News Nosh 7.13.20

APN's daily news review from IsraelMonday July 13, 2020

Quote of the day:

"Junior Channel [owned by Channel 13 - OH] is very sorry for the things that 'Roy Boy' said and is disgusted by the content. This kind of conduct is in no way acceptable to the channel, for which the values of mutual respect, tolerance and equality for every person regardless of religion, race and gender are engraved on its flag."
--Israeli TV Channel 13, which owns the children's 'Junior Channel,' announced it was freezing the filming of the newest season of 'Roy Boy,' after a racist video clip filmed by its star, Roy Oz, went viral.*

Front Page:


  • Rate of infection presents dilemma: If and when to put more restrictions on the economy // Amos Harel
  • Severe shortage of lab materials slows the rate of testing
  • After refusing for months, Trump wore a mask publicly
  • Encourages unemployment and does not create new jobs: The weak points of the (economic) plan of (Finance Minister) Katz and Netanyahu
  • 20 protesters who were detained during the protest at Rabin Square were released under restrictive conditions
  • In diametric opposition to where Netanyahu is, no limiting arrangement that the Attorney General drafts (to prevent Netanyahu’s conflict of interests with law enforcement) will help // Mordechai Kremnitzer
  • The sounds of fireworks that woke up Jerusalem are evidence of the importance of matriculation exams to Palestinians // Nir Hasson
  • President of Tel-Aviv University attacked (Minister of Higher Education) Elkin: There is a danger to the independence of academia
  • State advancing establish polluting power stations in Jezreel Valley
  • In favor of the nemesis // Raviv Drucker on Netanyahu’s associates supporting bill of Gideon Saar
  • Infuriating schedule // Neta Achituv on lack of evidence that former Environment Minister Elkin did anything
  • Eliezar Ya’ari went to school with Netanyahu. Now he’s demonstrating outside the Balfour Residence
  • In order to lower the cost of living: The Competition Authority recommends allowing imports without going through Standards Institute

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The nurses threaten to strike (Hebrew)
  • “We don’t have money to send our daughter to daycare” (Hebrew)
  • The people not being cared for because of the social workers’ strike
  • The decorated Brig. Gen. who retired retracted: “I’m staying in the IDF”
  • The illusion of compensation // Sever Plocker writes that the economic plan won’t save the families who lost their income. Government needs to keep people afloat until the virus is thwarted
  • Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Surprising help for Gantz: Shas is in favor of a two-year budget
  • Depression, hardship and fear - Central Bureau of Statistics poll discovered what the public felt in the first wave of corona
  • Transparent strike - The social workers’ protest continues and harms the weakest, but the Finance Ministry insists: It’s not the time for salary increase
  • His honor was reprimanded - Judges ombudsman in criticism against High Court Justice Meni Mazoz because of conflict of interests

Israel Hayom

  • Operation Grandpa and Grandma: The plan to save the elderly - This is how Israel will help senior citizens make it through the second wave
  • Gyms and pools - the decision today whether to open
  • Because of the demonstrations: Discussion on the restrictions in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods
  • Instead of dancing on the stretcher, Yamina party needs to get under it // Meir Indor
  • Stop riding on justified pain: The protest fell into a political hole // Emily Amrousi
  • Shakeup in Hamas: “A senior official deserted to Israel”
  • The ultra-Orthodox: We won’t fight with Netanyahu over the budget - we prefer a two-year budget, but will accept what Likud decides
  • (Children’s TV star) Roy Boy apologized for the racist video clip: The Bedouin - are our brothers”
  • The will of 12-year-old Harel, who died of cancer: “Give my pocket money to children like me”

Top News Summary:
The spread of corona, the strikes taking place and those that might soon, the release of the financial rescue plan by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz for self-employed and unemployed (which analysts said wouldn’t keep people afloat) - a day after a massive protest at Rabin Square - where 20 protesters were detained for rioting and then released and contradicting reports about whether the ultra-Orthodox parties will support Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz’s demand for a two-year budget or the Likud demand for a one-year budget (Maariv) - made top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Worthy of note, the Jerusalem municipality dismantled an anti-Netanyahu/corruption protest encampment outside the prime minister’s residence, saying that demonstrators set up a kitchen, generator and fences without a permit, turning it into an 'outpost.’ [IRONY: Outposts are not taken down so quickly, if at all. - OH]. And, a Central Bureau of Statistics poll found that 60% of Israelis are dissatisfied with Netanyahu's job performance.

