News Nosh 5.5.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday May 5, 2021

Quote of the day:

"More than 80% of Arab society is Muslim, and the Druze and Christian minorities also respect the month of Ramadan and recognize it as part of the collective Arab culture. But it’s not known among the Jews. Why is this information not taught in the education system? Why does a child who grew up in the country alongside us not know what we do?"
--Saja Khilani writes in Ynet Hebrew.*

Breaking News:
Israel Struck Near Latakia Overnight, Syria TV Reports
Israeli missiles targeted Haffeh and Masyaf and struck a civilian plastic warehouse among other locations, state TV says. (Haaretz)

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • There is no mandate - The decision goes to the President: Netanyahu failed to form a government
  • The right-wing’s dilemma // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Apple Pay begins in Israel beginning today
  • $124 billion, divided by two - The Gates couple divorces

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Netanyahu lost the mandate
  • State Comptroller at Mt. Meron
  • The legislation for a direct vote for prime minister was blocked
  • The attack at Tapuach Junction: Suspects were arrested for (allegedly) aiding the terrorist

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
The right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties are blaming each other after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s failed to form a government by the deadline last night and now President Reuven Rivlin is expected to pass the mandate to Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid, who will likely give far right-wing Yamina party chairman MK Naftali Bennett the first go in a rotation government making top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with arrests made during the search for a Palestinian-American young man who shot and injured three settler teens at a West Bank checkpoint.  At the Netanyahu corruption trial, the state witness continued to tell unflattering stories about the premier and his family.

In the capital, where there are almost 1,000,000 residents - (952,000 including E. Jerusalem), 62% Jewish and 38% Arab - tension is increasing on the east side. In the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of E. Jerusalem, Israel plans to evict numerous Palestinian families, who are expected be replaced by settlers who pushed for their eviction. Israeli Police arrested two Palestinians and used ‘skunk water’ and troops on horseback to break up a protest against the evictions and injured three Palestinians in the process. Haaretz+’s Jerusalem affairs reporter, Nir Hasson, wrote that if the Palestinians are evicted and settlers move into their homes things will get worse. [NOTE: Prior to 1948, the homes allegedly belonged to Jews. However, after 1948, the Palestinian families moved in and have lived there ever since. In many such homes over the Green Line, the Jerusalem Municipality has not evicted the Palestinian residents. But in this case the settlers petitioned for their removal. It is important to note that Israel does implement such ownership policies regarding Jews living in Palestinian homes in west Jerusalem and elsewhere across the country. - OH] Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki sent a letter to Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda over Israel’s intention to evict the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. And Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised the Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan “for standing firm in the face of the Israeli occupation which is trying to take over Palestinian properties and expel their Palestinian residents for the benefit of its Judaization schemes.”Even Mohammed Deif, a Hamas military leader in Gaza whom no one has heard from in ages, warned that Israel will pay if it goes through with the evictions.

‘Israel Hayom’ got the prize for its misleading representation regarding construction of housing units in E. Jerusalem as compared to west Jerusalem. The Hebrew headline complained that there was less new Jewish construction in E. Jerusalem than in west Jerusalem. “According to data, construction on 1,310 residential buildings began by Jews in east Jerusalem within the last three years, compared to 5,016 in west Jerusalem.” The article does not say how many Palestinian construction starts there were in the last three years. Nor does it say how many demolitions of Palestinian homes there were. But the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor found that since the beginning of the year,Israel has demolished 31 homes and 27 Palestinian facilities in the city after plans to construct 4,982 new settlement units were approved. Moreover, the part of E. Jerusalem that isn’t cut off by a separation fence is much smaller than west Jerusalem and E. Jerusalem is crowded with Palestinians who can’t really live on the west side. So why would the municipality approve for more settlers to move into E. Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Monday is Jerusalem Day, when right-wing Jewish Israelis hold the annual ‘Flag March’ hate fest against Palestinians in the city. And next Friday is the Muslim holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan. The police have reportedly barred Jewish visitors [i.e. right-wing nationalistic Jews are the ones who visit - OH] from visiting the Temple Mount until further notice in order to ward off tension during Ramadan.

Elections 2021:
The right-wing are looking for the guilty party, accusing each other, because they understand that they will likely be in the opposition in the next government. UPDATE: President Rivlin tasked Lapid with forming a coalition. Lapid has 28 days to form a majority government. Bennett is expected to join Lapid and be first in a rotation, despite having only seven out of the 120 Knesset seats. The right-wing are not happy about that. Bennett was assigned a security detail after receiving death threats. Just before Netanyahu’s mandate ran out, his party, the Likud, rushed to advance legislation. Netanyahu will also lose control over the Arrangements Committee and his political opponents will then be able to promote laws that would block him from future bids to be the prime minister, Ynet wrote.One of the bills was for a direct vote for premier. But Bennett and Arab party Ra’am blocked it.

