News Nosh 2.11.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Thursday February 11, 2020


Quote of the day:

"The four candidates with a chance of being elected prime minister are all painfully similar. Don’t believe the fairy tales about a great ideological chasm between them. Fundamentally, they are identical: All are Zionist Jews who support the occupation, devotees of Jewish supremacy in Israel."
--In an Op-Ed, Gideon Levy on the four candidates vying to become Israel's next prime minister.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Concern in the health system: Youth aren’t getting vaccinated (Hebrew)
  • To death I pointed a look - Author A. B. Yehoshua speaks openly about the cancer gnawing away at his body and about his friends who are no longer
  • Danger to the public -  of fake news and leaders of conspiracy theories: These are those responsible for false information about the corona vaccines
  • Return (to routine) with a question - about when the 1.5 million children (5th-10th graders) will return to school
  • “I give myself a score of 90/100” - After receiving much criticism, Education Minister Yoav Galant returns fire (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Learning slowly - Schools partially opened under restrictions in certain cities
  • The agreement and the storm - Likud and (Kahanist party) ‘Religious Zionism’ signed vote-sharing agreement
  • The businesses revolt - Forum of commerce leaders expected to open today in violation of government guidelines

Israel Hayom

  • Again, Hello first grade - Today: Partial return of grades K1-4th
  • Exclusive: “Attack in Iran will delay the nukes”
  • Special for Family Day: Expanded family - David and Adi adopted 15 children, D. found a home at a shelter for abused women and lone soldiers who can’t be separated: The people approved that you choose your family
  • The chutzpah of the Palestinian Authority: They damaged the altar of Joshua - in order to pave road
  • Big screen: Steven Spielberg to receive Genesis Prize

Top News Summary:
Only 20% of Israeli schoolchildren went back to school this morning, business leaders planned together to open shop today in violation of corona restrictions, legislators examined how to legally prevent anti-vaxxers from going to work, gyms, malls and other gathering places and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sparked a storm when he made a vote-sharing deal with the Kahanist-filled faction, ‘Religious Zionism’ - making top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Also of interest, the phone call that US President Joe Biden has yet to make to Netanyahu, the preparations for the upcoming Palestinian elections and the interview ‘Israel Hayom’ with Dr. Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general at the International Atomic Energy Agency, who said that an “Israeli airstrike in Iran can buy time, but cannot eliminate the problem” of an Iranian nuclear program. And a young Palestinian father and laborer was hit by a car and killed near the settlement of Ariel and according to Palestinian news, the Israeli police are investigating if it was a hit and run by a settler. But the Hebrew media made no mention of Azzam Amer's death. (See Quick Hits.)

Worthy of note: two Israeli analysts, Yehezkel Dror and Prof. Daniel Friedmann, wrote Op-Eds this week asserting that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could help deal with Israel's problem with Iran and the investigation against Israel at The Hague. (See Dror’s piece in Commentary/Analysis below. Friedmann’s piece is in yesterday’s Nosh.)