Also, a fascinating analysis by Avi Issacharoff in Maariv about the effect of the economic-corona situation in Gaza on youth, who have turned to drugs and suicide (see Commentary/Analysis below for translation) and an Israel Hayom report about a think tank that found that Israeli annexation will have a high price in security and diplomacy may suggest that Netanyahu is looking for a tree to climb down.


  • The nurses’ dramatic threat: A general strike at hospitals - They are fulfilling important roles in the care of the corona patients, but they have now decided, after the outbreak, to battle - until more personnel are hired. Chairman of the Nurses Federation: "We are collapsing, we can’t do this anymore. The health system will suspended, I don’t make idle threats.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Social Workers Strike for Second Week, Finance Ministry Official Calls Demands 'Irrelevant' - Union of Social Workers says it is preparing for a long-term strike in wake of the 'Finance Ministry's ongoing disregard.’ Strike is expected to impact some 1.5 million people. (Haaretz+)
  • In first, number of active corona cases exceeds recovery rate - Death toll from coronavirus now at 362, as 1,135 new patients have been diagnosed over the past 24 hours. Nurses threaten to strike, say gross manpower shortage impedes proper patient care. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's Central Bank Chief Backs New Coronavirus Economic Aid Plan - Amir Yaron says package could widen deficit to 13% of GDP, but that the government has the ability to fund it. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Must Be Ready to Live With Virus for Another Year, Finance Minister Says - In an interview with TheMarker, finance minister promises that this time, in contrast to the pandemic’s first wave, aid will reach those who need it. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian Authority orders nightly, weekend coronavirus curfew - Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and Bethlehem put under a four-day lockdown, with only pharmacies and bakeries allowed to remain open; travel between districts banned for two weeks. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Supply Shortages Curtail Israel's Coronavirus Testing - Government launches no-bid process to purchase kits at cost of $17 million to deal with shortage. Labs currently running tests rely on some 20 types of equipment. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Introduces New Rules to Curb Number of People in Confinement - Only people who have come into contact with a patient ten days before diagnosis will be required to quarantine, instead of two weeks. We might miss some cases but ‘cost is reasonable,’ says public health chief. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Almost half of Israelis worry about paying bills - Study finds many Israelis claim their financial situation worsened due to coronavirus crisis and see no improvement in near future; staggering decline in demand for working hands. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Four Months Into Coronavirus Outbreak in Israel, Health Ministry Formally Defines 'Seriously Ill' - According to new, uniform criteria, patients now fall within one of four groups, based on the seriousness of their condition. (Haaretz+)
  • Coronavirus claims over 20,000 lives across Mideast - Region so far spared worst of virus, accounting for around 3.5 percent of all global deaths, with Iran reporting nearly 13,000 fatalities since beginning of regional outbreak in February. (Agencies, Ynet)

 Quick Hits:

