News Nosh 6.24.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday June 24, 2020

Quote of the day:

"Because this time, it was impossible not to see how his long strong hand stubbornly extended toward the depleted state coffers, how it reached there before the hands of other citizens - self-employed people, entertainers, senior citizens, students, disadvantaged people."
--Yedioth columnist Meirav Betito writes that Netanyahu's request - and its approval - for tax benefits at a time when many families are collapsing with no income due to the corona crisis exposes his indifference to the needs of the country's citizens.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
“The prime minster shouldn’t have to try to find a way to make it through the month."
—Netanyahu loyalist, MK Miki Zohar, argued in support of approving tax breaks for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.**

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The perks -  (Photo of Netanyahu); The disappointments (Photo of a citizen who was quoted saying he only earned 560 shekels last month so why does Netanyahu get tax cuts) (Hebrew)
  • The cry of the collapsing families (Hebrew)
  • Disconnected [from the people]: At the height of the corona crisis, the Finance Committee approved exaggerated tax benefits for Netanyahu
  • Hey south - After the corona blow, Eilat is returning to life (Hebrew)
  • The champions of the Air Force: H., S. and M. were the country’s champions in different sports, but they chose to go to Pilot’s Course. Instead of a medal, they’ll get wings (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Taxes and wonders - Number of (new) carriers jumps, hundreds of thousands without an income, but it was important for the Finance Committee to approve giving Netanyahu an exemption from taxes…
  • 459 infected in one day
  • “Enemy of Israel” - The rally of hatred - Commentator Amnon Abramovich was attacked at a right-wing demonstration and rescued by police

Israel Hayom

  • Concerning spike: 459 infected in a day - The closure returns: Elad and neighborhoods in Tiberias - limited zones
  • Fateful sovereignty discussion at White House (Photo of sign saying “Welcome to Samaria”)
  • A discussion that could lead Israel to elections // Mati Tuchfeld
  • Internal American considerations also play a role // Caroline Glick
  • Reports: “Israel attacked in Syria”
  • Corona effect: IKEA cutting hours

Top News Summary:
**The spread of corona is gaining speed again with 420 new confirmed cases in 24 hours. The Israeli government is once again considering reintroducing Shin Bet tracking of people infected with corona and has declared certain places in the country as 'restricted areas,' worrying Israelis who have gone back to work that they may lose their livelihood again. A survey found that Israeli employers are planning more severe layoffs soon. And yet, amid Israel's worst economic crisis in decades, the Knesset Finance Committee, chaired by Netanyahu loyalist, MK Miki Zohar, found it necessary to hold a discussion on a request by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to receive tax exemptions - and it approved the request. Kahol-Lavan MKs were absent from the discussion and vote. The Hebrew newspapers this morning (with the usual exception of 'Israel Hayom') expressed shock and some commentators said that this act would be one that the 'people' will not be able to accept. Yedioth columnist Meirav Betito wrote a powerful Op-Ed about it. (See translation in Commentary below.) Even 'Israel Hayom' ran an Op-Ed by Yossi Beilin titled, 'How is Netanyahu not ashamed?' However, die-hard Netanyahu supporters had no problem with it, as they were out rallying in support of him in Tel-Aviv last night and some of them surrounded and verbally attacked a journalist, calling him an 'Israel hater' and a 'fifth column', and he had to be extracted from the scene by police. (VIDEO) The rally was organized by a woman questioned by police for threatening the Attorney General regarding the Netanyahu corruption cases. Maariv put the worrying incident on page 1, Haaretz put a photo of the rally on page 1, 'Israel Hayom' reported on the incident on page 17 and Yedioth on page 19. And regarding Israel's annexation plans, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz made some interesting annexation related comments (one including the words "deep shit") that received different emphasis in the Hebrew papers.

