APN's Daily News Review from Israel - Sunday April 26, 2020
Quotes of the Day:
“But someone should have told us about Gideon’s victims and about Daoud who fought the Palmachnik Dudu. Someone should have told us about their just cause, alongside our own, about the bitter fate we had in store for them and imposed on them.”
—Haaretz commentator Gideon Levy examines Israeli society’s understanding of the Nakba by looking at the fate of the village which was destroyed in part by the soldier after whom he was named.**
“(Coronavirus) will not prevent us from fulfilling the significant human need to come together, Israelis and Palestinians, to remember and remind others of our loved ones, and to say once more that a just peace is the key to a better future for us all – an even stronger message today in a time when people in Israel, Palestine and all over the world are standing together against a joint threat.”
—Yonatan Gher, Israeli co-executive director of Combatants for Peace said about the annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony being held Monday live online.**
- Without a clear policy, government lets public out of their houses // Amos Harel
- Litzman to Netanyahu: I will leave the Health Ministry and take the Housing Ministry
- Trump offered to treat corona patients with injection of disinfectant
- 2000 people demonstrated in Tel-Aviv against harm to democracy
- Arab public fears loosening of the obedience (to the restrictions)
- Labor party committed to recommend Netanyahu (for PM) and won’t receive voting freedom on annexation
- Not Gantz, not Trump: The key to annexation was and remains in the hands of Netanyahu // Noa Landau
- Secret IDF unit aided collecting information for team that discussed preventing civil rebellion (against government corona restrictions)
- 1.5 billion children at home. How dangerous is it to return to school?
- They didn’t tell the truth // Haaretz Editorial
- The restrictions eased and the limitations
- Memorial Day at Ikea // Meir Shalev
- The aid plan for self-employed and small business owners
- The severely injured person from the First Intifada in a message of hope
- Is there a doctor on the field? Health team workers who are also athletes
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
- Opening for business
- The Jewish challenge // Ron Lauder
- He chose the Housing Ministry: After 10 years on the job, Litzman leaves the Health Ministry portfolio
- Judicial dispute - Dozens of lawyers and senior state prosecutors stood on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt's side in his dispute with the acting State Prosecutor Dan Eldad
- Nausea in a glass of poison // Ben Caspit
- Exclusive - “They aren’t showing us the data, only whims and fears”
- Assessing: Kindergartens and grades 1-3 to return to school next week
- (Health Minister) Litzman leaves the Health Ministry portfolio: “I’ve done my work, moving to the Housing Ministry”
- Let the public fulfill its choices // Jacob Berdugo
- The precedents: High Court reducing its intervention // Asaf Medini
- Pupils fear: We won’t be ready for the matriculation exams”
- Likely: Fertility treatments will return gradually next week
Top News Summary:
Restrictions on shops and businesses are being lifted as of today, but with restrictions that will severely limit
customers, and in the midst of the corona crisis, Israel’s highly criticized Health Minister finally leaves his job
and stories of Israeli family’s who lost their loved ones in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were the top stories
in today’s Hebrew newspapers.
Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Wearing black shirts and waving Israeli flags, some two thousand Israelis demonstrated in Tel-Aviv for the second week in a row against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhu serving as prime minister now that he is an indicted criminal suspect, saying it’s “crushing democracy."
