APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday March 17, 2021
Quote of the day:
"For me there are two types of people who are totally unacceptable: those under criminal indictment and Kahanists who are racists."
--Meretz party chairman, Nitzan Horowitz, says in an interview that he won't be recommending Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu form the next government.*
- High voter rate is fear of small parties and hope for Netanyahu
- Poll: Likud getting stronger. Yesh Atid, New Hope and Yamina getting weaker
- (Joint List chairman Ayman) Odeh: Center-left needs a path that doesn’t depend on “Just Not Bibi”
- Sources in law enforcement system: Police failed to investigate sexual assault claim against Meshi-Zahav for a long time
- Education Ministry blocked principals from accessing data about which teachers’ and pupil’s did not get vaccinated
- Fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls and 6,000-year-old skeleton found in Judean Desert
- Over four men // Sami Peretz on who is responsible if Netanyahu wins again
- Not just submarines: (State witness) Ganor and (Netanyahu’s cousin and lawyer who is indicted) Shimron have a row of business initiatives in the energy field whose fate depends on Netanyahu
- The game of chairs
- Jump in number of youth with eating disorders
- “My two grandchildren will grow up without their mothers” (Hebrew)
- The wild boars that are dividing Haifa - Some residents want them out and others are on the boars’ side (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
- The big blitz (photos of Lapid and Netanyahu)
- Ancient treasure
- The tragedy of the sisters from Jisr A-Zarka: The two gave birth one after the other and both died of corona days later
- Commit to a right-wing government
- Effectivity of vaccine among pregnant women - 97%
- The recording that hints: Netanyahu will try to draft former Gantz and Sa’ar voters
- Belgian survivor of Sabena hijacking: “I want to be be vaccinated in Israel”
- The Dead Sea Scrolls - Chapter 2
- Senior officials in ZAKA distance themself from Meshi-Zahav: “We’re ashamed to show the organization’s emblem”
- Reminder to the right-wing: There won’t be another opportunity to fight over the rule // Erez Tadmor
Top News Summary:
The final stretch of campaigning before the elections as the battle between Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Likud leader Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gets even tougher, the discovery of more fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of a 6,000-year-old skeleton (and how) and the corona deaths of two sisters who both just gave birth days apart were today’s top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, the Syrian army confirmed that its air defenses were triggered by strikes on Damascus suburbs last night, but no deaths were reported. And, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi began their persuasion tour in Europe in Germany, meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to discuss two issues: The Hague’s investigation of Israel for war crimes and Iran’s nuclear program. Rivlin thanked Germany for standing with Israel against the investigation and called for a unified voice against Iran. (Maariv)
Also, ‘Israel Hayom’ reported that ‘pro-Israel groups’ [evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish] are trying to get cancelled US President Joe Biden’s nomination of Colin Kahl to be undersecretary of defense because he is a “serial Iran appeaser with close ties to Tehran's allies in the United States.” Kahl worked at the Pentagon in the 2000s during the George W. Bush administration and under the Obama administration from 2014 to 2017.
Yedioth’s political affairs correspondent, Yuval Karni writes that with six days left, each party leader has a different strategy: Netanyahu battles Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, tries to weaken Gideon Sa’ar and Naftali Bennett and strengthen Jewish supremacists Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir so that they cross the minimum threshold, Lapid is trying to take voters away from Benny Gantz’s Kahol-Lavan party and to save the Meretz party, New Hope’s Gideon Sa’ar is trying to get the disappointed voters from the Likud to vote for him and reach a double-digit number of seats so he can present himself as the only one who can replace Netanyahu and Yamina’s leader, Naftali Bennett. Bennett, meanwhile, is trying to reach more than six seats out of the 120 so he can be the kingmaker of the elections and place himself on the level of a national leader.