Days before Israel’s July 1st annexation target date, Haaretz, Yedioth and Maariv quoted Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz who briefed military reporters ahead of Israel’s annexation plans. Gantz blamed the Palestinians' refusal to talk for Israel’s annexation plans and said that as a result they are staying in their “deep shit" and he offered to travel “tomorrow” to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Then he declared his list of wills and won'ts: No Palestinians will be accepted into Israeli territory [It’s not clear what that means - ethnic cleansing? - OH], no human rights will be violated [he does not explain how if Palestinians are transferred out of annexed areas or if they are forced to accept Israeli rule - OH], that Israel will liaise with all the regional countries it is in contact with [but those countries have declared that they oppose annexation - so what is there to liaise about?] and that Israel “won’t endanger peace agreements, but the cabinet will hold an orderly process with the army and other security agencies.” [It’s unclear what the connection is between the peace agreements and the process with the army is - OH]  Peace Now slammed Gantz in response. “After he retreated from his promise to replace Netanyahu, Gantz has turned into his official collaborator. The man who promised to bring peace has volunteered for a project to set alight the Middle East,” the anti-occupation organization said. The papers also wrote that senior aides to U.S. President Donald Trump began discussions on Tuesday on whether to green light Israel's West Bank annexation plan. (Also Maariv)

In Tel-Aviv, hundreds of Israelis protested against Netanyahu’s annexation plan. (JPost reported there were thousands.) Speakers warned that annexing settlements would destroy two-state solution. One of the protesters, Inbar Marmelstein, said she had joined Peace Now to oppose annexation, Haaretz+ reported. “I define myself as centrist, but unilateral annexation is the worst thing economically, diplomatically, strategically and of course morally, and especially at time of the greatest crisis the world has seen in recent years.” Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi warned that “upcoming events may develop into fighting in Gaza.” He also warned of a possible outbreak of violence in the West Bank. (Also Maariv) And what would make things worse, Qatar threatened to stop giving aid to Gaza if Israel annexed West Bank lands. A poll found that most Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe Israel will annex.

The UN chief Antonio Guterres said annexation would undermine a two-state solution, which could destabilize security in the Middle East. In the US, two Democratic leaders from opposite ends of the political spectrum expressed unity in their opposition to annexation, Haaretz+ reported and in Europe, lawmakers from 25 European countries signed a statement opposing annexation. Israel asked Cyprus to help soften the EU opposition to annexation. Meanwhile, senior Israeli reserve military officers and combat soldiers who support ‘Greater Israel’ and who have joined together recently to form a new social movement called Habithonistim – Protectors of Israel," wrote a letter to Trump, praising him for his ‘historic’ support for Israeli annexation of West Bank land.

Quick Hits:

  • Syrian Army: 2 soldiers, 4 civilians killed in Israeli airstrikes - Military defectors and intelligence sources said series of strikes in southern, central and eastern Syria was a wave of raids that targeted Iranian bases. (Haaretz, Maariv and Ynet)
  • Former head of Military Intelligence: Iran could respond to strikes on Syria - Following a series of alleged Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria, INSS Chairman, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, tweets that the assessment that the Iranians are withdrawing from Syria is "a wish," and urges Israel to prepare for a full range of responses from the Shiite axis. (Israel Hayom)
  • UNIFIL chief warns Israeli (fighter jet) flights over Lebanon could spark new hostilities - "UNIFIL has spotted an uptick in the number of Israeli fighter jets flying in the Lebanese skies," said UNIFIL chief, Stefano Del Col. Del Col, however, notes that border is relatively calm, despite increased number of infiltration by migrants seeking work due to the Lebanese financial crisis. (Ynet)
  • Palestinian shot dead by Israeli police in East Jerusalem checkpoint after suspected attack - Family member of Ahmed Erekat says it was the night of his sister's wedding, and that police were quick to pull the trigger on a car accident. Video shows he was left to bleed out. (Haaretz+, Maariv, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • East Jerusalem man killed by gunfire in West Bank village, 3 others hurt - Israeli Police say four East Jerusalem residents, all with various gun wounds, arrived at the station to file a complaint. The victims say they were hit with gunfire while in al-Azariya. The four East Jerusalem residents were fired on after arriving in the village to settle a land dispute. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Gaza Infant Dies After Heart Surgery Postponed Due to Cessation of Coordination With Israel - Meanwhile, human rights organizations petition Israel to guarantee freedom of movement for Palestinians regardless of agreements with Palestinian Authority. (Haaretz+)
  • Ministers discharged from secret IDF unit that operates behind enemy lines - IDF determines there's too great a risk that Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and Culture and Sports Minister Yehiel Tropper could fall into enemy hands. (Israel Hayom)
  • (Arab-Israeli) Man shot dead in Baqa al-Gharbiya, two others injured - The wave of murders in the Arab sector continues:A man was severely injured by a gunshot wound to his vehicle and died from his wounds in the hospital. Police have launched an investigation. Last week three Arab-Israeli men were murdered. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Jerusalem City Inspectors Take Down U.S. Embassy Banner for LGBTQ Pride Month - Embassy says it will rehang banner as soon as possible in statement after Deputy Mayor Arieh King orders its removal. (Haaretz+)
  • Judge Tours Scene Where Black Israeli Was Shot Dead by Police - Protesters taunt police officer charged with 2019 killing of Solomon Teka. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Israel to Stop Subsidizing Yeshiva and Seminary Programs for Students From North America, Britain - The Masa program, which provides the financial support, is making the cuts due to a reduction in its own funding, which comes mostly from the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency. (Haaretz+)
  • Donors pledge $130m for UN Palestinian refugee agency, which says it might not be enough - UNRWA has faced a financial crisis since the United States pulled all funding in 2018, leaving the organization with a massive budgetary shortfall. (Agencies, Israel Hayom, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • How Trump's work visa suspension will affect Israeli high-tech companies - Move blocking entry of some foreign workers may affect multinational companies who want to bring Israeli engineers and managers to the U.S. (Haaretz+ and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Pro-Israel Democrat Engel Set to Lose to Challenger Bowman in N.Y. Primary - Incumbent Eliot Engel seems likely to lose to his progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman, who has garnered the endorsements from the likes of Sanders, AOC and Warren, as 92 percent of precincts report results. (Haaretz+)
  • Turkish Soldier Killed After Coming Under Fire From Across Border With Iran - Turkey has been fighting against Kurdish militant group PKK along its borders with Syria and Iraq. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Is Ready for Talks if U.S. Apologises Over Nuclear Pact, Says Rohani - In a tweet in early June, U.S. President Donald Trump urged Iran to make a deal with America. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis target Saudi capital with ballistic missiles and drones - The Saudi-led coalition battling the Iran-backed group says it intercepted ballistic missile fired by the Houthis towards Riyadh. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Black Arab women tackle racist beauty ideals and stereotypes
Emboldened by the global Black Lives Matter movement, she said Black Arab women wanted to highlight the day-to-day racial prejudice and abuse they face. (Reuters, Haaretz)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Unemployment, Coupled With Leaders Looking Out for Themselves, Could Lead Israel to Mass Social Unrest (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) It’s clear that the labor market is in a delicate, critical situation that needs significant action in order to recuperate, so temporary unemployment doesn't become permanent.
