News Nosh 6.23.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Tuesday June 23, 2020

Quote of the day:

“It was the first time I had heard that there are antiquities there, and my family has been here for decades. My great-grandfather lived here.”
--Mahmoud Bisharat, a resident of a tiny West Bank village in the Beqaa Jordan Valley, was recently ordered by Israel to destroy some of his buildings, a well, olive trees and concrete casting around the structures that are on his property, because Israel suddenly declared they were on an archaeological site."

You Must Be Kidding:

In 2019, Israel issued 167% more demolition orders and warnings to Palestinians in the West Bank for structures built on what Israel claimed were archaeological sites than it had two years earlier. The initiative grew out of the right-wing Regavim movement.**

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Not prepared - Collapse of public medicine - The warning of the head of Department of Internal Medicine (Hebrew)
  • A little High Court Override Law - The next storm (Hebrew)
  • There is a train, there are no passengers (Hebrew)
  • Have you eaten grasshopper falafel?

Maariv This Week

  • More restrictions - Israel prepares for second wave
  • The fear: A half million newly poor people in August
  • The leak storm - Attorney General accepted Netanyahu’s request to consider probing leak of statements of Shin Bet chief at corona cabinet meeting
  • Knesset Finance Committee to discuss the work perks of Netanyahu and Gantz and Netanyahu’s request for compensation of some 500,000 shekels in taxes paid
  • Tourism in crisis - Internal battles in Tourism Ministry: Director against senior officials - and visa-versa

Israel Hayom

  • No mask? Pay a 500 shekel fine
  • Use IDF and Shin Bet // Ran Resnik
  • Exclusive - Isolation at highest level - IDF generals requested from Health Ministry easing isolation guidelines - and were rejected
  • Egypt hinting: “We will be satisfied with a weak condemnation against sovereignty”
  • Quick jump to ER: Every day a child is injured on a trampoline
  • IDF Chief of Staff in dramatic demand: “Remove Army Radio from the military - or close it down”
  • Running over of 8-year-old Itai Margi on Yom Kippur: Likely - a plea bargain with the driver of the car
  • Zodorov submitted new evidence (in murder of Tair Rada, which he was convicted of) “I demand immediate release”

Top News Summary:
Coronavirus stole the headlines in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Israeli ministers approved stricter enforcement against corona and 500 shekel fines for not wearing a mask, as Israel prepared for a scenario of 2,500 corona patients on ventilators, and Yedioth reported that hospitals fear they will collapse due to lack of manpower. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is keen on Shin Bet surveillance tracking of corona patients and he also called for a probe over the leak that the Shin Bet chief said in the closed corona cabinet meeting Sunday that he opposed the surveillance, making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Annexation took a backseat in today’s news. Israel Hayom continued to report that Arab sources said that it’s not true that Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank will cause harm to relations with Arab countries. Today, Israel Hayom’s Middle East affairs reporter, Daniel Siryoti, reported that "Egypt and Jordan will suffice with only a declarative condemnation to applying sovereignty.” He wrote that his Arab sources said that discussions are being held secretly between the senior intelligence and security agencies of Israel and the moderate Arab countries. According to a senior Arab diplomatic source, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and Egyptian intelligence chief Kamal Abbas, have recently met several times and reached agreements that would allow the implementation of the Israeli sovereignty program on the one hand, and the official opposition of the Arab states to the plan that will be implemented in practice without significantly damaging the political relationship between the countries. Moreover, he wrote that a Jordanian security official told him hat the message conveyed from the Jordanian King Abdullah II to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah via the Jordanian Foreign Minister, according to which, Israeli annexation will make it difficult for Jordan to continue the peace agreement with Israel, was incorrect. “The message conveyed to Abu Mazen was concerning the security coordination and political cooperation between Egypt and Jordan in regards to the Palestinian issue, and the possibility that Jordan, like Egypt, will suffice with making a declaratory condemnation of the Israeli annexation plan and certainly would not violate the peace agreement with Israel and the special security relations between the countries,” the source said.

