News Nosh 6.22.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday June 22, 2020

 Quote of the day:

"I want to know that when I check out, my daughters and my granddaughters will continue to live a normal life here. That is all we wanted. But today I do not see that normal life as assured. I do not see the future of my daughters and granddaughters as assured. And that truly haunts me. What haunts me is knowing that what exists today is liable to fall apart tomorrow.”
--Prof. Zeev Sternhell, a world renown expert on fascism and a Holocaust survivor, was a vocal supporter of peace and opposed occupation. He died Sunday.*

Front Page:Haaretz

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • For this there’s money? - New details: This is how they improve, now of all times, the conditions of the Prime Minister (Hebrew)
  • “Disrespect for human dignity” - Yedioth follows what is happening in the Maglan Unit
  • US chutzpah // Nahum Barnea on the conditioned annexation (Hebrew)
  • A second ward was closed - Yedioth follows the corona outbreak at Ichilov Hospital
  • Tests and travel passes: The trains return to operation this morning

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • “Canceling Shin Bet surveillance tracking (of infected) now is irresponsible” - Health Minister Edelstein to ‘Israel Hayom’
  • To live - without endangering others // Prof. Gili Regev
  • Netanyahu to Gantz: Sovereignty or elections
  • Closed danger: The report rules - high risk of danger in closed places
  • A ball (without) masks - High school students around the country secretly holding proms without wearing masks
  • Here comes the train - This morning, the trains finally restart
  • The judge of the Prime Minister convicted a man of bribery; The High Court ruled in favor of a retrial
  • After 27 years, Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev retires
  • Legalization of marijuana: Our children will pay the price // Aviad Friedman
  • We missed the orange ball: Basketball is back - Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem won

Top News Summary:

As the corona infection rate rose, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that if Israelis don’t start wearing masks, the country might be put in lockdown again and Netanyahu also made headlines due to his request to retroactively receive reimbursement for tax expenditures collected from him for over a decade for his private residence (Maariv), while it became known that as part of the coalition government agreement, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz was to receive numerous benefits such as an official residence and his family’s expenses paid for, but Gantz declared he was waiving those rights and he would continue to live at his private home at his own expense.

Also worthy of noting, the world-renown expert in fascism, Professor Zeev Sternhell, died yesterday at age 85. Sternhell was known for his views against the occupation and settlements and Haaretz dedicated its editorial today to him, as well as another Op-Ed by Ravit Hecht (See Other Top Commentary below). ‘Israel Hayom,’ however, ran a short news item that made no mention of his views against the occupation.

According to ‘Israel Hayom,’ Netanyahu told Gantz that he must accept annexing parts of the West Bank or go to elections, neither of which Gantz wants. Haaretz+ reported that the Trump Administration and Netanyahu are discussing a ‘gradual' West Bank annexation plan. And Maariv reported that the assessment is that there will be a significant delay in implementing Trump's plan. The papers talk about Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi’s opposition to annexing parts of the West Bank rather than implementing the entire Trump plan, including the recognition of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Maariv’s Anna Barsky writes that President Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, thinks that the administration should only support the implementation of the Trump plan if all coalition partners in Israel agree to it. Only this way, in Kushner's view, can the United States advance a deal that brings results to both sides and will not look like a distinctly pro-Israeli program, which the Arab world would not accept. Barsky also reported that
Yesha council leaders met Sunday to support the “Sovereignty Tent” pitched outside the building where the government was meeting, calling on Netanyahu not to surrender to the left-wing at these critical days for the future of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Beqaa Jordan Valley. Mount Hebron Regional Council Yochai Damari said, “We are all for sovereignty, but without a (settlement construction) freeze and without a Palestinian state."

Meanwhile, Palestinians are planning to demonstrate. Fatah party Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub called on all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip demonstrate as much as they are able. In Jericho, a protest rally is planned and it will include a UN envoy and Arab and foreign diplomats. But Republicans are preparing to declare their support for annexation. Ynet ran an Associated Press article about how Palestinians fear that Israeli annexation would further limit their access to the Dead Sea. The northwestern corner of the Dead Sea is in the West Bank  and the Palestinians have sought to gain some control of the coastline and set up resorts, as the Israelis have done there.

