Last updated: November 20, 2013
Israel headlines tell a story. They tell you the news. But sometimes, they reveal some underlying truths.
Return to this blog every Tuesday and Friday after Noon. You’ll see a sampling of headlines from Israel’s press—and some comments about those headlines.
Today’s headlines—and those comments--come from November 15 - 18, 2013.
The Arab-Israel conflict
- Teen Terrorist: I Intended to Stab a Soldier
- Hamas to PA: Stop Peace Talks, They're US Dictates
-'Hot Mic' Catches UN Disbelief at Anti-Israel Bias
-Netanyahu: Outspoken UN interpreter can work here anytime
-PA Trend: Naming Soccer Teams After Terrorists
-Report: Israel, Saudi Arabia Plan Iran Strike
-PA Official: No Peace with Current Coalition
-Netanyahu: Palestinians need to make concessions in peace talks as well
-Hamas shows off ‘terror tunnels’ on anniversary of IDF operation
-Ya'alon: Escalation in West Bank due to diplomatic process
- Fatah: 'Settlements' a 'Crime Against Humanity'
- PA pays former prisoners $10,000-$50,000 upon release
-Hamas: Ceasefire is Time to Prepare the Tunnels
-Hollande Meets Abbas, Attacks 'Settlements'
-Netanyahu invites Abbas to Knesset for sake of peace
-In Ramallah, Hollande urges Palestinians to be flexible on right of return
-PA: No Peace Without Full 'Right of Return'
America and Israel
- US Security Advisor Blames Israeli Building for Tension
- John McCain: Kerry a 'Human Wrecking Ball' in Middle East
- McCain: We've Lost Influence in the Middle East
-Obama to Congress: You Want War? Then Toughen the Sanctions
-Obama Refuses to Speak to Netanyahu
-Israelis not thrilled with US foreign policy
-The current Israel-US rift was only a matter of time
-‘It seems like Barack Obama has no red lines’
-Pollard’s operator: U.S. promised to free spy after 10 years
-Putin controls Middle East
- Iranian: No Progress if Our Nuclear Rights are Ignored
- Poll: Most Israelis Believe IDF Can Strike Iran On Its Own
-Binyamin Netanyahu's stance in disagreement with the United States
-Zarif: We Won't Give Up Our Right to Enrich
-PM: Iran’s nuclear drive ‘directly threatens Israel’s future’
-McCain: Don't increase sanctions on Iran this year
-Likud MK: Western powers too eager to strike deal with Iran
-Netanyahu: Deal offered to Iran lets it acquire fissile material for nuke within 3 weeks
- Netanyahu: P5+1 Offering Iran 'Enormous Bonus’
-Netanyahu: A good deal strips Iran of ability to make fissile material for nuclear bomb
-Netanyahu: It's my duty to prevent a second Holocaust against the Jewish people
- Ya'alon: Iranian regime dreams of defeating west
- Netanyahu to CNN: Bad Iran deal could lead to war
-‘Geneva talks a facade, US-Iran worked secretly on deal for past year’
Life in Israel
-Israel second in Global Dynamism Index technology sector
-Apple reportedly buying Israel’s PrimeSense for $345 million.
-Can-Fite to list on NYSE MKT
-Israeli agritech firm promising growth in crop yields
-OECD: Israel is the only member that cut spending per capita 2001-2011
-BGU, Chinese firm to create desert research institute in Mongolia
-Minister says coalition will collapse over peace talks ‘sooner or later’
-Minister Peri: Israel must be careful not to exacerbate row with US
-Peri: Palestinian issue will tear cabinet apart
-Labor chief Yacimovich assails Netanyahu for 'slapping Americans in face'
- PM Appoints Liberman to Take Over While he's in Moscow
The Arab Middle East
-Libya Reels as Tripoli Violence Continues
- Sources: Deputy Libyan intelligence chief kidnapped
-Gunmen kill senior security officer in Cairo
-Syrian troops launch offensive near Lebanon border
- Thousands of Syrian refugees flood into Lebanon
-Kuwait mulls screening workers for homosexuality
-Gaza Strip full of corrupt millionaires, says Palestinian official.
- Gazan 'Arab Idol' Attacks Israel on US Tour
The Temple Mount
--Arabs Wave PLO Flags on Temple Mount
The war of the Left against Israel
-Judea-Samaria Conference to Begin Amid Leftist Threats
Jews around the world
-'Apartheid Week' Approved at University of Toronto, Scarsborough
-Simon Weisenthal Center Exposes European anti-Semitism
-Brooklyn: Anti-Semitic Attacks Continue in 'Game' to Hurt Jews
--Simon Wiesenthal Center Condemns Toronto Univ. Apartheid Week
-Italian police raid homes of suspected online anti-Semites
-Norweigan FM Brende applauds Kerry's Israel-Palestine and Iran efforts
-Norwegian Jews hoping new circumcision rules head off ban
There’s a lot to write about in today’s news cycle: Iran, French President Francois Hollande, Mahmoud Abbas, Norwegian Jews and Israel’s business environment are just a few of the story lines we could talk about. I’ve only got space to tell you about three of these stories. For the others, you’ll have to look again at the headlines and deduce what's up.