Today, the 3,850 registered members of Israel’s Labor party vote online on whether to agree with its leader’s decision to join a Netanyahu government and vote in favor of annexation of Palestinian Territories in the West Bank. Haaretz’s Editorial and Labor's former partner, Meretz party chief Nitzan Horowitz, urged members to vote against unity. (Also Maariv)
The UK and European Union states warned the Likud - Kahol-Lavan government against annexing parts of the West Bank. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and France's UN Ambassador said annexation “would not pass unchallenged.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors from the State Attorney’s Office came to the side of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt in the dispute between Mendelblitt and Acting State Attorney Dan Eldad. The prosecutors wrote a sharp letter to Eldad saying they were “hocked by your behavior and your smearing of the Attorney General…Your conduct is contrary to any ethos we have been educated on and have been educating generations of prosecutors.” (Maariv) The letter comes following an unprecedented letter by Mendelblitt to the Civil Service Commissioner asking the latter not to extend Eldad's term. Mendelblitt wrote last week that Eldad was unsuitable for the position, that he made ethical failures when he met with the Minister of Justice behind Mendelblitt’s back, that Eldad hid material from him, that Eldad undermines him, that between Eldad and the State Prosecutor's Office employees there is a very serious crisis of trust. Eldad responded insinuating that Mendelblitt wanted him out because he had looked into some case Mendelblitt had closed. Guy Peleg, legal commentator for Chanel 12 News said in an interview on Nissim Meshal's program on 103FM, that Eldad's response made his "jaw drop open." Peleg said he and many others believe that Eldad’s smearing of Mendelblitt is part of a wider campaign of repeated attempts to undermine the credibility of the person who signed the indictment against the prime minister (i.e. the Attorney General).” According to Peleg, “the significant event will be that the High Court will eventually have to decide whether an MK under indictment can serve as head of government and it will also be required (to discuss) a long line of clauses in the coalition agreement, including the decision by Gantz and Netanyahu that senior appointments will not be made in the coming six months. This, of course, affects the issue of the appointment of a permanent state attorney. Another point is whether a criminal defendant can even enter this environment of choosing a state attorney and a new attorney general… We do not know whether the Committee to Appoint High Court Justices will be set up immediately when MK Avi Nissenkorn takes up the post of Justice Minister, whether the High Court will approve of this clause, and whether it extend Dan Eldad's tenure.” (Maariv)
Corona News and Quickees:
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman decided to leave his job, thrilling many after much criticism of him, and will take the Housing Ministry portfolio in its stead, while Israel eases coronavirus restrictions, allowing more stores and even hairdressers to reopen, yet some refuse to reopen in protest of the lack of government compensation for lost revenue and doctor’s accused the government and the Health Ministry of making decisions regarding restriction based on ‘whims’ and not statistics.
- Israel's coronavirus death toll up to 200, with 15,398 confirmed cases - The Health Ministry says there has been a decline in number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition; among latest fatalities is a 58-year-old man whose 52-year-old wife died from the virus just days before. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
- While Israel Slowly Opens Up, Ramadan Brings Confusion and Unease to Arab Communities - Local leaders urge compliance with tougher coronavirus restrictions for the Muslim holy month, while limitations in the country as a whole are being eased. (Haaretz+)
- 'An Existential Need': Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews Go Online Amid Coronavirus Lockdown - The country's largest internet provider reported a 40-percent surge in traffic in Haredi neighborhoods since March 15, despite some rabbis' objection. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Israeli Special Ops Officers Collected Info to Prevent Civil Unrest Amid Coronavirus - Israeli army spokesperson says officers, who did not participate in official capacity as military representatives, did not take part in discussions concerning social protests. (Haaretz+)
- Lockdown dims Independence Day celebrations - State events to be held without audiences over Health Ministry's social distancing directives. Traditional IAF flyover to be replaced with modest display over hospitals, to honor medical teams. Israeli flag sales down 40% this year. (Israel Hayom)
Poll: 60% of the public unsatisfied with Netanyahu's economic performance, but satisfied with his
dealing of the health care crisis - A special survey conducted by the Maagar Mochot Institute shows
that a significant majority of the public is not satisfied with the prime minister's economic performance, but