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party signed a surplus vote agreement with the far-far-right-wing faction, ‘Religious Zionism.’ The agreement allows surplus votes, i.e. votes that don’t add up to a Knesset seat, to go to the party with the greater number of surplus votes, which potentially could add up to an extra seat. The ‘Religious Zionism’ faction is a joint slate of the far-far-right-wing National Union party, led by MK Bezalel Smotrich, and the far-far-right-wing Kahanist party, ‘Otzma Yehudit,’ led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, a disciple of the racist Arab-hating Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was put on the US terror list. Netanyahu pushed the two parties to unite, promising a place for one member of ‘Religious Zionism’ to be high enough on the Likud slate to be able to sit in a Netanyahu government. Netanyahu also promised to put a member of 'Religious Zionism' on the Judicial Appointments Committee. Until now, Ben-Gvir has not managed to enter the Knesset: his party has never passed the threshold. The pro-Israel democratic lobby in the US, Democratic Majority for Israel, called Netanyahu’s cooperation with Ben-Gvir ‘shameful.’ However, Likud MK Nissim Vatori called Ben-Gvir a ‘brother’ on his Twitter account and later deleted it, apparently after being asked to do so by Netanyahu’s associates, although he denied it. When asked what Menachem Begin would say about his tweet, Vatori told Ynet Hebrew: "We are in a different period. Today, Begin would have behaved differently from a national point of view." Begin, it will be recalled, signed in 1980 an order for the administrative detention [prison without charges - OH] of Meir Kahana, and both he and Yitzhak Shamir acted against the Kahanists in the Knesset. A Channel 12 News poll found that the ‘Religious Zionism’ faction would enter the Knesset with five seat, but the parties that oppose Netanyahu still have the thinnest majority with 61 out of 120 Knesset seats. Meanwhile and ironically enough, Netanyahu is still actively courting the Arab vote. Today (Thursday) he inaugurated a new police station in the (Arab) Jawarish neighborhood of the Arab-Jewish city of Ramla. Arab-Israelis have been complaining for years of government neglecting the problem of rampant criminal violence in their communities, Maariv reported. Former acting police commissioner, Moti Cohen, stated during his tenure that he intended to establish a police station there, after a number of shootings took place in the area, including a shooting at a police car in June 2020. And just last month, a small pipe bomb was found hidden in the open area of a neighborhood school.

Yedioth’s diplomatic affairs correspondent Itamar Eichner noted in an almost full-page report that “it took Obama four days, and Trump three” and now it has been three weeks and US President Biden has yet to call Netanyahu. What’s more, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN embarrassed Netanyahu by pleading to Biden on Twitter to call Netanyahu. According to Eichner, in Jerusalem they are trying to keep quiet about the still-awaited-call, but a Twitter post in English by former Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon made that difficult when he addressed the President directly, detailed the list of leaders with whom he had already spoken and appealed to him to call Netanyahu - he even attached the phone number at Netanyahu's office - causing great embarrassment in Jerusalem. (Yedioth Hebrew and Maariv) Former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said that Israel should not worry: Biden cares about Israel and he just has “a long list of priorities he will have to deal with” first. Speaking at an online event of the Friends of the Weizmann Institute, Shapiro assured (VIDEO) that security cooperation between Israel and the United States is not expected to change with respect to what happened during the Trump era, and said that Biden intended to ensure continued assistance, including intelligence and joint military exercises, technological development and more. He further stressed that it’s likely that the US will work to defend Israel in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

To all the doubters, Palestinian elections are expected to take place as declared.Hamas and Fatah, who held reconciliation meetings together in Cairo, released a jointstatement about the elections. The Palestinian Central Elections Commission said 2.4 million Palestinians, i.e. 85% of the voters in the West Bank and Gaza, have registered so far to vote in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections planned for May 22 and July 31, respectively. Haaretz+ reported that senior Palestinian Authority minister Hussein  al-Sheikh made an official visit today with ailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti to hear about whether or not he intends to run for the presidency, or to what extent he plans to be involved in the upcoming election, Haaretz+ reported. Israel’s approval for the visit was exceptional.

Corona-related Quickees:

  • As Israeli Schools Reopen After COVID Lockdown, 80 Percent of Students Stay at Home - Amid complaints of conflicting authorities and short notice, first to fourth grade students will return in first wave of reopening, but in areas with low rates of coronavirus infection only. (Haaretz+)
  • Edelstein says Israel mulling law to oblige teachers to get vaccinated - Health minister says taxpayers shouldn't fund 'the madness' of those who choose not to get vaccinated and they must pay for their own COVID tests; adds those who want to celebrate Passover must stay home on Purim. (Ynet)
  • Israel posts 5,265 fresh virus cases, 21 new deaths - Health Ministry also says the central town of Tel Mond is leading the country in vaccinations, with over 60% receiving both vaccine shots, while in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem the tally of vaccinated is below 20%, among lowest in Israel. (Ynet)
  • Israeli officials brace for UN condemnation over Palestinian vaccination - Foreign Ministry officials say they expect Human Rights Council, set to convene on February 22, to issue resolution slamming Israel for failing to vaccinate Palestinians in the West Bank even though the PA said they will procure shots under UN scheme. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Magen David Adom starts vaccinating Palestinians with work permits against COVID-19 - Israel expands world-leading vaccination drive to include Palestinians working within its borders as PA struggles to lift its own inoculation campaign off the ground. (Ynet)
  • Israel's Teva Pharm in talks to co-produce COVID-19 vaccines, CEO says - Drugmaker's CEO says company both approached and was approached by vaccine manufacturers to bolster limited supplies due to production constraints as world governments scramble to access vaccines. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • 12-year-old Egyptian Girl Teaches Neighbors During School Closure - 'I thought that instead of having them play in the street, I can teach them,' says Reem El-Khouly who teaches 30 neighborhood children in Egypt's northern Dakahlia province. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Socially-distanced Iran parades on wheels, not feet, to commemorate 1979 revolution - Participants wave Iranian flags and 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel' signs as Rohani raises prospect of 'dialogue' with outside powers over nuclear. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Vaccine data shows 30-percent drop in severe illnesses - Israel demands negative test for inoculated arrivals. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)


Quick Hits:

  • Israeli settler deliberately runs over, kills Palestinian in Salfit - Palestinian worker and young father, Azzam Amer, was deliberately run over by an Israeli settler at Kafl Haris junction Wednesday evening, adjacent to Ariel settlement, killing him instantly, said the Governor of Salfit, Abdullah Kmail. The Israeli police said that an investigation was opened into the circumstances of the incident. (WAFA and AA and InfoPal+PHOTO)
  • IDF demolishes home of Esther Horgen’s suspected killer in rare daytime op - Security forces destroy two floors of building where Muhammad Mruh Kabha lived; High Court permitted razing after he confessed to terror attack. (Yedioth Hebrew and VIDEO and Times of Israel and Israel Hayom)
  • Concern rises over takeover of hundreds of dunams of West Bank village land as Israelis survey the area - High tension in West Bank village of Kisan, east of Bethlehem, when Israelis started surveying 500 dunams of land east of the village Thursday, near the illegal settlement of Avi Hanahal, in order to take it over and build a new settlement outpost on it. Israelis from the Antiquities Authority came three days ago and carried out excavation. (WAFA)
  • Israel to demolish Palestinian-owned structures in a northern West Bank village - Israel today notified Palestinians in Ein Shibli village, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, of its intention to demolish several of their structures under the pretext they were built without a permit. (WAFA)
