News Nosh 3.4.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Thursday March 4, 2021

Quote of the day:

"What difference is there between that and measuring the length of a Jew’s nose or preserving the purity of the Aryan race?"
--Haaretz+ journalist Gideon Levy writes in an Op-Ed about ultra-Orthodox MK Yitzhak Pindrus' reaction to the High Court ruling that Conservative and Reform Jewish conversions be recognized by the state in which he said a woman not converted by the ultra-Orthodox is "a shiksa" and is not the "seed of Israel."* 

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Exclusive: “The bottom line is bad management. Both with corona and with the nuclear (issue)” - A., retiring Deputy Mossad Chief, in a rare testimony about the decision-making in Israel in the era of Binyamin Netanyahu (Hebrew)
  • The Hague strike
  • The familiar hypocrisy // Tova Zimuky (Hebrew)
  • The direction is clear // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • IDF vs. the court - IDF makes clear what is command responsibility and refuses to accept the ruling of the judge, who canceled the dismissal of a commander in the Military Police investigative unit and declares: He is the one responsible for the interrogation because of which soldier Niv Lubaton committed suicide (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • Shame, The Hague version
  • Win, diplomatically, not judicially // Amnon Lord
  • Chronicle of a result known in advance // Nitzana Dershan-Leitner
  • Moral shame under legal cover // Dror Eydar
  • “Environmental terror”: Libyan oil tanker suspected of oil spill
  • "We will replace the rule only from the right-wing” - Yemina chairman Naftali Bennet in interview. “If we get 15 mandates, I’ll be prime minister”
  • Chaos: There’s info on the teachers’ vaccinations, but not on the daycare assistants
  • Initiative: The ‘hilula’ celebrations on Mt. Meron will be open only to vaccinated
  • The letter that proves: The letter by the National Security Council chief regarding vaccines was not just about Palestinians
  • Not just corona: 50 children recovering from the virus, got an inflammatory syndrome

Top News Summary:

Accusations of anti-Semitism by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, praise by the Palestinian Authoritydefensiveness by Hamas and rejection by the US after the International Criminal Court at The Hague officially declared it was opening an investigation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Israel’s Environment Minister blames Iran for the oil spill that hit Israel’s beaches and accuses it of ‘environmental terror,’ but adirector in the ministry says it was an old tanker that was smuggling oil (also Maariv) - making top news in the Hebrew press.

Also, Yedioth published an exclusive interview with the retiring deputy director of the Mossad, who said that US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement with Iran was the goal of an overt and covert Israeli operation in which the Mossad "implemented the directive of the political echelon.” (See translation in 'Interviews' below.)

Security and Diplomacy:

  • Hezbollah deputy head: We are not interested in war with Israel - Naim Qassem stressed that Hezbollah intends to "remain in a state of defense," but would make Israel "see stars" if it attacks the Lebanese terrorist group. He made the comments in an interview with Al-Mayadeen on Wednesday night. (Maariv and JPost)
  • Iran hopes Saudis, UAE, Bahrain 'not foolish enough' to strike defense pact with Israel - Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are "unlikely foolish enough" to enter a defense pact with Israel, Iran's former Defense Minister and Expediency Council member Brig. Gen. Ahmed Wahidi told Russian outlet RT channel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Saudi official: Netanyahu spearheads fight against Iran, we hope gov't won't change
  • "[We] ... not only like Netanyahu but love him. He is terrific. He has the necessary charisma and he knows what he is doing. We are really worried the leader of the opposition will replace him, and change things", he said, referring to Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid faction. (Israel Hayom)

Elections 2021:

  • ‘Center-left Ready to Sacrifice Values to Replace Netanyahu,’ Says Labor Party Leader - Merav Michaeli said she wasn't treated enough 'like a Messiah,' while fellow left-winger Nitzan Horowitz hits at Labor party for being ashamed of its Arab candidate. (Haaretz+)
  • Sources in the health system to Maariv: “We fear that the election is affecting the prime minister's - “In recent days there has been general disappointment with his conduct." Other sources said: "Decisions are political." (Maariv)
  • MK Matan Kahana from Yamina party: "We will create the most right-wing government, which will restrain the High Court" - In an interview with the Ynet studio, the Knesset member did not hint at anything about his party chairman Bennett's plans after the election - and the question of whether he will sit under Netanyahu is still up in the air.  (Ynet Hebrew)

Corona-related Quickees:

  • Denmark urged not to cooperate with Israel's 'vaccine apartheid' - Ahead of Austrian and Danish leaders' visit to Israel to formulate vaccine alliance, officials in Denmark slam Israel's alleged refusal to vaccine the public in the West Bank, Gaza; 'Apartheid and global solidarity should not go hand in hand,' says one lawmaker. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israel to Vaccinate Palestinian Workers at Settlement and in Checkpoint Starting Sunday - COVID vaccines from Moderna have been allocated for the 120,000 Palestinians with permits to work in Israel and in West Bank settlements. (Haaretz+)
  • Is Israel on the verge of another COVID outbreak? - Israel's infection rate stands at 5.2% as 4,143 people test positive for the coronavirus, Wednesday. Military intelligence task force finds coronavirus vaccine effective against all known variants in Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • South American Immigrants Arrive in Israel After 40 Days in Limbo - The logjam was broken thanks to a partnership between the Jewish Agency and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a charity that helps facilitate immigration to Israel. (Haaretz)

Quick Hits:

  • Fourteen Arrested for Attack on Arab Israeli in Jerusalem, Leading to Another Man's Death - The driver, Ibrahim Hamed of E. Jerusalem, was fleeing an attack during violent ultra-Orthodox protest when he ran over and killed a 47-year-old man, police said. Ben Abu’s family has said that they do not blame Hamed for the death, but rather the rioters. Hamed is facing manslaughter charges, despite ostensibly being a victim of racially motivated violence himself. Security camera footage showed him fleeing into a store after the incident and pleading for help. "Someone came up on him from behind while he was in the car, grabbed him and strangled him. People were kicking him and beating him from all directions. This is a lynching.” (MaarivHaaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Israel Presses (threatens) Hamas Activists Not to Run in Palestinian Elections- Shin Bet coordinators have warned activists that running for the legislature could result in their being separated from their families. (Haaretz+)
  • Three Bedouin siblings from Hura die after fire traps them inside tent house - The deceased children were identified as four-year-old Lila, three-year-old Khaled and one-year-old Avrar Mohammad Au Sabbith. (Maariv and JPost)
  • The Niv Lubaton (suicide) affair: IDF rejects the decision not to take action against an commander at Military Police Investigations Unit - The appeal against the decision of the district court judge seeks to repeal the directive not to take measures against the unit commander. It was alleged that the ruling "undermines the IDF's concept of command responsibility.” The IDF says that Cpl. Niv Lubaton of the Givati Brigade took his own life after two Military Police intelligence coordinators had sought to recruit him as an informant. (Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • IDF soldier lightly wounded, has weapon stolen during solo navigation - IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi says the incident, which took place in the Arab-Israeli town of Shafram, crossed a red line. NGO: How can IDF soldiers protect the people of Israel if they aren't allowed to protect themselves? (Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli military faces battle over beards - New 'Beard Exemptions for All' campaign seeks to cut discrimination in the IDF against secular soldiers, who are compelled to be clean-shaven, while their religious counterparts are exempt from the rule. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Haredi party faces backlash after video likening non-Orthodox converts to dogs - United Torah Judaism releases campaign video showing dogs wearing skullcaps and prayer shawls, with a narrator telling the audience, 'in the High Court of Justice, this is a Jew'; video released in response to High Court ruling on conversion. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Bedouin cultural archive comes to Israel's National Library - Archive includes such resources as 350 hours of interviews and recordings from world-renowned Bedouin expert Clinton Bailey's research, as well as hundreds of images, slides and video clips documenting Bedouin tribal culture over the past half-century. (Israel Hayom)
  • Egypt's Aboul Gheit reappointed as Arab League chief - 78-year-old veteran diplomat known to be pragmatist with strong enmity for political Islam factions like Muslim Brotherhood; was sole nominee for post that is traditionally nominated by Cairo. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • 10 rockets land at Iraqi airbase hosting U.S. forces - Attack on military base, the second within a month, comes just days before Pope Francis's visit in Iraq on Friday and a week after U.S. carried out retaliatory airstrike in eastern Syria that killed one fighter in an Iranian-backed militia. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Yemen's Houthis say US is prolonging war by imposing sanctions - "America is condemning itself and confirming that it is not thinking about stopping the aggression" by sanctioning the Houthi Naval Forces chief of staff and commander of the Houthi-aligned Yemeni Air Force. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

ICC undermines its own legitimacy (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) Every justice-seeking country should stand with Israel and condemn the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes.
The decision of Te Hague Tribunal could have far-reaching consequences (Adv. Oded Saborai, Maariv) The opening of the investigation brings us one step closer to the dramatic event of a trial in the International Court of Justice against Israeli soldiers or citizens, but the drama will still remain "on paper" at this stage.
ICC probe could take years, but Israel is preparing (Itamar Eichner, Tova Zimuky,Yedioth/Ynet) With the lengthy process yet to get underway and chief prosecutor Bensouda leaving in June, Jerusalem believes that her British successor could reverse course; meanwhile, it has the support of its strongest ally, the U.S.
Israel must fight the ICC diplomatically, not legally (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) If legal officials do have a role, from this point forward it should be preparing the legal tools to buttress the political fight on the international stage.
Legal Iron Dome (Tova Zimuky, Yedioth Hebrew) Israel's main weapon in the fight against The Hague tribunal is its independent judicial institutions - such as the High Court  
The International Criminal Court's decision against Israel yesterday is highly controversial because it is painted in the absolute politicization that surrounds the decisions of the court in The Hague, and these undermine its legitimacy.
The gross hypocrisy of the ICC (Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Israel Hayom) The Hague's chief prosecutor loses sleep over the issue of the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise but has no problem ignoring the gruesome atrocities committed elsewhere in the world. 
*A 'Pure' Jewish State, as Dictated by This Ultra-orthodox Lawmaker (Gideon Levy,Haaretz+) MK Yitzhak Pindrus, chairman of the United Torah Judaism Knesset faction, comes across as well-spoken and fairly up to date. Pindrus is also the only politician who has run in elections for three different municipalities. This is what Pindrus said this week at a conference on conversion sponsored by the Kipa website and Itim about a woman soldier who converted through the IDF: “I’m not willing to compromise on a shiksa or other goy becoming part of the Jewish people. If she converted with an IDF conversion, she is a shiksa. She is a total goy. This is critical. If someone marries her, the father needs to sit shiva, to tear his clothing in mourning and recite kaddish. She is not the ‘seed of Israel.’” Leaving aside the style – Pindrus apologized for his use of the despicable term “shiksa”; leaving aside, too, that Ben-Zion Netanyahu should have sat shiva for his son Benjamin after he married the shiksa Fleur Cates, who underwent a Conservative conversion and only later an Orthodox one as well; leaving aside the revolting racist, almost Nazi-like implications of the term “seed of Israel” – what difference is there between that and measuring the length of a Jew’s nose, or preserving the purity of the Aryan race?
We have not yet exhausted the many benefits of the old agreement with Jordan (Dr. Orit Miller-Katab, Maariv) The reported warming in Israeli-Jordanian relations, after years of distance, raises hopes that we may finally succeed in realizing the potential of the old peace agreement between the two countries…The peace agreement with Jordan is a regional point of light. Between Israel and Jordan lies the longest border line, the two countries share the same water sources and the same landscape, from the Golan Heights through the Arava to the Red Sea, and have a history of ties and respect. This is a peace agreement that should be accompanied by cooperation in all areas of industry, security and agriculture. As part of a real peace agreement, it would be appropriate to invite the Jordanian king, to give him a tour throughout the country, and of course to give him the honor of delivering a speech in the Knesset, in which he directly addresses all residents (in the region:) Jews, Palestinians, his people and neighboring peoples.
Our relations with African countries are reaching a peak, improving our image in the world (Isaac Lebanon, Maariv) After an absence of nearly 50 years, Israel is once again present in Africa and impressively. It worked because we moved from a passive policy to an active policy.

*The retiring Deputy Mossad chief: Trump's withdrawal from the agreement with Iran was the goal of an overt and covert Israeli operation in which the Mossad "implemented the directive of the political echelon"
He headed the Mossad's operations unit during the operation to steal Iran’s nuclear archive, he commanded the Caesarea branch and was he there when the Mossad was called to help stop the epidemic: In a comprehensive interview with Yedioth Ahronoth after completing 34 years of service, A. reveals that Trump's withdrawal from the agreement with Iran was the goal of an overt and covert Israeli operation in which the Mossad "implemented the directive of the political echelon" and took a series of different actions to make it happen. And he says of Netanyahu: "You took us out of the agreement, and then what? Our situation is worse today.” And, "Compare the corona to the treatment of the Iranian nuclear program: the amount of uranium Iran has accumulated, its regional spread. It's terrible. But how were the operations we carried along the way? Amazing. The same with the corona. Soon, 6,000 victims, but how was the vaccination operation. Great, no? That’s not a success.” A. tells of the operation to steal the archive, which he defines as the Mossad’s "operation of the century,” and says that Israel must change its approach to the struggle against Iran and transfer this "war of attrition to Tehran," to use the war through an emissary against the Iranians. A. warns that the independence of the Mossad is in danger, or as he puts it: "I have criticism that the system has not sufficiently preserved its independent opinion in recent years," and strongly opposes the trend of publishing secret operations. (Interviewed by Nadav Eyal in Friday’s Yedioth Hebrew)

Naftali Bennett confident he will be Israel's next PM
Yamina's leader reiterates plans to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but says that the possibility of a coalition with Likud under Yamina's leadership is not necessarily off the table. (Interviewed by Yehuda Shlezinger in Israel Hayom)

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