is satisfied with his handling of the Corona crisis -
Sixty percent do not believe Netanyahu will abide by his word and leave his position for Benny Gantz. Only 39 percent believe he will keep the promise. (103FM/Maariv)
- Israel's 'father of kidney donations' succumbs to coronavirus - Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber, the founder of the NGO "Gift of Life," which is responsible for almost 800 altruistic kidney donations in Israel, dies at the age of 55 after contracting the virus last week. "Thanks to him, hundreds of people in Israel were granted a new life," says PM Netanyahu. (Israel Hayom)
- Palestinians fear contracting coronavirus in Israeli jails - Advocates call for the release of at-risk Palestinian prisoners amid concerns the infection could spread through the prison system, spill into West Bank; more than 5,000 Palestinians are currently detained in Israeli jails. (Agencies, Ynet)
- ICRC donates vital medical equipment to Gaza in coronavirus crisis - While only 17 people have tested positive in the Strip, hospitals remain under-equipped for a widespread outbreak, with one ventilator for every 21,505 persons. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
- Coronavirus Crisis Presents New Opportunities for Gaza Battered Economy by Making Protective Wear - Sewing factories in the coastal enclave are working in full force to produce protective gear for countries struggling to contain COVID-19, including Israel. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Gaza's women break social barriers to advance amid pandemic - Hamas-run enclave seeing slow erosion of traditions that have long derailed progress as women stand shoulder to shoulder with men in struggle against deadly disease; activists say learning self-defense now indispensable. (Ynet)
- COVID-19 outbreak in Istanbul now under control, says minister - Is Europe's largest city past the peak? (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Emirati Police Deploy Smart Tech in Coronavirus Fight - Like other countries around the world, Gulf states have deployed technology in the struggle to rein in the virus, including smartphone apps that track sufferers. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Islam's holiest sites emptied by coronavirus crisis as Ramadan begins - In a rare occurrence in Islam's 1,400-year history, Mecca's Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina – the religion's two holiest locations – will be closed to the public during the fasting period. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
- India’s Jewish ‘Microscopic Minority’ Feels Safe From the Coronavirus — for Now - While some Jews battle Islamophobia online, others join Hindu nationalists in blaming Muslim groups for waging ‘corona jihad.’ (Haaretz+)
Other Quick Hits:
- Senior Israeli officials: Advancement in prisoner and missing persons negotiations - A Lebanese newspaper reported that the prospects for agreement are growing and that Egypt has released prisoners from Gaza to promote the deal. One of the obstacles: Israel wants a broad deal, while Hamas is focused on a partial move. (Maariv)
- *Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony Gets Unprecedented Boost From U.S. Jewish Groups - US and Israeli Jewish and pro-peace groups are taking part, from the Union for Reform Judaism to Peace Now, J Street, the New Israel Fund, IfNotNow and others, as well as individual churches, synagogues and interfaith dialogue groups. The annual event, to be held online because of the coronavirus, will draw record participation, organizers say. The organizers aim not only to mourn the fallen on both sides together, but to commit to “build a new reality based on mutual respect, dignity, equality, freedom and peace,” as they put it. After the live online ceremony, viewers will be invited to take part in online Zoom discussion rooms with members of bereaved families. (JPost and Haaretz+)
- UN Envoy Tells Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Ceremony: ‘You’re a Source of Inspiration to Us All' - 'There are people who want to burn all bridges between Israelis and Palestinians. What you are doing is going against that,' says Mladenov in clip for ceremony, which will take place online on Monday night. Event has been criticized by Israeli politicians and right-wing activists, who claim it supports terrorism. (Haaretz+)
- 'We had consensual sex, then he called for rest of Israelis to join in' - Israel's Channel 13 News interviews the British female teenager who accused 12 Israelis of gang-rape last year, says she was raped for 30 minutes. Medical examiners found at least 10 different sperm samples on the woman, while out of the 12 Israelis arrested later, seven had matching DNA, indicating the other three had fled the resort island shortly after. The Israeli teens were released shortly after, while the woman was indicted for lying. (Ynet)
- Three homes of his own, and Netanyahu wants Israel to pay for another (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet) Coalition agreement states that the country will provide the prime minister with a residence even when he is no longer in office despite the fact he owns real estate valued at more than 30 million shekels.
