downed Gaza Drone Over Mediterranean Sea - Suspicious drone was headed westward, rather than towards Israeli territory, in what they army says was 'an unusual occurrence.’ (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli startups hiring more ultra-Orthodox and Arab workers, report says - Their share of new hires in 2017-18 was triple their share of existing jobs in the industry. (Haaretz+)\
  • Police investigators who mocked detained Ethiopian-Israelis were suspended - The three police officers, including an interrogation officer from the Kiryat Malachi station, mocked Ethiopian immigrants on several occasions and were ordered to take a compulsory vacation. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Trump ex-Mideast Envoy Greenblatt Joins Israeli Venture Capital Firm - Jason Greenblatt, the architect of the president's Middle East plan, will work as OurCrowd's business developer for the region. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones to co-host Jerusalem ceremony - Actors set to present prestigious Genesis Prize to Natan Sharansky; Douglas says family will use visit to honor recently deceased father, Kirk Douglas. (Agencies, Ynet and Maariv)
  • Mourners Gather as Egypt Holds Funeral for Ousted President Mubarak - Presidency declares three days of national mourning following a procession led by President Sissi, top military officials, Mubarak's sons and other dignitaries. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran raises its death toll to 19 amid 139 coronavirus cases - Iranian minister, lawmaker test positive for coronavirus as death toll continues to rise. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia Halts Travel to Islam's Holiest Site Over Coronavirus Ahead of Pilgrimage - Foreigners will not be able to reach Mecca and Medina to prevent an outbreak in the kingdom as Iran reports 22 dead from new virus. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • THURSDAY: Turkey-backed Rebels Say They Regained Key Syrian Town From 'Assad's Gangs' - A Russian military source denied the claim that rebels retook the strategic town of Saraqeb, which the opposition lost in a Russian- and Iranian-backed offensive. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • European leaders vow to confront anti-Semitism in full force - "We cannot be disconnected from the history of anti-Semitism, and we should be very careful of hate speech," says Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, who recognized that "there is a new form of anti-Semitism, which is anti-Zionism." (Israel Hayom)


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
'Just No Arabs' Proves the Last Thing Gantz’s Party Wants Is a 'Progressive' Label (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) Why yes to haredim and no to Arabs? Why is United Torah Judaism wooed and the Joint List rejected? If the criteria for entry into society are the creed of Zionism and army service, does that mean the haredim are more Zionist than the Arabs? Do they enlist in greater numbers? If it’s so hard for us with the Joint List, why don’t we just be done with it – who needs them there? Just to be our fig leaf? To justify the shred of democracy that is still barely clinging to our Jewish state? Maybe we should even remove them entirely from the Jewish and democratic society so all we’ll have left are human rights and equality of the pure and totally kosher?
Politicians put pedal to metal on eve of elections (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) With Likud and Blue & White trading blows and ultra-Orthodox and Arab parties making final pitch to undecided voters, the final four days of campaign season promise to be fast and frenetic.
Gantz's weakness is showing (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) The Right was denied its victory in the April 2019 elections and since then all political projections have proved wrong. Perhaps next week's elections will defy the predictions again. Either there will be a clear winner or Blue and White will decide to join a Netanyahu-led government.
