News Nosh 1.10.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Sunday January 10, 2021 

Quotes of the Day:

"The voters who screamed, ‘traitors,' at Pence and at Senator Lindsey Graham, two of Trump’s loyal servants, only because they acted according to the limitations of the law, were seduced into believing in the lies their leader spread. This lesson should also be learned in Israel.״
--Yedioth's senior political commentator, Nahum Barnea, compares between what led to the right-wing mob attack on Capitol Hill and what is happening in Israel.**

“At the end of it, Georgians cared far more about how many relatives they’d lost to coronavirus, and getting their stimulus checks, than a hyper-partisan outrage exercise about who can claim to be more "pro-Israel."
—Brooklyn-based Israeli writer and editor, Etan Nechin, in a sharp commentary in Haaretz about how Georgia’s black-Jewish alliance triumphed over the pro-Trump mob.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • “We have no money left for medicines” - Victor Orchi, an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor, and his wife Ellah, who are battling cancer live in a moldy apartment and are trying to survive on a meager pension (Hebrew)
  • 60 died of corona in one weekend
  • (Interior Minister) Deri to be indicted for tax violations
  • Took his voice: Twitter closed Trump’s accounts
  • The expulsion from Paradise // Nahum Barnea calls Trump being blocked on social media networks a "cultural war" between freedom of speech and a defensive democracy
  • Failed tweet // Einav Schiff

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • The mutation panic
  • He got the cancellation - Court surprisingly postponed date of Netanyahu’s hearing
  • The Capitol Hill effect

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Corona: the second inoculation that begins this week, the 60 victims who died over the weekend, the South African mutation that was discovered in Israel and the postponement of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial hearing this week due to the corona lockdown were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with the indictment prepared against Interior Minister Arieh Deri (Shas), who was previously convicted for bribery while in office.

But the other big story was why the attack on Capitol Hill incited by US President Donald Trump and the banning of Trump by social media networks should interest Israel. Local commentators and analysts compared what happened there with the processes happening here in Israeli society. Most of them, with the unsurprising exception of the pro-Trump pro-Netanyahu ‘Israel Hayom’ newspaper, came to the conclusion that it could happen here - and not by the people who are protesting weekly outside Netanyahu’s official residence, but by Netanyahu’s supporters. (See Commentary/Analysis section below.) A Maariv poll revealed that 56% of Israelis are concerned about the possibility of part of the public disrespecting a democratic decision (i.e. an election outcome or a judicial decision) could result in an incident similar to the storming of Capitol Hill by masses and two-thirds of those concerned are on the center-left of the political map. [NOTE: ‘Center-left’ is a very loose term because of the ‘center’ part of it, which includes secular right-wingers who oppose Netanyahu and are in favor of annexing Palestinian territories (Yair Lapid) or of opposing a Palestinian state altogether (Moshe Yaalon) - OH] Speaking “on the Meet the Press" TV program Saturday night, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, MK Avigdor Lieberman, said, “What we saw on Capitol Hill is nothing compared to what Netanyahu is planning.” (Maariv) Netanyahu called the Trump supporters' attack on Capitol Hill 'disgraceful,’ but he thanked President Trump for helping Israel normalize ties with Arab and Muslim countries. Unlike the numerous Op-Eds warning Israelis of the possibility of ‘Bibists’ (right-wing Netanyahu supporters) acting similarly to Trumpists, ‘Israel Hayom’ Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth accused the Democrats and the US media of being out “for Trump's head.” He also reported on a poll from the Rasmussen Reports polling institute [which has been accused of skewing polls to favor Republicans] that said that Trump's approval ratings are on the rise “despite the many in the media and on the Left accusing the US president of incitement that led to the storming of Capitol Hill.”