- Pompeo: "Iran is lying that its space program is for peaceful purposes“ - US Secretary of State strongly condemns Iran's launch of a satellite into space: "Their secret space program promotes technologies used for nuclear weapons transfer systems.” (Maariv)
- Rouhani: “Iran will never start a regional military dispute with the US” - The President of the Iranian Islamic Republic noted that in the face of growing tensions between his country and the the US, Tehran has been vigilantly following US activity in the region, but does not intend to start an escalation. (Agencies, Maariv)
- Lebanese Decry 'Plain Robbery' as Dollar Savings Hit by Financial Crisis - Long-brewing economic troubles and mounting national debt have spilled over into a full-blown banking crisis. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Saudi-led coalition announces one-month extension of Yemen ceasefire - A two-week ceasefire announced by the coalition that is battling the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen expired on Thursday without leading to a permanent truce. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Jailed Saudi Princess Pleads for Release as Ramadan Arrives - Princess Basmah Bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 56, a businesswoman, writer and rights activist, went missing in March 2019. (Agencies, Haaretz)
‘Capitulation, Not Compromise’ How Israelis Who Voted for Gantz Feel Now That He’s in Bed With
Many Kahol Lavan supporters tell Haaretz they feel deceived and betrayed – but others see a pragmatist who opted for the least of all evils by agreeing to an emergency unity government with Netanyahu. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
My Grade School Teacher Was a Nazi Mass Murderer With a Secret Identity
SS officer Artur Wilke returned to his village after the war and became a grade school teacher. How could an entire community shut its eyes, and what happens when one boy, now 67, decides to talk? (Itay Mashiach, Haaretz+)
Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
No, Gantz, Democracy and Annexation Don't Go Together (Hagai El-Ad, Haaretz+) Now that a coalition agreement between Likud and Kahol Lavan has been signed, it’s worth examining the significance of that agreement, in particular two core issues. For Kahol Lavan, the fig leaf that ostensibly justifies its entry into a Netanyahu government and proves it is sticking to its principles is the preservation of “democracy and the rule of law.” To this end, the party even agreed “to compromise” and consent to moves to advance “annexation” as of July 1. This is basically all one needs to know about the thinking here, across the board, regarding “democracy.” After all, there is no connection whatsoever between “democracy and the rule of law” and the continued Israeli rule over millions of Palestinians who are without rights.
The new justice minister has no power (Tova Zimuky, Yedioth/Ynet) While Nissenkorn's appointment seems like positive step, the Blue & White MK will face numerous difficulties from elected officials who are not only critics of court system, but will most torpedo any major new moves.
When It Comes to Annexation, Netanyahu Alone Holds the Key (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) With Gantz serving as the latest excuse not to go through with it, will Netanyahu once again choose not to annex the West Bank?
Labor, Don’t Join Netanyahu's Government (Haaretz Editorial) There aren’t enough words to express the dismay over the fact that the Labor Party’s central committee will have to decide Sunday whether to ratify an agreement in which party chairman Amir Peretz and Knesset member Itzik Shmuli get ministerial posts in a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s hard to believe that the person who shaved off his bushy mustache on air – willing to sacrifice his trademark in order to counter suspicions that Labor-Gesher would join Likud the day after the election – has chosen to break his promise and disgrace himself and his voters in order to join a government established with one purpose: to spare Netanyahu from facing justice. But this is not a decree of blind fate. The members of the central committee now have an opportunity to apply the brakes and clarify to Peretz and Shmuli that their actions do not represent the wishes of people who voted for this party.
The real problem with the center-left (Haim Tomer, Yedioth/Ynet) While newly signed Blue & White and Labor partnership with Likud can be seen as treason by many, collaboration with right-wing can be attributed to global decline in appeal and lack of direction.