*Greedy with the help of the law (Meirav Betito, Yedioth Hebrew) Of all his mistakes in his role as a leader, this is most likely to expose the infamy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: The man who did not feel embarrassed when he stopped the speeding corona train for an urgent discussion of a million shekel tax benefit, did not flush with shame when he sent his men to fight for him instead of…fighting for the million unemployed, and did not even feel a tingle of guilt as he rested in his armchair at the good tax news, which finally bought him his status as a greedy lawmaker yesterday. This was not an error. There is nothing to accuse the Attorney General or the police investigators of, you can't go with it to the grocery store of the persecuted - where you buy votes in exchange for stories of your troubles, and you can’t blame it on a left-wing NGO that passed by and tell everyone it's a pre-planned plot. But there is quite a bit to learn about Citizen Netanyahu - who mistake this time was greater than Prime Minister Netanyahu's mistake, his priorities and his deteriorating values. Because this time, it was impossible not to see how his long strong hand stubbornly extended toward the depleted state coffers, how it reached there before the hands of other citizens - self-employed people, entertainers, senior citizens, students, disadvantaged people, how he crumpled and threw into the trash bin the Bank of Israel's report from two weeks ago, in which it updated on the high probability of low-income families to remain without an income, and even received an urgent recommendation to increase welfare budgets and he sought to draw the curtain so that he would not meet the gaze of the social workers marching since Sunday to remind him that there is no oxygen for the collapsing welfare services. The satiated will not understand the hungry and will not know his pains. And those who regularly need champagne and cigars, certainly will not see in the poverty in the eyes of a man who is not financially able to eat bread year-round, except that we are in extraordinary days. The car accident of values that occurred on the Corona Expressway attracts the stunned looks of drivers. It isn’t every day that a prime minister pockets a million shekels while civilians groan under the uncertainty, inevitably they try to take another look at the event. Don't worry, the prime minister of Israel is not likely to be financially handicapped, as one of his men warned. The real danger that is currently hovering over his head is the complete disconnect from the distress of the worrying public, and his disregard for its situation. It's just us - the people of the man who threw back a dismissive look, who are expected to pay our full debt to the tax authorities, even if we didn't earn a dime during these…Corona months, and who are supposed to humbly accept how things have turned upside down, and to share in the grief over what he almost took out of his wallet. Only we will have to accept the disgrace among ourselves and hope that someday we will replace it with compassion.
An Insulting Blow to the Unemployed (Haaretz Editorial) Around a million people are unemployed, tens of thousands of businesses are collapsing, the labor market is in critical condition and the public fears for its livelihood and its children’s future. Moreover, all this is happening against the backdrop of reports of a second wave of the coronavirus leading to renewed restrictions and paralysis of the economy. Yet in the midst of this apocalyptic situation, the Knesset Finance Committee found time and saw fit to accede to the request of the criminal defendant heading the most inflated and disconnected government in Israel’s history by approving tax breaks for Benjamin Netanyahu worth about a million shekels ($290,000).
Multi-millionaire Netanyahu Wants Huge Tax Break in Midst of Coronavirus Recession (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Even within the Likud ranks, Netanyahu's request for a tax break was tolerated with a degree of unease.
Gantz’s Comments on Palestinians Shatter Left-wing Hopes He Will Halt Annexation (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) With a week to go before deadline to begin the process in earnest, the alternate prime minister is having trouble shaking his subservience to the prime minister.
What is happening in the United States elections could have consequences for us (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) The radical left's victory in the Democratic Party could hurt relations, and doubts about Trump's foreign policy could pose obstacles to the current political moves.
Gantz is begging the Palestinians to pull him out of ‘deep shit’ of annexation (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) When the Israeli defense minister says Palestinians won't negotiate and are stuck in their own 'deep shit,' he's actually angry that they won't extricate him from the mess.
Left's voter-shaming hits new low (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) There is a huge difference between rejecting a politician and debasing his supporters.
A black and white Trojan horse (Dr. Yitzhak Dahan, Israel Hayom) The local progressive tribe ignores all local context and embraces the international narrative of "racism" in its attempt to turn Israel into a state of all its citizens.
Holding Top Brass Accountable for Their Underlings' Acts? Not in Israel (Michael Sfard, Haaretz+) It feels as if there is a department in the Population and Immigration Authority tasked with ensuring that nothing good enters Israel from the U.S., home of movements like MeToo and Black Lives Matter.
Kahol-Lavan chose to betray voters and vote for their continuity in the coalition (Dr. Orit Miller-Katab, Maariv) There were so many hopes were in the vote for Kahol-Lavan that promised public transportation on Saturday. Every time the public thinks things are going to change for it, but then that gets refuted.
Gantz Is a Collaborator in Corruption (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Likud no longer pays any heed to the man who is bleeding Knesset seats at such a dizzying rate that he seems likely to become a bench player at best in the next election, which will apparently be held sometime next year. For years, Likud has been memorizing the first lesson in Netanyahu’s school, a lesson Gantz missed: Never disconnect from your base; without it, you have lost your right to exist. But Gantz, in a single act whose motives still aren’t completely clear, disconnected from his voters like a satellite disconnecting from its ground station. It’s tempting to think that Gantz will earn nothing more than a footnote in the history books, that he’ll disappear into a black hole. But after a little more thought, it seems likely that years from now, when historians have to choose the person responsible for corrupting government institutions more than anyone else, their choice will be Gantz.
Israel is not and will never be an 'apartheid state' (Prof. Talia Einhorn, Israel Hayom) The false accusation is designed to portray any fulfillment of the Zionist dream as racist, and make Israel an outcast in the world.
Israeli Settlers Just Want to Get the Army Out of Their Faces (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Such yearning: Their eyes are shut tight, their heart sings and their skin tingles with goosebumps thinking of July 1, D-Day for the State of Israel. The big or small or miniscule invasion of the country of the enemy will begin then. The sovereignty of the Zionist state will be increased by a few more thousand square kilometers, another slice of the messianic Zionist dream will come true to lay the heavy foundation for the other parts of the dream.
A moment after you hate him and feel disgust, you ask yourself - "But why?” (Marcelle Musari, Maariv) …His name is Azmi Abu Bakr and he is a murderer. A killer murderer, if you will, but in the State of Israel, as in most developed countries, the death he deserves will be exchanged for handcuffs and a lengthy prison sentence between the four walls of the prison cell, alongside several friends who will call him a king for a while…share their cantina vouchers with him and take care of everything he is lacking, until the next killer comes and steals the limelight. Such are they, temples of death, destruction and swords. Abu Bakr is not a child, he probably never saw YouTube, it makes perfect sense that there is no computer in his house and he will soon celebrate his 50th birthday. No one helped him, offered him tuition, money, a good match or a big house. He is a father of children. If you look at his picture, a moment after you hate him and become disgusted, you ask yourself, "But why? What causes a man of his age to stand on the roof of an old building with a few other friends, to collect heavy stones and to throw them on the heads of soldiers who have not aimed weapons, tear gas or a smoke cannon at them? Evil, I guess. The same evil that will not bring peace to our districts long after eternity…
In recent years, something has gone wrong. Democracy was conquered by the conservatives (Nir Kipnis, Maariv) Since World War II, the progressive forces have brought quiet. Democracy internalized the lessons of that war and encouraged pluralism, liberalism, secularism and feminism. But lately things are changing.
Keep the Shin Bet out of Israelis' lives (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The security service's chief has urged ministers to find a solution to need to track people exposed to COVID-19; the state must guarantee that this happens, for the agency must never be seen to interfere in civilian life.
Israel's Higher Education Minister Is a Threat to Academia (Tuesday Haaretz Editorial) A few weeks after he began serving as minister for higher education and water resources, Zeev Elkin marked his target: curbing the independence of Israeli academia. During a visit last week to Ariel University, in the eponymous West Bank settlement, he promised its leaders he would appoint, for the first time, a representative from the institution to the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education in Israel. One way to do this would be to reduce the number of committee members chosen by the universities in Israel from three to two and placing Ariel’s representative in the vacated slot.
The axis of evil is in free fall (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) For many years, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have excelled at maintaining and unifying their "Axis of Resistance" against Israel. In retrospect, however, this appears to be an axis of bankrupt entities foisting calamity upon their own peoples.
Militarizing the Bible: A Warning From Israel-Palestine to Trump’s America (Rachel Havrelock, Haaretz+) How the Bible, and especially the book of Joshua, has become a handbook for Jewish and Christian nationalists and the state violence they promote.
When revisionist history becomes official dogma (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) As with Israelis who validated the "nakba" narrative, the effort to cast America as incorrigibly racist has more dangerous consequences than just vandalizing statues.
Genetic Research Must Stop Fueling Mideast Racial Narratives (Raphael Greenberg, Haaretz+) Archaeologists, don’t subvert your own field by reducing humanity to its biological components. Reporters, beware of promoting biological conceptions of race and identity: We’ve been there before.

‘Annexation has made the Palestinian struggle anti-colonial once again’
Dr. Honaida Ghanim believes that while it will be hard to stop annexation, this moment presents an opportunity to bring the struggle back to basics. (Interviewed by Meron Rapoport in 972mag)

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