Elections, Indictments and Protests 2021:

  • Thousands of anti-Netanyahu Protesters Gather Amid Warnings of Violence Against Protesters - Protests across the country follow report by three TV channels which alleged that the PM's safety was compromised during a demonstration, even though police statements in court made no such claim. (Haaretz+)
  • Anti-Netanyahu protesters nationwide report targeted attacks - Several protesters, including one individual in Kfar Yona, were reportedly assaulted. Another violent incident against protesters took place in Holon, according to N12, when a group of teenagers sprayed tear gas on a group of anti-Netanyahu protesters. (JPost)
  • Israel police search homes of two men over involvement in anti-Netanyahu protests - 78-year-old Oded Alish who builds devices protesters use to form human chains at demonstrations, was interrogated by police for hours ■ 70-year-old Rami Matan was arrested by police, and is currently being detained in a Jerusalem police station. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli news channel handed police footage that incriminated anti-Netanyahu protesters - Request made during investigation of two suspects; news company had opportunity to object but handed over 70 minutes of video. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Election Poll: Netanyahu's Party Gains Strength, Tel Aviv Mayor Takes Dive - Although the Likud remains the largest party with 28 seats, with the addition of the ultra-Orthodox, their bloc reaches only 43 seats;  Huldai's "Israelis" is already weakened, while Gantz rises above the red line. Yesh Atid also also gains seats. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Likud assessment: Reserving a place for an Arab candidate will add 2 seats to the party -  rime Minister is considering awarding one of the reserved seats that he gets to appoint on the Knesset list to a candidate from the Arab sector, while Ofer Shelach presented his plan to save the self-employed. (Maariv)
  • Embattled Israeli Labor Party sets date for primary election against leader’s wishes - Decision still depends on appeal to High Court filed by outgoing party head Amir Peretz ■ Labor likely to be the only party on the left, and possibly in the Knesset, to hold internal election before the March 23 vote. (Haaretz+)
  • Ya’alon splits from Lapid’s Yesh Atid, is expected to attempt independent run - Yair Lapid tweets: ‘I value and respect Moshe Ya’alon very much and wish him luck,’ as yet another party is expected to join the already-crowded field of the March election. (Maariv and Times of Israel and Israel Hayom)
  • Tel Aviv Mayor Says He Won't Resign Until Sworn Into Knesset After Israeli Election - Ron Huldai says he will continue as Tel Aviv Mayor to protect the city from 'irresponsible people' vying to take over his position ■ Former Gantz ally Moshe Ya'alon will announce his plans for his Telem party Sunday. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • As crisis brews in Yamina, future of national-religious faction unclear - Close associates of Naftali Bennett say the New Right leader offered National Union's Bezalel Smotrich three out of the party's top 10 slots. National Union insists: Never happened. (Israel Hayom)

Quick Hits:

  • Villagers fend off an attack by settlers near Nablus - A group of settlers who were holding a provoking tour of the area attempted to attack the village of Burqa Saturday, but were confronted by local residents who forced them to leave. Meanwhile, other groups of settlers attacked with stones several Palestinian vehicles passing at Nablus-Ramallah and Qalqilia-Nablus roads, but said no injuries were reported. (WAFA)
  • Palestinians Tried to Run Over Israeli Soldiers at West Bank Checkpoint, Army Says - Search is still under way for two Palestinians who attempted a combined ramming/shooting attack on Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint near the village of Yabed on Saturday. No soldiers were hurt. The attackers’ gun dropped at the scene. The incident was close to Tal Menashe settlement, where the late Esther Horgan was murdered about two weeks ago. (Maariv and JPost and Haaretz+)
  • Elderly, paramedic injured in Israeli crackdown on West Bank protests - An elderly and a paramedic were injured today when Israeli occupation forces assaulted hundreds of protesters taking part in nonviolent popular resistance events in the area of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, and in the village of Kafr Qaddum, near Qalqilia, according to witnesses. (WAFA)
  • Radical Left-wing Activist Ezra Nawi Dies at 69 - Nawi, whose activism for the Palestinian cause began during the Second Intifada, made headlines after an investigative program exposed him boasting of turning Palestinians who sold land to Jews over to the PA. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian activists conclude two-hour boycott of Facebook over bias against Palestine - Palestinian social media, activists, and supporters of the Palestinian cause concluded yesterday a two-hour boycott of Facebook in protest of the latter's censorship of the Palestinian content on its platform and bias for the Israeli occupation. (WAFA)
  • Palestinian Ministry of Culture says Israeli cultural activities aim to empower settlers and deny Palestinian existence - New report called on Europe to review its relations with Israeli Ministry of Culture, stating that every Israeli cultural act is used to establish Israeli settlement propaganda based on denying the Palestinian existence and justifying land confiscation and settlement construction. (WAFA)
  • Israeli Cop Involved in Fatal Car Chase of Settler Teen Arrested for Obstruction - Officer is suspected of giving an interview to a journalist, who published his version of events that led to the death of 16-year-old Ahuvia Sandak. (Haaretz+)
  • Cop filmed punching (pro-settler) demonstrator at Tel Aviv protest over teen settler's death in police chase - Hundreds protest Thursday night in front of public security minister Amir Ohana’s home and block roads over death of Ahuvia Sandak, calling to dismantle the police unit involved in the teen's West Bank death. The police said the protestors threw rocks, overturned a police car, slashed the tires of police vehicles, tore roads signs and traffic barriers, and smashed the windows of a prisoner transport. About 20 protesters were arrested. A teen was trampled by a horseman and sent to hospital. (Maariv and Haaretz+)
  • After Losing Out on Commissioner Job (despite his achievements), J'lem Police Chief Retires - Police Maj. Gen. Doron Yadid's term as Jerusalem district commander is characterized by his handling of protests and riots, along with a drop in both the number of terror attacks and the crime rate in Jerusalem. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian Prime Minister condemns Israel's halt on granting visas to UN human rights employees - Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh condemned Israel's continued refusal to grant or renew visas to employees of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). (WAFA)
  • Due to the corona lockdown: A meeting between Minister Ashkenazi and the Palestinian Foreign Minister was postponed - The meeting, mediated by the Egyptian foreign minister and the involvement of other countries, was postponed due to the lockdown in the country. This is after recently, the head of the Palestinian Authority pressured to hold a conference on the subject of the conflict. (Maariv)
  • Palestinian prisoner released from Israeli jails after 18 years - Hassan Fatafta, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine activist, was arrested in 2003, during the Second Intifada, over his activism in resistance against Israeli occupation of his homeland. Fatafta is also an intellectual and novelist, and has written at least two novels while in prison. (WAFA)
  • Coronavirus Live: Almost 2 Million Vaccinated as Israelis Begin Receiving Second Dose - Four cases of South African mutation found in Israel ■ Israel starts third lockdown with rise in new cases, 1.7 million vaccinated ■ Police report clashes with lockdown violators across Israel ■ First shipment of Moderna vaccine arrives in Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • Dispute between Attorney General and Public Security Minister over not vaccinating prisoners: Convicts, terrorists must receive corona vaccine - Deputy Attorney-General Amit Marari sent a letter to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on Friday notifying him that his instruction to not vaccinate convicts in prisons at this stage was not under his authority to give. (Maariv/JPost)
