News Nosh 8.6.20

APN's daily news review from Israel  - Thursday August 6, 2020

Quote of the day:

"There are moments where all that is required of a human being, is to be a human being. The event in Beirut is one of those moments. Our offer of humanitarian aid, correct and humane..."
--Maariv's senior commentator Ben Caspit responds to the right-wing Israelis who opposed the display of Lebanon's flag on Tel-Aviv's city hall last night.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
"...we got a spectacular 'pyrotechnics show' in the port of Beirut."
--Far right-wing former MK Moshe Feiglin published a Facebook post celebrating the Beirut explosion.**

"Waving an enemy state's flag is a criminal offense!"
--Yair Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s son, tweeted after the Tel-Aviv municipality lit up city hall with the Lebanese flag out of solidarity.**

“...We get the flag of an enemy state. The world has gone upside-down."
--Right-wing former Israeli minister of justice Ayelet Shaked also expressed her opposition to the Tel-Aviv display of solidarity**

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • In between the ruins — Nicolas Moutran reports on the destruction from Beirut
  • We, the undercover police, at the demonstrations
  • Following Yedioth report: Wave of donations for single moms
  • Following Yedioth report: On the way to a solution for the isolation crisis of the doctors

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • “We feel like we’re in war” - A day after the explosions in Beirut, Lebanon is having trouble dealing with the extent of the disaster
  • The Lebanon cedar // Ben Caspit
  • The mayor of Haifa warns: A bigger disaster than that could happen at the Haifa port
  • The sounds of elections - Prime Minister gave a speech that apparently was seen as the beginning of the election campaign
  • Distancing from lockdown - Corona cabinet decided to cancel restrictions during weekends

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
A catastrophe befalls Lebanon and Israelis takes pride in their country’s offer to help and fear that a similar disaster could happen at the chemical plants at Haifa Port, and in a stormy Knesset session, a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that was perceived by many as the opening shot of his election campaign, and the decision to drop the corona restrictions keeping businesses closed on weekends - were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

**Israeli leaders expressed their condolences to Lebanon and offered aid to the country. Israel has reportedly offered to receive and treat wounded foreign citizens and to set up a field hospital near the border, as well as supplying medical equipment. According to KAN Public Broadcasting, Israel is already at an advanced stage of negotiations with a United Nations proxy to supply Lebanon with medical equipment. Yedioth reported that Israeli doctors are preparing to fly to Cyprus to help treat the wounded. At the same time, former MK Moshe Feiglin was slammed for celebrating the 'spectacular pyrotechnics show' in Beirut. The Tel-Aviv Municipality lit up the city hall with the Lebanese flag in a display of solidarity. But Netanyahu's son and right-wing politicians thought that was going too far. Also, Israelis fear that a 'Beirut-like disaster' will take place at the chemical depots at Haifa Port

Meanwhile, the tensions on Israel’s border with Lebanon following the killing in Syria of a Hezbollah activist over a week ago have decreased as Hezbollah is now seen as less able and willing to start a clash with Israel. The Israeli army is considering lowering its state of alert.

Corona Quickees:

  • Israel sees 1,689 new coronavirus cases as infection rate finally drops - Health Ministry says with 25,457 COVID-19 tests conducted on Wednesday, the contagion rate now stands at 6.6% - lowest it's been in weeks; in addition, elderly virus patient released from hospital after 99 days, beating world record for longest stay. (Ynet)
  • Israel to cut virus isolation to 12 days but keep phone tracking - A committee that oversees usefulness of Shin Bet tracking of confirmed COVID-19 carriers set to recommend the government continues to use the contentious method but advises to shorten quarantine period in order to aid Israel's ailing economy. (Ynet)
  • New Business Relief Plan Will Be More Limited Amid Israel's Second Coronavirus Wave - The government plan, which is expected to cost the government $294 million, would give grants to businesses to pay municipal taxes if they meet certain lost income criteria. (Haaretz+)
  • State budget deficit climbs to NIS 70 billion - Deficit accounts for 7.2% of budget; as result of coronavirus pandemic, state income shrinks by nearly 32 billion shekels, this despite population increasing by 2% over past year. (Yedioth/Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • As Thousands Are Allowed Into Israel for Yeshiva Studies, These Couples Are Still Torn Apart - Legally married spouses can return to Israel if they obey the quarantine, but people in long-distance relationships have no solutions. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Israel's coronavirus morbidity among world's highest' - Home Front Command poll finds a staggering 83% of the population finds the government's coronavirus directives too confusing to follow. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli physicians say battle against coronavirus now a ‘war of attrition’ - Hospital administrators describe growing pressure and burnout among medical workers in what one ward director calls ‘a nonstop war.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Coronavirus Israel Live: Gantz Announces Start Date for Clinical Trials of Israeli Vaccine - Confirmed cases pass 75,000. Netanyahu says Israel's illness rate is among highest in world. Pandemic czar approves entry of 12,000 yeshiva students, mostly foreign. West Bank reverses trend, with more recoveries than infections. (Haaretz)
  • Singapore trials automated Israeli drones to enforce virus rules - The small machines, developed by Israel's Airobotics, are programmed to track anomalies such as gatherings and are used by Singaporeans to enforce social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Agencies, Ynet)

Quick Hits:

  • Only Half of Requests to Exit Gaza for Medical Care Approved by Israel - Palestinian Authority not handling permits, UN plan for another mechanism delayed, leaving hundreds with urgent requests unable to get treatment in Israel or West Bank. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Annexation still on the table but window closing as U.S. election looms - Trump administration pushes for execution of plan before November 3 vote, waiting for 'gesture' from Palestinians and Israeli compensation for annexed territories before greenlighting move, a source close to the White House told The Times of Israel. (Ynet and Times of Israel)
  • Joint Arab List MK participates in celebration for released terrorist - Balad lawmaker Sami Abu Shehadeh attended an event marking the release of Anis Saffouri, who was sentenced in 2009 to 14 years in prison for conspiring to murder Israeli pilots, soldiers, and scientists. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pompeo Says U.S. Will Submit UN Resolution Next Week to Extend Iran Arms Embargo - The U.S.-drafted resolution needs at least nine votes in favor to force Russia and China to use their vetoes, which Moscow and Beijing have signaled they will do. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Top aide: Biden to 're-engage Iran' if elected - Liaison to Jewish voters tells Jerusalem Post presumptive Democratic nominee would reverse President Trump's posture toward the Islamic republic, hints at reviving US participation in the JCPOA. (Israel Hayom)
  • With Indictments of Officers for Misconduct in Free Fall, Israeli Police Investigation Unit Is Under Increasing Scrutiny - Sources report multiple instances of corruption and internal tensions within the unit. A trial for discriminatory dismissal could blow everything in the open. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel offers money to Palestinian family over settler killing - Family of Aisha al-Rabi refuse offer of compensation, claiming it is low and would rather proceed through courts to obtain larger amount to compensate for death, caused by settlers hurling stones at car. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israeli Lawmakers Vote Down Bills Meant to Undermine Netanyahu-Gantz Coalition - Bills that would have investigated so-called 'submarine affair,' override High Court of Justice rulings opposed by majority of Knesset members. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu's Cousin Files Defamation Suit Against Opposition MK After 'Submarine Affair' Allegations - Netanyahu's former lawyer and cousin filed a lawsuit of about $166,000 against MK Moshe Ya'alon for making accusations against him on Facebook. Shimron was charged in December with money laundering in the affair. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli court rejects journalist's request to return documents police seized - Independent blogger detained for alleged harassment of a witness in Netanyahu associates' so-called submarines affair, which he argues 'police were not investigating seriously.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Changing U.S. aid terms hit Israeli defense industry harder than expected, report says - State Comptroller says local procurement could be reduced by $1.6 billion in 2028, and Israel hasn't prepared local arms industry for drop. (Haaretz+)


What the Israeli Public Really Thinks About Annexation, From 1967 to Today
Since Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War, both its lawmakers and its public have been arguing about their future. Ambivalence, though, has characterized Israel’s actions. (David B. Green, Haaretz+)
What you need to know about Netanyahu’s controversial new ‘Air Force One’
Long delayed and over budget, Israel's PM was about to receive a VIP-configured Boeing 767 to fly him around the world. Fearing criticism amid an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the plane has now been grounded ■ Take an interactive tour. (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Beirut Blast Shockwaves Will Be Felt by Hezbollah for a Long Time (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Massive damage could reopen public debate on storing weapons in population centers as port shutdown comes at a time when Lebanon needs every dollar.
Beirut blast came at worst possible time for Nasrallah (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) Hezbollah was not quick to blame Israel for the devastating blast in Beirut and it didn't threaten "to make those responsible pay" simply because it has bigger problems to contend with.
Israel Is in Shock, in a Sickening Show of Hypocrisy (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Official Israel presented itself as shocked at the disaster that struck its neighbor, Lebanon, yesterday. Almost everyone put on a sorrowful face. Except for Richard Silverstein, who writes a blog, Tikkun Olam, no one accused Israel of causing the disaster. Except for Moshe Feiglin and a few other racists, no one expressed satanic joy over it. Fortunately, former Israeli army spokesman Avi Benayahu ran Feiglin out of the race: “With such statements, you don’t belong to the Jewish people,” declared Benayahu, the man of Jewish morality, and the stain was removed…True, the Israel Air Force thumbs its nose at Lebanon’s sovereignty and flies through its skies as if they were its own. True, Israel has devastated Lebanon twice in war, but who’s counting….The prime minister and the ministers of foreign affairs and defense said they had “given instructions to offer humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon…”Was it not that same defense minister that only last week threatened that same Lebanon with destruction of infrastructure? Didn’t the prime minister also threaten Lebanon...
*What a pity that the right-wing is not willing to recognize the opportunity in hoisting the Lebanese flag (Ben Caspit, Maariv) It is a pity that the Israeli right is so frightened and lacking in self-confidence, and focused on its trampled dignity and its endless uprightness, that it is unable to occasionally identify the opportunities, and not just the risks...Let's just put things straight...Lebanon has never launched missiles into the heart of Israel. Hezbollah did it. In 2006, it was not even in the government. Since then, Hezbollah has weighed even more heavily on the Lebanese people. Today, Lebanon is a country kidnapped by Hezbollah. Ask Netanyahu. The one invaded Lebanon to establish a "new order" in it, caused terrible destruction, lost hundreds of soldiers and established Hezbollah, was us. In the open account between the two countries (minus Hezbollah), we are the ones in debt. What happened in Beirut yesterday gave us an irreplaceable opportunity to demonstrate to the Lebanese people, for free, the terrible damage that Nasrallah is inflicting on them. The illumination of the city hall building with the Lebanese flag did not harm our honor. Just the opposite: it gave us honor. It sharpened the difference between us and them. It marked us as human beings, without us having to compromise on anything. There are moments where all that is required of a human being, is to be a human being. The event in Beirut is one of those moments. Our offer of humanitarian aid, correct and humane, was met with apathy. Not just from Lebanon. Also on the part of the global media. The (Lebanese) flag (displayed) in Rabin Square, however, has become a viral hit. One has to be especially opaque and scared not to understand that. We are not suckers. We are just human beings.
My heart breaks for Lebanon (Helen Nesser Assad, Israel Hayom) Hezbollah has abducted an entire country under the auspices of Iran. The streets of Beirut are covered in blood and destruction and the world shows solidarity but remains silent.
After the disaster in Beirut, Hezbollah's challenges and Trump's misstep (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The explosion may cost Hezbollah politically but help Lebanon financially with international funding now free to flow; Trump's statement that it was caused by a bomb was irresponsible and harmful for Israel.
For Hezbollah, Beirut Devastation Makes Provoking Israel Even Riskier (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) It seems Israeli intelligence services have nothing to do with the explosion. Nasrallah has a long-term problem, and public pressure may lead to a real attempt to demilitarize.
Iran sees disaster as opportunity to advance regional interests (Shahar Kleiman, Israel Hayom) Past experience shows that the more blood flows in the streets, the more Lebanon becomes dependent on Tehran's whims. Because of the tragedy, the West will find it difficult to keep its sanctions on Lebanon as is. Israel should prepare for more attempts to attack in the north.
Once Beirut Shock Fades, Hezbollah Will Likely Intensify Provocations against Israel (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) The mounting public sentiment for Hezbollah to be disarmed and the shell-shocked feeling pervading the country may temporarily dampen the group’s appetite for provoking Israel, but the deadly blast is not likely to fundamentally alter the organization. Hezbollah’s entire raison d'être is “resistance” to Israel.
Lebanon, engulfed in chaos and national mourning, will rise from the ashes once again (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The devastation is enormous, and the challenges that have torn apart Lebanon's economy are still there. One can only rely on the 'Lebanese spirit' that has already seen the country through so much.
Learn the right lesson from the Beirut horrors (Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom) Lest we face a similar disaster, authorities must ensure the chemicals at the Haifa Port do not pose a colossal danger.
Learning From the Beirut Disaster (Haaretz Editorial) The circumstances of the blast in the Beirut port that led to extensive injury, loss of life and huge property damage, are still not known. But one thing is clear, and that is that large amounts of hazardous and explosive materials were stored in a port near a major city. That is a reality in many countries, including Israel. The tragic disaster in Beirut is a reminder of the need for cautious, wise policy in the use of hazardous materials that are still essential in many industries.
Netanyahu mulling full lockdown to slow coronavirus spread – and protests against him (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Coronavirus czar was appointed as a fig leaf to hide the government’s failures in managing the crisis. In the current environment, he could very well end up as a scapegoat.
Why religious Zionists refuse to join anti-Netanyahu protests (Shai Alon, Yedioth/Ynet) The religious Zionists learned very well during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza that protests don't lead anywhere because they don't represent the majority, and the majority of Israeli public is sitting at home and not rallying in front of PM's house.
We Deserve Another Chance (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) What could be worse than what’s already happening here? The government is headed by a corrupt and corrupting man who, in another five months, will start running the country’s affairs by WhatsApp from his courtroom. His decisions are made with one voice, his own, force-fed by a lunatic pair of advisers who live in his house and dictate his agenda and that of the state.
The ultra-Orthodox could have played a crucial role in creating a new leadership, if only they had freed themselves from Netanyahu (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) To participate in a political upheaval, politicians and party leaders gifted with leadership skills and public courage are needed. It seems that (Shas leader Aryeh) Deri, (United Torah Judaism leaders Moshe) Gafni and (Yaakov) Litzman do not have them.
Netanyahu May Have Just Kicked Off His New Election Campaign (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Victimizing, demonizing and throwing shots at protesters and the media, Netanyahu looks more than ever ready to get back on the campaign trail - and not to answer questions about his actual job.
These protests also belong to Second Israel (Avi Dabush, Israel Hayom) It's a mistake to paint the recent anti-Netanyahu protests with the same old Ashkenazim vs. Sephardim brush. The corona crisis has changed the equation.
As the people take to the streets, the religious right must make its voice heard (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The left has no monopoly over the fight against corruption and the call for better leadership, driven by high moral standards, should come from the religious Zionist camp as well.
I do not recognize any symmetry between the left and the right (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Israel Hayom) For goodness sake, what symmetry can there be between Netanyahu's supporters whining about the threats to murder him and his family, and that accursed murder, almost 25 years ago? Who is really threatening him?
In the Name of My Future Grandchildren, I Refuse to Be a Citizen of an Apartheid State (Adi Granot, Haaretz+) My grandfather, Elazar Granot, was the Israeli ambassador in Nelson Mandela’s South Africa between 1994-1996, right after the fall of the apartheid regime. Last August, I visited there myself and witnessed with my own eyes the reality caused by this racist and discriminatory system and its terrible implications for South African society to this day, 25 years after…“Apartheid” is a loaded and complicated term and has the potential to evoke antagonism…Israeli discourse whitewashes the true meaning of annexation.
The failure of the project to combat BDS is a lesson in the importance of transparency (Ran Edelist, Maariv) About three years ago, Gilad Erdan received prestigious compensation for Netanyahu's false promise to give him a more senior ministry: [the creation of] a secret organization in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs that would deal with the war on BDS, the same anti-Semitic multi-armed octopus that wants to destroy the State of Israel, that is, demands an end to the occupation. According to investigations published on the matter, this project is located in secure offices, its employees have been signed on confidentiality agreements and have been promised more than 100 million shekels for their activities over three years if it raises a similar amount from private donors who stood in line. The goal of the struggle is "mass consciousness," which is currently being poisoned by those organizations that hate Israel. The operation mechanism, and especially of the fundraising, was secret. Researchers who scanned the world of BDS were hired and targets for counter-activity were marked, meetings were prepared and conducted around the world and connections were made. For example, students on campuses around the world were recruited to "protect" against BDS-supporting students, incriminating materials were collected against the wicked, and it was not clear to the bystander whether the [project called] ”Arch of David,” which became "Solomon’s Sling" and is now called "Concert" (due to financial bureaucratic complications) would draw its information by itself or be assisted by existing intelligence organizations…Now the government has examined the project and discovered that [the secret organization] is a punctured balloon, and is on its way to the ground…
Are Beinart and Rogen the handwriting on the wall for Diaspora Jewry? (Eric R. Mandel, Israel Hayom) To ignore the facts and reality of what is happening to liberal American Judaism, especially if you care about Judaism's future in the diaspora, is to bury your head in the sand.
Seth Rogen Exposed an Irreconcilable Difference Between Israel and the Diaspora (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) The American Jewish problem with Israel is not what it does, but what it is.
Who is Rogen kidding, except himself? (Joseph Tipograph, Israel Hayom) The pair of Jewish joke-makers treat the teaching of Jewish history as some sort of nefarious indoctrination that they are now ashamed to have taken seriously in the past.
Iran Arms Embargo: The Quiet Battle of Superpowers Threatening the Nuclear Deal (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) Trump administration resolution, to be submitted next week, for a UN security council vote to extend embargo despite lack of support may snowball into a clash that rattles international body’s existing order and benefit Israel.
Hezbollah and Lebanon are one and the same (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) It is time for Israel to do away with the artificial distinction between the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group and the country harboring it.
Has Iran’s Nuclear Program Suffered Real Damage From Secret Operations? (Uzi Even, Haaretz+) For more than a decade, Iran and Israel have “allegedly” been embroiled in a covert conflict over Iran’s nuclear program, according to “foreign sources.” It’s time to take stock of the fruits of this effort and to examine its effects…The output of enriched uranium from Natanz has been quite small: less than 1.5 tons of enriched fuel in two years, for which it needed 40 tons of fuel a year! This enriched uranium could have been used as material for nuclear weapons. For approximately two bombs…Since 2010, a gradated, slow mission began to damage the Natanz centifuges using a clever virus…One can only imagine the Iranian frustration until they figured out the origin of the trouble. It certainly slowed Iran down and helped persuade it to sign the nuclear deal. There are those who believe that this was the main aim of the Stuxnet virus…There is no doubt that these secret operations have halted the Iranian program for a few years – delaying it, but it hasn’t been destroyed. Stay tuned.
It’s been nine years but Syrian refugees are still waiting (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Syrian teachers in Turkey are subsisting on a meager wage, but in Jordan, Syrian refugee children can’t even go to school. Meanwhile, aid money is steadily dwindling.
Mossad and Bibi’s Top Security Advisor Squabbling Over Relations With Arab States (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) Meanwhile, in North Africa, after the Mossad backed and armed Libya’s renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, foreign sources say Israel is taking a more balanced position towards the internationally recognized government in Tripoli.
Haaretz Letters to the Editor: We Need a Populist Left (Pil’i Meir, Haaretz+) Nir Hasson’s piece “Anti-Netanyahu Protests: Five Signs That His Supporters Should Be Worried About” (Haaretz English Edition, July 25), ends on a pessimistic note. He asks if and how the current protest can sustain its momentum long enough to culminate in the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The answer may be found in Chantal Mouffe’s book “Hegemony and Socialist Strategy,” which promotes leftist populism as the only cure for rightist populism.


In a Pickle, Seth Rogen Tells Haaretz What He Really Thinks About Israel and ‘White Supremacist’ Trump
The Hollywood star, about to release his most Jewish movie ever, ‘An American Pickle,’ is having to fight a rearguard action over comments he made about the Jewish state on a popular podcast. He looks to set the record straight. (Interviewed by Allison Kaplan Sommer in Haaretz+)

LISTEN The Interview: Seth Rogen Sets the Record Straight Facing
criticism for Israel comments, "proudly" Jewish actor met over Zoom with Allison Kaplan Sommer to explain himself. LISTEN FREE to the whole interview. (Haaretz

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