Hospitals were told to reopen their corona wards, yet Israel's trains restarted today after being halted three months ago. The government cabinet met today to discuss what steps to take to stop the rise of infection, including whether to let the Shin Bet track corona patients, something the Shin Bet chief does not want to do. The Israeli army is considering going back to operating on shifts and in small ‘capsule’ groups, the Maariv reported. Maariv also reported that some 80,000 Palestinian workers entered Israel yesterday, despite the Palestinian Authority declaring that a second wave of corona has begun and, as a result, Palestinians won’t be allowed to return to the Palestinian Authority controlled territories for another two weeks once they exit.Quick Hits:

  • Bolton: Trump was prepared to endorse Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites - Multiple reports claim Netanyahu considered preemptive military actions against Iran's uranium development program, which he describes as posing an existential threat to Israel. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • How Bolton, Netanyahu and Pompeo Sabotaged Trump’s Dream of Talks With Iran - In his new book, John Bolton recounts how a potential meeting between the U.S. president and Iran’s foreign minister spread panic among top U.S. and Israeli officials last summer. (Haaretz+)
  • Zeev Sternhell, Leading Voice of Israeli Left and Renowned Political Scientist, Dies at 85 - The Holocaust survivor, combat veteran and revolutionary thinker changed how the right wing was viewed in academic circles and warned of the end of democracy in Israel. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Anchor suspended for saying Likud voters would back PM even if he was a rapist - Likud MKs called for her to be axed, but Channel 12 opts to remove Rina Matsliah from broadcast for a week after her on-air comments about Netanyahu. (Times of Israel and Maariv)
  • State Comptroller: We won’t open investigation into the case of Avichai Mendelblit - Matanyahu Engelman responded to a petition filed by Knesset Member Shlomo Kari, announcing that the issue of the appointment of Attorney General was discussed extensively in a petition previously submitted to the High Court and was already ruled upon. (Maariv)
  • IDF considering: Return to operating in shifts and small groups - An increase was recorded in the number of soldiers infected with the corona virus - 65 compared to 25 a week ago. (Maariv)
  • Shin Bet chief: Please don't use the agency to track corona patients - In leaked recordings, Shin Bet security agency Chief Nadav Argaman pleads with ministers to only use his organization if there is "no other solution." Netanyahu: "The ships are coming at us, one at a time, and we are refusing to believe it." (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's NSO Helped Moroccan Gov't Spy on Journalist, Amnesty Claims - According to report, surveillance of Moroccan journalist Omar Radi began just days after spyware firm NSO committed to operate with transparency. NSO: We are troubled by the allegations, and will investigate if necessary. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli contact tracing app raises privacy concerns in U.S. - As efforts get underway to digitally track movements and encounters of coronavirus patients in the United States, apps such as Tel Aviv-based GlobeKeeper’s SAFE spark fears about issues of data security and civil liberties. (Ynet)
  • Israeli UN envoy slams body's 'systematic mechanism of discrimination' - In a dramatic final speech before the UN Human Rights Council, Israeli ambassador delivers stinging rebuke and accuses organization of fostering "a never-ending mandate – to condemn the Jewish state." (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel to Deport Human Trafficking Victim, Possibly Separating Her From 12-year-old Son - Immigration authority director said he didn't find 'any special humanitarian reasons' to grant status to woman who was trafficked to Israel in 1991 and has an Israeli child. (Haaretz+)
  • Tel Aviv 'Challenges the Government' by Announcing Recognition of Civil Partnerships - Couples who declare themselves civil partners will receive the same benefits as married couples in terms of municipal services, in a step forward for same-sex, interfaith couples. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev Announces Retirement After 27 Years - Shalev gave no reason for his departure, but it comes as the Israeli Holocaust memorial faces a financial crisis and damage to its reputation over historical inaccuracies. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Anti-Hezbollah activist accused of spying for Israel - Kinda el-Khatib and her brother have been arrested and accused of "being Israeli agents," Arab media reports. Khatib posted comments opposing Hezbollah on social media just hours before being nabbed by Lebanese state security. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran warns Arab states not to normalize ties with Israel - According to special side to the president, making peace with Israel is like "playing with fire." (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran's chief rabbi: The Israeli government doesn't care about Judaism - "There is a big difference between Zionism and Judaism," says Rabbi Yehuda Gerami, who also hails former Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani as a "national hero." (Israel Hayom)

Features:War of the Negev: The Bedouin Village at the Center of a Storm With Right-wingers
The village of Bir Hadaj in the Negev, home to some 7,000 Bedouin, is facing a crackdown from authorities for illegal construction. Its residents, though, say they just want the same rights as their Jewish neighbors. (David B. Green, Haaretz+)
The pre-Israel Palmach Strike Force's Camel Squad Caused It Nothing but Trouble
During the War of Independence, Palmachniks stole camels from the Bedouin and founded a mounted desert unit. But a trial run showed just how difficult it was for them to work with these ‘ships of the desert.’ (Ofer Aderet, Haarez+)