  • Five Israeli human rights organizations demand inoculation of Palestinian prisoners against coronavirus - The petition to the High Court against Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s decision not to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails against COVID-19 was submitted by the Association for Civil Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Adalah, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, and Rabbis for Human Rights. (WAFA)
  • Four Cases of the South African Coronavirus Strain Found in Israel - Health Ministry stresses that South African mutation, like its U.K. counterpart, is more contagious than other strains, but does not seem to cause a more serious illness. (Haaretz+)
  • Arab Teenager Killed in Massive Brawl in Southern Israel - The 19-year-old, resident of the northern Negev Arab village of Drijat, is the fourth member of the Arab community to be killed since the year began. (Haaretz+)
  • Police Officer Lightly Injured in Shooting in Arab town in Northern Israel - Officers are searching for the assailants in the Bedouin town of Tuba-Zangariyye, which has seen a series of acts of violence against police who are investigating protection money extortion there. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Necessary Evil': Controversial Jerusalem Construction Plan Approved, Despite Ecological Concerns - National planning appeals committee approves Lavan Ridge plan for 5,250 housing units despite devastating environmental impact. Thousands of objections rejected. (Haaretz+)
  • Artists Lead Efforts to Restore, Preserve Gaza's Historic Houses - Despite the challenges of conflict, these young Gazans are working to preserve these historic structures which are threatened by neglect, decay and demolition. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Archaeologists Find Byzantine Tombstone Inscribed ‘Blessed Maria’ in Israel - The tombstone of the woman who lived in the Nitzana area about 1,400 years ago joins others unearthed in excavations that belonged to Christians interred in local churches and burial grounds. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF leaflets warn Syrian officer: Hezbollah is putting your life in danger - Website aligned with Syrian opposition forces publishes image of leaflet it says was dropped by Israeli planes ahead of IAF airstrikes on country's south, which reads: "Hezbollah has brought destruction and instability to the region. You, personally, and the army in general will pay the price." (Israel Hayom)
  • Syria Reports Third Israeli Strike on Iranian Targets in Ten Days; 15 Deaths and Injuries Reported - A military spokesman said Saturday missiles flying over the Golan Heights targeted several locations and air defenses downed several missiles. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran in no rush for U.S. to rejoin nuclear deal, Khamenei says after enrichment move - But sanctions should be lifted immediately, supreme leader claims, days after Tehran announced it had further breached terms of the deal. (Haaretz+)
  • Iranian Leader Khamenei Bans Imports of U.S., British COVID-19 Vaccines - 'If the Americans were able to produce a vaccine, they would not have such a coronavirus fiasco in their own country,' supreme leader says. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iraq issues arrest warrant for Trump over Soleimani killing - The warrant was issued by a judge in Baghdad's investigative court tasked with probing the Washington-directed drone strike that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • UAE to Reopen All Entry Points With Qatar Following Gulf Dispute Thaw - As Gulf nations restore ties with Qatar, an Emirati official said the UAE and Doha may resume travel and trade links within a week. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • AOC Offers Solidarity to Jewish Community After Confederate Flag Tied to NYC Holocaust Museum - 'White supremacists should pack up their garbage & get out of our city,' congresswoman tweets, as museum president ties incident to events on Capitol Hill. (Haaretz+)
  • ADL calls for Trump's impeachment after Capitol violence - Jewish Social Justice group Bend the Arc joins the call after Wednesday’s breaching of the Capitol, which included multiple displays of antisemitism, white supremacy and far-right extremism. (Haaretz+)
  • Rashida Tlaib dismisses Republican colleague's Israeli flag 'publicity stunt' - Palestinian American congresswoman says she is 'focused on solving issues' for her constituents, while progressive Jewish groups decry 'juvenile trolling' and argue the 'flag of Israel is not a weapon for political wars.’ (Haaretz+)


