News Nosh 5.25.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday May 25, 2020

Quote of the day:

"It seems to me that even those who expected drama yesterday did not think that was what would happen."
--Senior Yedioth political commentator Sima Kadmon writes in a sharp Op-Ed about the opening of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's trial in which he accused the police and attorney general of fabricating the cases against him.*

Front Page:


  • Netanyahu in the dock: “The indictment is fabricated, the interrogations were tainted”
  • (Judges are) The next in line // Yossi Verter
  • The writing was on the wall // Gidi Weitz
  • Sticking to the plot // Mordechai Kremnitzer
  • Netanyahu’s acts now are no less severe than the clauses of the indictment // Ravit Hecht
  • Charging with a bulldozer at (the courthouse) // Uri Misgav
  • They ruled he is innocent, only the judges concern them
  • “How can a Prime Minister serve and be on trial at the same time?” - Coverage of the trial across the world
  • Israel is in the twilight zone of democracy // Haaretz Editorial
  • Until the last minute, they thought he’d pull out a rabbit // Moran Sharir
  • Health Ministry approved performances and shows in halls from 14 June, according to limitations
  • Relatives of 21-year-old accused of murdering her despite (police) not finding the corpse
  • Justice outside the court house // Raviv Drucker
  • The Other Israel // Ram Fruman
  • Lacking words - Book selling industry doesn’t know how to get out of the crisis
  • After the pandemic cancelled (Israeli singer) Esther Rada’s performances with Carolina, she stopped smoking and made her first Hebrew album
  • We are supposed to pay the price of corona only in 2021, after months of adjustment - with the hope that there won’t be a second wave

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The accused is on his feet - Upon his entrance to the courtroom, surrounded by Likud ministers, Netanyahu opened in a frontal attack: “People in the police and State Prosecutor’s Office allied with the left-wing to bring down the right-wing”; Minutes later, began the trial of the Prime Minister of Israel, who is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • The defense line - attack
  • With a straight back and a lifted chin: Netanyahu appeared in court; The next hearing: Only in July, without the accused; “There won’t be a plea bargain”
  • Stop the carnival of masks // Amnon Lord
  • Between commentators and the wisdom of the masses // Haim Shine
  • The Netanyahu collection on the corner of ‘Money Heist’ // Moria Kur
  • Even the broadcasters should have been there // Akiva Bigman
  • The focus of the new stateliness of the elite // Avishay Ben-Haim
  • “Netanyahu is not alone” - Hundreds of demonstrators arrived at the Jerusalem District Court to express support for the Prime Minister; Opposite, hundreds of “Black Flags” demonstrators protested against him
  • The next stop: Routine - the trains and performances return to life

Top News Summary:
At the opening of his trial, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went from being the defendant to the accuser making today's top story, as his supporters and detractors demonstrated outside the courthouse, the Attorney General declared the premier’s accusations will not deter the legal system and the Israeli commentators went into overdrive and let their pens loose with their views on Netanyahu, his supporters and this society-dividing trial. (See Commentary/Analysis below for fascinating views!)

Also newsworthy, but not making big headlines, Maariv reported that since the weekend, the Israeli-Palestinian security and civilian coordination has been completely stopped, following Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ declaration of an end to all agreements with Israel and the US following Israel’s plan to annex Palestinian land in July. Maariv reported that in the past, there have been instances where the coordination with Israel was terminated, but behind the scenes some of the coordination remained intact. This time the disconnect is decisive. In fact, coordination was discontinued from the level of coordination about IDF activity in the Palestinian Authority territory to coordination on crime and intelligence issues. In the past, when an Israeli vehicle accidentally entered Palestinian (Authority) territory, coordination between the sides allowed the removal of the vehicle by Palestinian police and handing it over to IDF forces. Now, in the case of such events as well as other and much more complex events, there will be no security relationship between the parties. In Israel, the assessment is that due to the lack of coordination with Israel, senior officials of the Palestinian security forces have passed down an order for field officials to avoid friction with IDF forces so as not to lead to an escalation on the ground, which the Palestinian Authority does not want. Maariv’s Tal Lev-Ram reported that the Israeli security establishment is concerned over the possibility that Tanzim (armed grassroots Fatah party activists) in the Palestinian Authority will take advantage of the new situation on the ground in order to harm IDF soldiers deployed in the West Bank. Interestingly, on Friday, Channel 12 reported that it was Hamas that the Israeli security establishment was worried about. According to the report, PA officials sent conciliatory messages to Israeli security officials, saying that cancellation of the agreements will not cause a wave of violence. Yet, the Israeli security establishment was worried that despite these promises, Hamas will seize the opportunity created to initiate escalation. (Maariv)

