APN's daily news review from Israel - Thursday February 18, 2021
You Must Be Kidding:
Israel gives Palestinians permits to work in Israel, but won't give them vaccines.**
- Israeli citizen crossed the border into Syria and was arrested; Russia mediating for a deal
- The white city: Snow piled in Jerusalem for the first time in six years
- A month after being sworn-in, Biden spoke with Netanyahu for the first time
- The right-wing got control over the Jewish National Fund (JNF/KKL) and turned its activities in settlements into policy
- If they did abroad to the Jews what JNF/KKL does to the Arabs, we would be crying out // Gideon Levy
- Some of the educational institutions in orange ares will be allowed to open on Sunday
- Justice Ministry opposes transfer of information regarding the vaccinated to the municipalities
- Elections Commission disqualified Labor party candidate, Marana. The decision will pass to the High Court
- Netanyahu Syndrome // Uri Misgav
- Ehud Barak returns in a new documentary to the key points in his life and tells about his hesitations at decisive crossroads
- The joy of snow - From Jerusalem to the Golan: Israel is covered with snow
- The cooling-off period that costs millions: Report shows that the former Police commissioner, former Prisons Authority commander, and former IDF chief of staff continued to receive funds from the public
- Wedding from the (hospital) bed
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
- Seeing white
- The battle over (Netanyahu’s appointment to be special envoy to relations with superpowers over Iran agreement), Ben-Shabbat
- Talks for release of an Israeli woman from Syria
- White days - The glorious winter - Jerusalem and northern mountains covered with snow
- Efforts for release of young woman who crossed border into Syria
- Elections Commission: (Gideon) Sa’ar paid for Op-Eds against Bennett
- The phone rang: Biden and Netanyahu spoke
- (Health Minister) Edelstein’s failure // Ran Reznick
- “I take personally the lack of recognition for the good (that I have done).” Beitar Jerusalem soccer team owner, Moshe Hagag, speaks
- Get vaccinated - in order to finally meet in the theatre /// Lee Koenig
- Submitted to cancer: The radio icon Rush Limbaugh died
Top News Summary:
An Israeli woman caused a commotion after crossing the border into Syria, snow caused joy after falling in Jerusalem and a long-awaited phone call from US President Joe Biden brought relief to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.
Israel released two Syrian shepherds in an apparent effort to secure the release of an Israeli woman who crossed into Syria. The Israeli woman has already been flown to Russia from Syria and has met with Israel’s Coordinator for Captive and Missing Persons, Yaron Blum, as well as the head of Israel's National Security Council. She is reportedly in good condition. Upon her arrival back in Israel expected on Friday, she will probably be taken for questioning by the Shin Bet. Wednesday night it became clear that it was the Syrians who approached Russia about the young woman after realizing that she had a certain problem - but thought they could get something in return. (Maariv and Ynet Hebrew)
- Palestinian Workers Forced to Stay in Israel, but With No COVID Vaccine - Despite calls from unions and NGOs, doors to coronavirus vaccination centers remain closed to thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank who work in Israel. (Haaretz+)
- Israel Still Refuses to Vaccinate Palestinian Workers, but Lets Them Return to West Bank Homes - Tens of thousands of Palestinians laborers had to stay in Israel under restrictions that have been in effect since the start of its third coronavirus lockdown. (Haaretz)
- First batch of COVID vaccines arrives in Gaza after Israel approves transfer - Shipment from West Bank includes some 1,000 Sputnik V vaccines donated by Russia to the Palestinian Authority. (Haaretz+)
- Palestinian president's rival promises 20,000 vaccines for Gaza - Exiled politician Mohammed Dahlan claims UAE to send a large shipment of Sputnik V vaccines to Gaza in a bid to outshine Abbas ahead of May elections; Dahlan is banned from running in the elections but his allies could emerge as kingmakers. (Agencies, Ynet)
- UAE to Supply 20,000 Doses of Russian COVID Vaccine to Gaza - Shipment of coronavirus vaccines to arrive in Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the coming days, the Palestinian Authority announced Thursday. This is the first shipment of vaccines to arrive without Israeli involvement. (Haaretz+)
- Palestinian Woman Dies Of Heart Attack After Soldiers Stormed Her Home near Bethlehem - Rahma Khalil Abu ‘Ahour, 67, suffered a heart attack when Israeli soldiers stormed into her home in Abu Njeim village. Family members said the soldiers were very violent when they broke into the property, and the way they searched the home, terrorizing the entire family and making excessive damage. (IMEMC)
- Settlers set a lorry on fire near Ramallah - Extremist Israeli settlers set on fire a lorry belonging to a Palestinian citizen after they sneaked into the village of Kafr Malik Thursday. (WAFA)