Is Gantz's Party a Sitting Duck or a Sophisticated Rabbit? (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) All critics of the agreement between Kahol Lavan and Likud are unanimous: The deal will emasculate the opposition. Kahol Lavan head Benny Gantz signed an agreement that in fact prevents the opposition from voting no confidence in the government, denied it of Knesset committees leadership and robbed it of the place allocated for its representative in the Judicial Appointments Committee. The opposition’s seat in this committee is to be filled by Kahol Lavan deserter Zvi Hauser. From the moment the political project called Kahol Lavan was launched, it presented the public with a quartet leadership model with four equally important parts – the “cockpit.” Since then, the Kahol Lavan foursome has split up and its heads now stand at the head of both the coalition and the opposition. Could we be witnessing a deployment of the foursome’s political forces? When we say there’s no opposition, should we in fact recognize that this is because the coalition and opposition leaders are political partners, even if – at least technically – they’re split up? Perhaps the criticism over the absence of an opposition should concern mainly those who have become a synonym for coalition in Israel – that is, Likud. Because it’s true that the agreement protects Netanyahu, i.e. the defendant Netanyahu – but what about Netanyahu as party leader? Netanyahu as a political camp?
The agreement between Likud and Kahol-Lavan is one of the most obscure, opaque and rotten signed here (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Not only will the unity government that was established not end Netanyahu's rule, it will also perpetuate it through a royal residence even after he leaves. And also: the war of IDF Intel unit and Sayeret Matkal commando unit against corona.
Benny Gantz, You Owe the Israeli Public an Explanation (Friday Haaretz Editorial) If the citizens matter to Gantz, he must explain to them the coalition agreement he signed with Netanyahu. The agreement’s clauses, which on Thursday were incorporated into a proposed amendment to the Basic Law on the Knesset, don’t offer any answers on how to cope with the coronavirus and mitigate the economic crisis. They do, however, generate constitutional changes intended to infringe on democracy and bolster the leaders at the citizens’ expense – exactly the opposite of what Gantz had promised in the election campaign and the coalition negotiations.
Mutual Mistrust Will Wreck Netanyahu-Gantz ‘Coronavirus Emergency Government’ (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) And the deceit that took Netanyahu a quarter of a century to perfect, Gantz has achieved in a little over a year.
Netanyahu-Gantz Deal Might Mean Ordinary Israelis Must Save the Day (Ehud Barak, Haaretz+) Nothing of the like has been seen before – not in Israel or in any other advanced democracy. This political agreement, fundamentally corrupt and rotten, emasculates the Knesset under cover of the coronavirus, undermines the foundations of our system of government and subordinates the Supreme Court to the government. The obvious reason for its existence is neither the coronavirus nor the crisis, but immunity for the criminal defendant, Benjamin Netanyahu, in any situation and at any price. Here’s a partial list of its components, all of which are in the defendant’s service.
For Israel's new government, Arabs – out, corruption – in (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) It was Knesset member Yoaz Hendel, the designated minister for strategic affairs in the new government, who coined the phrase by which the world is divided into Jews and those who hate them. Well, it seems that this is the motto of the new government, as well most of the opposition. Before the election, the opposition camp committed itself to three “no’s”: no to joining a government headed by Netanyahu, no to a fourth election and no to reliance on Arab lawmakers to form a coalition government. Only the last “no” was upheld. Arabs were not partner to decision making, despite the heavy price the new government will cost us.
Bill Intended to Secure Gantz's Position in Government Actually Bolsters Netanyahu (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz+) Under the legislation drafted by a Gantz aide, neither leader could name himself a prime minister as part of a no-confidence motion against the other.
By stating those words, Dan Eldad should have been removed from the Justice Department (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Acting State Prosecutor Dan Eldad claimed that Mendelblit is harassing him only because Mendelblit knows that Eldan is investigating "sensitive material regarding him.“ This is an earthquake we haven’t seen the likes of. Firstly, there’s the very fact that a State Attorney is conducting a covert investigation against the Attorney General. That is like the Deputy Chief of Staff conducting a covert investigation against the Chief of Staff. If there is an issue, please contact the police. There is no procedure whereby Dan Eldad can bring Mendelblit to disciplinary proceedings. In every normative country, this very statement by Eldad should have promptly removed him from the Justice Department, with the denial of pension rights. If I were Mendelblit, I would also file a libel lawsuit at the same time, because every trick has a limit, and it was crudely crossed.