Netanyahu Trial:
Before the trial many waited for the photo of Netanyahu sitting in the dock. But Netanyahu took even the most cynical of his critics by surprise by standing defiantly, surrounded by senior Likud officials, and accusing the justice system of fabricating the cases against him. The “police and prosecution got together with left-wing journalists to fabricate ridiculous, bizarre cases against me,” he said, even naming Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and journalist Raviv Drucker (who exposed one of the cases he is indicted for). [I highly recommend reading the translated Maariv and Yedioth Op-Eds and analyses, as well as those of Haaretz in the Netanyahu Trial Analysis/Commentary section below. - OH]

Attorney General Mendelblit said that the prosecution “will not be cowed” by Netanyahu’s attack and that “these attempts must be condemned.” Netanyahu’s partner, ‘Alternate Prime Minister’ Benny Gantz, did not condemn Netanyahu’s accusations. He only wrote on Twitter that he has faith in the Israeli justice system, adding that Netanyahu is innocent until proven guilty. Outside the courthouse, hundreds of Netanyahu supporters who came from around the country shouted their belief in his innocence. Across from them was the ‘Black Flags’ demonstration, where protesters condemned Netanyahu’s 'unchecked attack' on the legal system. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert said that "Netanyahu stood in court today as head of criminal organization." Olmert, who resigned from office when he was being investigated for crimes and later was convicted and jailed, said: "A strong, honest and ethical man who is confident he is right does not call the police commissioner a rogue and criminal, does not incite against the Attorney General and does not threaten the court. Anyone who acts like this is not a strong person but a criminal who fears the law. He is not behaving now any differently than he has for the past two years.” On the law enforcement system Olmert said: "I have faith in the justice system, in my case it was wrong.” (Maariv) Hours after the opening of the trial, Netanyahu said he will never take a plea bargain. The Global media also looked at the Netanyahu trial and wondered how he was still in office and whether he had any more rabbits to pull out of his hat.

Quick Hits:

  • With no ceremony or service, Israel marks 20 years since leaving Lebanon - 414 Israeli soldiers fell in the 15 years of bloody fighting in the southern Lebanese security zone, but due to the fact that this period is not defined as a war, there is no official commemoration by the IDF. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Three Israelis charged with murder of 21-year-old female relative, body still missing - Nabin Amrani was allegedly murdered (by her father, brother and nephew in the Bedouin town of Hura) because she bleached her hair blonde and dated men without her family’s approval. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Muslims celebrate major holiday amid curfews, virus fears - In Israel, police said they broke up an 'illegal demonstration' and arrested two people outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which has been closed since mid-March; worldwide festivities drastically downsized to curb spread of coronavirus. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • WATCH Jerusalem's Holy Sepulcher reopens after coronavirus closure - As priests from the various Christian sects entered the church, a handful of faithful waited outside for the basilica's church to open for the public. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Peru frees 'special needs' Israeli caught with cocaine to house arrest - Hodaya Monsonego, 25, who is said to be cognitively impaired, faces a criminal trial after she was detained last August with another Israeli national at an airport in Lima with 28 kilos of cocaine in her luggage. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Enforcement operation at sea: Dozens of fines were given to fishermen who acted in violation of the Ministry of Agriculture's guidelines - Ministry of Agriculture, which is preventing fishing during the breeding season, interrogated 25 people suspected of fishing offenses. Last week, two protests were held by fishermen in the north of the country over the guidelines prohibiting fishing. "Every year, the fishing industry is shut down (by the Ministry of Agriculture which) claims that there is not enough fish and the resource needs to be preserved. We requested that the downtime be held during the corona closure, but they did not respond. The fishermen are running out of money and our feeling is that they are trying to eliminate the industry," argued the fishermen's association chairman, Gil Sassover. Tawfik, a fisherman from Faradis (Arab town) and one of the organizers of the protest, added: "We are prohibited from fishing and because of the corona crisis we sat at home and had no way to make a living." [NOTE: Most of the fishermen are Arab - OH] (Maariv)
  • Jerusalem College of Technology awarded $9M grant to support nursing program - Announcement of funding by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust for construction of JCT's Faculty of Life and Health Sciences building comes as Israel continues to face nursing shortage. (Israel Hayom)
  • WATCH Gas Production at Israel's Leviathan Halted Over 'Operational Event' - Leviathan, one of the largest gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, is owned by Texas-based Noble, Israel's Delek Drilling and Ratio Oil. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Renovations to home of Israel's 2nd president uncover something special - Painter working at home of Izhak Ben-Zvi alerts research center when he spots color peeking out from under white paint. Conservator reveals roof beam painted with colorful biblical imagery. (Israel Hayom)
  • El Al to operate cargo flights to Turkey for first time in a decade - Turkish aviation authorities approve Israeli flag carrier's request to operate two weekly cargo flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul transporting goods; first plane touched ground on Sunday. (Ynet)
  • Turkey's Erdogan vows to protect Palestinians against Israel annexation - 'We will not allow Palestinian lands to be offered to anyone,' Turkish president says in video message to American Muslims, claims his country is 'only voice' defending the Palestinians today. (Ynet)
  • Texas senator pushes U.S.-Israel partnership to fight virus - With U.S. now coronavirus epicenter as it reaches over 1.6 million confirmed cases and 95,000 deaths, Ted Cruz co-sponsors bipartisan legislation on joint development of technology, calling current dependency on China 'deeply problematic.’ (Ynet)


How the EU skirted the ban on funding terrorist groups
EU functionaries are using technicalities to assure Palestinian organizations that new EU rules against financing groups directly or indirectly linked to terrorism do not apply to them. (Eldad Beck and Israel Hayom staff)

Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
For 50 Minutes, Netanyahu's Fate Was Controlled by Two Women in Black (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Inside the courtroom of Netanyahu's corruption trial a parallel Israel existed in which the prime minister did not boast all his usual powers.
Netanyahu was very worried about his image as a defendant and decided to produce a counter image for himself (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The Prime Minister's photograph as he stands on the steps of the court and makes his “Je accuse” speech - is the appropriate biblical answer to his persecution, according to him….We are now arguing about incitement. Is Netanyahu inciting against the judiciary? Does he allow the blood of Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari and other senior officials to be shed? Is he crossing red lines, or is it a legitimate self-defense, a man who claims his innocence, someone who whole-heartedly believes that they fabricated cases and there is no reason why he should not say what is on his heart? A similar argument was held before Yitzhak Rabin's murder. The murder ended the argument. Against Rabin, wild incitement raged. Netanyahu was an integral part of it. He could have changed the atmosphere in the streets, stretch the red line, remove the doubt. He didn't do it. After Rabin was shot in the back by a brainwashed Jewish right-wing nationalist, what remained was to repent. Netanyahu then appeared like someone whose world fell apart. He knew why. But then he forgot. He is now leading a new incitement campaign. What proves this? The simple fact that (Attorney General) Mendelblit and (prosecutor) Ben-Ari have recently walking around with increased security. As threats against senior law enforcement officials increase, it is a sign that incitement against them is alive and kicking. Just listen for a few minutes to Netanyahu's protesters' words outside the courthouse. I would guess that Yasser Arafat is much more popular at the moment than Mendelblit, not to mention that Hiba (Yazbek - firebrand Arab-Israeli MK is more popular) than Liat Ben-Ari. It is enough to glance at the Crown Prince's (Yair Netanyahu) Tweet, which shows the attorney general his father appointed, in the image of "The Godfather." But it doesn't end here. Netanyahu responded yesterday to the magnitude of the hour, and in his efforts to crown himself as a modern-day Alfred Dreyfus, he reached, as expected, also to the horrors of the Holocaust of European Jews. After he finished using the most severe catastrophe we encountered to illustrate the Iranian threat, it was now the turn of the investigators, prosecutors and lawyers. When he spoke yesterday, on the court steps, about the many support calls he receives, Netanyahu also reached out to Holocaust survivors, recounting calls he received from some of them, and I quote: "We were in the woods and now we pray for you,” he said loudly with his familiar baritone voice. “Wolves are coming to get you.” You almost want to come to the defense of the Jewish people's leader, Messiah Ben David, whom the wolves surround and are about to devour….For Netanyahu, this is another replica in a long speech. Another moment of unfounded pathos, in an endless series. For those whom he faces, it's much less funny and a lot scary. Netanyahu has already burned his rhetoric once, on the body of Yitzhak Rabin. What would he do and say if anyone managed to bypass the guards of (Attorney General) Mendelblit and Liat Ben-Ari and injure them? After all, there are wolves here who come to devour the leader, right? From which tall tree will he hang this time? We'll wait and see…Binyamin Netanyahu is an experienced, talented and fast-thinking person. I suppose he knows that the excessive incitement speech he made on the court steps does not improve his legal situation. Maybe the opposite. He knows that the rules inside the courtroom belong to a completely different game. If he knows all this, why does he continue to raise the stakes and the frenzy? In my opinion, there are several cumulative reasons. The first, psychologically. Netanyahu was very worried about his image as a defendant. He has a well-developed historical perception, and he knows the value and place of such a picture in history books and Wikipedia. He decided to produce a counter image for himself. The picture in which he stands on the steps of the court and makes his “Je accuse" speech is the fitting biblical answer to the persecution that is being waged against him, according to his method. But there is also a strategic reason: Netanyahu is strengthening his political position and public opinion. As between the second and third election elections, he increased his electoral power, so he believes he can continue to climb the popularity index as well. Why is it important to him? To further strengthen deterrence, strengthen the sense of the apocalypse, create fear and terror among law enforcement authorities and the judges, and prepare for himself the most comfortable platform for him to cut at the appropriate time for a lenient plea bargain. The question is whether Netanyahu will be able to recognize this moment. Because if he misses, the next opportune moment may be the one he is convicted, and maybe even worse: sent to prison.
The Supreme Defendant (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) The state emblem, the seven-branched lamp and a bouquet of olive leaves, sparkled yesterday in two places on Saladin Street in Jerusalem: It was in the courtroom of the District Court, and it was downstairs, in the secured booth installed for defendant No. 1's admonition speech. Of all the events yesterday that got to be defined as, "for the first time in the history of the state," this event was the most painful: the State of Israel splits in two, menorah against menorah, kingdom against kingdom. Each side and its menorah, each side and its value system. Outside protesters, Netanyahu's fans and lovers,  threatened the country with a civil war. They were very much convinced that they were defending the homeland, its soul, its values, its very existence, not a politician who got into criminal trouble. In their eyes, the homeland and Netanyahu eyes  are one: Whoever tries to separate them is an enemy, he is a traitor. Israel knew periods of personal worship. Ben-Gurion enjoyed this kind of admiration in the early years of the state; Begin enjoyed it among his own public. Netanyahu was able to deepen the worship and expand it. He knew how to dismantle the anger, frustration, and social alienation and reassemble it around his character. He is more like Donald Trump than Ben-Gurion. He is the government and he is the defiance against the government. He is the menorah and he shatters the menorah. The Bibists, the hundreds who arrived on buses to Jerusalem, are a small and colorful minority, but behind him are a million Israelis and more for whom the Holy Trinity - Israel, the Right-wing and Netanyahu - is the