- Jordan Valley villagers demonstrate against blackout caused by Israel - Dozens of Palestinians from the village of Al-Jiftlik, north of Jericho in the Jordan Beqaa Valley region, organized a sit-in Thursday to protest the Israeli authorities' cutting off electricity in the area for the third day in a row. (WAFA)
- Occupation forces injure three Palestinians playing in snow in E. Jerusalem - Israeli police officers reportedly fired rubber-coated rounds and teargas canisters at a group of young men who were playing with snow in al-Isawiya village, injuring three of them and causing many cases of suffocation from gas inhalation. (WAFA)
- Israeli police detain Palestinian youth in snow fight on Temple Mount - Israeli Police stormed the courtyard of the Dome of the Rock inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, chasing and opening fire towards youths who were having fun with the snow and detained one who purportedly hurled snowballs toward police officers and Israeli settlers. (WAFA)
- Israeli military breaches Gaza border, razes lands, and floods farmland with rainwater - He said that four Israeli military bulldozers leveled large tracts of farmland south of Deir al-Balah and opened basins collecting rainwater east of al-Zaytoun and al-Shajayeh neighborhoods of Gaza City, causing flooding to over 500 dunums of their lands. (WAFA and IMEMC)
- Fewer Women Promoted to Top Military Brass Since Chief of Staff Kochavi Appointed - Defense sources say men being promoted to positions meant for women; Chief of Staff Kochavi tells closed forum he wants the best in order to win wars. (Haaretz+)
- Israel Unveils Work With U.S. on New Arrow 4 Ballistic Missile Defense System - Israel's Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 interceptors are already operational as part of a multi-layered system to destroy incoming missiles. (Haaretz and Ynet and Israel Hayom)
- Israeli Defense Ministry delays giving state prosecutor info on Guatemala arms sales - The state prosecutor is conducting a probe of the possible role of Israeli officials in aiding crimes against humanity and genocide in Guatemala's civil war decades ago. (Haaretz+)
- Kahol-Lavan: Cancel the appointment of Ben-Shabbat as envoy for relations with the United States - Kahol-Lavan demands cancelling Netanyahu's appointment. Gantz and Ashkenazi, however, are willing to keep it on condition of adding an additional representative on their behalf to the head of the National Security Council, claiming that "Ben Shabbat has no background in the matter, he does not understand English and is not connected to senior members of the Biden administration." (Maariv)
- Palestinians report 93% voter registration for upcoming elections - Legislative and presidential vote to be held on May 22 and July 31, respectively, for the first time in 15 years; 2.6 million out of 2.8 million eligible voters register before Tuesday deadline. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Israeli Zoo Finds Roman Sarcophagi While Building New Animal Hospital - In fact the 1,800-year-old stone coffins had been found a quarter-century ago, were mislaid and forgotten, Ramat Gan Safari Park officials say. (Haaretz+)
- Time lists Israeli actress Shira Haas in top 100 'Emerging People' - Magazine nodes to star of Netflix's mini-series 'Unorthodox' who was also nominated for Golden Globes Award in the 'mini-series and TV movies' category in early February. (Ynet)
- 'Israeli tycoon Steinmetz told me to pay for dirt on Soros' - Beny Steinmetz, sentenced to five years imprisonment for bribery, paid cyber firm to 'collect intelligence' on billionaire George Soros, according to front man's testimony. (Haaretz+)
- Iranian Judo Star in Tel Aviv: ‘We Were Taught to Hate Israelis’ - Exiled Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei is set to compete at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam against Israel's Sagi Muki. In 2019 Mollaei was forced to skip a match against him that cost him the world championships. (Haaretz+)
- Iranian Skier Appeals for Women's Rights in Her Country During World Championships - Forough Abbasi urges women to work toward changing Iranian laws after her ski coach was banned from leaving the country by her husband. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Lebanon Court Asks Beirut Port Blast Lead Investigator to Step Down - The development is likely to further delay the investigation into the horrific explosion that killed more than 200 people, wounded over 6,000 and disfigured much of Beirut. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Hezbollah chief denies involvement in hit on high-profile activist - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday dismissed accusations of any links between the group and the killing of researcher and activist Lokman Slim. (Israel Hayom)
- Killings surge in Syria camp housing ISIS families - The jump in violence has heightened calls for countries to repatriate their citizens languishing in the al-Hol camp, home to some 62,000 people. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Kuwait's emir suspends parliament sessions for a month - Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued a decree on Wednesday, suspending parliament's sessions for one month as of Feb. 18 following a standoff between the elected assembly and the appointed government that led the cabinet to resign last month. (Israel Hayom)