Israelis Who Voted for Gantz Weren't Defrauded, but Deluded Themselves (Iris Leal, Haaretz+) In all the complaints against Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, all the comparisons and lamentations, there’s a little something missing. I believe it’s called accepting responsibility. Perhaps it’s time to talk about the trance that took hold of an entire segment of the public that threw all its support behind one of the least charismatic and indecisive people ever to enter politics. It was possible to have understood that Kahol Lavan is a mix of ideologies and positions, that Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser are a fifth column and that Gantz doesn’t want to be the leader. He was heard saying in his own voice that the door has been shut but not locked to the possibility of a unity government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Weakness, softness, and indecision – all these characteristics were on display, but nobody was interested in seeing that. Yet, people enthusiastically preached in favor of betraying an ideological choice for this unknown entity, which in the end used their votes to lend official support to corruption.
Israelis Act as if the Coronavirus Crisis Is Over, and It's a Dangerous Illusion (Amos Harel,
The northern front is heating up, meanwhile, economic hardships and claustrophobia have pushed Israelis to embrace
fully the easing of restrictions – but the country is far from being back to normal.
Restoring the routine must also include the Palestinian areas (Michael Milstein, Maariv) Israel's process of exiting the corona crisis translates back to its previous and known problems - most notably the Palestinian issue. But this time the situation in the field is much more explosive. The headlines in the Palestinian (papers) last week indicated the change in the Palestinian Authority’s priorities. Following the establishment of the unity government in Israel, the intense preoccupation with the corona crisis is gradually being replaced with concern over the annexation of territories in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) - accompanied by Palestinian threats to cancel the political agreements. Last week, there were a series of incidents that reflected the not so far past in the Palestinian context: a terrorist attack in the West Bank; tension between Israel and the PA over a decision to install an elevator at the Cave of the Patriarchs ("the Judaization of the site under the auspices of corona" according to Palestinians); and the death of a Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail, which caused public unrest; and an Israeli effort to stop Palestinian activity (against corona - OH) in E. Jerusalem. This is accompanies by high economic anxiety during the corona period, which causes increased tension in the Palestinian arena. In light of all the developments, and in particular the fear of annexation, the PA has so far taken a defiant but careful line. As long as the political process is embodied in words (for example, the inclusion of the annexation in the government's basic principles or the advancing of legislation on the issue), harsh speeches from the Palestinian side and international pressure on Israel will be raised, but no steps will be advanced in practice.
Iran's First Successful Military Space Launch Should Worry Israel (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) Last week, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that they put a satellite into orbit. But it is not just the successful launch that's troubling, it's how they did it.
The positive side of the corona virus: The rapprochement between the Jewish and Arab public (Ruth Wasserman-Lande, Maariv) The month of Ramadan allows Israeli society to test the positive things seen in the country, so this year is more important than usual. If we go through it safely - it will be a huge step to unify the rifts. The surrealistic situation created by the arrival of corona created a complex reality. Alongside the deaths of some 200 Israelis, the concern for the wellbeing of the elderly and the forced social distancing from family members, some positive and hopeful events are happening. For example, IDF soldiers come to assist the civilian population in Bnei Brak and are warmly received. True, not by all. But by most of them. Recently, Home Front soldiers have also entered Arab communities and despite the sensitivity, they have often gotten cooperation, sometimes even from representatives of the Islamic Movement and from conservative Muslim clerics.