  • Palestinian road work damages Prophet Joshua's altar - Palestinian roadwork destroyed portions of a 3,200-year-old wall on the biblical site of Joshua's altar on Mount Ebal, near Nablus, the right-wing NGO Shomrim al Hanetzach reported on Wednesday. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli forces blow up house of Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli settler - Israeli forces raided Wednesday the village of Tura, southwest of Jenin and declared it a closed military zone, before proceeding to plant explosives and demolish the exterior walls of Kabaha’s two-story family home, which houses his wife and four children. (WAFA)
  • WATCH: Israel Air Force practiced the arrival of a hijacked plane from the Gulf: Who decided whether to shoot it down? - In view of the rise in flights from the East and South, mainly from Dubai, the IDF is preparing for an air terror scenario of a new type: hijacking. Shuttered windows, deviation from the flight path and cessation of identification reports will be some of the warning signs. Listen to the Air Force commander on the communications network. (Ynet Hebrew and VIDEO)
  • Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killed by One-ton Automated Gun in Israeli Hit, Reports Jewish Chronicle - Citing intelligence sources, the British weekly said a team of more than 20 agents, including Israeli and Iranian nationals, carried out the November 2020 ambush on scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh after eight months of surveillance. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu Rejects Gantz’s Request to Release Transcripts of the Cabinet’s COVID-19 Deliberations - Cabinet secretary says disclosure of coronavirus cabinet minutes would have a chilling effect that could make ministers hesitant to speak their minds. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Incitement Won't Deter' Prosecutor in Netanyahu Corruption Trial, Attorney General Says - Speaking at a conference held by newspaper affiliated with the settler right, Mendelblit says 'it's concerning' to see Liat Ben-Ari assigned security detail. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel High Court Stops Probe of Police Internal Investigations Unit - Petitioners argued that Amir Ohana’s measure was a ploy to gain votes from Ethiopian Israelis in the upcoming election. (Haaretz+)
  • 20 Israelis implicated in illegal arms sale to an Asian country - At least 20 suspects, among them former defense industry employees, illegally developed, manufactured, tested, and sold loitering munitions to an unnamed country in Asia for vast sums of money and other bribes, according to the Shin Bet and Israel Police. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF To-do Lists Are Public and Exposed Online in a Potential Security Breach - Many individuals and companies use Trello to organize tasks and schedules; the problem is that some forget to set their privacy settings, needlessly exposing sensitive information. (Haaretz+)
  • Deputy Superintendent Goetta, who is accused of assaulting a demonstrator and a photojournalist: “Acted out of fear and threat to himself" - lt during a protest in front of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, denied the facts of the indictment against him. At the courthouse, he was greeted by demonstrators who shouted at him: "Criminal, resign!” (Maariv and VIDEO)
  • Israel police hound veteran with PTSD and a shopping addiction - Cops refused to believe knife in man’s car was for opening packages in a hurry, but judge believed him. (Haaretz+)
  • Prominent Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Loujain al-Hathloul Released From Prison Thursday - Al-Hathloul, who pushed to end a ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to almost six years in prison last December. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Murders of Women Spark Anger in Lebanon as Domestic Violence Doubles -Authorities reveal doubling of domestic abuse reports in Lebanon, two months after it outlawed sexual harassment and reformed its divorce law. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Mystery Metal Monolith Turns Out to Be Turkish Government Gimmick - The metal block with old Turkic script reading 'Look at the sky, see the moon' was apparently placed near Gobekli Tepe as a publicity gimmick before Erdogan announced the country's space program. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Houthi attack on Saudi's Abha airport sets plan on fire, state TV reports - Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed two armed drones launched by the Houthis towards civilians in Saudi Arabia. (Agencies,Haaretz)