- A Week Before Election, Poll Shows Netanyahu Strengthening at the Expense of Main Rivals - Channel 12 poll finds Netanyahu's approval ratings remain strong at 35%, while only 9% think New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar should be prime minister. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Netanyahu to Ynet: Our polls tell us we have enough for coalition - In an interview with Ynet TV one week before the elections, PM says he will not sit in the government with Arab parties, including Mansour Abbas; adds there will not be another lockdown and he has 4 more normalization deals on the way. (Ynet)
- Benny Gantz calls PM Netanyahu 'trash' - Defense Minister excoriates Prime Minister Netanyahu, calling him 'that trash' - before walking back comment. (Yedioth, p. 3 and MaarivOnline)
- Former MK sues Yair Netanyahu for sexual harassment - Dispute between Shaffir and Yair Netanyahu dates back to last Passover when they two lashed out at each other on Twitter. Yair tweeted that Shaffir was ugly outside and inside, calling on her to "find an Arab husband who will not dump you, go to some village, convert to Islam and leave us alone." Shaffir retorted by describing the younger Netanyahu as a "liar, wicked, racist, harasser." She is now suing him for NIS 143,603 ($44,000) for defamation and NIS 120,000 ($36,000) for sexual harassment. (Israel Hayom)
- Yamina lawmaker Shaked vows to end 'endless loop of elections' - In an interview for i24NEWS and Israel Hayom, the lawmaker touted Yamina's position between the two key blocs on the Israeli political stage – those supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those against him. (Haaretz+)
- Lapid Says His Party Should Be the One to Lead 'Regime Change' After Israel's Election - Yesh Atid chair, who so far shied away from declaring a bid for prime minister, also says it's 'important' left-wing Meretz makes it into the Knesset after next week's vote. (Haaretz+)
- Islamist Ra'am party reportedly ready for talks with anti-Netanyahu bloc - Likud and Ra'am have previously been in talks over the Arab party's possible endorsement of PM Netanyahu after the March 23 elections, but Ra'am chief Mansour Abbas has yet to declare which bloc he plans to endorse. (Ra’am broke off from the Joint List party.) (Israel Hayom)
- Arab Party Leader Digs at Rival Faction Breakaway: 'Netanyahu Used You' - Speaking at a Haaretz conference ahead of next week's election, the Joint List's Ayman Odeh urges Israeli center-left parties to build a new path based on more than 'Anyone but Netanyahu.' (Haaretz+)
- Why Israeli Parties Are Investing More Than Ever in Targeting the 'Anglo' Vote- With most campaigning being done online this year, it's never been easier for parties to engage with potential voters from Israel's English-speaking community. (Haaretz+)
Plea Bargain Would Let Officials of Israeli Arab (‘Balad’) Party Officials Avoid Prison Over Campaign
Funding Fraud - Former lawmaker Haneen Zoabi is one of three dozen Balad figures suspected of
concealing nearly $1 million in 2013 election campaign funding. (Haaretz+)
- How Israel Failed to Investigate Alleged Police Shooting of Palestinian Boy Who Lost an Eye - The investigation into the incident in which 9-year-old Malek Issa lost an eye has revealed contradictory versions from officers, and the Justice Ministry seems to have skipped key parts of the probe. The case was closed anyway. (Haaretz+)
- Jerusalem Seeks to Reactivate Demolition Orders in Palestinian Area, Backing Out of Agreement - For years, the city and residents of Silwan's al-Bustan neighborhood were in talks on housing solutions for Palestinian families whose homes would be torn down to build an archaeological park. (Haaretz+)
- Israeli bulldozers level farmlands northwest of Bethlehem - An Israeli military force escorted a bulldozer Tuesday into Beit Jala farmland, where the heavy machinery razed a plot of farmland, covering an area of four dunams, belonging to Ramzi Qaisieh. (WAFA)
- Settlers work on Palestinian land in Masafer Yatta in step to take it over - Settlers from illegal settlements of Maon and Karmiel, and under army protection, razed agricultural lands Tuesday in al-Oyoun al-Beed of Masafer Yatta and owned by three local families in order to take them over to expand their settlements and connect them together. (WAFA)
- WATCH: Israeli Arabs stage flash mob to highlight fatal shootings - Event organizers say demonstration in heart of Tel Aviv is attempt to raise awareness of rampant gang violence and shootings that have claimed the lives of 24 members of the community since the start of the year alone. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
- Palestinians suffocate in clashes with Israeli soldiers in Kufr Aqab, north of Jerusalem - Israeli forces stormed the town through a hole they dug in Israel’s apartheid barrier that surrounds the town of Kufr ‘Aqab, and showered residents with tear gas canisters, causing dozens of suffocation cases among them. (WAFA)