Annexation Commentary/Analysis:
America, Keep Your Word. Don’t Delay Israel’s Sovereignty Over Judea and Samaria (John Hagee, Haaretz+) John Hagee, chairman of Christians United for Israel: America's leaders should boldly stand with our greatest ally, Israel, to implement the Trump peace plan – right now.
The repeal of the (settlement) Regularization Law at the High Court is pointing an accusing finger at all Israeli governments (Ran Edelist, Maariv) The vote against the law at the High Court although dealing with people sitting on land that is not theirs, actually touches on every government that was here. The phrase "we are all guilty" was never as valid as in this situation…While matters of annexation are…going on, the legal front is gaining power under the leadership of (Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister) Benny Gantz, (Justice Minister) Avi Nissenkorn, and High Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut. Gantz, in an effort to replace his title as an alternate prime minister with the title of contrarian prime minister, made a solidarity visit to the Justice Minister's office. “There won’t be a Regularization Law and a High Court Override Law on my watch,” Avi Nissencorn told (journalist) Dana Weiss. This is still not a reason to rejoice and there is no need to be overly enthusiastic about the decision of eight judges against one (Noam Solberg, a kippah-wearing settler) who rejected the Regularization Law. This decision is apparently about the demolition of thousands of houses in the settlements and requires the restoration of stolen land to their legal [Palestinian - OH] owners, but in fact even the right-wing does not have to make a commotion. No bulldozers are on the way. What was is what will be. That’s true at this point in time. The historical problem of the right-wing is that after tomorrow there is the next day, and then a month or two and even a year or two. We went through the demolition of Gush Katif, Amona and Migron settlements and other houses in old settlements - just this week the Civil Administration demolished illegal (settler) buildings in some "historic" outpost. So there are precedents and there is law and there are (still) judges in Jerusalem. On the other hand, only for the sake of demonstrating the injustice to the Palestinians and the desperate need of the settlers for regularization (legalizing settlement homes on privately-owned Palestinian land): From the 1970s to the mid-2000s, some 450,000 dunams of state land were allocated to the settlers in Area C. The repeal of the Regularization Law is certainly a big wave of a black flag at land-grabbing, which means that attacks on the judicial establishment will not stop. Netanyahu leverages every opportunity to crush the (judicial) establishment to escape the dread of law, and he has ready partners: the rabbis of the Occupied Territories and Haim Druckman at their head do not change corruption…and they will put Yamina party at Netanyahu's service. These are the emissary boys who locked hands with the Bibists in attacks on the High Court with clear knowledge that the law would be disqualified. Generations of the High Court have been part of the settlement process of agreement or disagreement for the maintenance of the settlements, but it is not the decisive body. And not because of the Gantz-Nissenkorn-Hayut front, and not because in the High Court there is a bunch of tough sheriffs who pulled out the guns and killed the Regularization Law. In fact, the High Court justices had no choice but to disqualify the law, as they will disqualify the Overriding Law. The High Court has always been anxious about its own status and the image of the State of Israel. Had the Regularization Law not been repealed, the High Court would have been directly responsible for extradition of the State of Israel to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, while destroying the status of the High Court, which would be a sham against any international lawsuit. In response to the decision to repeal the law, a confidante of Netanyahu said that "applying sovereignty will solve most of the Regularization problem anyway.”  Like all statements made by the Prime Minister and his associates, this is also empty statement that is doomed to be go to the waste bin…
In annexation, it's maximum land, minimum Palestinians (Gilad Sharon, Yedioth/Ynet) It is in our interest to annex settlements and unpopulated West Bank land, while threats from regional allies, primarily Gulf states, can be put aside since those regimes depend on Israel's help in order to survive Iran's aggression.
Washington Post amnesia on Israel and 'annexation' (Sean Durns, Israel Hayom) As part of the Oslo peace process, Israel withdrew from much of the West Bank and supported the creation of the Palestinian Authority. In exchange, Palestinian leaders promised to refrain from supporting terrorism.
Netanyahu returned the issue annexation at the worst time for the Americans (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The Prime Minister’s desire to apply sovereignty has dragged Israel into an unpleasant situation with the US during an election campaign that commentators believe will be particularly dirty, humiliating and despicable.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
*Zeev Sternhell, Spiritual Leader of the Left, Never Gave Up the Fight for Israel's Soul (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) This world-renowned scholar of fascism, who died on Sunday, was the Israeli left's equivalent of a great rabbinic leader.