Meet Biden's Point Person on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Hady Amr, the Biden administration’s deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, is coming in with a fresh perspective, regional relationships and years of experience – and he has a lot of work to do. (Ben Samuels, Haaretz+)

The Kahanist From Balfour Street (Haaretz Editorial) The surplus-vote agreement that Likud signed Wednesday with Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Religious Zionism alliance tells the whole story. When the parties running in the election for the 24th Knesset had to pair off according to ideological proximity for vote-sharing agreements, Gideon Sa’ar went with Naftali Bennett, Yair Lapid signed with Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Gantz teamed up with Yaron Zelekha – and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twinned with Ben-Gvir. The move exposed the truth about today’s Likud: The party of Menachem Begin is now the best friend of the party of the student of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. Netanyahu, in his fight to stay in power, will use any means and take on any partners, even the ideological vermin of the benighted racist Kahane. Netanyahu did not only sign a kashrut certificate for Kahanism and its representative in the Knesset; in effect, he is also both the matchmaker and the best man of the electoral alliance between Smotrich (the chairman of the National Union) and Ben-Gvir (chairman of Otzma Yehudit)…
Netanyahu's survival efforts are breaking records, even Arik Einstein knew (Aviad Mendelbaum, Maariv) For years, ostensibly, there has been a widespread unspoken opinion that (Kahanist Itamar) Ben-Gvir really has no place in the Knesset. Now this view conflicts with the interests of the Prime Minister, who know no bounds.
Kahane Won: Netanyahu Would Rather Team Up With Racists Than Risk One Seat(Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) A party head with even a shred of shame, principles and self-respect would have announced that he’d rather risk losing a Knesset seat than cooperate with a gang of dangerous extremists.
The Eternally Persecuted Netanyahu v. the State of Israel (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) On Monday, the State of Israel went on trial. It appeared in court as the defendant, facing chief prosecutor Benjamin Netanyahu. The indictment is serious and even frightening. It’s suspected of trying to frame an incumbent prime minister, violations of evidence laws, falsifying and misrepresenting an indictment and plotting to intervene in a national election in a way that could undermine the prosecutor’s constitutional rights and the chance of his being elected…If the state were really interested in eliminating what it calls “corruption,” it wouldn’t have waited so long to prosecute him and it would have added to the pile of cases the submarine affair and the allegedly improper profits the prime minister made from shares he allegedly received as a gift. If the state were really serious about its intentions, it wouldn’t have allowed him to run in three elections, waste billions of shekels on electioneering, delay the passage of the state budget and pay bribes to its citizens. How come it suddenly woke up, in the run-up to the fourth election? What is this if not ongoing delayed justice? Even worse, with its negligent behavior, the state made clear to the prime minister that his deeds were not violations of the law, and now, to shirk blame and responsibility, it’s pouncing on him and blaming him for all its ills. Its goal is transparent – it’s looking for a scapegoat…
Israeli identity politics is just regular politics (Akiva Bigman, Israel Hayom) The Left finds identity politics legitimate as long as it is used to battle Zionism, capitalism and nationalism, but the moment it is turned against it, the Left brands it a "danger to democracy."
*It’s Bibi or Tibi again and the choice is clear: the only alternative is the Joint List. The rest are pale imitations of Bibi (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The four candidates with a chance of being elected prime minister are all painfully similar. Don’t believe the fairy tales about a great ideological chasm between them. Fundamentally, they are identical: All are Zionist Jews who support the occupation, devotees of Jewish supremacy in Israel. They are in favor of the settlers and settlements, and would never dream of stopping them. They will never criticize the army for its misbegotten actions and they sanctify every violent operation by Israel. War crimes? International law? Palestinian rights? Don’t make them laugh. They all toed exactly the same line regarding the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Lapid, Gideon Sa’ar and Naftali Bennett are all the same. They promise occupation and Jewish supremacy forever. They are Jewish-Israeli nationalists who speak the same exact language on the issues that really matter.
Will a Palestinian election matter? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) The prospect of the first vote in 16 years may be intended to win over Joe Biden. But the pretense of democracy won't fix a political culture that is incompatible with peace.