*Children’s TV star, ‘Roy Boy,’ gets in more trouble after racist video - On Saturday, Channel 13 News broadcast the racist video clip in which, from inside the family car, children’s actor, Roy Oz, passes cookies to his children and asks them repeatedly “Who wants to feed a Bedouin?” and then passes the cookies through the window to Bedouin children standing outside, as if they were animals. As a result, Junior TV Channel stopped filming the next season in the ‘Roy Boy’ children's series. Channel 13 spokeswoman Ronit Arbel said: "Junior Channel [owned by Channel 12 - OH] is very sorry for the things that 'Roy Boy' said and is disgusted by the content. This kind of conduct is in no way acceptable to the channel, for which the values of mutual respect, tolerance and equality for every person regardless of religion, race and gender are engraved on its flag. However, we should emphasize that Roy Boy expressed his deep and sincere grief and asked for forgiveness for his conduct. It should be noted that there will be a meeting between the channel executives and Roy Boy over the future of collaboration." The mayor of the Bedouin town, Al Qasum, filed a complaint against him with the police over racism. And Roy Boy? He posted (another) apology: "This is my pure idiocy.” (Yedioth Hebrew and Channel 13)
Israel Air Force Launches Special Ops Wing to Improve Prowess ‘Deep Inside Enemy Territory’ - The IAF is putting its commando forces under one umbrella, but critics wish the units involved were cooperating with counterparts across the wider military. (Haaretz+ and Ynet and Israel Hayom)
Police Arrest Suspect in Turning Trump Square Fountain Blood Red to Protest Annexation - The protest comes amid a wave of anti-annexation rallies throughout Israel as the government's July 1 annexation deadline approaches. (Haaretz+)
Sylvan Adams, Israel's billionaire roving 'ambassador' - Israeli-Canadian billionaire has recruited star cyclist Chris Froome, brought football superstar Lionel Messi to Tel Aviv and secured French-Israeli Roy Nissany for his Formula 1 team - all to change Israel's image as mired in conflict. (Agencies, Ynet)
'The Most Important Number in Society': Palestinians Celebrate Matriculation Exam Results - Recent years have seen growing criticism of Tawjihi exam, with some saying it puts huge pressure on students and families and is factor in high dropout rate. (Haaretz+)
Report: Hamas' most dangerous unit cleans house in wake of senior commander defecting to Israel - Following the report that naval elite unit commander Mohammed Omar Abu Ajwa reportedly fled by boat to Israel, for which he had been spying for a decade, which Hamas denied, Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya says Hamas has arrested 16 of its own members, mostly from within the group's military wing, accused of spying on Israel's behalf. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
One-third of Israeli Men Have Paid for Sexual Services at Least Once, Survey Finds - Almost half of the men who have paid for sexual services in the past five years say the new law imposing a ban on frequenting prostitutes won't influence them, according to a poll conducted by Tel Aviv University. (Haaretz+)
New York-based Rozenberg Family Named as Potential Buyer for Israel's Embattled El Al - El Al has been stricken especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, putting almost its entire staff on unpaid leave and cancelling all flights, saddling it with about $350 million in refunds on top of $1.3 billion debt. (Haaretz+)
Pope 'very pained' by decision to turn Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into mosque - Erdogan says the first prayers will be held in Byzantine-era structure on July 24 following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum. (Agencies, Haaretz)
Fire Breaks Out at Petrochemical Facility in Southwest Iran - The fire, which comes after a string of explosions similar facilities across the country, was minor and quickly put out, officials say. (Agencies, Haaretz)
Report: US military convoy attacked in Iraq by pro-Iranian militia - Earlier Saturday, unidentified warplanes strike a convoy in eastern Syria, reportedly killing 35 pro-Iranian militiamen and two high-ranking commanders. (Israel Hayom)
Iran Blames Bad Communication for Ukrainian Jet Shootdown - The troops who were manning the Russian-made missile battery fired without authorization from commanders, says report by civil aviation organization. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
Lebanese Christian cleric criticizes Hezbollah, allies over crisis - In a series of sermons, Bechara Boutros Al-Rai stressed importance of Lebanese neutrality; lambasts PM's policies and his ties to the Iran-backed terror organization. (Agencies, Ynet)

Top Commentary/Analysis:

Bitter Brouhaha Proves Beinart Struck Raw liberal-Zionist Nerve (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) His argument for a non-Jewish one state solution may be flawed but nonetheless exposes deepening angst of two-state supporters.
Peter Beinart is neither a Zionist nor a Liberal (Ben Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Beinart promotes the same ideas pushed by the far-right settlers that demand one state only between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, assisting anti-Semitic campaigns that deny the Jews a national homeland.
Netanyahu Can’t Divert Attention From the Coronavirus Protests. It Could Be the Beginning of His End (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) For now, the demonstrators are the usual center-left suspects. But what if the unrest spreads to Netanyahu's base?
The penny has finally dropped for Netanyahu (Limor Livnat, Yedioth/Ynet) When PM finally raised his head from under the blanket of his legal woes and political games, he saw one million enraged jobless stare directly at him; he immediately started pouring money to calm down the angry masses, but is it too late?
Return the Money, Netanyahu (Haaretz Editorial) At a time when a million unemployed people, self-employed people and owners of collapsing businesses have been waiting months for economic assistance, while the prime minister blames “the bureaucracy” for the delayed payments, the state continues to spend its time on the financial needs of Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife. Ten days ago, the permits committee in the State Comptroller’s Office. The committee ruled that Netanyahu must return just 10% of the $300,000 he received from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky. It concluded that the rest of this money was given to finance Sara Netanyahu’s defense in her criminal trial, and therefore, in its view, the conflict of interest rules don’t forbid its acceptance. The permits committee’s decision on that issue is controversial. Even if the Asher Committee rules governing conflicts of interest don’t prevent private individuals from giving money to a cabinet member’s spouse, the Gifts Law and provisions of the penal code relating to bribery certainly do forbid it. But it is Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s job to recover it. Moreover, the conclusion that 90 percent of the money sent by Milikowsky was used for Sara Netanyahu’s legal defense is shaky…
Time for reforms in the Israel Police (Tamir Libel, Israel Hayom) Public Security Minister Amir Ohana has an opportunity to change the norms, especially when it comes to police brutality and officers' attitude towards disadvantaged Israelis.
The severe economic crisis in Gaza could lead to escalation against Israel (Avi Issacharoff, Maariv) The recent shooting from Gaza again raises the concern that the economic situation in the Gaza Strip will affect the security aspect and may even lead to an escalation, although Hamas is not interested, at least at this stage. Just this past week there were four suicides in Gaza. All of them were young people, in their 20s and 30s, who did so in the wake of the economic situation. A total of 14 suicides since the beginning of the year. A., a resident of Gaza City, explains it simply: "The situation here is shit, even relative to the shit that it always is here." According to him, the closure of the border crossings between Gaza and the outside world due to corona, and at the same time the reduction in the salaries of Palestinian Authority  and Hamas civil servants, created an inconceivable reality in the Gaza Strip. At the beginning of the month, some tens of thousands of PA civil servants received a partial salary - about 40% of the salary. At the same time, Hamas civil servants were paid about 60% of their salaries. And this is another relatively successful month in which there is a salary at all. At the same time, of course, the Gaza Strip is facing the internal closure imposed by Hamas due to corona. For several months, activity in the public space has been very limited and the economy has been hit accordingly. Hence it is difficult to define the relatively high number of suicides as a major surprise. And perhaps the explanation for the increase in the number of suicides can be found elsewhere: In previous years, Hamas led the demonstrations at the fence. Thousands of Gazans came to these demonstrations every Friday with a high risk to their lives. Dozens were killed and hundreds injured. At the same time, there was a real decrease in the number of suicide cases. That is to say, the demonstrations on the fence were a tool to get steam out among the desperate Palestinian young people, and in some cases even suicidal actions. But then those "suicides" were immediately dubbed "martyrs," and their family received financial assistance from Hamas. The young people who were killed by IDF fire even became heroes among their friends. While those who committed suicide in the first six months of 2020 are not seen as heroes in a society that may see martyrdom as holy, but certainly not suicide. In the Gaza Strip a welfare and aid system operates, including for psychological aid. However, the mental health treatment does not receive the  (popularity) that the psychology