Zeev Sternhell, the Oracle of Anti-fascism (Haaretz Editorial) Sternhell was not only one of the most important scholars on fascism worldwide in recent decades; the importance of his warnings about the danger facing Israeli society, which is losing the safeguards that protect it from descending to a situation that recalls the ideologies and regimes that he studied, should not be ignored. The first component in Israel’s descent into fascism is the war on democracy. It is a war that is not tied to a desire to eliminate the legislative body, which is elected by one method or another. Fascist regimes don’t get rid of their parliaments, even if they are emptied of content over time. The war on democracy, which as Sternhell stressed means making the supremacy of the society and the interest of societal redemption a central value, at the expense of the individual and of equality among the participants in societal activity…
Between righteousness and racism (Binyamin Tobias, Yedioth Hebrew) How awful, "Gone with the Wind" was censored by some streaming services overseas. What's next? "Seinfeld"? The creator of the white “Friends” series already admits that the series she wrote - yes, with cute Ross, Rachel and Phoebe - suffered from built-in racism because there weren't enough black characters in it. The world has gone crazy. Even “Friends”! Oy vey! Now they are getting into our plate and removing “Uncle Ben” from the shelves. How do we go on from here? It is evident that in Israel there is no more a hateful concept than "politically correct" and the sympathy for the cultural and political revolution taking place overseas is unacceptable here. Excluding the margins of the right in the UK and the US, it is hard to find a public where there is suddenly such a concern for the statues of slave traders - and even from religious people who believe in the religious order, "You will not make a statue.” The false shock which many Israelis feel over rethinking about something they loved in their childhood is self-righteous and exhausting, no less than the spirit of being politically correct, which is happening in America at these moments.  One can revolt against concealing and covering up of the past, without sanctifying it. Yes, favorite works like "Gone with the Wind” and "Friends" are tainted with some racism, blatant or tantamount, and worth discussing. Yes, Churchill was a brave hero and politician, but also a dark racist at times, because people are complex. And no, there is no commercial value in leaving a black “folk” icon on a label in order to sell cereal [reference to ‘Aunt Jemima’ products. - OH]…In Spike Lee's new movie on Netflix - "Da 5 Bloods,” four middle-aged black men who were soldiers in the Vietnam War return there 40 years later to find treasure buried there.  Lee uses the light adventure plot…to return to the "crime scene,” the Vietnam trauma as far as African Americans are concerned, who felt they were being used as cannon meat in a battle that was not theirs between whites and Asians. What’s interesting about Spike Lee’s film is that you’ll find blacks, Vietnamese, French - and everyone is arguing about who America screwed over more. Only one population stands out in its near-total absence, and it is the white American. Even the divide between Trump's supporters and opponents in the film is between black characters. This is Lee's smart and assertive way, a director who does not hesitate to mix politics into film and in a way that in Israel would put him on the grill of some ministers, to tell the white public: Leave us alone, let us solve our troubles alone. Deal with your part of the problem - your consciousness, which needs change…
Arab-Jewish Political Alliance Has to Extend Beyond Tel Aviv's Borders (Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) Stop whining and get out of your bubble – those are the words that go through my head every time I hear another leftist trying to explain how important it is to foster partnership between Jews and Arabs, how essential it is to form a large democratic bloc and even to place Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh or MK Ahmad Tibi at its head. Like many Arabs and quite a few Jews, they dream of winning 20 Knesset seats, which would constitute a significant parliamentary force. Would salvation come from this?…After the election Odeh and Tibi fought, even within their own community, to give Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz a parliamentary majority – even succeeding to convince the radical Balad party. All 15 Joint List lawmakers recommended that Gantz be asked to form a government, after negotiations on important issues. These included freezing the so-called Kaminitz law, which targets unauthorized construction in Arab communities, a plan to fight crime in Arab communities and aid for unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. All that evaporated when Gantz joined Netanyahu…For the average Arab living in Israel, who made the effort and went out to vote time after time since 2015, the bottom line is gloomy: Netanyahu is prime minister, the so-called nation-state and Kaminitz laws still stand, in the Negev bulldozers continue their work, the annexation plan and Trump’s “deal of the century” are in the offing…
