News Nosh 5.11.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday May 12, 2020
Quote of the day:
"When a journalist decides to violate a court order and publish the contents of a banned recorded conversation, the only question is of benefit to the public: is it a crime that was revealed, an obsession that lost proportions, or an orchestrated campaign to oust the Attorney General. The journalist is not a martyr. Journalists are not martyrs - not at the present stage of the contraction of Israeli democracy. Certainly not when they do their deeds with the blessing of government."
--Top Yedioth political commentator, Nahum Barnea, slammed Channel 13 News reporter Ayala Hasson for exposing banned 2010 recordings that have led to an assault on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt two weeks before the trial of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • At their side, in the last moments - A special peek in the corona ward at Ichilov Hospital, where patients in critical condition get special permission to part from their families (Hebrew)
  • Going to daycare on Lag B’Omer holiday (Hebrew)
  • Expose - The pilot for shortening the shifts of the medical interns (Hebrew)
  • The storm and the Attorney General - AG Mendelblit to Ashkenazi: The hidden talk
  • Following Yedioth expose - Senior officials in IDF tell Chief of Staff: Rafi Milo must remain
  • The dam was broken // Sarit Rosenblum on need for Israelis to restrain themselves so corona won’t return
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • “Netanyahu is pushing religious Zionism out - Crisis in negotiations with Likud. Yamina party threatened to go to the opposition
  • Common sense says: A compromise is necessary // Nadav Shragai
  • Daycare centers can operate on Lag B’Omer holiday - with the assistants
  • Price of corona: the ‘Please Touch’ center is in danger of closing
  • A (Lag B’Omer) holiday without bonfires
  • State Comptroller: “I will probe (Justice Minister) Ohana’s request regarding the Attorney General”
  • An argument ended in murder: Dentist stabbed to death in Bat-Yam
  • Tomorrow is Nursing Day: The women who did a career change to nursing
  • The crisis in El-Al: Ministry of Finance approved state guarantee on loan; The condition: streamlining
  • “They are crushing us”: Volleyball players start battle for the future of the sport

Top News Summary:
The religious nationalist pro-settler Yamina party declared it would not join the coalition government, the State Comptroller said he will consider probing the Attorney General's 'issue' at the outgoing Justice Minister's request, and daycare centers will operate on Tuesday, Lag B'Omer holiday, while bonfires will be banned much to the disappointment of teachers in the first case and most Israelis in the latter case - making top stories in today's Hebrew newspapers.

Maariv had some interesting news regarding Israel's annextion plans and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit tomorrow. The swearing-in of the new government planned for tomorrow may be postponed due to the meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz and visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Maariv US correspondent, Shlomo Shamir, reported that diplomats in New York and other senior Jewish sources said that the main purpose of Pompeo's visit is to persuade Netanyahu to delay a decision to annex Palestinian territories for an indefinite period of time. And while Pompeo recently stated that "annexation is an Israeli decision," commentators in Washington said that President Donald Trump updated that he opposes a decision on annexation as part of a unilateral Israeli move. Iran will also be discussed, but it won't be the main subject of discussion. Shamir also wrote that "Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iran as a worrying nuclear nuisance has dropped to the bottom of the priorities of the West and the main powers. On the subject of Iran, Pompeo prefers to hear updated assessments and conclusions of the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, rather than frightening statements made by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Therefore, Pompeo wanted to have a separate meeting with Yossi Cohen, with whom he fostered a close working relationship." Shamir wrote that the reason why Pompeo is stopping first in Israel on his first visit abroad since the coronacrisis is because "the only country in the world where an American official at the rank of foreign minister can be sure of being welcomed and even enthusiastically is Israel." Maariv's military affairs correspondent Tal Lev-Ram reported that Israel is concerned over Palestinian threats to sever relations because of annexation. Palestinian Authority Coordinator of the Occupied Territories, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukon, recently was updated from senior Palestinian officials that in the event that Israel unilaterally fulfills its intentions to annex land in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority will sever all ties with Israel, including security coordination.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Yamina party threatened to go to the opposition because Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was forming a 'left-wing government' and because he was showing 'blatant contempt for Yamin and its voters' (i.e. he hasn't given the party serious ministries to run.) Yamina has repeatedly accused Netanyahu of sacrificing the right-wing to guarantee his personal legal fate.