Quick Hits:

  • Israeli settlers attack Palestinian village after shooting - Human rights group B'Tselem says dozens of settlers attacked the village of Jaloud late Sunday night in response to the drive-by shooting at Tapuach Junction; settlers and Palestinians hurled rocks at each other outside the village
    It appeared to be a revenge attack after three Israelis were wounded in a drive-by shooting at a nearby traffic junction on Sunday. (Ynet)
  • Families of Israel's Lag Ba'omer Stampede Victims at Meron Demand State Inquiry - Families seek inquiry committee into stampede that killed 45 at religious festival, and are expected to meet soon to discuss possible lawsuit. (Haaretz+)
  • In Wake of Meron Disaster, Prominent Rabbi Says ‘Women Should Be More Modest’ - Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, an influential figure in Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, is the latest leader to apparently avoid blaming anyone for the Mount Meron stampede that killed 45 pilgrims. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • The spiritual father of the Haredi soldiers killed on Mount Meron - Hundreds took part in the funeral procession of Rabbi Moshe Tzarfati, who for years volunteered to mentor Haredi IDF soldiers; 'He would come and breathe life into the soldiers,' ex-soldier says. (Ynet)
  • Israeli Environmental Groups Sound the Alarm on UAE Oil Deal, Fearing Harm to Port City - The agreement is expected to significantly increase the amount of oil passing through Israel. A suit filed by green groups says the pipeline company has yet to examine the environmental impact. (Haaretz+)
  • Compelled by Court, Netanyahu's Cabinet Approves Five New Permanent Members - The cabinet was slated to convene Sunday to approve the ministerial appointment, however the meeting was canceled after a national day of mourning was declared in wake of the Mount Meron disaster and the new cabinet members were appointed Monday. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian Foreign Ministry detects five cases of Indian coronavirus variant - Three Palestinian students enrolled in Andhra University tested positive for the Indian variant, bringing the total students infected with it to six. And, two diplomatic staff of the Palestinian embassy in India were found infected of the variant. (WAFA)
  • Israel to send COVID-19 emergency aid to India - Foreign Ministry says series of flights throughout the week would carry aid that included thousands of group and individual oxygen generators, as well as respirators, medications and other medical equipment. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Biden-Mossad Chief 'Meeting' Unlikely to Change Course of U.S.-Iran Nuclear Talks - The reported Cohen-Biden meeting capped a week-long visit to Washington by a senior Israeli delegation, relaying their concerns about a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Biden informs Mossad chief US 'far from returning' to Iran deal - Yossi Cohen tells the American president that it would be a mistake for the US to return to the 2015 deal without improving its provisions beforehand. (Israel Hayom)
  • Biden Stresses Importance of Israel Normalization in Call With UAE Crown Prince - Abu Dhabi's Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan 'expressed his full support for strengthening and expanding these arrangements,' White House says. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Israel, Lebanon Resume U.S.-mediated Talks on Maritime Border - Lebanon, plagued with a deep financial crisis, is eager to resolve the border dispute with Israel, paving the way for potential lucrative oil and gas deals. (Agencies, Haaretzand Ynet)
  • Egypt to purchase of fighter Jets from France - French president also ruled out making France’s deepening defense and trade ties with Egypt conditional on the issue of rights after bilateral relationship under Sisi improved as countries share interests in the Middle East. (Agencies, Ynet)

The New Tahrir Square: Damascus Gate Is Latest Symbol of Palestinian Protest
The beautiful Old City gate has always played a central role in the lives of Palestinians in Jerusalem, but the closure of the plaza during Ramadan has turned it into the epicenter of impassioned demonstrations. (Yanal Jbarin, Haaretz+)
The Hebronization of Jaffa
The recent incidents in Jaffa position Jewish settlers as victims in need of protection, reminiscent of the process spearheaded by settlers in Hebron. (Daniel Monterescu and Yael Shmaryahu-Yeshurun, Haaretz+)