The story behind the pilots' letter: "We knew we had no other choice" (Guy Faran, Maariv) We knew that the general public, both right and left, knows that former Air Force fighters will not sign such a letter for political reasons, but only out of moral responsibility and genuine concern for Israel's strength…One of the initiators of the letter was Col. Ze'ev Raz, former commander of the Air Force Flight School, and the pilot of the plane that led the bombing the atomic reactor in Baghdad. When my friend Zavik Rez contacted me, I was visiting my grandchildren in San Francisco, but I couldn't help but immediately join the initiative. Like many of my colleagues in the IAF, I felt that we were approaching a red line that should in no way be crossed: the possibility that a person conducting a serious criminal charge would run the Israeli government at the same time. Because the initiative for our letter was born relatively late, it was clear that action should be taken quickly to spread the initiative among our people. Initially, the goal was to sign 120 pilots in a letter addressed to Knesset members and the president, in a format similar to that of the "professors' letter," but within a few hours it became clear that it was going to be something much bigger. Our call spread like wildfire, with dozens and hundreds of former pilots and navigators signing the letter and helping to disseminate it. A large part of the former pilots maintain a connection between their members of the pilot course or squadrons, through electronic mailing lists (emails and WhatsApp groups). They used them to spread the petition, and the list of signatories grew at a crazy rate. In less than 24 hours, we reached the initial target of 120 signers. We decided not to stop. Within 48 hours we had already reached about 300 signers, and the pace was only increasing. In addition to the signing itself, the people who came to help and encourage us at the ‘Headquarters’ was amazing and exciting. Veteran pilots, some of whom brought down dozens of enemy jets during the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur, and some who fell and sat in captivity on the enemy side, shouldered the effort. It was as if this were another setting out for an important battle for the protection of the homeland. The electrifying atmosphere was felt well in the communication channels we established, and no codes and internal humor of pilots were absent from the discourse. As the number of signatories passed the 300, it was clear to all of us that we were doing a historic, unprecedented act, which would make waves in the media and the public. That was the goal. There were also voices, very few (countable on the palm of one's hand), who were strongly opposed, but there were quite a few who did sign, but also expressed grave concern that the message in our letter would be distorted and used to harm the Air Force, so dear to us. We stressed repeatedly that only former non-active pilots will sign, after having checked carefully with the Air Force headquarters and field security, who is allowed to sign and who is not. We removed dozens of members who were in doubt about their legal status. If in doubt - there was no doubt. As mentioned, a large part of us have debated about the extraordinary act, but the recognition that the country is so dear to us, is on the verge of crossing a terrible red line, has made its mark. In war, as in war. As our number approached 500, we made a decision not to settle for a letter to send to Knesset members and the president, but to publish our call in large newspaper ads as well, to reach the general public.
The letter to Knesset members and the president came out on Sunday, with 540 signatures, but inquiries from other members requesting that we add them continued to flow even after the letter was sent. Many have approached me with regret that the initiative has come too late, but they fully support it. I estimate that if we had another week, we would have reached 700, maybe even 1,000 signers. We knew that the general public, both right and left, knows that former Air Force fighters will not sign such a letter for political party purposes, but only for moral responsibility and genuine concern for Israel's resilience. Some signatories have explicitly stated that they supported and still support right-wing parties, but they also think that appointing a prime minister who is involved in managing his trial for serious criminal charges is a line that should not be crossed. Anyone who saw the joyous cries of happiness in the WhatsApp group when Zevik Raz announced the letter had been sent to its destination, might have mistakenly thought he was reporting the successful elimination of another atomic reactor. Not us. We know the mission is still before us.