Horrifying and sad: The interview with woman who claimed she was gang-raped in Cyprus (Smadar Shiloni, Ynet Hebrew and VIDEO CLIP) Orly and Guy's interview with the blurred-out British young woman, who complained that Israelis had raped her in Ayia Napa, restored her humanity and eliminated any doubt about her version of what happened. In terms of Israeli viewers, there was only frustration and shame
**Why Didn't You Tell Us About the Palestinian Village of Tantura? (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) …My parents decided to name me after Albina (Bianca) and Arthur Bachrach’s only son, who was killed during the conquest of the village of Tantura, in the 1948 War of Independence. When they read out the names of the fallen on Memorial Day, I wait until they reach Gideon Bachrach, then feel a shiver go through me. We also felt shivers every year, when Mali Bronstein sang the sad war song “Dudu” in our schoolyard. Gideon and Dudu were our childhood heroes. We knew Dudu had a curly mop of hair, but we never considered that Daoud or Moussa, who faced him in battle, may also have had a curly mop of hair, perhaps laughter in their eyes as well, as that song goes. Nobody told us anything about them, except that we were fighting for a just cause. Perhaps we were told the truth, but it was partial and embarrassingly tendentious. That’s how it is when you have to consolidate a nation, establish a state and put together a narrative that is absolutely just. My personal hero, Gideon Bachrach, fell in a battle which led to the expulsion of 1,500 people who never allowed to return to their lands and homes. According to one contentious version there was a massacre there in Tantura. That’s how one coastal village among many others was wiped out. Its residents’ world collapsed, with some of their descendants now living in the Tulkarm refugee camp. They are not allowed to visit the ruins of their village. My childhood hero had a part in that. Perhaps there was no other choice, perhaps there was. In any case, we weren’t told a thing about it. We only learned about the Nakba in our late adulthood, after decades of denial and concealment, indoctrination and lies. Who knew there was a nation here, not just “gangs”? Who even asked themselves who those ruins and few remaining houses on the roadside had belonged to, and where on earth were their inhabitants? Who had planted the prickly pear and palm trees, often the only remaining sign of a village destroyed? We only sang “Dudu” and consoled Gideon’s grieving mother. Those were the right things to do then. But someone should have told us about Gideon’s victims and about Daoud who fought the Palmachnik Dudu. Someone should have told us about their just cause, alongside our own, about the bitter fate we had in store for them and imposed on them. It’s not just about historical truth or about the root of our existence in a land upon which another people lived. We were never told what happened on the beach of Tantura the way it really happened, since there was something to conceal there. What happened there should have led Israel to an acknowledgement, to compensation and atonement, and that was the greatest threat of all. That’s why we never chose to do that. We never changed our attitudes to the inhabitants of this land, who were here long before the Bachrach family arrived, and we never, to this day, pondered our heavy guilt. Which is why, for most Israelis, it doesn’t exist.
The four challenges of the corona era: This is how solidarity among Jews around the world will return (Ron Lauder, Maariv) In the post-epidemic world, globalization will weaken and nationalism will intensify. The Jewish people will soon face new dramatic struggles, and we must do so as one extended family.
As Iran Tries to Project Business as Usual, the Coronavirus Inflames Tensions (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The Islamic Republic is facing a massive economic crisis, internal fissures and distrust over the official coronavirus statistics, not to mention its foreign woes.
Litzman leaves Health Ministry 'sicker' than he found it (Sarit Rosenblum, Yedioth/Ynet) A man who will be remembered as one of the most dominating and opinionated people to ever head the ministry, leaves the post he held for nearly a decade as country - which deals with the coronavirus epidemic - lacks doctors, nurses and medical supplies.
Although they are our own people: The Jews of the Diaspora did not learn the lessons of the Holocaust (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) A person who is severely burned will not knowingly jump into a boiling water tank if he can avoid it, and yet most of the Jews living outside Israel have lived in denial before the Holocaust and that is how they continue to live today.
Welcome to Israel's Early Stages of Totalitarianism (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) In basic training we were told to forget about leave if we didn’t form groups of three within five seconds. Years later, we’re being told that one more minor disciplinary infraction and we’ll be grounded for two weeks. Give us a break already. We’re not new recruits, we don’t need your displays of power. We see what’s happening around the world – social distancing, hand washing, watching where you sneeze. We get it. We can take care of ourselves without the threats and intimidation. The 500-shekel ($141) fine for unnecessarily going outside is more threatening to us than the coronavirus. When Benjamin Netanyahu says the choice is between the economy and the disease we don’t believe him. How are we supposed to believe a bureaucrat who’s representing science and medicine and a liar who’s representing otherwise thoughtful and reliable leaders? The combination of the director general of the Health Ministry, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, and Netanyahu doesn’t inspire trust.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem