News Nosh 9.14.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday September 14, 2020

Quote of the day:

"Go in peace. Don't come back."
-- Hundreds of anti-government Israelis who showed up at Ben-Gurion Airport to 'send off' Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his trip to Washington to sign normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain in the midst of the corona crisis.*

You Must Be Kidding: 

"Sport is global language endowed with tolerance and peace between countries and peoples. Beitar's fans will soon understand that the people of the Emirates want peace and coexistence."
--Moshe Hogeg, the owner of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, which has a fan club that hates Arabs, said about possibility that the fans will accept the purchase of the team by an Emirati businessman. **

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Country in lockdown
  • Test of trust // Yuval Karni (Hebrew)
  • And let it be darkness // Limor Livnat
  • Time for those recovering // Shosha Chen
  • Educational challenge // Shimshon Shoshani

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
The country goes into lockdown starting Friday afternoon, Rosh Hashanah Eve, for a full three weeks, until the end of Simchat Torah holiday, making the main story, filling the pages of today's Hebrew newspapers. The papers quoted numerous officials and experts who spoke in favor and against the lockdown. And they shared the fears of those who it will affect the most. (See Corona Quickees below.) The signing in Washington of normalization deals with UAE and Bahrain was a minor story in Yedioth, Maariv and Haaretz - which focused on the hundreds of people who showed up at the airport to protest his departure from the country ahead of the total lockdown. Only 'Israel Hayom' gave the departure to the 'historic' event a third of the front page.

*Netanyahu set off for Washington to sign the agreements with the UAE and Bahrain and was ‘escorted’ by hundreds of anti-government protesters who did their best to make it as unpleasant as possible, with signs, such as “Go in peace. Don’t come back” and by blocking cars. “The indicted man is escaping for four days of ceremonies and champagne,” they said. (Also Maariv.)  Netanyahu will meet more protests in Washington, where Israeli expats are planning an anti-corruption demonstration. The papers noted that the details of the agreements have yet to be shared with the Israeli public. And while Netanyahu has been taking credit for the diplomacy that led to the deals, Israel’s Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said, “Many good people worked on this story for many years – it didn't start yesterday. I very much hope to see more positive efforts on behalf of peace and carry this forward to other countries." Yedioth’s diplomatic correspondent, Itamar Eichner, reported that an Israeli Intel document published following the agreement with the UAE said that, not only Bahrain, but also Saudi Arabia and Oman were “holding low-profile dialogue with Israel.”

 In Bahrain, the opposition rejected the normalization with Israel and called on people to resist.  A senior expert in Middle East affairs, Prof. Eli Podeh, told 103FM/Maariv that the ‘cold peace’ with Jordan and Egypt is due to the very strong professional unions, which oppose it. However, in the Emirates “there are no trade unions and in general these are very small countries. These are countries with ten million people of them nine million foreigners. In Bahrain there are a million and a half people, half of whom are foreigners. We are talking about very small countries. I also think the rulers, I see a trend here, younger and bolder rulers and they come with a different worldview, they are not afraid to say what they think.”

**Indeed, and they also appear not to be afraid to buy what they want. A [naive - OH] Emirati businessman reportedly wants to invest in the controversial racist Israeli soccer club, Beitar Jerusalem, which prides itself on being the only Israeli club that has never fielded an Arab player. Beitar's hardcore fan club, known as "La Familia," are infamous for regularly chanting "death to Arabs" during matches and the police are deployed to the stadium when they play against Arab-Israeli teams.  

Also, the reports that Israel and Morocco will soon see a thaw in relations that would result in direct flights from the countries are fake news, a diplomatic source in Rabat told Israel Hayom on Sunday. And, after much effort on the part of the US, Serbia will recognize the military arm of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo declared: "A significant step in limiting their ability to operate in Europe.”

Corona Quickees:

  • Across Israel, Three-week Lockdown Begins on Friday as Coronavirus Infection Rages - With rising infection rates, Israeli Hospitals struggle to accept the amount of patients coming in, coronavirus chief Prof. Ronni Gamzu says. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • United Torah Judaism leader resigns over lockdown - United Torah Judaism leader Housing Minister Yakov Litzman resigned Sunday over the government's intention to imposes a nationwide lockdown during the High Holidays. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel confirmed 3,167 new cases of coronavirus, 1,119 die since start of pandemic - As country heads into its second lockdown 519 people are in serious condition with 144 on ventilator. Health officials said on Monday that 3,167 new cases of COVID-19 were detected on Sunday after 34,749 tests conducted. (Ynet)
  • Gaza Strip records 100 new cases of coronavirus as health crisis deepens - Hamas health officials have warned that Gaza's health infrastructure will not be able to treat more than 2,000 active cases. (Ynet)
  • PM says three week lockdown crucial to reduce morbidity as 11 more die of coronavirus - PM pushes back against criticism he failed to prevent new case rise after first lockdown, claimed Israel has lowest morbidity and fatality, blamed lawmakers for foiling efforts to curb spread of coronavirus. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Record Coronavirus Infections Endanger Israeli Health System, Report Says - Coronavirus information center says hospitals are reaching their saturation point, warning specifically of lengthy prayers as High Holy Days near. (Haaretz+)
  • Senior Healthcare officials: "Tests in Israel are too sensitive and therefore the numbers are high" - Many professors believe that the reason for the high morbidity is stricter criteria compared to other countries. Some of the subjects identified as positive were diagnosed as negative in countries such as the United States and Germany. (Maariv)
  • Director General of the Ministry of Finance: "The closure will add 200,000 unemployed to the unemployment circle" - Keren Turner-Eyal: "I would like to see a more open economy, but we need to lower the morbidity rate.” (Maariv)
  • Small Businesses Fear Collapse as Israel Heads Into Second Lockdown - Many store owners and restaurateurs are threatening to defy orders if they do not receive government financial compensation. (Haaretz+)
  • "For the first time in my life I have no food at home": the families who will have a hard time coping with the closure - The corona crisis deepened the distress and brought many new families into the cycle of poverty. The story of the people who have to deal with both the virus and the economic war of existence. (Maariv)

Quick Hits:

  • After (Israeli) Arabs Reportedly Removed From Park, Israeli City Told It Can't Bar Non-residents - Deputy attorney general slams Carmiel mayor in the latest of many attempts to restrict access to public space. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli commandos raid cells of Palestinian prisoners in Ofer, injure dozens - Dozens of Palestinian prisoners were injured during the attack Sunday in which the Israeli commandos unleashed their dogs to attack the prisoners, as well as physically assaulted them and sprayed pepper gas at them. (WAFA)
  • Two Hunger Striking Palestinian Detainees Face Serious Health Conditions - Maher al-Akhras, 49, from village north of Jenin, who started hunger strike July 27th, 2020, was recently moved to Kaplan Israeli Medical Center, after suffering a serious health deterioration. Abdul-Rahim Shu’eibat, 31, from Beit Sahour suburb of Bethlehem, started his hunger strike on August 29th. The men are determined to continue in order to end their arbitrary Administrative Detention without charges or trial. (IMEMC)
  • Missile production site in Syria damaged - Satellite images show - The facility was used for the production of missiles for Hezbollah; Two main structures were hit one believed to be housing explosives and the other machines and equipment. (Ynet)
  • 'Vision, resolve, gumption' hailed at Israel Defense Prize ceremony - The country's highest honor in the field of security goes to three classified defense projects countering significant threats to state security. Senior Mossad agent honored with lifetime achievement award for developing major technological solutions. (Ynet Hebrew and Israel Hayom)
  • As New Details Emerge in 2017 Police Killing, Israel's Justice Minister Calls to Probe Misconduct - Avi Nissenkorn announces committee to look into police actions in Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. Former police commissioner says Netanyahu 'doesn't believe his own apology' to shooting victim's family. (Haaretz+)
  • 26-year-old dies after violent incident in Beit Hanina, north of Jerusalem - A police report revealed that the man was shot to death in the E. Jerusalem neighborhood and it subsequently opened an investigation. (Maariv/JPost)
  • A worker at a construction site in Lod was shot to death; Police estimate: Criminal background - Unknown individuals emerged at the construction site while the worker was there and opened fire on him. He was fatally wounded and shortly thereafter was pronounced dead. Police opened an investigation. (Maariv)
  • What Are Police Doing With All the Private Info They Capture From Israelis' Phones? - The police have extracted information from tens of thousands of cellphones taken from suspects, including from third parties with whom suspects were in touch. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's New Ally, Bahrain, Is Desperate for an Economic Reboot - The island's oil-dependent economy, balanced on a sectarian tightrope, has been overwhelmed by COVID-19, but Israeli fintech could provide relief. (Haaretz+)
  • Gazans living on Emirates-funded estate rue normalization deal with Israel - Tenants' gratitude turns to anger in fear move will cause Palestinians to lose leverage against Israel in pursuit for statehood; 'seeing Israeli, UAE flags flying together burnt my heart,' says local. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Despite unrest, Hong Kong remains open for Israeli business - Israel's economic attaché to the global financial hub breaks down the immense trade potential. (Calcalist/Ynet)
  • Canaanite Palace Built 3,700 Years Ago Over a Fault Was Destroyed by Quake - Archaeological evidence of ancient earthquakes is shaky but here a ‘trench’ running though the palace at Tel Kabri turned out to be ground zero. (Haaretz+)
  • Egyptian archaeologists find 13 sealed coffins dating back 2,500 years - Researchers hope to discover the identity of the people buried at the Saqqara necropolis two and a half millennia ago. (Israel Hayom)
  • Bar Refaeli Sentenced to Community Service, Mother Gets 16 Months in Jail for Tax Evasion - Israeli court ruling upholds plea agreement reached between the supermodel and her parents on allegations of avoiding to pay taxes. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Rami Dotan, Disgraced Israel Air Force General Who Embezzled Millions in U.S. Aid, Dies - Dotan, an Air Force supply chief, spent 12 years in prison for what was considered the biggest corruption case in Israeli military history. (Haaretz+)
  • 90 UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contract COVID-19 - UNIFIL says infections won’t affect force’s operations along the Israeli-Lebanese border; 88 of those with virus in the same unit; Lebanon sees spike in cases since Beirut port explosion. (Agencies, Ynet)

Top Commentary/Analysis:

A Detached Netanyahu Leaves Israel and Reality for ‘Historic Mission’ (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) As Israel braces for its second full-scale lockdown, Netanyahu glosses over his coronavirus failure and rushes off to a signing ceremony in Washington.
Go Bibi, go to Washington and leave your sick country behind (Raanan Shaked, Yedioth/Ynet) You had one job and it was not to help re-elect U.S. President Donald Trump or rehabilitate the Saudi Crown Prince MBS, it was to work for us to heal us and lead us out of the crisis.
UAE now has Qatar in its rear-view mirror (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Qatar's rulers mistakenly believed that extremism and enmity toward Israel would preserve its influence in the region, but the exact opposite occurred.
UAE: We Seek a Warm Peace With Israel (Hend Al Otaiba, Haaretz+) Peace between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is a historic and hopeful opportunity. But it is not a substitute for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Gulf states seek warm peace with Israel (Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom) The diplomatic moves toward Israel taken by the UAE and Bahrain make it clear that Arab states can act in their own national interest when it comes to international politics, rather than abide by a stale lowest common denominator the "Arab consensus."
Netanyahu’s ‘Brilliant’ Mideast Peace Strategy Has a Big Problem (Elie Podeh, Haaretz+) Netanyahu’s no-conditions ‘peace for peace' doctrine, legitimized by Trump, is great for the Gulf. But it’s irrelevant for Israel’s conflicts with its actual neighbors, not least the Palestinians.
More than a missed opportunity for Palestinians (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) The Arab League's rejection of their rejectionism should have forced them to rethink their strategy, rather than double down on it. Joe Biden should take note.
With Bahrain Deal, Israel's Mantle in the Gulf Expands, Eyeing Big Saudi Prize (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Question of who's next arises, as if Manama were a whistle-stop on Israel's normalization route leading to the final destination in Riyadh.
Bahrain's move is no less brave than the UAE (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) The tiny island nation off the Saudi coast is more susceptible than the UAE to national security threats posed by Iran.
The "Arab street" sees Israel completely differently (James Zogby, Ynet Hebrew) Many already believe that ties with Israel can be maintained even without peace. This joins the disappointment of the Palestinian Authority and the hope that peace with the Emirates will actually help the Palestinians…It was the criticism I read about the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that pushed me to write this article. What raised my concern was the critics' claims that the agreement did not fit the way in which, in the opinion of the "overwhelming majority of Arab public opinion," the Palestinians should obtain their rights. Unfortunately, this is not true. In the last two decades, surveys have been conducted to monitor public opinion throughout the Arab world, which show that it has undergone many changes in recent years. This new reality must be internalized. One of the regular topics in these surveys is Palestine. In 2002, for example, we discovered that it was one of the three main points of interest in most Arab countries, alongside unemployment and the health care system. But in September 2019, we conducted a comprehensive survey of the Arab world at the American Zogby Research Services, and I was amazed at the significant change in attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - it has dropped to the bottom of the priority list in every country.
Hatred of Netanyahu even rejects an achievement like peace with the Emirates (Meir Uziel, Maariv) The peace agreement with the UAE simply drives some people crazy, mainly because of the identity of the person who made that peace. It turns out that hatred of the prime minister also rejects common sense.
The old views on security have been defeated (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) Like the media and law enforcement, the ranks of retired security and defense officials see the prime minister as an enemy.
Contempt of the Government Is the Last Thing Uniting Israelis (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) In 2015 President Reuven Rivlin delivered the so-called tribes speech, in which he stated that Israel is divided into four groups: secular Jews, national religious Jews, Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) and Arabs. These tribes can, of course, be further divided, into subtribes and clans. The coronavirus crisis is a good example of this phenomenon. Every tribe is a law unto itself these days. The Arab community celebrates at big weddings; the Haredim are unwilling to give up prayers in synagogues and study at the yeshivas. Part of the secular public, the young people in particular, goes to celebrate at parties, chill out at bars and cafes and hang out on the beach, without maintaining proper social distance and without masks. And, of course, there’s the weekly demonstration in front of the prime minister's residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, calling for his resignation. What unites all the tribes is their failure to obey directives, and their demonstrative and contemptuous disregard of government decisions. The motto of the hour is: Everyone can do as they please.
The difference between Ofer Shelach and the late Yossi Sarid (Dr. Baruch Leshem, Yedioth Hebrew) The late Meretz chairman, Yossi Sarid, was also intellectual, eloquent and reasoned. But he knew he had no chance of becoming prime minister. This is how it is with someone who is perceived as too left-wing and too cold. Sarid was an intellectual politician, cool and free of gimmicks and tricks about his positions. He was familiar with the case of Michael Dukakis, the governor of Massachusetts and the Democratic candidate in the 1988 U.S. presidential election, who was a remarkably talented and honest man. He had a major problem that led to his loss to George W. Bush Sr., as was written in ‘Newsweek’: He could not get rid of the image of the ice man. MK Ofer Shelach, who is demanding primaries in the Yesh Atid party and believes he is better suited than Yair Lapid to run for prime minister, should also consider Dukakis' lesson and Sarid's lesson. Shelach is one of the most profound MKs. For politicians, the tactic is to appear on afternoon TV shows and the strategy is to be interviewed on the nightly news. But Shelach is more thorough. Solid. His language is fluent and clean. He does not get angry, does not swear and does not use blatant language to humiliate his opponents. He is one of the last guardians of a worthy political culture. That may be enough to run for the title of Outstanding Member of Knesset, but not necessarily for the role of the Knesset candidate to form the government. American writer Walter Cummings once wrote that the political coverage on television is similar to that given to the Miss America pageant. The intention is not only for external appearance, but for the ability to present the public with a glowing figure, which evokes in the voter not only thoughts, but also feelings. Binyamin Netanyahu has it in abundance and so does Yair Lapid (chairman of Yesh Atid). Lapid manages to keep hundreds of thousands of voters around him not only because of his views. Since joining the political establishment ahead of the 2013 elections, he has managed to change the campaigns and slogans that gave the impression of zigzagging, and yet escaped the fate of political parites of the public’s mood, which disappeared after a term or two, as happened to the DAS party, the Center Party, the Retirees party, the Kulanu party and to his father’s ‘Change’ party.What contributes to Lapid staying in politics? His stellar appearance, charisma and the physical power he radiates. Many voters trust the way politicians say their words and not necessarily their content. These people turn down the volume on the TV or smartphone, look into the whites of the eyes of the speaker and decide if they trust him. Yesh Atid, because of Lapid, is a stable and permanent political phenomenon that is not going to disappear. Shelach has the required intellectual component, but he lacks the ability to create emotional drift among voters. Unlike Lapid, his principles are more solid, but it is not certain that this is an advantage among voters from the political center. They are torn between right and left and are willing to accept more vague ideas from the mouths of those they believe in.
Shelach is ready to cooperate with the (mostly Arab) Joint List to form a government, as he told Yedioth Ahronoth over the weekend. Indeed, a brave politician who positions himself as belonging to the ideological left, perhaps even the "extreme,” according to the division in the propaganda discourse. Why is he in Yesh Atid, which defines itself as a center party? He is the right man, but in the wrong place. Shelach should internalize what Yossi Sarid understood. Straight political positioning also has a direct price: the loss of the ability to reach population groups with different positions. Especially when it comes to people such as Sarid and Shelach, who have the same image of ice men.
Israel's Anti-protest Lockdown (Haaretz Editorial) “Crack down.” That’s what the police can be expected to do during the imminent lockdown to those who violate the guidelines, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana told Ynet. Although he was speaking of “gatherings,” he was clearly delivering a message to those who have been demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ohana promised more stringent enforcement of the regulations. “The focus has to be on gatherings and the forcible dispersal of those gatherings. The police are doing this today as well, but they will do so even more vigorously,” he said. Ohana’s remarks cast doubt on the credibility of the lockdown and the motivation for its introduction, intensifying fears that it is meant to crush the protests.
Test of public trust (Yuval Karni, Yedioth Hebrew) Israelis' reaction to the holiday closure will prove how much they believe in their government. "Only the public can beat the corona," Corona professor Prof. Roni Gamzo said last night during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Health Minister Edelstein. Factually, Gamzo is right. No matter what the government decides, it is ultimately in our hands, the citizens of the State of Israel.
Iranian Activist Went From Defending Political Prisoners to Being One Herself (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Jailed for representing women who removed their headscarves, human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh is on a hunger strike.
How Lebanon May Be Forced to Make Peace With Israel (Miran Khwais, Haaretz+) COVID-19, economic crises, the Beirut blast, public anger at Hezbollah, a pipeline and a railway, the UAE and Bahrain are all pushing Lebanon towards the unthinkable.

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