- Palestine Supporters Mark 18th Anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s Murder by Israeli Forces - Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer on 16 March 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition. (IMEMC)
- Attorney General: Crime has changed dramatically in 10 years - Israel's chief law-enforcement official stresses it is crucial that various government agencies ensure that the judiciary carries outs its duties in a democracy by upholding the rule of law. (Israel Hayom)
- First publication: Non-commissioned officer in combat unit suspected of stealing hundreds of stun grenades from the IDF - The IDF Military Police in cooperation with the Jerusalem Squadron of the Israel Police, has been conducting an undercover investigation in recent months, on suspicion that a non-commissioned officer stole grenades for sale to criminals. (Maariv)
- Iron Dome receives upgrade, can now engage several threats at once - The technological leap has been achieved following a series of trials conducted by the Missile Defense Organization and the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. "Israelis can sleep peacefully," says Defense Minister Benny Gantz. (Maariv and Israel Hayom)
- Palestinian factions sign a code of honor in Cairo to guarantee success of upcoming elections - The parties committed not to exercise any form of pressure, intimidation, treason, blasphemy, violence, or any form of blackmail against any of the candidates or voters. (WAFA and Israel Hayom)
- Study: Despite their small number, Palestinian Christians have vivid, strong presence - The study has proven that “in spite of their dwindling size in comparison to communities of other faiths, the Christian developmental and humanitarian work has continued to flourish by extending its support to local residents with various backgrounds and in every aspect of life.” (WAFA)
- With vaccine imports faltering, Iran advances with homegrown COVID vaccine trial - Iran's third local inoculation enters its clinical trial phase, with just 2 percent of the population vaccinated amid one of the worst outbreaks in the Middle East. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Iranian Politics and 'Tactical Problems' Impede Renewal of Nuclear Talks, France Says - French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says that while there was a stated will to return to talks, tensions remained. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Hezbollah worries Russia is pushing regime change in Syria - Russian paper reports that Hezbollah delegation used rare visit to Moscow to ask Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about Russia's stance on the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. (Israel Hayom)
- War in Yemen Is 'Back in Full Force,' Says UN Mediator - UN mediator tells council that there has been a dramatic deterioration in the more than six-year-long war with a Houthi offensive on Marib the Yemeni government's last northern stronghold putting millions of civilians at risk. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Oman blocks Clubhouse app - Oman has cut off access to the buzzy new audio chat app Clubhouse, the government said, setting off fears that authorities across the Persian Gulf may censor a rare forum for discussion of sensitive topics in the region. (Israel Hayom)
The Jordanian Failure of Netanyahu – and the Israeli Opposition (Noa Landau,Haaretz+) Netanyahu schemed for and feted the normalization of ties with the Arab states that are part of the Abraham Accords, but security and foreign-affairs experts have been warning for many years about a mounting crisis with our older neighbor to the east. Israel’s embrace of the security guard at the Amman embassy after he shot two Jordanians in a clash nearby, and the return of land at Tzofar and Naharayim were just two boiling points in 25 years of a steadily cooling peace.
From courts to campuses, US Palestine advocates are reclaiming their free speech
Despite 'all-out assault' on Palestine advocacy, legal victories and grassroots organizing are creating new opportunities for activism under Biden, says Palestine Legal attorney Meera Shah. (Interviewed by Amjad Iraqi in 972mag)
Israel’s Theft Business Against the Palestinians Is as Thriving as Ever (Amira Hass,Haaretz+) Reports about Jewish serial rapists are bearing fruit. More victims are daring to testify and the police are investigating. Another wall of silence is collapsing. The phallocracy isn’t what it used to be. Reports of Jewish thugs attacking Palestinians are also bearing fruit – more funding and land are allocated for settlements and outposts. The police aren’t investigating, while the army is hunting for parrots it says were stolen. The colonialism is exactly what it used to be, except it’s more sophisticated.