How Israel Tormented Arabs in Its First Decades – and Tried to Cover It Up
A person who violates a curfew shouldn't be killed, but they can be slapped and hit with a rifle: Newly declassified documents reveal the ways military rule embittered the lives of Israeli Arabs. (Akevot historical researcher Adam Raz, Haaretz+)

The differences are many, but this week we learned that it can happen in the best families (Prof. Gad Barzilai, Maariv) What we saw in the Capitol was not accidental, but anchored in the socio-economic stratification of the United States. Despite the differences, what happened in Washington can happen in Jerusalem as well. No, this was not a revolution or a coup. But it was certainly a violent revolt incited by the President of the United States also against his own government and in blatant violation of the election results. In a political system in which the winner takes everything, and in which there is no room for negotiations between parties on the formation of a government, political competition is more likely to lead to severe violence. But much more basic than that: One must look at the sources of Trump's political growth and winning the presidency four years ago. A combination of evangelical Christian churches - some of them huge churches with hundreds of thousands of active believers and millions more listening to religious sermons - leaves no fertile ground for the establishment of a liberal democracy. All of this is rooted in poverty, especially in the southern states of the United States. Those of us who want to understand American society must migrate from the core sources of American capitalism and property - outside of Manhattan and the other affluent giant cities - to the white proletariat in the United States….What we saw in the Capitol was not accidental or detached, but anchored in the socio-economic-religious-cultural stratification of the United States. Trump not only incited. He is trapped precisely in the social structure that led to his election, and is now leading to his shameful collapse. The president is not only the executioner, but the victim of the system that brought him to the place that was not meant for him. Will this not happen to us? True, there are significant differences between Israel and the United States. The trauma and memory of the Holocaust, the military service, a fairly effective judicial system and the good functioning of legal regulators - can supposedly eliminate the danger of similar events in Israel. However, Israeli society is very socio-economically stratified, and this stratification is strengthened due to the corona crisis. The partisan split and polarization between the supporters and opponents of the prime minister, who faces a serious indictment, political corruption, the debate over national identity and the future of the (Palestinian) territories, the implications of the occupation on Israeli society, and national and religious extremism are a dangerous recipe. What happened in Washington may also happen in Jerusalem. (The author is an expert in law, society and government, a full professor at the University of Haifa.)
Netanyahu is smarter than Trump but no less dangerous (Moshe Gorali, Ynet) From free press to independent judiciary, PM has already planted seeds of insurrection against democratic institutions, but the true size of his base and how far they are willing to go to preserve his grip on power remains to be seen.
First They Take the Capitol, Then We Take the Knesset (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Israelis watch Trump insurrection aghast: Netanyahu supporters could do that here ■ In time of coronavirus, petty politics kills ■ Lapid deals blow to Netanyahu and Gantz.
**The expulsion from Paradise (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) Barnea calls Trump being blocked on social media networks a "cultural war between freedom of speech and a defensive democracy. And the mediator is a ruler who lost control. Should we care about this? We should care very much.. Violence on social media networks exists here, too, in Hebrew and it is written not just by crazy Kahanist hilltop settler youth. Often this sewage pipe comes directly from Balfour [the Prime Minister’s residence - a reference to Netanyahu’s son, Yair - OH]. It’s time to put up a dam - also in Israel….As in other traumatic events - the assassination of Rabin is an example - also the charging on the Capitol building causes a burst of strong emotions. Politicians who were carried away with Trump are looking for a way to shake the guilt from themselves; other politicians are resigning or threatening to change parties…Trump caused great damage to the resilience of the American democracy. He did not invent anything - but he flooded places that were hidden, violence that was reined in, fears, hatred, and sadly also a great amount of stupidity. The voters who screamed ‘Traitors” at Pence and at Senator Linsey Graham, two of Trump’s loyal servants, only because they acted according to the limitations of the law, were seduced into believing in the lies their leader spread. This lesson should also be learned in Israel.
This is what the slow destruction of national resilience looks like (Isaac Herzog, Maariv) The Israeli lesson from the Capitol events is as follows: …The lesson from the difficult events in the United States must be engraved in the minds and hearts of us all. These days, when public space in Israel has been simmering for two consecutive years in a never-ending election campaign, the boiling point is very close, too close. Hatred of the Other and polarization cost us heavy prices. When our every group feels threatened…an alienation is created that deepens day by day. Not just between individuals and groups, but between citizens and their country.
So now we're undemocratic as well? (Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash, Israel Hayom) The comparison between rioters in the US to the Right here, which is utterly detached from reality, not only turns the victim into the attacker but also tries establishing a new narrative about the Right.
What happened in Washington can happen in Israel, too (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The main culprits besides Trump and the thugs in the unbridled rampage in Washington are senior Republican Party officials. They saw for a long time the writings that had accumulated on the wall, which testified to his detachment from reality and the danger of the President - and did not lift a finger. Such politicians, who enable populist leader who attacks very foundations of democracy in order to incite a mob to riot, exist in Jerusalem, too. They would rather save their own political skins stand up to lies. They should pay attention to the dangers lurking down the slippery slope.
Between Trump and Netanyahu: What happened on Capitol Hill is also happening in Israel (Ran Adelist, Maariv) A leader who incites, a political base that attacks and the light hand of the police: This is not only Washington, but also the reality in Israel. And if the center-left does not wake up, we will be on our way to a right-wing ultra-Orthodox coalition, with or without Bibi.
Yes, it can happen in Israel as well, from both sides (Gershon Porush, Ynet Hebrew) Do the Capitol events seem far away? Imagine what would happen if Netanyahu won the election and the court prohibited him, as a criminal defendant, from forming a government. It is doubtful whether the divided Israeli society could withstand this.
What happened in Washington can happen in Israel as well. Here it may be even worse (Baruch Kra, Walla News Hebrew) The Trump and Netanyahu administrations acted like Siamese twins in relation to the rule of law, wild incitement, spreading conspiracies and a total crushing of the value of truth. Ministers, media people and even the Prime Minister's son - they are all preparing the ground. Do you really think that the riots on Capitol Hill are just an American story?
Balfour (protests) vs. the Capitol riots. The must not be compared (Dikla Dayan-Zilberstein, Ynet Hebrew) The messages dictated the false narrative that the incited masses from Washington are similar to those protesting against the prime minister. But if there is any room for comparison at all, it is between Binyamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump.
The Democrats' hypocrisy: Censorship under the guise of enlightenment (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) Republican senators presently find themselves between the American media's insatiable appetite for Trump's head and the 74 million Americans who voted for him.
We will not sit by while the Right is marginalized (Gilad Zwick, Israel Hayom) While the US president is taken offline, Twitter accounts of violent far-left organizations, such as Antifa, that encourage, promote, and organize violent riots continue to operate uninterrupted.
*How Georgia’s glorious Black-Jewish alliance triumphed over the pro-Trump mob (Etan Nechin, Haaretz+) The hypocrisy and mayhem of the mob invasion of the Capitol is the critical issue of the moment. The historic Georgia runoff results should be the more lasting monument to American democracy...At the end of it, Georgians cared far more about how many relatives they’d lost to coronavirus, and getting their stimulus checks, than a hyper-partisan outrage exercise about who can claim to be more "pro-Israel." The whole "controversy" was also a useful demonstration of how far to the right the GOP has gone, when criticizing the settlements and Israel's policy in the West Bank — denunciations based on international law made by every President Democrat or Republican since Jimmy Carter — is now considered the position of a radical "extremist." It is no wonder then, that during the Capitol coup attempt in Washington, an Israeli flag also made an appearance...
The Smotrich dilemma (Itamar Fleishman, Israel Hayom) A gifted politician with a penchant for scandal, the National Union leader's positions are in direct opposition to the range of views held by the Israeli mainstream, including those on the nationalist Right.
With Netanyahu, It's All About Canceling His Trial (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) It’s essential to understand that a third lockdown isn’t a law of nature. It’s the clear result of Netanyahu’s enormous failure in managing the pandemic. Bibi often compares us to European countries, but of course that’s a big lie. We aren’t Germany, with 160 entry and exit points; we’re basically a small island country with a single point of entry, Ben-Gurion Airport. Therefore, the correct comparison is with similar island countries like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, which have long since gotten the pandemic under control. In those countries, the economy is working, commerce is flourishing, the school system is functioning, cultural performances are going on and even the restaurants are open. In those countries, there’s no need for another lockdown, and also no urgent need for vaccines. After all, they have leaders who have worked for the country’s benefit, not for their own…This isn’t simply a case of failed management (as he continues to claim so as not to anger Bibi), but rather a deliberate plan to escape justice, I’ll return to an op-ed I published in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition on September 18, “The plan to cancel Bibi’s trial.” I wrote then that he had a clear plan with four stages, and the third was happening right before our eyes – cowardly, ineffective handling of the pandemic due to political considerations, so the virus wouldn’t stop spreading and would let him impose a third lockdown, with the goal of postponing his trial. Sure enough, two days ago, Netanyahu asked the court to postpone his trial “due to the lockdown.”
Israel's ultra-Orthodox need a Haredi-free government (Batya Kahana-Dror, Ynet) Ultra-Orthodox politicians preserve their power by perpetuating the inability to earn a decent wage and ensuring they alone can provide state handouts to their constituents, but ultra-Orthodox communities abroad prove that work and pray is possible.
Right-wing individualism has replaced national religious isolationism (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) It appears that Israel's national religious public has realized that they cannot integrate into the country's academic, economic, and governing elite while maintaining an isolationist political identity.
Israel Needs a Palestine National Fund (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) When the Yesha Council of settlements realized that its annexation dream had been shelved due to the normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates, it lowered its expectations and launched a campaign to legalize illegal settlement outposts. To change their image, in line with the spirit of the times, it also replaced the word “outposts” with “young settlements.”…Before outrage makes it impossible for you to remain in your seat, it’s worth stopping long enough to realize that this provides a golden opportunity that conforms with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new embrace of Israeli Arabs. If the new settlers insist on positioning themselves as pioneers settling land that Israel considers its own, and if they’re hoisting the banner of equality for second-class citizens, why not add young Arab Israelis to the pioneering corps, set up illegal outposts for them in the territories and then let them demand full recognition of their young settlements? This would be a kind of Arab Israeli version of the pre-state “tower and stockade” operation. It would also have an element of poetic justice. And of course, it would have important historical associations. Just imagine young Arab Christians setting up outposts in the greater Bethlehem Area (Nativity Hill A)...
Data on the religion of immigrants to Israel in 2020 show: only a third are Jews (Kalman Liebskind, Maariv) Year after year, the Jewish majority in the State of Israel is shrinking. In view of the huge number of non-Jews that the State of Israel brings here on its own initiative, it is time to ask whether there is any point in continuing to encourage immigration in this way…It may be worth stopping and asking ourselves if there is any point in continuing to encourage immigration in this way. Not just because of the enormous amounts of money invested in it, but mostly because of its bottom line. And this bottom line brings us to a slow but steady change in the Jewish character of Israel. For years it was customary to talk about 300,000 non-Jews - who are not Arabs - who are here. This number has been circulating for years among all those involved in the issue, as if it is not changeable. Today this group numbers 465,000 people, and it is growing daily. What does it mean to grow? Well, in 2019, the Jewish population in Israel increased by 1.6%. The Arab population grew by 2.2%. And the group we are talking about here, the "non-Jews who are not Arabs," grew by 5.7% this year. This is a population with the highest annual growth rate in Israel. Within a year or two, the number of non-Arab non-Jews will cross the half-million mark…This is a sensitive and explosive issue, which goes to the root of the identity card of the Jewish state. The change in it will probably not be able to come by way of a private MK’s bill from the opposition. It will have to be the fruit of discussion, thinking and consent of the general Israeli public. But we must have this discussion, because it is no longer possible to close our eyes to the numbers. Things have turned around. From a Jewish immigration state, the State of Israel has become a non-Jewish immigration state. Most of those who enter the gates of the state are not Jews. The Jewish majority in the State of Israel is getting smaller every year. And with all due respect to the need to hold elections here every few months, and continue to quarrel over the fateful question of whether yes Bibi or no Bibi, anyone to whom the Jewish state is dear to their heart must take pay attention to this issue. Not tomorrow. Today.
Is Israel's government up to new Iranian challenges? (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Tehran is preparing for Obama-era team to resuscitate 2015 nuclear deal, while Israel's concerns are being ignored by a world too preoccupied by the coronavirus pandemic to again weigh the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
The term 'existential threat' is passé (Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Israel Hayom) Perhaps it is time for Israel change this doctrine in favor of one that sees security challenges as ones relating to vital national interests rather than Israel's very existence.
Israel Exploiting Tactical Iranian Weakness to Ramp Up Syria Strikes (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Although Israel's defense establishment prepared for a variety of scenarios, Iran is yet to follow through with threats of vengeance. With the Biden administration incoming, it may hold off altogether.
Can the Abraham Accords withstand Democratic Party's left-wing wave? (Najat Al-Saied, Israel Hayom) It is always astounding to realize that Democratic Party members slam Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia over human rights issues, but are more than willing to ignore the brutality Iran shows its own people.
Once allies, Cairo wrestles Abu Dhabi for influence in the Middle East (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The Gulf states’ reconciliation with Qatar and Israel’s cooperation with the UAE are the latest blows damaging Egyptian President Sissi’s prestige, just as a new U.S. president takes over.
How the UAE Is Buying Egypt (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Fears from parents that the UAE was trying to shape the next generation of Egyptians through their textbooks were overblown. But the UAE may be able to shape a new Egyptian elite through schools.
Who hacked Hezbollah's bank account? (Avi Bar-Eli, Haaretz+) Leaked documents, probably the work of a cyberattack led by a foreign government, will make it harder for Hezbollah to manage its money.
Facebook and Twitter Didn't Grow a Conscience. They Know Why They Really Blocked Trump (Guy Rolnik, Haaretz+) Big tech companies simply saw what any junior political analyst could see – the king of Twitter and Facebook is dead or dying; long live the new king.

The Far-right Will Be One of Biden's Biggest Problems - Here's How He Can Fight Back
The ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt and AJC’s Holly Huffnagle tell Haaretz how the new administration should combat hate crimes, which spiked during the Trump presidency and aren’t disappearing when he vacates the White House. (Interviewed by Ben Samuels in Haaretz+)


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