60-year-old Palestinian Woman's Suicide Mission Should Keep Israelis Up at Night(Haaretz Editorial) In his speech on the eve of Memorial Day, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said that soldiers’ behavior “should be a model of good citizenship, an educational ideal and a model to emulate for their entire family, their school, their community and their town.” But the chief of staff’s words are one thing and his soldiers’ actions are another. Soldiers’ behavior at the Gush Etzion Junction earlier this week, which resulted in the death of a 60-year-old Palestinian woman from the village of Husan, is the diametric opposite of everything Kochavi advocated. It’s a badge of shame for the Israel Defense Forces, and for the country as a whole. Video footage of the incident shows an elderly woman wearing a mask against the coronavirus trudging with visible slowness toward the armed soldiers at the site. Her drooping hand is loosely holding a knife. The soldiers shout at her to put the knife down again and again, and also fire in the air. The woman refuses to put down the knife and continues plodding toward them, until two shots are fired. According to the IDF, she was hit in the lower body. But according to the official medical report from Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, she was shot in the stomach. She was pronounced dead a few hours after being shot…
The government of change should not be a "unity government,” but rather a "rehabilitation government" (Prof. Daphna Hacker and Prof. Daphna Yoel, Maariv) A government must be formed that will be composed of right, center and left-wing parties and that will give these three parts a proper place, which will ensure stability and a combination of interests for the salvation of the state and society in Israel.
How America Can Ensure Its Tax Dollars Don’t Fund Israel’s Occupation (Jeremy Ben-Ami, Haaretz+) America allocates nearly $4 billion in military aid to Israel every year. Congress and the Biden administration must establish it’s not exploited to undermine U.S. interests and Palestinian rights by entrenching the occupation.
Wait a minute with the lamenting for Jerusalem (Chaya Gilboa, Yedioth Hebrew)Jerusalem Day will take place next week and will be accompanied by the national sport of crying over the poverty, the neglect, the abandonment and the manifestations of hatred in the city. But the Jerusalem heterogeneity is a gift. And it also works…In anticipation of the impending slander that will accompany Jerusalem Day next week, it is worth mentioning that the city is currently home to the most interesting and diverse civil society. It is possible and necessary to write about the frequent manifestations of hatred and violence, about the poverty and neglect of the east of the city, but it is also important to say that alongside all this there is a large civic group that chooses to live differently; which manages to lead a routine life of contact, meeting and inter-community joint work, and knows how to provide a solution in times of crisis…
Media spins Palestinian 'TikTok intifada' into slander against Israel (James Sinkinson,Israel Hayom) Articles read by millions falsely portray baseless, unprovoked attacks by Jews on unsuspecting Arabs, when in fact the reverse is true.
Why Are Israeli Jews Amazed Arabs Enlisted to Help at Mount Meron? (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The Arabs in the north of Israel expressed shock and enlisted to assist the injured and the rescue services at Mount Meron. That was the essence of the radio report, I believe on Kan’s Reshet Bet channel, that I happened to hear. The reporter sounded emotional, and it seemed as if he wanted to prove something. Arab drivers offered their help, Arabs were called on to donate blood, and Arab MKs Ahmad Tibi, Mansour Abbas and Ayman Odeh used social media to ask for help. Perhaps this was out of solidarity with a religious community harmed during a religious ritual, the reporter said, in an effort to explain the phenomenon. But during other disasters, too, he continued, Arabs enlisted to help. It happened during the Carmel Forest fire, and I think he mentioned another disaster in the north in which Palestinians who are Israeli citizens turned out to assist. My first thought was that the report and the commentary that accompanied it were offensive. Why should Palestinians who live in the area not help the rescue efforts (assuming they don’t faint at the sight of blood or cries of pain), especially if they are employees or owners of private ambulance or bus companies? Why wouldn’t they be upset by the difficult sights, like anyone else? Are Palestinians not human beings who could also imagine in horror the slippery ramp, the unbearable crowding in the narrow passage, and the cries of “I’m suffocating?”
*Every year anew I have to explain what Ramadan is (Saja Khilani, Ynet Hebrew) This is the significant month of the year for about 2 million Israelis, but the Jews know nothing about it. The education system does not understand that culture does not play a zero sum game. You don’t need to choose. You can learn everything…I grew up in a small town near Nazareth. When I was a child, and matzahs would show up at the supermarket, I knew it was because Passover was approaching. And when one evening all the cars disappeared from the streets - I knew that Yom Kippur had arrived. As an Arab Palestinian I knew the Jewish holidays, and today I tell my children about them. Let them know too. For reasons of work and life circumstances, we move daily between Arab and Jewish cities, and with the help of curiosity we get to know the traditions and way of life of the Jewish citizens. And that’s a good thing. Because getting to know more culture and more holidays is a net gain. It's enriching. But every year anew when the month of Ramadan comes - a whole month, not one day - I always hear from Jews the same questions: How long are you fasting? How many days is it? What do you eat at the end of the day? What does a sick person do? Seemingly it is gratifying to know that there is interest. After all, it is better than those who completely forget about Ramadan and telephone right at the time of breaking the fast. And yet, why is this basic thing, such a significant month for almost two million Israeli citizens, no more known among Jewish citizens? One-fifth of the country's citizens are Arab-Palestinians. More than 80% of Arab society is Muslim, and the Druze and Christian minorities also respect the month of Ramadan and recognize it as part of the collective Arab culture. But it’s not known among the Jews. Why is this information not taught in the education system? Why does a child who grew up in the country alongside us not know what we do? Why do parents not teach their children, and why do the same things have to be retold every year?