When an Arab Family Had a Picnic Near a West Bank Settlement (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) An Israeli Arab family is having a picnic in the forest. Mother, father, grandmother, grandfather and babies. Suddenly an armed Jewish Israeli shows up with friends and demands that they leave the area. Why? Because it’s all his. Where is it written? “In the Bible!” When they refuse, the armed man starts to grab the baby things, to pour their drinks on the bonfire and insist they get out. The mother and grandfather get hysterical, the father holding the baby tries to separate the armed man from his family and urges his wife to calm down, for the children’s sake. This situation, which was filmed and posted two days ago by the mother, Lubna Abed El Hadi, on her Facebook page, is infuriating and confusing. Since when can armed Jewish Israelis just go about threatening an Arab family enjoying the outdoors? Where are the police? In the video, the family is heard telling the attackers: “We’re Israelis just like you and we’re allowed to be here.” One of them responds: “You’re not Israelis, you’re Arabs,” and “We did you a favor leaving you here,” and he tells them to “Go back to Nazareth.” The mind struggles to grasp the situation – until the location of the scene becomes apparent. The Jews are settlers, the mother and her family are from Nazareth, but the young father is from Hebron. The location is in the West Bank, near the village of Jibiya and the Havat Zvi outpost. Now the scene is much easier to understand. The settlers (the armed man among them wearing a hat from Hashomer Judea and Samaria, which receives state funding) thought the family was Palestinian and so acted as they do every day in the Wild West of the territories. They didn’t expect to be answered in fluent Hebrew, they didn’t expect the family to stand up for their rights, they didn’t expect them to understand that this area is not registered in any land registry and they certainly didn’t expect them to dare argue – babies versus rifles. Ultimately, the settlers did what has also become routine: They called the army to do the dirty work for them. The family continued to insist on their rights but the soldiers still made the Israeli Arabs leave at the request of the Israeli Jews. Without explanation or hesitation. Because that’s how things work in the territories. “I don’t want to use too much force,” the soldier warned. As usual, the IDF spokesperson said the incident “would be investigated.” But who will investigate the settlers? Most Israelis apparently haven’t heard about the violence going on around Havat Zvi, an outpost built on state land and private land. And when they do hear about it, it doesn’t really sink in. But thanks to the boldness of an Arab mother with Israeli citizenship, who stood her ground and filmed this encounter, this small incident managed to fleetingly pierce the cloak of habit and indifference. In literature, this is called “defamiliarization.” When a familiar situation, through an artistic ploy, is rendered “unfamiliar,” thereby enabling the reality to be reexamined. This is what the Israeli Arab family’s presence at the picnic in the territories revealed for us: racism. Not just Israelis versus Palestinians in a national war, but Jews versus Arabs. The Jews are the lords of the land with rifles, the Arabs are requested to get out of their sight or else “they’ll help them” do so. At a time when Arab society in Israel is being wooed by the erstwhile inciter against them Benjamin Netanyahu, we should thank Lubna and her family who were brave enough to help us see the territories anew, to see what goes on there in our name, backed by our money.
This database is exposing decades of Israel’s shady arms deals (Sahar Vardi,972mag) Israel has been exporting arms to the world’s most repressive governments. A new project aims to hold it accountable by tracking these confidential sales.
An impatient Iran is turning up the heat (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) The Iranians, pressed for time because their economy is suffering immensely under crippling sanctions, is making threats to coax the Biden administration back to the negotiating table.
Threats Against Iran Are Futile. Here's What Israel Must Do (Yehezkel Dror, Haaretz+) Dealing with Iran’s nuclear policy requires understanding its motives, which could serve as a basis for a diplomatic and psychological strategy that meets the challenge. Iran has many reasons to aspire to a nuclear weapon, originating in its history over the past 200 years. Its leaders are set on restoring Iran to its historic superpower status. Iran suffered serious losses in its wars with Russia and in the savage war with Iraq; it has been the object of unbridled imperialistic exploitation mainly by England and the Untied States, in ways that have seriously damaged it; and it has experienced violation of agreements reached with it. Additionally, there is intense aversion in Iran to many aspects of Western culture, particularly to aspects of American culture, and a sense of duty to help Muslims who are being oppressed. As for Israel, Iran’s leaders view it as a metastasis of Western civilization and imperialism, a “cancer” in the heart of the lands of Islam, an agent of the United States that hurts Iran’s aspirations of hegemony in the Middle East, and a partner of detested Sunni nations that steals the Palestinians’ land and continually harms them…Israel should forgo making threats. They are pointless because Iran’s leaders are aware of Israel’s capabilities and determination, and only increase Iran’s hostility toward Israel and accelerate its activity to defend itself against Israel. Instead of threats, it is vital that a concerted creative effort be made to achieve dialogue, starting with people acceptable to Iran… Fear of an Israeli operation will not impel the United States to accede to Israel’s demands. On the contrary, the U.S. will rein Israel in and also “punish” it for these blackmail attempts. Only the two-state solution will put Israel-U.S. relations back on the right track that includes preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. All the Israeli chatter about a strike against Iran merely exacerbates Iran’s hostility and the tension with the U.S., and has no benefit. It certainly isn’t a sign of diplomatic wisdom, which Israel sorely needs.