basis of their political view. Netanyahu has succeeded in planting this notion: It is a considerable achievement. He also succeeded in planting the view that criticism of Netanyahu - any criticism - does not derive from substantive motives but stems from dark, anti-patriotic, "leftist" collusion. Netanyahu is a very talented man. This achievement has a price: As he deepens his hold on one part of the public, the greater the fear and loathing towards him from the other. Therefore he was unable to form a government and could not evade court. Only rhetoric of unity, reconciliation, the lowering of tones allowed him to establish his fifth government. It lasted exactly a week. Yesterday he returned to the (political) base and to himself. I thought of Benny Gantz watching this speech and wondering, how did I get into this trap, what a, I doing? If I attack him they will say that I am not loyal and I put the rotation at risk; If I shut up they'll say I'm a coward. Gantz settled on a message that only highlighted his irrelevance. Netanyahu imprisoned him in a gold cage; he could only Tweet. And I thought of Israel Katz, who was behind Netanyahu throughout his speech, in a status that was reminiscient of the iconic photograph with Oren Hazan after the vote on the Nation-State Law. Netanyahu said the lawyers and investigators wanted to oust him, only so that he would be replaced by another member of Likud, weak and obedient, a poodle (he repeatedly said poodle in an interview on Channel 20). This poodle is me, Katz thought in his heart. It seemed to me he was sweating under the mask. The state is me, says Netanyahu. I hope he is wrong.
Netanyahu Continues to Incite Against Investigators, and It Could End in Blood (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Twenty-eight years ago, Italian judge Giovanni Falcone was killed by the mafia, after a hate campaign deeply reminiscent of the atmosphere surrounding Netanyahu's trial.
Netanyahu can finally fire back (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) Anyone who didn't want to hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak on the opening day of his trial on Sunday shouldn't have started the campaign of character assassination against him that is unparalleled in any democracy.
As Netanyahu's trial gets underway, let's keep an open mind (written before the trial opened by Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Amidst the fervid public discourse, we must try to halt any preemptive convictions or acquittal; it is crucial that the prime minister's trial is not only conducted properly, but is fully transparent in every aspect.
The elites' new stronghold (Avishay Ben Haim, Israel Hayom) The elites have managed to essentially paralyze the political system, and replace it with the judiciary.
The Country Held Hostage (Haaretz Editorial) The picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the entrance to the Jerusalem District Court just before his trial began, with his loyal ministers, their mouths covered with masks, standing in the background as he assailed the law enforcement system like any garden-variety criminal, will be etched forever in the nation’s memory. Even judged by his own low moral standard, Netanyahu reached a new nadir on Sunday and once again proved that a criminal defendant cannot serve as prime minister. And that’s especially true of Netanyahu, for whom incitement is second nature.
Netanyahu's trial has just begun, and there is a strong sense of nausea (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) When such a circus is being conducted, how do we expect to understand the nature of the law or the democratic processes? …In the middle, between the Bibist choirs and the choruses of the righteous, stands a public who does not want to drown in a sea of irrelevant details, but simply to know the nature of its prime minister. But the headline that landed on our heads seems to be a pre-determined conclusion competition: those who claim he is corrupt and that the attorney general and that the Attorney General let him off the hook numerous times and those who claim that he is perfect and as clean as Jesus the Christian and that everyone is persecuting him. Along the way, manipulative messages and half-truths are sent to the public. All the talk about the "humiliation" that Netanyahu has to go through in court, for example, is delusional. What humiliation? When a person breaks the law, he comes to court to find out, not through Twitter campaigns but through evidence. It has nothing to do with humiliation or respect - that's how it works for every citizen in Israel, whether he's a celeb or a street sweeper. The ministerial march that came to give “moral support" was sickening - these are people who have just been given pampering jobs or promises of future jobs. They recited as best they could the catchphrase of the past year, as if "the majority of the public elected Netanyahu because it thinks he is innocent” is the new "there will be nothing because there is nothing” (previous Netanyahu slogan - OH). But that is not only educating the public for ignorance - since when did the public judge its elected officials on criminal matters? - but the anipulation is also false. While it was close, most Israeli voters voted against Netanyahu three times in a row…
Netanyahu the Defendant Serves Notice on His Judges: You’re Next (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Netanyahu arrived to the first day of his trial surrounded by half of his Likud party after the first session of his new bloated government.
*And now: the judges (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth Hebrew) In years to come, when Netanyahu's picture in court and behind him, like a flock of homeless people, huddles the Likud leadership, his government ministers will regret that the masks did not hide their faces. The pride they felt yesterday as they stood next to the Prime Minister will become embarrassing. And the picture in which they are used as a backdrop for Netanyahu's "Je accuse" speech, as if they are the ones on trial - they and the Likud and the entire nationalist camp - will accompany them forever. But that's what Netanyahu wanted and towards that he led from the moment the charges against him became clear: to turn the charges against him into an indictment against a large camp. This is not the State of Israel against Binyamin Netanyahu. This is the legal system against the Likud movement. Against the Nationalist Camp. And this should remind all of those who pushed and were pushed yesterday into the picture, so that their support for Netanyahu will not only be done but will also be seen, and to all those who stood outside the courthouse and demonstrated in support of the defendant: This is not your trial, you are not on trial. It is a charge of bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister who allegedly committed the offenses for which he was charged, not for the public's benefit, nor for the benefit of the state, or even