With just days left before he leaves his job, Netanyahu loyalist, Justice Minister Amir Ohana, enlisted the pro-Netanyahu State Comptroller, Matanyahu Englman, to launch an inquiry into the state prosecution and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt, whom he accused of undermining the public's trust in them. However, Haaretz+ reported that Englman was not presented with any new information on the case from a decade ago, when Mendelblitt was chief military advocate. As Yedioth and Maariv explained yesterday, Netanyahu wants to destroy Mendelblitt's credibility because Mendelblitt is the one who approved that Netanyahu be indicted on three charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust and the trial starts in two weeks. (Haaretz+ has an explainer.)

Corona Quickees:
  • Israel sees slight increase in daily coronavirus cases, deaths - The Health Ministry says there are 16,492 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, with the death toll currently standing at 254; 11, 548 people have recovered from the illness. (Ynet)
  • Government opens public parks, begins shuttering 'corona hotels' - People returning from abroad will be allowed to effectively self-quarantine at home for a period of 14 days. Meanwhile, the IDF is granting lone-soldiers discharged in the past year a one-time bonus of 4,000 shekels and letting them claim their entire military saving deposits for any purpose. (Israel Hayom and Haaretz)
  • 500 shekel fine for bonfires during Lag BaOmer - For Lag B'Omer holiday, which starts tonight, traditional mass prayers at Mount Meron downsized drastically with only 3 rabbis and less than 200 authorized participants; Police to patrol throughout holiday to prevent any mass gatherings. (Ynet)
  • Israel to Demand El Al Make Changes Before Approving Airline's Bailout Loans - El Al suspended passenger flights until at least the end of May, while about 6,000 of its workers are on unpaid leave until June 30. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Has Spent Only a Quarter of Promised $23 Billion in Coronavirus Aid Funds - Government plans expanded program even though most of the original money hasn’t been disbursed. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Treasury Fights Move to Give Even Temporary Aid to Neediest Coronavirus Layoffs - Finance Ministry claims no budgetary source to cover the cost, estimated at $95 million, and argues jobless people would have reduced motivation to seek work. (Haaretz+)
  • Good news for coronavirus carriers who want to enlist in IDF - The Israeli military tells Israel Hayom it does not follow the Pentagon's policy, welcomes survivors of COVID-19. (Israel Hayom)
  • More Women Die by Suicide as the Coronavirus Crisis Ushers in Rise in Domestic Violence - A young Israeli mother wrote to her lawyer after being granted a restraining order against her abusive husband that she 'saved her.' The next day, she killed herself. Haaretz investigation finds coronavirus restrictions trigger a surge in violence, putting many women at a high risk of suicide. (Haaretz+)
Other Top Quick Hits:
  • Israel Set to Approve $230m Loan to the Palestinian Authority for Its Coronavirus Response - Government sources say the payment is an advance on the tax revenue Israel collects on the PA's behalf, after court hears of 'ongoing dialogue' to handle the pandemic. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Living on Gaza Border Convicted of Smuggling Goods Into the Strip, Possibly for Hamas - Court documents show man sold metal equipment, which could be used for military purposes, through a Hamas-affiliated middleman. (Haaretz+)
  • Druze, Circassian protest over lack of funding - The protest comes following an impasse in talks with government representatives, who promised the minority communities NIS 200 million for construction, education, and health, in lieu of a five -year economical program. (Maariv and Ynet)
  • In dramatic shift, most east Jerusalem residents now prefer Palestinian citizenship - Only about 15% say they prefer Israeli citizenship, compared to 52% who answered similarly when questioned on the matter in polls conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy between the years 2010-2015. (Israel Hayom)
  • 30-year-old construction worker falls to his death in Or Akiva - Magen David Adom medics the death of a 30-year-old man from Moldova, who fell at a construction site in Or Akiva. The Labor Ministry and Israel Police have opened an investigation into the circumstances of the death. (Ynet Hebrew, Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Rabbi Yigal Levinstein to his students: "Conversion therapy (for LGBTs) should start at a very young age" - The rabbi, the head of the (religious) pre-military preparatory school in Eli (settlement), said during a class that he Zoomed that "people can be helped to become straight again. The younger the age that it begins and when there are double tendencies, for both (homo and hetrosexual), it is also simplest to help.” (Maariv)
  • Israel, UK mark 70 years of diplomatic relations - Despite a troubled beginning, the two countries have seen their relationship flourish over the years. This week marks an important milestone. (Israel Hayom)