Maariv’s Tal Lev-Ram reported that the the IDF Chief of Staff led a simulation exercise at IDF headquarters about West Bank annexation with the participation of senior officials from the Shin Bet and the Israel Police. In the simulation, on one side of the scenario were dozens of senior people in the security establishment and on the other side were Palestinians and foreign personas. One scenario was for a short-term reaction taking place in reaction to annexation in the near future and the other was a long-term scenario of months if not longer. The assessment is that if there is an escalation it will be gradual. The simulation also took into account the issue of the US elections, in that the assessment was that the identity of the next US President will influence the tension on the ground.

Israel Hayom Hebrew also reported that families of the fallen IDF servicemen, who were killed in a helicopter crash in 1977 in the Beqaa Jordan Valley, are concerned that a monument in their memory will remain in Palestinian-controlled territory. Last week, they sent a letter to the prime minister and the defense minister asking for their intervention in the matter. "It is of the utmost importance to preserve the legacy of the battle and to commemorate the fallen and is a minimum comfort for our families. We are seeking to include this memorial site in our state, a site that commemorates our loved ones instead of their fall," they wrote.

And in the Jordan Beqaa Valley, UN Mideast Envoy Nikolay Mladenov joined the thousands of Palestinians protesting Monday against Israeli annexation in the Beqaa Jordan Valley and told them not to give up their dream of statehood. “You’re not renting a house here, this is your home.” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also joined the crowds at the Jericho rally organized by the Fatah movement. All the papers reported that 120 out of 198 House Republicans signed a letter supporting Israeli Annexation in the West Bank and blaming the Palestinian leadership for choosing to reject it. According to a US poll, two-thirds of Americans think it's okay to question US-Israeli ties. Democrats and Republican voters were split on whether it is the duty of Congresspeople to either defend or question the relationship between the two countries. (Also Maariv)

Corona Quickees:

  • Knesset Legal Council Says Coronavirus Bill Doesn't Allow for Proper Oversight - Law would allow the cabinet to declare a state of emergency without requiring the Knesset's approval. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Employers Planning Severe Third Quarter Layoffs, Poll Finds - Manpower survey shows manufacturers see job cuts of 17%; finance, business services, restaurants, hotels 11% to 16%, construction 9%; retail, wholesale 5%. (Haaretz+)
  • Health Officials Call Cellphone Tracking of Patients ‘Excuse for Policy Failure’ - Some question the effectiveness of tracking, whether carried out by the Shin Bet or by private company, and say it is aimed at covering up Health Ministry’s failure to set up effective screening system. (Haaretz+)
  • Train Service Resumes in Israel, as Dearth of Passengers Makes for Safer Ride - Three months after operations were halted due to the coronavirus epidemic, trains were on the move again on Monday. It was the passengers who were slow to come to stations. (Haaretz+)
  • Ultra-Orthodox push for closure of synagogues for fear of 2nd virus wave - Leaders seek preemptive measures for sector's crowded communities; 'it's uncomfortable and unpleasant to pray outside in the summer, but it's more pleasant than going to a funeral,' says rabbi. (Ynet)
  • Cancellation of Birthright-Taglit, Masa heritage trips to cost Israeli economy $200 million - 60,000 Jewish youths from around the world were scheduled to travel to Israel during spring and summer to attend heritage trips that are now being called off due to Covid-19. Israel’s Ministry of Interior approved special visas to people attending Masa’s long term programs but they will not be exempt from the 14-day mandatory quarantine. (Calcalist English)
  • Israeli Mask Maker Sonovia Expects 99% Coronavirus Success After Lab Test - The fabric can also be used in textiles for hospitals, protective equipment and clothing, and is conducting a pilot to see how it can be used in vehicles and public transport. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Saudi Arabia to Hold 'Very Limited' Hajj Due to Coronavirus - Only people of various nationalities already residing in the country would be allowed to perform the hajj. (Haaretz+)


Quick Hits:

  • New bill to limit High Court power over Elections Commission decisions on Knesset candidates eligibility - As if the growing tension between the executive branch and the judiciary is not enough, a bill by MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) and Foreign and Defense Committee Chairman Zvi Hauser (Kahol-Lavan) would require a two-thirds majority of top judges to reject a Knesset candidate or approve a disqualified candidate in the Election Commission. If the bill passes, it could open the door to advance the bill to override High Court rulings regarding laws the Knesset passed. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Citizenship of convicted Arab Israeli terrorists up for discussion - Panel of seven Supreme Court justices to debate two appeals filed on behalf of convicted terrorists Alaa Ziad and Mahmoud Mafarja. (Israel Hayom)
  • Over half of east Jerusalem civil society groups oppose dialogue with Israel - New study by the (right-wing think tank) Jerusalem Institute of Policy Research maps the funding for civil society groups in the east of the capital and evaluates their willingness to cooperate with the Israeli establishment. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF chief reportedly asked defense minister to close or jettison Army Radio - Kohavi tires of serving as a spokesman for the journalists of the media outlet, which walks a line between independent news organization and military messenger. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Israel Nearly Doubled Exports of Surveillance Systems to Track Civilians, Refugees also for battling corona - 2019 Defense Ministry report says security deals Israel sealed with foreign countries went down in worth, with $7.2 billion contracts signed in 2019, compared to $7.5 billion in 2018 and $9.2 billion in 2017, figures show. (Haaretz+, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Artist Captures the Fear of Israel's Looming Annexation and Demolitions - 'I try to convey a message of how the occupation impacts us, the violations we are subjected to,' Khadeeja Bisharat, a mother-of-three, says from her Bedouin encampment in the northern Beqaa Jordan Valley. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • George Floyd mural painted on West Bank barrier - A mural of George Floyd appeared this month on the West Bank wall in Bethlehem. (Reuters, YouTube VIDEO)
  • Archaeologists Find Fishing Spot Used for 10,000 Years in Northern Israel - Splendid fishhooks made of bone and stone net sinkers were used at Jordan River Dureijat to fish from 20,000 years ago – a time when trout still swam the waters of the paleo-lake Hula. (Haaretz+)
  • In first, Israeli minister interviewed in Saudi media: "Iran is our common enemy" - For the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, one of the members of the government was interviewed in media outlets in Saudi Arabia. Minister of Intelligence and Strategy Eli Cohen told the Saudi news website, Elaf, about the secret cooperation between the two countries, adding: "Economic cooperation must be deepened.” (Maariv)
  • Ex-Israeli ambassador discloses ground-breaking research on Damascus Jews - Writing for Avotaynu Online, an outlet devoted to research into the origins and migrations of the Jewish people, retired ambassador Jacob Rosen revealed the surnames of 300 Damascus Jews. (JPost)
  • Yemen's Government, Separatists Agree on Cease-fire, Saudi-led Coalition Says - Agreement comes after the separatist Southern Transitional Council seized control of a Yemeni island in the Arabian Sea, deposing its governor and driving out forces of the government. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Detained Lebanese woman accused of dealing with Israel - Lebanese activist Kinda El-Khatib, who is harshly critical of Hezbollah, is charged with visiting Israel and "dealing with spies of the Israeli enemy." (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Gaza cleric: Trump 'humiliated by the smallest of Allah's creatures' - In sermon broadcast on Palestine Today TV, Taher al-Lulu prays that race-related flames engulfing American will burn the US, the "sons of Zion," and the "hypocrites" who have "abandoned Palestine." (Israel Hayom)

News Features:

**When an Archaeological ‘Find’ Can Evict Palestinians From Their Home
West Bankers are being issued more and more demolition orders for building on land that Israel designated as an archaeological site. Is it connected to a new organization that’s taken it upon itself to monitor such areas? (Hagar Sheizaf, Haaretz+)