…In recent years, tours have been created to visit Arab localities of the kind that Jews never visited. Unfortunately, although some are excellent, the others make Arab culture shallow - only about food. You can call it the Hummous Syndrome…Does your calendar also mark holidays of Muslims, Christians and Druze, as my calendar marks Jewish holidays? The organization I work for is common to Jews and Arabs, and with us it goes without saying that we can send holiday greetings on time and not bother each other on holidays. Isn’t this a reality that could exist in other places?…I would like it to be obvious that after 12 years of schooling, Jewish youth will know the Arabic language, culture, history and identity, just as my children learn the Hebrew language, know the Jewish culture and learn about the narrative of the Jewish majority. I expose my daughter and son to both narratives, and they try to understand the complexity of where they live. No need to flatten things and hide them. The time has come for all of us, the citizens and the Ministry of Education, which teaches the future generation, to understand that culture does not play a zero sum game. There is no need to choose. Getting to know as much as possible (about each other) is not only enriching, but also ensures a good and respectful future. The more we know, learn and gain knowledge, the more we will be able to build a common society away from exclusion and racism and violence.
The 2 faces of American foreign policy (Alex Joffe, Israel Hayom) The ongoing crisis in American culture has brought two seemingly unrelated trends to the forefront.
Mossad Officials Look Forward to Chief Cohen’s Exit. Here’s What They Want Next(Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) The high expectations in the agency over Cohen’s imminent departure are not due to any operational failures, but reflect the disgust at his behavior and fears that he was politically motivated,
Biden needs nuclear deal more than Iran (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) Washington's ultimate goal is to reduce American military presence in the Middle East significantly, and it is unwilling to invest the time and effort required to do so responsibly.
Israel: Celebrate, Don't Fear, Your Arabness (Co-directors of Sikkuy, Amjad Shbita and Ofer Dagan, Haaretz+) Israel's Arab citizens, now courted even by right-wingers better known for demonizing them, will still face mistrust and alienation as long as Israeli society fears, rather than embraces, their identity, history, culture and language.
Sa'ar's dilemma: Veer left, break right, or go home (Yehuda Shlezinger, Israel Hayom) The New Hope leader can recommend Lapid and break a campaign promise; recommend Bennett, who could try forming a government with Netanyahu; or recommend no one and risk getting wiped out in the next election.
The Iranians Are Here: What We Know About Recent anti-Israel Cyberattacks (Amitai Ziv, Haaretz+) ‘The operations undertaken by Israel in and against Iran are driving them nuts, and cyberspace is an easy and simple way for them to retaliate.’
Mount Meron Disaster Serves as a Reminder Israeli Sovereignty Is an Illusion (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) The concept of “autonomy” originated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s already hard to recall that we used to talk here about Palestinian autonomy, self-rule, a “territorial compromise” as opposed to a “functional compromise.” All these served as a cover for one objective: There would be no independent Palestinian state.
Meron disaster probe can't be left to a toothless watchdog (Yuval Karni, Yedioth/Ynet) State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman's announcement he intends to investigate the Lag BaOmer stampede serves Netanyahu, who, alongside the political echelon, will most likely won't be held responsible.
How Did Conservative Abbas Become a More Legitimate Coalition Partner Than Ayman Odeh? (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) How, in this election campaign, did the conservative Mansour Abbas, representative of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, become a more legitimate coalition partner than Ayman Odeh, the secular politician who dedicated himself to forging a political partnership with Jews in the Hadash/Joint List movement? To the Jewish mainstream, both entities symbolize “forbidden” solidarity with the Palestinians’ national aspirations; both have candidates on their slates who are viewed as controversial, as it were, by the same people. The differences between them, in the eyes of racists who from the get-go rule out any partnership with “the Arabs,” should not have really existed. And they don’t. In terms of political partnership, the differences are completely imaginary and were cooked up by the master con artist himself.
Has the presidency been tainted? (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The way President Reuven Rivlin has been handling the issue of tasking MKs with forming the government seems awry.
Hate the Occupation? Back U.S. Military Aid for Israel (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) J Street should be consolidating the Democratic mainstream towards two states and an end to the occupation. So why is it backing a dangerous, outlier attempt from the left to threaten U.S. military aid to Israel?


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