sector receives in Israel. Mental health issues are still considered taboo in a traditional religious society. Another means used for escape among Gaza's youth these days is a wonder pill called Captagon, which has previously been dubbed the "ecstasy of the poor.” The pill has been used in the past to treat attention deficit disorders in children but due to its addictive effect its use has been discontinued, and it has become a popular drug among activists of terrorist organizations. It is an stimulant drug that causes anxiety and euphoria and erases feelings of hunger and fatigue. In recent months, several shipments, mostly from Turkey and destined for the Gaza Strip, have been seized at the Nitzana and Kerem Shalom border crossings. At first it was feared that it was a drug intended for terrorist activists, but later it became clear that it is a very popular drug among young people in the Strip in general. Recent corona issues make the situation in the Gaza Strip even more difficult, of course, although Gaza seems to be one of the safest places in the world - only 11 patients until now in the Gaza Strip. But the steps taken by Hamas led by Yahya Sinwar were dramatic and difficult. First, the Rafah and Erez crossings were closed to travelers. Those few who still managed to return to the Gaza Strip are required to quarantine. On the eve of Corona, there was a certain economic resurgence in light of the steps Israel took to ease the situation there and to preserve the ceasefire - a 15 mile fishing zone, allowing the import of goods previously barred from entering the Gaza Strip, authorizing the export of goods such as furniture, agriculture, textiles and more. And, of course, thousands of Gazans enter Israel to work on the pretext that they are "merchants" or businessmen, even though they are all laborers. The rumor in Gaza was that everyone wanted to go to work in Israel, even Hamas policemen who were willing to take off their uniforms and become laborers for the relatively reasonable salary they could earn in Israel. But now the entry of laborers has stopped. By a rough estimate, this was an average income of 25 million shekels a month for the Gaza economy. Seemingly a drop in the ocean. But when there is no sea and no water, even a drop is felt. Thus, the unemployment rate rises again: 45.5% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 42.7% in the last quarter of 2019. And even those who work in Gaza do not exactly receive welfare: the average daily wage in the Gaza Strip today is only 60 shekels. In other words, an average salary of about 1,500 shekels a month. And as mentioned, those are the lucky people. And yet, Hamas and especially politburo chief, Yahya Sinwar, continue to steer the ship called Gaza and Hamas very carefully. Sinwar, formerly one of the organization's extremist leaders, is Hamas' almighty leader in Gaza - militarily and civically. The new job, or as the famous cliche "Things you see from here are different from what you saw from there," made him a responsible, considerate person who was very careful not to drag the organization and the Gaza public into an adventure. And an Israeli source who follows him closely says that the man understands the magnitude of the responsibility on his shoulders. "He has to deal with the garbage removal of the Gaza Strip, the education system, health care, unemployment, poverty. It is not certain that Hamas would have carried out the coup 13 years ago if it had known the price involved." Indeed, Sinwar, who in a few months' time will run in the elections for the organization's political bureau, manages to maintain calm in the Gaza Strip and manage the complicated relations he has with Israel. "Hating each other, a love story." The life of the man who so despises Israel has been saved in the past thanks to an Israeli team of doctors who knew how to locate a tumor that was discovered in his head and treat it. And it seems that Sinwar understands very well that another round of fighting will have a very difficult price among the international community, which may stop its support for the Gaza Strip, and at the same time will not lead to any new reality with Israel. Whatever was, will continue to be, certainly in light of the easing that Israel is willing to do and its agreement to allow Qatari money into the Gaza Strip each month.
Like a scene out of 'Fauda' (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) We can only assume that the senior Hamas naval commando allegedly exfiltrated by Israel carried out some very valuable information.
With Top Appointment, Israel's Education Minister Refuses to Take Off His Military Uniform (Or Kashti, Haaretz+) Pick for ministry's director general is reminder that country's security fetish and army networking means retired male officers are seen as being experts in everything.