Too Little And Too Late: The Pilot Letter is a pathetic gesture (Ran Edelist, Maariv) The pilots' letter is a protest by those who have been caught up in a political show aimed at avoiding negotiations over arrangements that require reality. Too bad it's too little and too late. Years teach them to report the truth and yet for years they are waging wars of lies. Hundreds of pilots and air force personnel have now resurfaced and publicly opposed the continued term of a corrupt prime minister through a protest letter. This is a political protest, but it is not just politics. It is the visceral feeling of those who got stuck, unwillingly and not in the interests of the state, to serve as the arrowheads of toxic politics. [Reference to IAF pilots bombing Palestinians - OH] They are told that they are defending the people of Israel, when, in fact, they are statistics at a political show aimed at avoiding negotiations that would damage the grip over every settlement and outpost, including a bonus of processes of religionization. This is the whole story: the government's reluctance to move toward the arrangements [i.e. withdrawal from the West Bank, easing sanctions on Gaza - OH] that necessitate the reality in which we live and the sad results are on the ground. In recent years, the Air Force and the combat units have been added to another goal, and that is the criminal defendant's escape from prison. So what is so surprising that people have risen who decide that neither they nor their Air Force will serve as Netanyahu's escape seat. Seemingly, on a personal level, let the pilots lift their noses, literally, tear up the sky and they're happy. It's just this problematic rattle they feel viscerally as they come back and land after a ‘real estate attack’ [i.e. dropping bombs on Palestinians - OH]. Think of reasonable humans sitting in tools that cost billions, and what they've been doing for years is abusing corpses, an activity that is not fundamentally different from the bulldozer shaking that body (of Islamic Jihad activist) at the tip of its paws on the way to the Minister of Defense's corpse bank. At the national level, this is a domestic crisis that has operational implications. It's too easy to say that the sinking of a (parked) F-16 in a flood, which could have been avoided, is due to operational weakness. But when on the one hand you run ‘real estate strikes’ and on the other hand you hear the defense minister say he will handle the octopus in Tehran, and you know it's a hollow, unfeasible and dangerous vanity, so then it’s clear the political decay permeates the IAF operations room. Seemingly, a problematic smell wafts from the pilot's letter of again we privileges look at you from above and tell you what is right and what is not. Only seemingly. The public letter is a pathetic gesture, too little and too late. In the state of Elor Azaria there are not currently enough buyers. The hope is that the uplifted heroes’ letter will return a mandate or two to the Kahol-Lavan party that it lost, but also saving a little of the lost honor of the signers is something, today. Tomorrow is the dawn of a new day and it could be much worse. The terrifying truth is that those who rule the heavens and the earth are the Likudiada pilots and the military rabbinate fighters and they bomb with impunity, not Iran, but Israeli democracy.
Last Chance to Save Israeli Democracy (Ehud Barak, Haaretz+) Israel’s democracy is at the height of a process of collapse, and Election Day is the last opportunity to halt it. The reign of Justice Minister Amir Ohana and State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman – presided over by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is constantly being driven crazy by his wife and son – is a nightmare. If we don’t stop it through our votes, we may quickly tumble down the slope and wind up like Poland or Hungary or even Turkey. The blow Ohana dealt Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit through Acting State Prosecutor Dan Eldad’s announcement, in the middle of the evening news, of the opening of a criminal investigation into Fifth Dimension is just a prologue to what our daily fare will be in the next transitional government. There isn’t just a “whiff of politics” here, to quote opposition leader Benny Gantz, who formerly served as Fifth Dimension’s chairman of the board. This is a fundamentally corrupt political decision, whose timing was deliberate and unscrupulous.
Time to put egos aside (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) The six months following the March 2 election will be crucial to maximizing the opportunity presented by the Trump peace plan and the leaders of Likud and Blue and White must unite to implement it. Failing to do so will harm Israel.
Listening to the heart: In the upcoming election I'm going with my truth (Yoram Dori, Maariv) From the Labor-Gesher-Meretz election campaign, I found that they offer a worthwhile offer of one plus one free in one ballot: You get the replacement of the prime minister, and a bonus policy change.
The willful ignorance of lawmakers (Einav Schiff, Yedioth/Ynet) A Likud MK recently suggested that factory workers who have lost their jobs can earn thousands of shekels a month washing dishes in Tel Aviv, becoming the latest in series of right-wing politicians to display an utter lack of sensitivity to those in need.
PM Netanyahu is empowering the Joint Arab List (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) Netanyahu is willing to bolster Arab support for the list if it means that he can wrong-foot both Benny Gantz and Avigdor Lieberman.
Bernie vs AIPAC: As Sanders Surges, pro-Israel Democrats Scramble for Backup Plan (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)  For many, taking aim at the pro-Israel lobby this week embodies what the Democratic front-runner stands for – and highlights why others are worried about him.
Sanders and the breach of the political dam (Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, Israel Hayom) We must look at reality square in the eye and recognize the fact that underground political streams long bubbling beneath the surface have erupted mightily to the fore of American politics, mortally threatening the broad security blanket Israel has had over the decades.