Gatekeeping in the country has always been loose and partial (Gideon Reicher, Maariv) Gatekeepers in Israel are currently threatened politically, institutionally and personally, and must be protected. Maintaining the preservation of democratic principles such as civil rights and human rights, accountability and transparency has been very loose and partial for decades.
Trump Lawyer David Schoen Shames Orthodox Jews Like Me (Samuel Heilman, Haaretz+) I am familiar with David Schoen’s navigation between Jewish observance and public life. But my empathy with him is transient. As Donald Trump’s lawyer, instead of honoring Orthodox Jewish identity, he is debasing it.
Sitting on the Shore of Gaza, Dreaming of Amsterdam's Canals (Mohammed Azaiza, Haaretz+) When the coronavirus’ arrival in the region was recognized in March, Israel closed the West Bank and tightened the blockade of Gaza even more. (Egypt leaves the Rafah border crossing closed most of the time.) My three-month course in Amsterdam, connecting defenders of human rights from all over the world, which was designed to help them to improve their work tools, was postponed to September….Meanwhile Israel’s lockdown remains in place with the excuse of protecting public health, and students still cannot make the short trip from the Erez crossing to the Allenby crossing in Jordan, so that they can travel to their studies abroad. Egypt opened the Rafah crossing point for some days in early February, but only some of those needing will be able to cross there. In Zoom meetings with the team in Tel Aviv, I was happy to hear that many people had already received the first coronavirus vaccination, and wondered when it would be my turn to feel that my relatives, my family and I are protected. The right to health is a self-evident supreme value in Israel’s internal discourse, but when it comes to Gazans, if anyone thinks of us at all, this right is presented as a bargaining chip, as though Israel’s control of every aspect of our lives in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip doesn’t make it responsible for our welfare. In the past year practically the whole world experienced lockdowns and the harm they cause, to our psychological welfare, our livelihoods and the economy as a whole, to our health, family life and the sense of control over one’s own life. In Gaza we’ve been living this way for decades. Anyone who hasn’t lost hope yearns for change, falling like a star from the heavens. A decision whether to contemplate your contribution to our suffering is in your hands, as Israelis. Meanwhile, we lift our eyes to the heavens, and wait.
The fuss over (Likud connection with Kahanist) Ben-Gvir is spin: There is no ideology here (Amiad Taub, Yedioth Hebrew) All parties are shouting that the election is dramatic, but no one has a real platform. What does it matter who will sit under Netanyahu if in any case no one presents a political idea or a cohesive social-welfare perspective?…For the first time in my adult life I am an undecided voter. With the elimination of the National Religious Party, which knew how to raise social-welfare and educational issues, I retired. I am tired of the right and left branding that they use to play with our heads...On the one hand, everyone is campaigning on the importance of the camp, emphasizing how dramatic the election is, and how critical it is for the right / left to win, and on the other hand, no party has a real platform. There is no Israeli who knows whether the Likud or Kahol-Lavan advocate the promotion of a socialist or capitalist economy, what are Yair Lapid's plans for rehabilitating small businesses, what is the difference between Avigdor Lieberman's and Gideon Saar's approach to public medicine, or what does Bennett think about community housing for people with disabilities. They all settle for hate campaigns embedded in the short and meaningless sentences of advertising agencies, designed to blunt the independent thinking of voters, as a herd led by blind shepherds…It has been years during which nothing has happened politically. No territories are returned or annexed. And still they manage to create for us a dichotomous division between right-wing and left-wing that serves the politicians. Education? Welfare? Health? A strategy for the education system to exit the quarantine? Professional meetings on the future of special education children? The collapse of the nurses and social workers under the burden? These do not bring votes.[NOTE: Taub ignores the Meretz party, which is clear about all of these issues. - OH] (Amiad Taub is deputy mayor of Modiin Maccabim Reut.)

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