Biden plans to 'recalibrate' U.S.-Saudi relations away from MbS - The Biden White House
has been pressuring Saudi Arabia to improve its record on human rights, including the release of political
prisoners such as women’s rights advocates from jails. (Haaretz)
Warner Music invests in Saudi-owned Middle East's largest record label - Warner Music Group has invested in Rotana Music, the Middle East's largest record label owned by Saudi Arabia's billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the group said in a statement. (Israel Hayom)
- Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen Moves Troops to Marib to Repel Houthi Assault - Fighting rages while around 80% of Yemen's population relies on aid and millions are on the verge of famine. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- UAE Dismantles Eritrea Base as It Pulls Back After Yemen War - 'I think what ‘Little Sparta’ is doing is to keep its powder dry for whatever it needs to do next.’ (Agencies, Haaretz+)
I Was on Duty During the Sabra and Chatila Massacre. Here's What Happened
The experiences of the intelligence officer of the Israel Defense Forces division that oversaw the entry of Christian Phalangists into Beirut's Sabra and Chatila refugee camps reveal what went on behind the scenes in September 1982 – and what led him to tell ‘the truth but not all the truth’ to the commission of inquiry. (Yossi Ben-Ari, Haaretz+)
‘Keren Kayemeth who?’ How the Jewish National Fund-USA divorced its Israeli counterpart
‘We didn’t want to be stuck in any of the political mud that all the national institutions in Israel are stuck in,’ explains CEO Russell Robinson, who also shrugs off dire predictions about future JNF fundraising following recent settlements controversy. (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)
This Time, AIPAC Stays Silent on Netanyahu's Alliance With Far-right, Anti-gay Party
Two years ago, AIPAC and AJC howled at Netanyahu’s alliance with neo-Kahanists. This time, though, no comment. American Jews ‘won’t be particularly shocked or outraged by anything he does at this point,’ says Israel Studies expert Dov Waxman. (Ben Samuels,Haaretz+)
Gaza, COVID Vaccines and One of the Most Disgraceful Hearings Ever Held by Knesset (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) This week, Hauser conducted one of the most dreadful hearings ever held by this Knesset, which has already done plenty to sully the institution’s reputation: He opposed supplying coronavirus vaccines to Gazans on the grounds that Hamas is holding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, and two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed…the standard argument made by opponents of transferring vaccines is, “Let the Gazans take care of themselves” – meaning the vaccines will not come from Israel, there are other countries that will donate them. How exactly are they supposed to take care of themselves? Israel is responsible for the blockade that has lasted for 15 years and Gazans have no way to immunize themselves. Everything that enters Gaza (and often doesn’t enter) enters with Israeli approval. Make up your minds: Blockade or “Let them take care of themselves.” The two don’t go together. Also, Hauser and friends are trying to win votes by spreading hatred as they cynically ignore the fact that everything that was said in the Knesset meeting is liable to be cited by the International Criminal Court in The Hague when it addresses the question of whether Israel employs collective punishment. What shall we call harming an entire public because of its unelected leadership, if not collective punishment?
A Day After Biden Finally Called Him, Netanyahu Decided to Spit in Democrats’ Faces (Alon Pinkas, Haaretz+) Fresh from his ‘warm’ conversation with the U.S. president, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to eulogize Rush Limbaugh – a man reviled by 99 percent of Biden voters and most American Jews.
It's not about the phone conversation (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) American presidents have tried and failed to influence elections in attempts to derail Netanyahu. If that's what the president is considering, he should think again.
Joe Biden, Meet Israel's Itamar Ben-Gvir (Stav Shaffir, Haaretz+) During my first election campaign I had to go around with a security detail because of death threats from Otzma Yehudit activists. It began when I petitioned against Itamar Ben-Gvir and his cohorts to prevent them from running for Knesset. The petition, which was based on their sickening racist statements and evidence that some of them are involved in terrorist activity, led to most of the party’s leaders being banned from parliament, except for Ben-Gvir, who was spared on the grounds that his involvement in terror was not proven. When he saw that the threats weren’t working, he also sued me for libel for a million shekels. If violence wasn’t working, maybe money would.