  • A mural from Israel's War of Independence discovered - The piece was most likely drawn by a soldier who participated in the battles for the Arab villages Al-Qastal, and Qalunya in 1948, officials search for the painter who would be in his 90s if alive. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Iran warns of 'rising trend' as virus cases top 100,000 - On Saturday, Islamic Republic's official tally of daily infections hit its lowest level since March 10, but cases have picked up again since then, spurring worries of a 'second wave' among officials. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Citing virus: Iran Says United States Yet to Respond About  Swap 'Without Preconditions' - Tehran says it is 'worried about the safety and health of Iranians' in U.S. jails amid coronavirus outbreak. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iran seeks to boost food reserves as virus compounds economic woes - Bumper grain crops will guarantee staple foods to March 2021 as impact of pandemic not spread to farming, Rouhani tells parliament, but previously unreported buying spree highlights concern of possible supply crunch. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iraq protests rage on after new leader releases anti-government activists - Plumes of acrid smoke choked the air as protesters, unpersuaded by new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s decisions, returned to the streets. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • New Iraq PM releases protesters, promotes respected general - Mustafa al-Kadhimi also promoted a well-respected Iraqi general, who played a key role in the military campaign against the Islamic State, to lead counter-terrorism operations, demoted by former PM. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • U.S. Says Russia Is Working With Syria's Assad to Move Militia to Libya - Washington expresses worries over Libyan rebel leader Haftar reportedly looking to open diplomatic relations with Assad. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Fighting Between Syrian Forces and Al-Qaida-linked Group Leaves Dozens Dead - The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said members of the al-Qaida-linked group known as Horas al-Din attacked government forces. It said the fighting left 21 troops and 13 Horas al-Din members dead. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Coronavirus lockdowns pile job losses and hunger onto Syrian refugees' plight - The restrictions and their economic fallout mean 5.6 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey face even greater hardship, and UN says 70 percent are going hungry. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Coronavirus lockdowns pile job losses and hunger onto Syrian refugees' plight - The restrictions and their economic fallout mean 5.6 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey face even greater hardship, and UN says 70 percent are going hungry. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump, Saudi king reaffirm defense ties amid tensions - The two men spoke after news the United States planned to withdraw two Patriot anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia that have been a defense against Iran. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia is holding a senior prince incommunicado since March, says rights group - Human Rights Watch added that Prince Faisal's whereabouts or status are not known. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Jewish, Israeli scholars back African intellectual smeared for Israel criticism
Germany's antisemitism czar sparked backlash after trying to cancel an event with Achille Mbembe for comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa. (Mairav Zonszein, 972mag)
PHOTOS: Gaza makes the most of Ramadan under coronavirus lockdown
With large gatherings prohibited and mosques closed for prayer, the strip’s residents are doing everything they can to feel the spirit of the holiday. (Mohammed Zaanoun, 972mag)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu's Target: His Attorney General (Haaretz Editorial) Netanyahu’s gang is racing toward the next target in its delegitimization campaign against the legal system, which dared investigate and indict the only person Netanyahu cares about – himself…Right-wing mouthpieces are loudly demanding that Mendelblit resign, or at least suspend himself, deeming this the self-evident conclusion of an ancient blood libel whose elements are recycled from time to time to serve Netanyahu’s political needs. According to this libel, Mendelblit obstructed the investigation of the so-called Harpaz affair, which involved a forged document aimed at tilting the choice of the next military chief of staff in 2010…There’s no way to understand what’s happening in Israel, on every front, except through the lens of Netanyahu’s trial. There’s no red line Netanyahu would refuse to cross and no means he would consider beyond the pale to escape justice. Nobody is immune to being the target of his incitement, and no value, institution or government agency is safe from being trampled into the dust by him and his gang. Israel has become a hostage in the hands of a defendant with no restraints. It’s hard not to be horrified that Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz chose to ignore not only his partners and many of his voters, but above all the corrupt reality Israel is wallowing in…
Instead of drastically changing the situation, the High Court preferred to be smarter and less just (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The High Court has done the right thing for itself, but Israel has reached a major moral low in its history: it has come to terms with the fact that it will be headed by a man indicted on bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Ex-Gantz Ally Yair Lapid Has Lost Himself Badly, and Netanyahu Stands to Gain (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) Netanyahu’s promises are as risky as junk bonds. Moreover, politicians who fight over principles are preferable to politicians who make forecasts, so let’s take Lieberman out of the equation for a moment, because principles aren’t exactly his thing. Agreed, Lapid is paying a dear political price for fighting for the principle of not joining a government with Netanyahu – the same Lapid who trampled on his pledge not to form a government supported by the Arab party Balad. But at a certain stage this opposition spun out of control. Yesh Atid’s behavior since the breakup of Kahol Lavan has crossed every line, and it’s playing into Netanyahu’s hands. Lapid says he’ll help Netanyahu repeal the laws promising Gantz’s term. There is no political rationale in this. If the rotation isn’t carried out, Gantz isn’t expected to be a candidate for prime minister any longer. If the rotation takes place, there is no reason Lapid won’t join Gantz in recreating a governing alternative. In both cases, this ugly attack isn’t productive. On the contrary, it only strengthens Netanyahu.