for the benefit of the movement - but for his personal and for his family's benefit. And these are just the tricks of the master of spins, which managed to put you on his side on the defendants' bench. Yesterday, for the first time there was a feeling that it was no longer possible to put the genie back in the bottle. In light of the total moral abyss of the political system, the dances on the street in front of Balfour (PM's residence), the presence of (Yisrael) Katz, (Nir) Barekat and (Yoav) Galant in the court - a frightening thought came that the train had already passed, and with it the rule of law. It seems to me that even those who expected drama yesterday did not think that was what would happen. A technical issue, that's what was supposed to be yesterday in the Jerusalem District Court. But what did we think, that Netanyahu would humbly enter the courtroom? That he will ignore the cameras and avoid meeting the media? When did it happen that the prime minister did not take advantage of the status to build a completely different narrative from the one on the table. At each stage of the legal proceedings against him, Netanyahu turned the bowl over and his accused became the accuser. First (accusing) the investigators, then the police and the state prosecutor's office, then the attorney general, and now it is everyone, including the judges and of course the media, and above all this unfounded and false argument that it is a political trial and an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of an elected prime minister. What should a citizen facing a crime this morning feel when the prime minister says the prosecutor's office is fabricating cases and his ministers say the police are a crime organization? And what would a civics teacher answer to a student today who would say that the education minister said he shouldn't believe the State Prosecutor's Office?...How did we forget all the speeches of incitement, division and rift at every stage of this legal process? How did we not realize that technical issue might also be a platform for hate and spreading lies?...The message from Netanyahu to his supporters and to the judges is that as we walked on (Attorney General) Mendelblit's head, we will walk on your head. And what could be a clearer message to the judges than the appearance of Osnat Mark, not yet a Knesset member, among the group of senior officials who came to charge him. Mark is intended to be a member of the Judiciary Committee. Her presence last night is like putting a horse's head on the desk of the district judges. Even for those who have absolute confidence in the court, and in the experience and spirit of the judges, it was difficult to hear this incitement. After all, these are human beings. And this wild incitement seeps through the court walls. Moving from the street to the cool hall. And when there's no one to defend, anything can happen. If there will be violence against judges or prosecutors, anyone who stood there yesterday and did not condemn - will not be able to say they did not incite....
No less sensible: It is not desirable to disrespect the public who see Netanyahu as being persecuted for wrongdoing (Kalman Libskind, Maariv) A large part of the public is not convinced that the corruption of which Netanyahu is accused is similar to the corruption of his predecessor (Ehud Olmert). If the day after is important to anyone here, then they should listen to this public, too. In the media, this public was always easy to divide into two groups - watchmen of the rule of law vs. those who despise it, the good vs. the bad, the just vs. the mistaken, those who think with their heads vs. those who act from emotion. This attitude was patronizing and arrogant from the start, and it always came from those who considered themselves honorable members of the enlightened group. The media who supported Netanyahu were seen from the beginning as trumpets, while those who opposed him were always "journalists." The protests in support of him have always been painted as protests against the rule of law, while the protests against him have been framed time and time again as "pro-democracy" protests. In the State of Israel, it must be acknowledged that there are two large and wide publics who see reality completely differently from the other. And just as Netanyahu's conviction will not make his supporters stop believing he is innocent, so his opponents did not require the indictment against him to be convinced he was guilty. Both of these groups mix emotion and intellect. It is not desirable to belittle these. Binyamin Netanyahu was not alone in the Jerusalem District Court yesterday. Hundreds of people left their day and bothered to accompany him to his trial…Yes, there is a large public who feels that Binyamin Netanyahu is sitting there, in the dock, instead of them. A large public who sees him as being persecuted for wrongdoing. It shouldn't matter to the judges when they look at the evidence and listen to the witnesses, but it should interest us, as a society. One can despise the “Bibists,” one can mock those who see Netanyahu as their messenger, one may wonder fovever, how he, the Ashkenazi Jew from Rehavia (elite Jerusalem neighborhood), became the representative of the Other Israel. But after all these doubts, it is impossible to argue with reality.
Netanyahu's determination and the wisdom of the masses (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) The prosecution, in the service of the old elite, never thought that they would ever have to prove the claims against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in court.
Netanyahu’s Supporters Dare the Court (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) They seek to convince the public that the prime minister's line - that he is the victim of a plot - is legitimate criticism on his part.
The judiciary's ill-fated target bank (Simcha Rothman, Israel Hayom) Criminalizing politics is the doomsday weapon of the justice system. The way to deal with such weapons is through its dismantling, and not through a war of total and mutual annihilation.
For Netanyahu Supporters, He's Already Exonerated. Now the Judges Must Fall in Line (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+) Hundreds of pro-Netanyahu supporters gathered outside the Jerusalem District Court on the first day of the premier's trial to protest what they see as a 'frame-up.’
Netanyahu's fate is not up to himself: This is how Prime Minister felt on the first day in court (Matan Wasserman, Maariv) Netanyahu kept up appearances in a very complex situation, with the photographers surrounding him, they photographed from all sides and waited to see if he would sit on the defendants' bench, but he remained upright and strong. However, it was hard not to sense that he didn’t feel at all comfortable, and especially since this was not his natural field and perhaps he understood that his fate was no longer dependent on himself.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:

Time to grab history by the horns (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) Just as David Ben-Gurion established the State of Israel despite the exceedingly unfavorable UN partition plan, it is now incumbent upon us to seize the moment and apply sovereignty wherever we can in Judea and Samaria.
If Only the World Would Force Israel’s Hand (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Can the threat of annexation bring the Palestinians, Jordan, a president named Biden, the EU and Russia together to twist Israel’s arm until it agrees to change?
'Someone wanted everyone to know' (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Israel's cyberattack against Iranian infrastructure went a long way with respect to psychological warfare thanks to the extensive coverage it received in the foreign media. Such publicity for a move that otherwise would have remained a closely-guarded secret has only one goal – generating deterrence.
Pro-Israel Jews Will Still Vote Trump. Even When He Promotes anti-Semites and Holocaust Deniers (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) 25 percent of U.S. Jews are convinced the president is their best friend. There is nothing Trump could do or say, short of bombing Israel, that would change their mind.
Joe Biden’s Strategy for Attracting Jewish Voters – and Its Biggest Weak Spot (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) With his centrist take on U.S.-Israel relations and strong anti-Semitism message, the presumptive Democratic nominee looks like a shoo-in with older Jewish voters. But how will he win over younger voters whose hearts belong to Bernie?
(Gabi) Ashkenazi, don't assume that Netanyahu will let you work unless you show strength (Baruch Bina, Maariv) You got a neutered ministry and your job is to restore it because from here you can only go up. Feel free to pound on the table and even threaten - the prime minister has already demonstrated impressive ability to fold.
Time to Keep Your Word to Ethiopian Jews, Netanyahu (Kassahun Shiferaw, Haaretz+) There are currently over 7,500 Jews waiting to emigrate from Ethiopia. Some of them have been waiting for more than 20 years, including parents and siblings of soldiers who are protecting Israel with their own bodies. Yet the state has turned its back on them, even as its gates are open to all other Jews worldwide. In 2015, the Netanyahu government adopted a decision to bring the rest of the Ethiopian Jews living in Gondar and Addis Ababa to Israel by the end of 2020. But in practice, the prime minister approved the immigration of only a small number of these Jews. He didn’t keep his promise in full, and therefore, families remain separated to this day. During the election campaign, the prime minister made our community promises about continuing the immigration from Ethiopia.

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