The burden of proof in order to ensure proper relations with the United States rests with Netanyahu (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) Commentators in Israel are so preoccupied with pessimistic assessments of what is expected of President Biden that they forget an important factor in this relationship: Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Jewish National Fund for Apartheid (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Meet the Zionism of 2021: “Redeeming” land by the Jewish National Fund in the West Bank, “redeeming land” in the Galilee too, otherwise the holy lands might fall into the hands of impure Israelis, those who are not Jews. If anyone still had any doubts about the nationalist and racist – yes, racist – character of Zionism, even in its modern dress, then along came the chairman of the JNF, Avraham Duvdevani, and removed the last of these doubts. Like many other Zionist texts, his interview with Kalman Liebskind on the Kan 11 public broadcasting station this week needs translation into a European language: just replace the word Arabs with Jews – and be shocked. When the text is in Hebrew and relates to Arabs, it seems it does not shock anyone in Israel. “Help, my neighbor is about to sell the land to a Jew,” the despicable European antisemite will say. “Help, my neighbor is about to sell the land to an Arab,” the pure and moral Zionist will say. That’s the way Zionism is, as one of its leaders told us.
Chasing the Zionist dream, one settlement at a time (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) We must not wait for the international community to approve construction in Judea and Samaria. That will come once Israel has established the facts on the ground.
Bringing the IDF into the 21st century, at last (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) While the years-long delay in making decisions on military procurement constitutes a security scandal, the hard-won approval for recommendations put forward by the military will revolutionize structure of the army for at least three decades.
A Dirty but Effective Way to Start Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Trump’s deal is dead, Biden is busy, the far right dreams of annexation and the far left of BDS, the peace process industry is engrossed in its fantasies. But there’s a practical, unglamorous way to make life better for two million Israelis and Palestinians.
Despots dominate UN agencies (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) American engagement alone cannot fix the World Health Organization and the UN Human Rights Council.
Take a minute before you turn all the Bedouins into rapists (Nava Firer, Yedioth Hebrew) The foul and concenring media wave pointed at the residents of the Bedouin areas [in the south of the country] is (another) symptom of their mistreatment. There is no intention here to deny the phenomenon of crime, just to explain from what ground of alienation and neglect it is growing….Anyone who is not infected with hypocrisy has been following in recent days with great concern the media discourse that paints the Bedouin population in Israel in the war colors of rapists and thieves. The Bedouin community - or as it is officially called "the Bedouin diaspora" - numbers about 380,000 people, and in the eyes of many it is still one piece. The average Israeli knows it - beyond the media reports regarding crime - only through a tourist experience of riding a camel and staying in a encampment. Unfortunately, this also seems to be the level of familiarity among most of the leadership levels in Israel. And here is the root of the injustice. Over the years, deep gaps of mistrust have been created between the various Bedouin communities and the rest of Israel's residents. The state, from its inception, has hardly created a discourse of understanding the needs and adaptations between laws and building processes vis-à-vis the Bedouin community. Sometimes even shameless moves were made. Here is a representative example: 15 years after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the Bedouin evacuees from the (Gaza Strip) village of Dahaniya have not yet received permanent land. This is one of the embarrassing acts of negligence of the State of Israel: Bedouin collaborators [spies for Israel - OH] lived in the village of Dahaniya in the Gaza Strip. Since the disengagement plan they have been waiting for the land as compensation, and only recently are real efforts being made to complete the land settlement procedure. How many of those surfing the Internet heard about the story of the residents of Dahaniya, compared to the parallel stories of the Jewish evacuees from Gush Katif? Exactly. Moving on. When the State of Israel declared distance learning with the outbreak of the corona plague, some 100,000 Bedouin students remained away from the eyes and thoughts of decision-makers. How many students in the Bedouin diaspora have a computer at home? Is internet available? Electricity? This is the mockery of those who have towards those who don’t. In conversations I had with Ukab Aburbia, assistant head of the Al-Qassam Council, who is dealing with seven localities in development, we realized pretty quickly that the solution of learning in open spaces is the most viable alternative for the Bedouin diaspora, one that would allow maximum learning for schools with minimal danger. But it took the State of Israel six months to allow such learning legally. In practice, despite the fact that this is an easy solution that is within touching distance, and despite the willingness of the community, most of the students in the diaspora have missed a full school year. No classes, no zoom, nothing. Not everything is black and there is also good news. Leading policy-makers are working in the field, repairing years of injustices, and in 2017 the second five-year plan was launched at a cost of 3.2 billion shekels. But that is not enough. These plans and budgets are welcome and important moves that are timely, but we will need to reduce the human and value gap by rebuilding trust. There is no attempt here to deny that there is crime in Bedouin society or, God forbid, to make light of it, but just to emphasize that it is not the most important thing. But in my visits to the villages I recognize huge gaps between the simplicity of the personal trust created with the residents and their encounter with life outside the village. These feelings also arise in conversations with them: a direct desire for fair treatment, integration into Israeli society and paving the way for respect. These days, disgusting and dangerous messages are flying between the media reports, mainly against the background of the suspicion of the rape of a 10-year-old (by three Bedouin) in her home. Stop this. The entire State of Israel must stop and do national, community and personal soul-searching when it comes to sexual offenses in general and children in particular. Not only when the criminals are Bedouin. Sexual abuse of girls and boys is perpetrated in every locality in Israel, and also by Jews. (Nava Firer is a leader of policy and strategy vis-à-vis ultra-Orthodox and Arab society. She is the founder of the "Banu” (We Came) movement. Former CEO of "Awakening in Jerusalem.”)
Is Israeli media inflicted with Stockholm syndrome? (Michal Aharoni, Israel Hayom) For the past four election campaigns, Israeli media has failed to confront the prime minister on anything. Moreover, he kicks it and it just comes back for more.
Disqualify Israel's Central Elections Committee (Haaretz Editorial) The Central Elections Committee’s decision Wednesday to disqualify the candidacy of Ibtisam Mara’ana, seventh on the Labor slate of candidates for the Knesset, could not have been more predictable. With the same degree of certainty, we can expect the Supreme Court to overturn the decision. This is how it works in the Middle East’s only democracy: In each election campaign, the Central Elections Committee is asked to disqualify Arab candidates and parties and the Supreme Court then overturns the decision. The disqualification of Mara’ana, or of any other candidate or slate for the Knesset, is an infringement of the most basic right in a democracy: the right to vote and to be elected.
The racism that does not go away (Elyakim Rubinstein, Yedioth Hebrew) A.) On racism and the election campaign: It has been said more than once that there is a small racist in each of us. The addresses of racism, of course, change. There are those who have a different “Other" who is different from them in the color of his skin, his nationality, his religion and so on. There are those who direct racism according to political needs, and it may be "mobile racism." The current address, because of the corona, is the ultra-Orthodox. Some of them "honestly" were due the criticism they received, but the vast majority fulfill the obligations of the period, even in the conditions of severe overcrowding of small apartments and large families. They are not "entitled" to hostility, let alone hatred. Some of these emotions stem from a lack of familiarity, stereotypes, or the desire for military service (a real problem), and the path from an image to attribution of sweeping danger is short. The election campaign is intensifying this. I remember a story about the cantor who returned home every night with a sad face. His wife asked, why is your face sad? He replied that the synagogue leader had told me that I had not prayed well. The woman replied, leave this fool, what everyone is saying goes back at them. But the role of the heads of public and media is not so. It is to moderate, to calm and not to echo attacks. Please - give respect to humanity, and sympathy for all of us.
Palestinians Should Drag Architects of Settlements to the ICC (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Their fingerprints are on every square centimeter, their expertise and professionalism in every bend in the road. They are the planners, architects and contractors who are turning the West Bank into an Israeli-Jewish district: a mix of upscale towns and neighborhoods in the style of Ramat Hasharon and Savyon combined with the Tower and Stockade Zionist communities of the 1930s, Wild West-style ranches, New Jersey-style suburbs and roofs like Swiss chalets. Prestigious living at reasonable prices for Jews only. And on Palestinian land, at the expense of the Palestinian freedom of choice, development and future.
Why Meretz Is So Important (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) It’s very important for Meretz to survive and stay in the Knesset. Labor hasn’t spoken for quite a while about the occupation, doesn’t enthuse about defending the New Israel Fund or Breaking the Silence, and won’t deal with the violence committed by extremist settlers. Meretz has Mossi Raz and Gaby Lasky, who will always be there on this issue, and Horowitz, Zandberg, Yair Golan and Esawi Freij have never abandoned it. In a Knesset that’s about to become the most right-wing ever, the mere presence of lawmakers from the other side of the spectrum isn’t much to write home about. On the other hand, having four of them – the minimum a party needs to enter Knesset – is better than none.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.