Bernie Sanders is the candidate of the BDS organizations (Dr. Haim Issrovich, Maariv) ."Racist reactionary" - that is how Senator Bernie Sanders called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the stage of the Democratic debate on Tuesday night, when he was asked about the fears of Jewish Americans regarding his candidacy, not before he declared that he was a 'proud Jew. This is not a new statement. He has said it (at other debates and events...) and stated that "supporting the Israeli people and Middle East peace does not mean that we must support extremist racist right-wing governments that exist at that moment in Israel." Naturally, the words were echoed in media in Israel and on Jewish websites in the US. There was never a leading candidate for president of the US, certainly not in the Democratic party, which is considered home for the absolute majority of the Jewish voters, who expressed such views towards the Israeli government and the man who leads it. When speaking about a candidate who also has the support of the BDS activists or the Congresswomen known for their criticism toward Israel, like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Talib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it's possible to understand the concern in Jerusalem and in the leadership of the Jewish community in the US..More than Sanders words it is worthwhile to pay attention also to what happens in the background. When Sanders called Prime Minister Netanyahu a 'racist,' he won applause from the audience, but the other candidates, even the senior members of the Democratic party, avoided opening their mouths to call on Sanders to retract his words, or at least to moderate his tone, and it appears they are fearful of the responses of the large army of supporters of the progressive Senator. The senator's aggressive talk, alongside the loud silence of the Democratic establishment - indicates distancing in the relationship between the Israeli government and one of the two major US parties, partly because of the absolute identification of the present Israeli government with the administration in Washington, especially between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Trump. ..The decision-makers in Washington should look deeply at the phenomenon taking place among the Democrats before it's too late. But when Israel appears to be between continued political paralysis even after elections on Monday, it's not clear if and when that will happen.
AIPAC Pits Itself Against the Democratic Party (Yael Patir, Haaretz+) The strength of the strategic partnership between Israel and the United States derives from bipartisan support. For this reason, over the years AIPAC carefully avoided becoming identified with one party or another. Lately, however, it seems that those days may be nearing an end. There is no question that trying to navigate between the deep revulsion for Trump felt by much of the Jewish community and the love for the president felt by the current Israeli government is very tricky. Yet AIPAC managed to distance itself from previous presidents when it supported an Israeli government position over that of the president (as in the case of President Obama, for example), and there is no reason it shouldn’t be able to distance itself from the current president. Instead, it is taking actions that, under the guise of “defending Israel,” actually smear the Democrats and make support for Israel a matter for one party alone.
Livid Gantz Finally Lets Loose on Netanyahu and His Dirty Spin Machine (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Kahol Lavan’s steady slide in Israel election polls compels Gantz to lash out against Likud libels, in the hope it’s not too late.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
This Week's Palestinian Sacrifice, Delivered by an Israeli Bulldozer (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) What did people on the right wing feel upon seeing the images of an Israeli army bulldozer burrowing into the ground in Gaza and snatching the body of a man as if it were an animal carcass being removed due to the stench? What were the feelings of the Goldin family, whose soldier son’s body is being held in Gaza, and who are considerably responsible for this spectacle, in the face of this desecration of dead? Did they feel satisfaction? A sense of revenge? Did they think that the return of their son’s body was brought closer even a bit in light of this scene? And what were the thoughts of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who laid out this policy to snatch bodies? Was he proud of the Israeli soldiers who carried out his order? Would he be pleased to have the new doctrine named after himself, a doctrine involving the trafficking in bodies, his sole legacy?
*In Classic Occupier Fashion, Israel Has Hit Rock Bottom. And Now It’s Too Late (B. Michael, Haaretz+) Yes, yes, this is exactly how it happens. But what was the original sin? The Nakba? Not separating religion and state? The lack of a constitution? The terrible mistakes in absorbing immigrants? The different school systems? The pipe dreams about “Jewish and democratic”? The corrupt Sinai Campaign of 1956? The corrupting war of 1967? The unnecessary Yom Kippur War of 1973? The occupation? The souls that were poisoned? The urges that were liberated? The Judeoid paganism? The criminal settlements? The disregard of the Zionist ultra-Orthodox monster ever since it was born? The inconceivable (and unavoidable) evil of the military tyranny in the occupied territory to our east? The complete loss of restraint by government? The celebration of corruption? The debauchery by lucre? The creeping weakness of the justice system?…There were people who warned us. There were people who foresaw what would happen…Jews and Israelis…But the religious demon that escaped from the cracks in the Western Wall could no longer be stopped. What happened next was classic. Every occupying state has gone down this path – a coarsening of the soul, a loss of good character, burgeoning violence and oppression, an addiction to authority, hatred, evil and lucre. And then, riding on all this, a contemptible man always attains power, a corrupt man devoid of restraint who gathers evil men in his own image around him – people who market hatred and wickedness, who dance on the blood of others, holy priests with the greatness of God in their mouths and bribes in their pockets. And the masses are always drawn to their charm, because hatred is always stronger than enlightenment….