*The not-so-hot recording (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) Whatever corona doesn’t do, the fear of Corona does. Last Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court held a hearing for the first time in its history through a conference call. The judges sat in their homes. The statements of the judges and the judges' comments were broadcast on audio. In the middle of the broadcast there was a short, cheerful, passionate and decisive sound sequence, an unmistakable noise: someone among them flushed the toilet. The incident has spawned a wave of clever comments on social networks and here and there some fearful articles. The American Supreme Court is careful to be elevated from the people, distant, shrouded in aura of mystery. Remoteness is part of the secret of its power. The flush of water from the toilet made it dangerously human. There are judges in Washington, and they will find out, sooner or later, what every child who spends his or her day knows on Instagram: everything is documented, audio and video. You can get rid of the virus; You can't get rid of the camera. At the beginning of the Corona crisis, I spoke to the CEO of one of the cyber law firms  that specialize in intelligence. He told me how his company's software can track every subject, lying or standing, 24/7. I pestered him with questions about the privacy violation. He tried to qualify, explain, justify. In the end, he was sick of it, and he said simply: “Forget it, there is no more privacy in the world. The software exists, you just have to want to operate it.” This sweeping statement was hard for me to accept. What do you mean there is no privacy? Even in an intimate phone call with a friend? Even walking in the park? At home, in the bathroom, too? Yes, he said. None. He declared his sentence softly, almost with pity. The right to privacy, it turns out, is a generational thing. Like the right to an old-age pension: young people give up on it, most don't even know it exists. I remembered a phone call I once had with Ariel Sharon. He sounded very restrained, contrary to his custom. What happened, I asked, do you think you are being listened to? "No," Sharon quickly replied, "I know they are listening to me." We both laughed, even though we knew nothing funny was said. It's good that almost every accident on the road, every bank robbery, every passerby's harassment, is filmed and documented. It is not good for politicians and officials to sit in discussions and plan their words, their behavior, not according to what they think is right but according to the impression that will come from the video to be leaked. It isn’t possible to wage wars, crises cannot be resolved this way. Every historian knows that protocols can be deceiving: a person can say something in the heat of the moment, make a remark that will reach the registrar's ear, and his whole worldview will be distorted. This is also true in the age of digital documentation. So many of my journalist colleagues owe their careers to recordings. When a politician finally says something reasonable, right, settled, they rush to pull out a tape from years ago, in which he said the opposite. Don't be smart, they say, be consistent…And there are tapes that are leaked from investigative material. The legal basis for distributing such tapes to the public is questionable, but the legal basis is not the point. Investigations are recorded to protect defendants, not to degrade them. The degradation is disturbing. More than it educating us, it is funny and entertaining. Behind it there is usually a vague, cynical interest of investigators and lawyers. Does this culture encourage people being interrogated to say the truth? I think not. Journalists who secretly record (conversations) are suspicious in my view. They remind me of dark regimes. When a journalist [Barnea uses the feminine version of the word, reference to journalist Ayala Hasson, who exposed parts of the 2010 conversation between now Attorney General and Gabi Ashkenazi, then chief of staff - OH] decides to violate a court order and publish the contents of a banned recorded conversation, the only question is of benefit to the public: is it a crime that was revealed, an obsession that lost proportions, or an orchestrated campaign to oust the attorney general. The journalist is not a martyr. Journalists are not martyrs - not at the present stage of the contraction of Israeli democracy. Certainly not when they do their deeds with the blessing of government. In two weeks, Netanyahu's trial is scheduled to open. The Attorney General was asked what his position was on filming and broadcasting the trial. He replied that he would not object. At first glance I was happy: Long live the transparency. In a second flash, I was less happy: a trial is not an entertainment show. In a third flash, I returned and rejoiced: the court decided to avoid broadcasting the trial. At least this time, justice can appear without accompanying the flush of the toilet.