Where Are All the Arab Billionaires? (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) This year, too, I decided to check the list of Israel’s 500 wealthiest people, published by TheMarker. Who knows? Maybe some relative of mine sneaked in and grabbed a spot between Miriam Adelson ($17.8 billion) and Patrick Drahi ($12.25 billion). There were no Arab last names at all. O God, O God, why hast thou forsaken us? We have been cast to the margins of Israel’s economy, even though our roots run many times deeper than those of the Adelsons and their friends. I found the explanation for this absurdity on Friday, when I attended a small meeting in my destroyed village of Ma’alul. The meeting was attended by displaced persons and by good Jews, who refuse to leave us alone when we commemorate our day of sorrow, July 15, 1948, when Ma’alal’s residents were expelled and their homes were destroyed. And that’s precisely where I found my lost billion dollars. After all, in light of such circumstances – dispossession and expropriation – what chance is there that I, or any of my relatives, or the hundreds of thousands of other internally displaced persons, will be rich? Imagine that my grandfather’s land in Ma’alul had been inherited by his descendants, as is the norm everywhere. It’s reasonable to think that over time, given the “Palestinian mind” (which is no less intelligent than the “Jewish mind”), we would be, if not No. 1 on the list of the country’s wealthiest people, then at least No. 2. Today, I gaze from afar at our land in Ma’alul; I am forbidden from working or living on it. “Smell, don’t taste,” as the Arabs say…
Ayman Odeh doesn't have the guts (Ali Adi, Israel Hayom) As his evasion of the controversy around the Al-Arz tahini company's support for LGBTQ rights shows, the Joint Arab List leader is not the person to make his party take a stand for values of progress.
Seeds of Hope? Arab Tahini Maker's Backing for LGBTQ Rights in Israel Shows Change Is Underway (Khader Abu-Seif, Haaretz+) Last week, an amazing, brilliant and revolutionary thing happened – the opening of a hotline for Arabs in Israel who are part of the LGBTQ community. The hotline is funded by a local Arab company, Al Arz Tahini. This action is so courageous and exceptional, and attests to the fact that Arab society in Israel is starting to show the first buds of hope regarding the rights of LGBTQ Arab citizens. We no longer have to wait for or expect Arab Knesset members to wake up and understand that there is such a community in Arab society, one that needs some oxygen and some help. This was a step taken by one company and one amazing woman whose heart, head and funds are all in the right place.
Russia Ramps Up Bid to Break Up U.S. Alliance With Syria's Kurds (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Moscow promises to make the Kurds an integral part of the diplomatic process and partners in the Syrian government when the civil war ends, but the Kurds aren't biting.
Turkey, Iran test new Iraqi PM's resolve (Maya Carlin, Israel Hayom) By carrying out unprecedented and coordinated attacks on Iraqi soil, Tehran and Ankara are assessing Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's platform to keep foreign entities out.
Equipped with a fighting spirit, the Iraqi government has embarked on a new struggle against Iranian influence (Jacky Hougy, Maariv) Baghdad was in a storm this week due to the assassination of security commentator Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, but Iraq’s prime minister is determined to clear his country of Tehran control. And there is an Israeli angle….Dr. Hashmi, 47, was an expert on the study of non-governmental (militant) organizations operating in Iraq. Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Shiite factions. He was also published outside his country and he had a promising future. In Baghdad, they said this week that he was murdered because he told the truth. The truth is indeed poignant. In his research, he revealed how they were remotely activated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and he often criticized them and the moral standard of Iraqi politicians. His murder was not surprising. Iran has been waging a fierce battle against its opponents in Baghdad for the past year with its back against the wall. The government and the general public, most of whom despise Iranian intervention, are backed by the British and the Americans. People of Hashimi’s kind are identified in Tehran as an enemy. For many months, Al-Hashmi received threats to his life…This story has an Israeli angle, albeit a distant one. About four and a half months ago, the Iraqi publisher and journalist Mazen Latif was abducted. Latif is a well-known figure in Baghdad. He has published numerous studies on society and politics, some on Iraqi Jews, and he published works of others, including an Arabic translation of the novel "The Pictures on the Wall,” which was written by Tzionit Fattal Kuperwasser [an Israeli of Iraqi heritage - OH]. He valued and respected Jews and Israelis, and did not hide his acquaintance with them. On Friday, February 1, Latif sat in a downtown cafe with his friends. He called home, said his phone battery had run out and that he would be back soon. When he left, unknown individuals approached him and ordered him to enter the jeep with them. Since then he has not been seen. The immediate suspect in his kidnapping is the same known militia that is suspected of killing Hashmi, a local Iraqi militia called Hezbollah Iraq Brigades. They are what their name implies. The Iranians want them to do to Iraq what the Hezbollah movement has done to Lebanon - invade, weaken, take over, and establish a state within it, operating in the spirit of the Iranian interest. Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades is the most active of the four pro-Iranian militias operating there. Its people were the ones who last year attacked the American embassy in Baghdad with rocket fire, laid siege to it, kidnapped opponents and critics and killed several of them. Many in Iraq, including Shiites, see them as public enemies and proxies of Tehran. Two and a half weeks ago, in a courageous and pioneering move, the new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazmi declared war on these militias. He sent a special unit to raid one of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades headquarters and arrest senior officials. He then fired Falah al-Fayyad, head of the National Security Forces, one of the most prominent and powerful figures of the Iran's loyalists in Baghdad. These were dangerous steps for Kazmi, whose capital was remotely occupied by others. With their backs to the wall, the Iranians may cause killing and chaos in Baghdad through their loyalists, in order to undermine Kazmi’s rule. The publisher Mazen Latif was to Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades what Hisham al-Hashmi was for them. Both are educated people who identify with the other camp and enjoy good media exposure…In the months before his abduction, Latif received threats to his life, just as happened to Hisham al-Hashmi. He considered fleeing to Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in the north, but decided to stay due to the pressure of his children. Five weeks passed, and on March 9, Latif's close friend, researcher and author Tawfiq al-Tamimi, was also abducted. Tamimi knew that danger lay on his head, but like Latif, he did not believe the nightmare would come true….
Israel’s Fauda vs Turkey’s Ertugrul: In India, the Battle Between Two Hit TV Series Is More Than a Culture War (Abhinav Pandya, Haaretz+) Boosted by binge viewing during India’s coronavirus lockdown, two international TV series have won fanatic fans. Behind the small screen is a geopolitical drama starring Modi and Erdogan, Hindu nationalists and minority Muslims, with supporting roles for Pakistan, Kashmir and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Biden vs. Trump on Israel and anti-Semitism (Eric R. Mandel, Israel Hayom) In the minefield of American politics, trying to look at the facts in context and draw conclusions is almost impossible, as ad hominem attacks rule the day -- unfortunately, many of them justified.
The French Monk Who Took on Himself to Be a Bridge in a Divided Land (Suha Taweel Kadry, Haaretz+) On Saturday morning, J. Elihay, the author of books for learning spoken Arabic, died at the age of 94. Born as Jean Laraouh, he was a French linguist and monk who moved in 1956 to Israel, where he changed his name to Yohanan Elihay. He researched spoken Palestinian Arabic for decades and did his best to use the knowledge he acquired to serve as a bridge between the two divided peoples living in Israel…And yet, his books are full of male chauvinist content and conversations, which were recorded in Israel between 1965 and 1989, that are like a field full of violence on all levels. The characters in his books are weak women, chauvinistic men, children who fight and hit each other, and educationally dysfunctional parents. Over the last two decades, in my work as a teacher of Arabic as a second language, I had the opportunity to meet Elihay twice. I was disappointed in the first meeting by his request to speak with students in Hebrew. “I don’t feel the Arabic flowing in my mouth, like it used to,” he explained. I convinced myself that age was taking its toll. After the conversation, I asked him if he still kept in touch with Palestinian friends he had spent years with in his distant past in the Galilee. When he answered me in the negative, I asked him if he had Arab friends anywhere, and again I was saddened to hear the answer no. The knowledge that a man who had dedicated his life to making the Arabic language accessible to Hebrew speakers had no Arabic friends especially grated on me. I felt that Elihay symbolically understood what the rules of the game were and what was expected of him in this country – to choose a side, to express unconditional loyalty to it, and if he befriended the other side, to do so from a distance. I became familiar with Elihay’s opinions over the years…the left-wing Zionist position. I also learned of his great love for the State of Israel. I felt uncomfortable about these positions. It was hard for me to accept this unconditional love of Israel from an outsider who is not part of this struggle. I wanted his voice to be clearer, his position for historic justice to be unequivocal, to renounce the occupying entity and to reevaluate his love for it, but it didn’t happen. Now I understand that I also expected him to choose a side, but the other side, which is being dragged from behind…


How can a Palestinian feel a sense of equality in a Judaizing state?’
In a wide-ranging interview, Prof. Amal Jamal talks about the exclusion of Palestinian citizens from Israel's COVID-19 response, Netanyahu's consolidation of power, and the possibility of a different Israeli identity. (Interviewed by Tom Mehager in 972mag)

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