The response of the security guards at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station was disproportionate (Yitzhak Levanon, Maariv) The incident at the central bus station in Jerusalem - where they (slammed) the diplomat Ismail Khaladi to the floor and put a foot on his neck, was outrageous and it should not be allowed to happen. Based on the announcement of the Central Station manager, as published in Yedioth Ahronoth, according to which the security guards acted within the law, there are questions. Pushing a knee into a suspect's neck should happen when the suspect has been identified as a risk to the general population, even more so for a terrorist who needs to be handcuffed. Was Khalidi such a person? Absolutely not. Even if we accept the security guard's full version, according to which Khalidi wanted to provoke - the security guard's reaction is disproportionate. Khalidi is a diplomat who served in San Francisco, worked in the Foreign Minister’s bureau and defended Israel against defamation with his impressive appearances overseas. He proudly spoke about about equitable, beautiful, thoughtful and democratic Israel. Yes, democratic. Suddenly all his rights disappeared, and some security guards claimed he was a provocateur. Does it make sense that a defender of the state abroad would become an inciter within the state? It remains, therefore, that the guidelines and training for security guards needs to change and be adapted in order to prevent recurrence of cases such as the one that happened at the central bus station in Jerusalem. A person's appearance is impossible to change, but speech style yes. What is so difficult for the security guards to demand Khalidi’s identity with polite speech and not by a rough foot on the neck? Khalidi has a Foreign Ministry certificate. Why didn't the security guards ask him to show it? If he had presented the certificate to them, I'm sure that the incident that had upset us all would have been avoided. Aside from the terrible feeling it caused him, the humiliation and the injury, how can Khalidi again face criticism against Israel on the grounds that it discriminates among its citizens? It is clear to everyone that the incident happened because of his [Arab - OH] appearance and the suspicion is based solely on it. Nor does provocation justify pushing a person on the floor with a foot on his neck. And if a disaster did happen like in America, what excuse would the Central Bus Station manager have? Going back to the faulty training and preparing of the security guards, because that's the real reason. Surely security guards need to fulfill their jobs - to make sure the area they are in is safe. But this goal does not justify all means. A terrorist or hostile person who inflicted harm is not the same as anyone from a local, even if he was verbally abusive. Criteria for security guards to act must be memorized and not act as if they don’t know, and certainly don’t use disproportionate force to intimidate. The apology of the security guards and their superiors is not enough, a change of conduct is required. Every one of us, the foreign service workers, who served overseas, has encountered at least one complaint about abusive conduct by security personnel, usually because of [Arab - OH] appearance. The case of Ismail Khalidi needs to be investigated not to point a figure at someone, but to learn from the mistakes, and so that finally the police and security forces will change the criteria [for taking aggressive physical action - OH] so that similar cases do not happen again. Only after the necessary change could the Central Station manager be able to declare that his people were acting according to the law.
Don't identify Jews with 'white imperialism' (Melanie Phillips, Israel Hayom) The left's Orwellian race formula links even Mizrahi Jews and Israel with their toxic attack on the West.
Unstoppable, Indestructible, Endless Bibi (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Let us soberly internalize that Benjamin Netanyahu is going to be prime minister as long as he wants, and he wants to until the day he dies. He’s soaring in the polls, clearly won’t uphold the rotation agreement with Benny Gantz, and has numerous political options for putting off his trial endlessly. Once upon a time, it was widely believed that Yair Lapid would unseat him in democratic elections. LOL. Then it was assumed that the many serious investigations against him and the indictment that followed would force him to resign. LOL. Then the hope arose that Gantz would replace him. Double LOL…
History in our country proves: The brainwashing campaigns of the right-wing could end badly (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Social media networks distribute a commercial amount of incitement to anyone marked as opposed to the Attorney General. After going through most of the material (written in the social media networks), it's hard not to be surprised how the people mentioned in these groups are still alive.
Who Will Stop Israeli Spyware Firm NSO's Runaway Train? (Amitai Ziv, Haaretz+) Evidence has mounted for years that NSO has sold its tools to dictatorships that used it to track journalists, rights activists and dissidents – some of whom were tortured or murdered.
The lie behind the Jaffa riots (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Days of unrest swept the mixed Jewish-Arab city over the municipality's alleged plan to begin construction over land that used to be Muslim cemetery, but the graveyard in question was relocated a century ago.
Bolton's temper tantrum (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) John Bolton's conduct, both during his White House tenure and since his departure, shows that he has failed to accept the fact that he was an adviser, not a decision-maker.
New Wave of Arab Feminism, Bolder and More Outspoken, Takes Hold Online (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Women are taking their battle to the internet, creating private communities for victims of sexual assault and public advocacy campaigns, and entertaining content to raise awareness.
Germany Is Fueling a False History of the Holocaust Across Europe (Jan Grabowski, Haaretz+) The well-intentioned determination of German politicians and academics to take exclusive responsibility for the Nazi genocide is now aiding other perpetrators to whitewash their participation.

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