The Museum of Islam provides a rare glimpse into the culture that many Israelis paint as an enemy (Ran Adelist, Maariv) Forget for a moment about the eternal election wars we are in, and listen to a story about two museums that have recently made headlines in two different contexts. One of them is "We - The Museum of the Jewish People" in Tel Aviv. It is clear to me why the Museum of the Jewish People is located in Tel Aviv and not in Jerusalem, since the Jewish people exhibited and represented by the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv are not the Jewish people in Jerusalem who would probably push to the front of the stage. According to the abundance of reports and the list of finds and exhibits published in the media, it seems that the Jewish people on display at the Tel Aviv Museum, which I have not yet visited, are radically different from the Jewish people and Judaism as it was formulated by the national religious right-wing in Israel. Beit Hatfutsot (the Diaspora Museum), on which the new museum was built, was the fruit of the thought and work of a European Ashkenazi hegemony, which saw the establishment of the state from the perspective of the victory of redemption over the Diaspora. It seems that "We - the Museum of the Jewish People" presents Judaism more as a history of which religion is a part, but not as a nation that religion admires. Even if different synagogues from all over the world are displayed there, the emphasis is on the artistic, cultural and anthropological identity of each and every community. The emphasis in general is on the achievements of the Jewish people, and especially the leading names in science and culture in the sense of contributing to world science and culture. The huge display includes costumes from the show “Anafaza” by the Batsheva dance troupe, a photo from "He Went to the Fields" with Asi Dayan, excerpts from the film “The Big Lebowski" by directors Joel and Eitan Cohen, the alien ET from Stephen Spielberg’s film and Leonard Cohen's guitar - (all of) which explain that it "we are the world,” not just "we are the Jewish people.” The refreshing section is the prominent place of hundreds of women in Jewish and world history, including movie star Hedy Lamarr. At the same time, it was published a few days ago about the attempt to stop the sale of important items of the Museum of Islam in Jerusalem at an auction at Sotheby's, and (the items) will soon be open to the public. As part of the auction scandal, it will be recalled that those in charge of the museum sought to sell the exhibits "because of financial hardship," which could have uprooted the attempt to bring Jews and Muslims together through art. The aforesaid auction was stopped in the High Court, with Qatar paying the exit fee from the sale. The plot stinks, but the result is uplifting. The over 200 rare Islamic items that will remain in the museum are supposed to provide a glimpse into the culture that many Israelis paint as an enemy.
An autopsy for the Left (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) The Left no longer puts up a fight or provokes outrage.
Perhaps You Just Feel at Home With Netanyahu in Charge (Gideon Sa'ar, Haaretz+) In her op-ed, “The bluff of a stately right-wing” (Haaretz, March 15), Ravit Hecht described the Israeli right in schematic terms, saying that it comprises haters of Mapai, a forerunner of the Labor Party, as well as settlers and Haredim. In fact, the camp that is to the right of center is much more varied.
Netanyahu takes a page from Republican playbook (Irit Tratt, Israel Hayom) Netanyahu's calculated understanding of the Arab electorate harkens back to former President Trump famously quipping in 2016 "What do you have to lose" when appealing to an audience whose minority attendees had tired of the Democratic party.
A fight for Israel's character over the next 30 years (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Because of the issues at stake, I expect Naftali Bennett to pause his personal ambitions, whose time will come, and openly declare he will only join a right-wing government.
Russia does not intend to leave the Middle East, Israel must take advantage of this(Isaac Levanon, Maariv) A decade into the outbreak of civil war in the neighboring country of Syria and we are in a worse situation than we were, and no solution is in sight. In this matter, Israel must take advantage of the hotline between Jerusalem and Moscow.
Egypt Wants to Do Business With Israel – Just Don’t Talk About It (David Rosenberg,Haaretz+) After 40 years of cold peace, Cairo is signaling that it wants more trade, investment and tourism with its neighbor. Are ordinary Egyptians ready?
Why does Hamas want women in its leadership? (Shahar Klaiman, Israel Hayom) Ahead of the Palestinian legislative elections, Hamas is trying to present itself as moderate, democratic, and receptive to public criticism.
*'If We Don’t Pass, There Won’t Be a Left in the Knesset'
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz dreads the possibility of his party vanishing in next week's election. In an interview with Haaretz, he tells about his disgust with homophobic statements made inside and outside his party, and says identity politics is used by conservatives to destroy the left. “Part of the reason that the left is having problems today is because of the systematic de-legitimization of it by [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and his associates for years. So we have a very long and very sharp account with Netanyahu. We won’t sit in the government with him under any circumstances. Bibi must go and we have to change Bibi’s path. That’s why I won’t support (New Hope leader, Gideon) Sa’ar either.” (Interviewed by Ravit Hecht in Haaretz+)
'Time to change anachronistic laws of war,' says Israeli counter-terrorism expert
Responding to the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate IDF actions as "war crimes," Professor Boaz Ganor says that modern terrorists have adapted their activities to exploit the constraints of combat faced by liberal democratic states. (Interviewed by Yaakov Lappin, Israel Hayom)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.