The people's trust in its leaders is the main victim of the latest election (Attorney Ehud Peleg, Maariv) The proposal by the Israel Center for the Promotion of Fairness to strengthen the commitment between the elected and the electorate will ensure the democratic principle of rule according to the will of the people - and improve the level of fairness in the political and public arena in Israel. What I learned in that conversation removed my desire to fight against the Ministry of Health's efforts to put Shin Bet surveillance on people suspected being infected with corona.
A Court That Surrenders to Criminally Charged Netanyahu Is a Perfect Fit for the Israeli Regime (Odeh Bisharat , Haaretz+) Let there be no misunderstandings. Thanks to the High Court’s intervention – in the appeal against allowing an indicted lawmaker to head the government – Benjamin Netanyahu pledged not to touch any appointments related to his trial. One is reminded of the story of the thief who was asked to swear that he hadn’t stolen a horse. The thief said to himself: I’ve been saved. Indeed, why should the man who made the pledge touch the appointments? He already has Amir Ohana for that, and Avi Nissenkorn in the new government. Considering Nissenkorn’s enthusiasm in defending Netanyahu, it’s reasonable to assume he will act accordingly…During the High Court hearing, the judges seemed to be searching for a clause in the law or a precedent they could hold onto. Let us calmly ask why there is no law or precedent in this instance? Simply because every intelligent person assumes that there is no way a criminally indicted person could be chosen to form a government. It was a shadow like this that forced Ehud Olmert to resign when he didn’t have to resign, forced Ezer Weizman to retire early, and forced Moshe Katzav – over a no less serious accusation – to declare incapacity…
The High Court didn’t stop Netanyahu. It won’t stop annexation either (Meron Rapoport, 972mag) The center-left camp hoped the High Court would put an end to Netanyahu's rule. Now that it's given him the green light to remain in office and advance annexation, opponents need to find new ways to resist.
Buds of the socio-legal anarchy is already emerging around the corner (Dr. Haim Misgav, Maariv) Despite the rejection of the petitions against Netanyahu, the fact that every decision of the public should receive the High Court's approval indicates the buds of socio-legal anarchy…The boundaries between the judiciary and the elected authority have become much more blurred. The regime method used got a particularly ugly twist. The balance of power has changed for the worse. In practice, the entire law enforcement system has become a monster with no restraint on it. Its conduct is like a closed cult. The top appointments come only from within. There is no way to open the rows (to new people - OH). There is no law defining the powers of the Attorney General, as the Basic Laws do not define the powers of the High Court. The field is completely broken into and each man who thinks he is honest acts as he thinks.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Palestinians Under the Israeli Boot: A Formula for Tyranny in Cheap Makeup (Avner Gvaryahu, Haaretz+) In Haaretz of May 1, Micah Goodman posed the question: “What can the coronavirus teach us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?” The reality that Goodman proposes to us is far from being okay. It is an old Afrikaner system under a more modern and palatable cover. Even the pragmatism it promises is as leaky as a sieve…Goodman proposes adopting the Trump plan while removing “its utopian elements” – annexation and signing a peace agreement that ends the conflict. What would remain, he asserts, is “an optimal situation for Israel”: limited Palestinian sovereignty alongside maximalist security arrangements that would prevent turning the West Bank into a second Gaza. The Palestinians are not a factor in this optimal reality. We will decide, they will obey. We will teach them to live with the conflict, they will learn to live with the occupation…
My country is the biggest supporter of the Palestinians, but they don’t stop cursing it (Abd al-Razak al-Qusi, Maariv)  The population of Palestine is an opportunistic minority, their leaders are failed and ungrateful, and they fate is to go down. A Saudi scholar writes what the conflict looks like these days. Special for Maariv…The Palestinians could have set up a state for themselves in 1948, which the UN would recognize. Why didn’t they? What were the obstacles? For 40 years they were late in establishing their state, then they established a government not recognized internationally, and its actual existence is unclear. Six years after it was established, the Palestinian Authority had already split into two rival political entities [Hamas and Fatah - OH]…To begin with, the Palestinians did not realize that their issue was only their business. In the first place, they could solve it without relying on others, such as the Arab states, the Levant camp, Iran and Turkey, which only added to their dispersal (into the Diaspora) and failure. The Palestinian leadership, without exception, has benefited greatly from the assistance provided by the various countries. The Palestinian issue has become a hen laying golden eggs. They did not excel in the development momentum needed by the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, making the lives of Palestinians distressed and suffering compared to Palestinians with Israeli passports. These are the failures of the leaders throughout history. The Arab states supported the Palestinians at the expense of their needs and their peoples, and found themselves in long-standing struggles with their neighbor, with the powers and covert forces that worked to destroy these countries. Saudi Arabia has been the biggest supporter of the Palestinians over the years, and yet it is viewed as a treacherous enemy. The Palestinians, on their affiliates, do not hesitate to scorn and bully the Saudi people and rulers, throw the Saudi flag on the ground, tread and spit on it, and if Saudi support ceases, the Palestinian Authority will collapse within days…If, in 1948, a country called the "Republic of the Middle East" was established, which does not have a Jewish majority, would the Arabs have gone out of their way to fight it? I think not. Its status would have been like that of Ceuta and Melilla [both Spanish enclaves with Muslim populations on Moroccan territory in North Africa, small areas left over from historic Spanish Morocco - OH] or like the Ahwaz region [in Iran, where a large proportion of its Arab residents are Sunni] or Iskenderun province [sic - Hatay Province in Turkey, which borders on and was part of Syria, but was annexed by Turkey - OH].
For Palestinian rights movement, Biden poses a familiar quandary (Alex Kane, 972mag) Palestine advocates in the U.S. have no hope in Joe Biden changing his staunch pro-Israel views, yet feel they have no choice but to pressure him to do so.
The Real Victims of the International Criminal Court's Obsession With Israel (Brandon Silver, Haaretz+)  By prioritizing the most politically expedient cases, the ICC absolves those responsible for the gravest crimes of mass murder and human rights violations – from Bashar Assad to China, and from Myanmar to Iran.
What do Americans really think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) In a survey published 10 days ago, nearly two-thirds of Americans prefer Israel, with about a quarter favoring the Palestinians, a gap of 37%. In recent years, the gap got smaller, even if it is still quite large. About a third of Americans have a "very positive" opinion of Israel (30%). The corresponding figure for Palestinians is 4%. And if that sounds little, you should know it's the highest percentage they've ever had. Now, add ”very positive" and "quite positive" and Israel receives 74% versus 23% for Palestinians. At its peak, the Palestinians reached as much as 27%…In other words, the most noticeable change over the last few years is the deepening of the political polarization regarding Israel and the Palestinians. Americans who voter right-wing are more supportive of Israel than ever before. Left-wing Americans support Israel less than ever. This is a disturbing change, of course. Because Israel prefers wall-to-wall support. And on the other hand, it is not certain that there is a way to prevent it. Americans are polarizing their positions on every issue. They are, of course, polarized in relation to the President, but also in positions in relation to the Supreme Court, in relation to health insurance, and even in questions such as the status of the Pope (Democratic Catholics give the current Pope a much higher score than Republican Catholics). More than that: Americans get their information through polarized mediators. Republicans mostly watch Fox (70%). Democrats feed mainly on CNN (18%), NPR (8%) and MSNBC (7%). Each network reflects Israel through a different filter. Viewers formulate their views on the world in general and Israel in particular after watching us through this particular filter. The result: Nine out of ten Republicans have a positive opinion of Israel (91%). But among Democrats, there are fewer - two out of three (67%). And of course, the situation is the opposite for the Palestinians: only one in ten Republicans (9%) has a positive opinion of the Palestinians. But among Democrats, one in three (34%)…
'Where's Hezbollah's Money?': Coronavirus Recession Makes Lebanese Protesters Yearn to Take Over the Streets Again (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) 'We have to choose between dying of hunger or the plague,' demonstrators are shouting. It didn't help that the Shi'ite group wanted to block an IMF loan.
A nameless war and an unsolved dilemma (Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Israel Hayom) As Israel prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of its withdrawal from the security zone in South Lebanon, questions remain about what prevented the IDF from "winning" its guerrilla war against Hezbollah.
The Azerbaijan and Israel independence juxtaposition (Nurit Greenger, Israel Hayom) Azerbaijan is proud of its Shia and Sunni Muslims, Christians, and Jews communities, which all live in harmony and mutual respect, values Baku devotedly promotes in the region and beyond.
Why Bangladesh should, belatedly, recognize Israel (Umran Chowdhury, Haaretz+) Israel offered to recognize newly-founded Bangladesh in 1972. Despite similar independence struggles, the logic of a strategic relationship, and the lack of direct hostilities, they still have no economic, defense or diplomatic ties. It's time for change.

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