Annexation Commentary/Analysis:
With Annexation, Netanyahu Displays His Scorn for the World 'From the Springboard' (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) West Bank land grab extends Netanyahu’s subterfuge, greed and disdain for the rule of law into the international arena.
A green light for sovereignty will benefit the US (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) When Israel is strong, so is the United States.
Gantz, Demand a Referendum on Annexation (Akiva Eldar, Haaretz+) If the heads of Kahol Lavan thwart the annexation plan, it will lead to the government’s dissolution and an early election, figures in Likud threaten. It seems that David Friedman, a lawyer who in his spare time serves as U.S. ambassador to Israel but who usually serves as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., is struggling to reconcile the parties. Alternate  Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, like Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, is listening to the professional staff in the defense establishment and the diplomatic corps, who warn that a unilateral move of this kind will do great harm to Israel’s vital interests. But their political advisers warn that an early election would do great harm to them and their party’s vital interests.
Abbas, do not squander the last vestiges of a fading opportunity (Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Israel Hayom) If Abbas thinks that the EU will come to his rescue, he will be mistaken again.
A Tale of Two Netanyahus: The Six Factors That Will Decide Annexation (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Calculated and cautious, or hasty and over-confident? Staring at the choice of a lifetime, this is how Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing the consequences - for himself - of Israel annexing large swathes of the West Bank.
It is time for our enemy to see Israel as determined (to annex) as poet Natan Alterman demanded (Yossi Ahimeir, Maariv) Our enemies interpreted withdrawals from the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon as weakness. We need to show them that our country is controlling its sovereignty over territories that are ancestral land, just as as public figures and intellectuals of all camps demanded in the first days after the Six Day War.
John Hagee Is a Muslim-hating, Antisemitic, Annexationist Extremist. He’s No Friend of Israel (Joshua Shanes, Haaretz+) Real friends of Israel should steer clear of hate preacher and CUFI head John Hagee’s blood-soaked annexation-to-Armageddon theological-territorial drama, and its invisible Palestinians.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Palestinians are not just anti-Semitism. They have a story (Dr. Yossi Amitai, Ynet Hebrew) The attempt to make the narrative of the other side shallow, about a primordial hatred of Jews, both fudges the truth and our need to understand the complex reality. A response to Ben-Dror Yemini’s Op-Ed, “The destructive ‘Palestinian Narrative’ of Zehava Galon.”From Ben-Dror Yemini's response to Zehava Galon's wish to understand the Palestinian narrative it apparently is implied that the Palestinians are not a unique national entity and they do not have a narrative, other than the murderous anti-Semitic legacy of the Jerusalem Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini. I would like to argue that a Palestinian narrative does exist, and naturally it is presented from the perspective of responding to the Zionist challenge, but it does not focus on that alone. It also has additional layers, varied and interesting. Contrary to popular belief in some circles among us, Palestinians are not "an invented people." Forming nations is a matter of ongoing process and has no uniform pattern. It differs from group to group, depending on the circumstances of time, place and history. So is the process of the growth of Arab national entities, including the Palestinian one, in the context of creating territorial states in our region at the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Order. It is not for any outside party, including Western scholars, to speak in the name of the Palestinians and to create a narrative from the outside in their name. The Palestinian narrative is the one told by the Palestinians themselves. On the other hand, there is no denying that the “outsiders” will echo with intellectual honesty the authentic Palestinian narrative. The Palestinian narrative, like any other narrative, is a multi-layered complex that includes research and biographical literature, fiction, poetry, folklore, plastic art and more. For example, includes "Homeland," the autobiographical book by Abu Iyad, Yasser Arafat's deputy, which documents the escape from Jaffa and the establishment of the Fatah movement. So does "Jerusalem," the autobiographical story of Sirin Al-Husseini daughter of Jamal al-Husseini, cousin of the Mufti and political spokesman of the Supreme Arab Committee. And there is more, of course: Communist historian Emil Touma’s research on the roots of the Palestinian national movement; Documentation of the fragmentation processes of Palestinian politics; The poems of Rashad Hussein, Samih al-Qassem and Mahmoud Darwish (from the angry “Write: I'm an Arab", to the reconciling “Think of Your Others”). There are also Palestinian falah (farmer) folklore songs, sung by gifted singer Amal Murkus; The wonderful compositions of the multidisciplinary artist Mira Awad to the poems of Mahmoud Darwish, the unique Palestinian embroidery, and other dimensions and configurations. A narrative that is a living mosaic of a living people, of pain alongside hopes, defeats alongside roots and attachments. All this richness is permissible and even worthy for the “outsiders“ to say aloud, if they do it honestly. For example, here are two Zionist leaders, with opposing views, who better reflected to the Jewish-Zionist public what the conflict looks like from the Palestinians' point of view. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, though he did not know the Arabic language, absorbed it with his sharp political senses. In his essay "The Iron Wall," written 97 years ago, stating that Zionism is a moral and just movement to implement whether the Palestinians agree or not, he reveals an understanding of the natural refusal of the "Arabs of Palestine" to accept immigrants from overseas, threatening their national existence in the country, which they see as their homeland, and he writes that every native people in the world would have behaved such in a similar situation. And from the other [political] side, things that Moshe Sharett wrote in a 1957 lecture (after being ousted by Ben Gurion), entitled "Israel and the Arabs - War and Peace." Sharett, who was well acquainted with Arabic language and culture, accurately reflected to his listeners the feelings of the Palestinian Arab in the face of the Zionist enterprise. Here are some sentences he said: "Every Arab, old or youth, has faced the national question in its simplest terms: What will the future of the country be? Will it remain an Arab country or cease to be an Arab country? ... Will they be those who decide, those who shape it, or will another people be the shaper, and they will have to adapt to it? They saw the process of the growing Jewish community in the country. There was a time when the Arabs were 100%. Then they became 90%, 80%, 70%. If this process continues, the country will leave their hands and they will be absorbed into it as foreigners within their own country. This understanding created very severe stimuli.” This is the Palestinian narrative in all its complexity, which confronts the Israeli-Zionist narrative in all its complexity. What Zehava Galon requested is that we extend our ears to this narrative, and that we understand that it, too, has a place in the history of the conflict, alongside the Israeli narrative. Two narratives for two peoples. (Dr. Yossi Amitai is a researcher of Middle East studies and formerly Director of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo)
Neither fascism nor socialism (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) People like Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell are identified as public personas based on the articles and opinions they publish, based on public appearance and by their well-known books. But in the case of Sternhell, perhaps as in other well-known intellectuals, there were other layers. Even people who were completely polarized in their opinions testified that he was a respectable person. A friendly and tolerant person who could have a conversation, especially in the academic and intellectual field with dissenters, not to say outspoken right-wingers. He also knew how to preserve his Jewish identity in the simplest and everyday ways, contrary to his image as someone who devours religious people and settlers. Behind the door next to which a pipebomb was placed 12 years ago, there was an accepting home for people, whose guests were different than he was. Like many left-wingers of the veteran generation, he proudly carried his military experience, especially as an operations officer in the command of the late Major General Israel Tal, who commanded an armored division in the Six Day War. One of his last articles in Haaretz about two months ago (April 31) was dedicated to Talik, whom Sternhell considered a superb leader. As an outspoken political intellectual, he had fierce critics. A great academic once said that he had trouble supporting the tenets of a professor who found it easier to talk to an intellectual from Ramallah than his [Jewish - OH] brothers in Sderot and Netivot. It was a worldview. The ideological center of gravity of the Hebrew University since Magnes to date has been that Jewish nationalism has something particularly threatening about it. Perhaps even more dangerous than Marx and the Communists thought, because for them, Zionism was merely a reactionary national movement, whereas in terms of the intellectual stream that began with 'Brit Shalom' (Alliance of Peace) (Zionism) also had a dark, demonic dimension...The right-wing remembers Sternhell for his remark idrive a tank over Ofra (settlement). For him, "occupation" was everything, and the war on it was more important than any other dimension in the development of Israeli society...Against the background of his confrontation with religious Zionism, he defined himself as a super-Zionist. "Religious people need the State of Israel? I need the State of Israel!" he said.
As far as Binyamin Netanyahu is concerned, shame has been long gone (Ben Caspit, Maariv) After Gantz gave up the official alternate prime minster’s residence, we know who here is the glutton, who with one hand looks for every dime to help the crowds crying under the (economic pain of) corona, and with the other hand takes for himself and his family.
Israeli Media Bows to Bibi (Iris Leal, Haaretz+) By trying to disprove Netanyahu’s accusations of bias, the media are now sucking up to the anti-media, pro-Bibi forces of the far right.
Jerusalem, Jordan, and the Jews (Daniel Pipes, Israel Hayom) Amman does not go so far as to deny any Jewish connection, but it too makes a hash of history.


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