What Netanyahu learned from Orwell (Tzur Shezaf, Yedioth/Ynet) Taking his example from Animal Farm, the Likud leader groomed his underlings to make sure he remains on top; and now all that Israel is left with is disorder and chaos, purely in an effort to mask the prime minister's legal troubles.
Incitement is not freedom of speech (Tel-Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Yedioth Hebrew) Tel Aviv District Court yesterday rejected "Middle East - Israel Forum’s” petition against Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, following my order to remove signs showing Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Abbas kneeling with helicopters circling over them and the inscription "Peace is made only with defeated enemies." The court supported our position that the signs were removed properly and that this was a reasonable decision. Of course, I applaud the court's decision. Freedom of expression and the preservation of it is of paramount value, and it has guided and guides me in all my actions as the mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa throughout the years. The right to express an opinion, especially during an election period, is undeniably important and necessary, and its protection is particularly important in cases where harsh or outrageous expressions are made. The slogan "Peace can only be made with defeated enemies" is legitimate, and we did not remove the sign because of it or because of its political message. And that is despite that I disagree with it, in light of our peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, showing that peace with dignity is preferable. The death of Hosni Mubarak this week reminded us once again of the tremendous value in stable peace with neighbors who turned from enemies into partners. The reason for removing the sign is the blatant violence it has, which is reminiscent of ISIS's execution photos and ghastly scenes from our people’s history. During my 21 years as mayor, I made sure not to interfere with the content presented in the public space - even if I didn't like it, and there was a lot. Thousands of signs including angry and disgusting messages were hung on city streets and cultural institutions over the years, but I avoided interfering. In fact, I have only intervened twice until now, and on both occasions it was a defense of the right-wingers: the first time was after a disgraceful picture of Yitzhak Shamir was displayed at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. I then quietly asked the director of the museum to remove the picture - and it disappeared. The second time was during the tent protest (2011), when the protesters placed a guillotine on Rothschild Boulevard. I thought then that the guillotine was an incitement to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and I instructed for its removal. It seems to me that these facts also prove that there was no political motive here, but a basic concept of freedom of expression. This is a consistent approach, which advocates that in extreme cases, our society must protect itself from violent and inciting messages - especially those that may encourage violence and hatred among children and adolescents. And what is expected now? I will continue to protect freedom of speech and democratic discourse in the urban sphere, even when some of the opinions voiced are not acceptable to me. That is clear. But I will work diligently to prevent hate speech, racism and incitement to violence. This is the spirit of balance established in the State of Israel Law Book, and it is also the balance that I am convinced that the vast majority of Tel Aviv-Yafo residents espouse.
Why the UN’s Settlement Database Doesn’t Go Far Enough (Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, Haaretz+) Recently released list will be toothless unless countries take action to punish corporate complicity in Israel’s illegal conduct.
Last gasp for Palestinian statehood (James Sinkinson, Israel Hayom) Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas's UN appearance underscored the moribund condition of the Palestinian national movement, and showed desperation, exhaustion and hopelessness.
The 52 Words That Foretold the Future of Israel's Occupation in 1967 (Noam Sheizaf, Haaretz+ - 2017 piece that is back on Haaretz website today) Two open letters, published the same day in the Israeli press, a mere three months after the Six-Day War, presented a fork in the road regarding the territories…One of the paid-for letters to the public, published in the mass-circulation newspapers Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv, was signed by 57 of the most important and best-known – then and now – of the country’s writers, intellectuals and political activists. The moving spirit behind the ad was poet Natan Alterman, and the signatories came from the right and from Labor alike…The text itself reflected vividly the public mood after the Six-Day War. “The Land of Israel is now in the hands of the Jewish people,” the ad stated, “and just as we are not permitted to forgo the State of Israel, so too we are enjoined to sustain what we have received from it: the Land of Israel.” And, additionally, “We are hereby committed faithfully to the wholeness of our land, in regard to the Jewish people’s past and to its future alike, and no government in Israel shall ever forgo this wholeness.” That same day, completely by chance, another such open letter to the public, penned by two members of the far-left Matzpen organization, Haim Hanegbi and Shimon Tzabar, (and signed by ten more) was published in Haaretz. Like the “Greater Land of Israel” petition, it, too, was a response to the discussion that had begun to emerge in the country about the future of the territories that had been conquered in the war. But its underlying concept was radically different. “Our right to defend ourselves against annihilation does not grant us the right to oppress others,” the ad stated. “Conquest brings in its wake foreign rule. Foreign rule brings in its wake resistance. Resistance brings in its wake oppression. Oppression brings in its wake terrorism and counterterrorism. The victims of terrorism are usually innocent people. Holding onto the territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims.” And in large font at the end: “Let us leave the occupied territories now.” Fifty years later, one is struck by the (Matzpen’s) text’s precision and conciseness….The only signatory of the letter appearing in Yedioth and Maariv who is still alive – Haim Gouri – long since came to regret the part he played in the Greater Israel movement…The problem with the Greater Land of Israel letter lies not only in the unpalatable historical parallels that are engendered by talk about total faithfulness to land and to history, but in the way it ignores the presence of the Palestinians, of course…In the 50 years that have passed since the two ads were published, the occupation has become a national project that involves all branches of the state and the economy, from academe to the military industries, from the educational system to the institutions of culture and the arts. The status quo has morphed from being a situation into which Israel was plunged, partly by intention and partly by chance, into the sole legitimate plan of action. The reasons for this are not difficult to grasp. When all the resources and all the assets and all the power are in Israel’s hands, every act of sharing with the Palestinians, whether in a two-state or one-state framework – appears to be an unnecessary waste and risk. The establishment of a Palestinian state would enmesh the Jewish public in Israel in a deep internal crisis without necessarily according it security, and the one-state solution offers an even foggier future…How desperate we are for direct, simple formulations like that of the letter the Matzpen members wrote in 1967! An instant after the war, it was clear to the authors that occupation means above all rule over people. It’s not by chance that in the past half-century, the territories have become an open-air prison. And that’s no metaphor: The territories resemble a prison, with their ubiquitous walls, watchtowers and security cameras, and stringent laws about furloughs and visits. Millions of people are being held as prisoners of the State of Israel, only because we are afraid to pay the price of their liberation – though it’s a price that must inevitably be paid, of course.
Between Israel and Hamas there are wide gaps in the concept of what is the long-term arrangement (Michael Milstein, Maariv) The final round illustrates the price that Israel pays for the haste in which the current arrangement was drafted, and in particular the willingness to leave open issues en route to this goal.
Mubarak's Legacy for Israel: Maintaining the Peace Treaty With Egypt (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+) Despite two intifadas, two Lebanese wars, a war in Gaza and two Gulf wars, Mubarak's moderating policy kept turmoil from spilling over into regional conflict.
How Poor Iran Might Help Rich Dubai Emerge From Its Real Estate Crisis (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The emirate is still suffering from the bad times that followed the global economic crisis. If Iranians don't step in, other foreigners might by snapping up property.
 
Interviews:
PM: If I pushed a leftist agenda, everyone would support me
In a special interview with Israel Hayom, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about navigating the complex political Israeli reality, the seemingly never-ending election year, the security challenges the country faces, and his legal woes. (Interviewed by [right-wing author-OH] Irit Linur in Israel Hayom)

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