Iran dominated the first part of this news cycle. The West, led by the US, promised it could get Iran to back away from pursuing nuclear weapons. The deal was, if Iran stopped its march to a nuclear arsenal (that’s how the agreement was described in the press), the West would lift what have become crushing economic sanctions.
It was supposed to be a good deal for all involved: Iran would get billions of dollars released from ‘sanction’. The West would get peace. Israel would get peace of mind.
The US loved the deal. It began to leak stories of an impending agreement. But then Israel objected. It made a series of announcements about the agreement: it was, Israel said, a bad deal.
Immediately, a highly-publicized argument broke out between the US and Israel. Through headlines, both sides barked at the other. It was like watching a couple’s marriage break up in public.
Is Israel’s love-affair with the US at an end? Certainly, Israel’s Left got frightened. It cried that Israel shouldn’t slap the US in the face.
Is that what Israel was doing?
Anger filled the headlines. A shortened version of this fight goes something like this: US Secretary of State John Kerry talked about a pending agreement with Iran. Israel said it didn't like what it saw. Kerry announced that if Netanyahu was criticizing this agreement, he’s out of touch; he hasn’t been properly informed. Netanyahu fired back: I’m totally up-to-date; I’m completely informed; this deal is bad.
Then the deal collapsed. The US blamed Iran. Iran blamed the US. Israel and the US couldn’t see eye-to-eye. Everybody saw raw nerves exposed by both the US and Israel.
Israel urged the US Congress not to lift sanctions. Israel wanted Congress to toughen sanctions. US President Obama responded, you want war? Then toughen the sanctions.
Iran declared that the US was afraid of war. They appeared to suggest that the US would do anything to avoid a confrontation with anyone who threatened it.
Iran even suggested that Obama had smoked marijuana when he was twenty—as if that explained something about Obama.
This was getting ugly.
US Senator John McCain got into the act. A former soldier, he knew all about war, power and force. So he announced that the collapse of the Iran talks was just one of a string of diplomatic failures that illustrate how the US has lost its power to influence; then he called Kerry a human wrecking ball.
Then he said, the US shouldn’t increase sanctions this year.
Netanyahu announced that the deal the West had offered was so bad, it would allow Iran to acquire fissile [sic] material for a nuke within 3 weeks. It’s a deal that would, he suggested, lead to war.
President Obama—according to some Israel headlines—got so angry at Netanyahu that he stopped talking to him. He refused to take calls from Netanyahu.
If the Israeli Prime Minister wanted to say something, he could say it to Kerry.
Nice guy, the US President.
France, meanwhile, became a hero. Turns out the US didn’t scuttle the talks. Neither did Iran. It was France. France felt that—hold on to your hat—the deal was bad. It was ugly. It wouldn’t do anything to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
How does that make Kerry and Obama look? More important, what does the French action here tell Israelis about the US?
An Israeli poll taken during this ‘fight’ had the answer: Israelis didn’t believe the US.
French President Francois Hollande became an instant hero in Israel. A scheduled trip to Israel became a celebration.
It was fun. But it didn’t last. As part of his tour here, Hollande went to Ramallah. He went carrying a gift of 10 million euros. He also gave Abbas another gift: he announced that Israel must end all ‘settlements’.
Oopps. Hollande’s value as a hero plummeted.
Hollande is scheduled to return to Jerusalem after his confab with Abbas. His return will be interesting.
Before he left for Ramallah, Hollande heard Netanyahu speak to the Knesset (in Hollande’s honour). In his speech, Netanyahu made a public offer to Abbas: come to our Knesset. Tell us that you accept Israel as the Jewish State and we will give you peace.
We may never know what these words meant to Hollande, for when he went to Ramallah, he was not reported to have repeated these words in public. Instead, he was reported as saying, all ‘settlements’ should end. Then he added something new: Abbas needed to be ‘flexible’ on the ‘refugee’ question.
Interesting. One of the main Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiating points for any ‘peace’ talks with Israel has always been the ‘return’ of all ‘refugees’ who fled Israel in 1948. At that time, some 500,000 – 750,000 Arabs (the number you use depends upon whom you believe) fled Israel. These refugees represent the only refugees of that period (after World War Two) who have never been integrated into or absorbed into a new life in a new place. By contrast, some 700,000-800,000 Jews were themselves expelled from or compelled to leave Arab countries in the decade after 1948. All of them have been absorbed by other nations, primarily Israel. There is no ‘Jewish’ refugee problem.
These Arabs, however, haven’t been absorbed. They have been cooped up in squalid ‘refugee camps’.
Is it politically correct to say that their squalor has been managed and maintained by the United Nations?
Now, through birth, these Arabs add up to some 5 million people. Abbas wants them to ‘return’ to Israel as part of any final agreement.
That creates a problem. Currently, Israel has perhaps 7.7 million people. Six million are Jews. App 1.6 million are Arab. Israel understands what will happen if, suddenly, there were an additional 5 million (unemployed) Arabs moving into Israel. It would be the end of the Jewish State.
Abbas, for his part, doesn’t want these 5 million Arabs, either. He doesn’t want them in his new ‘Palestine’. Yes, he claims they are his ‘people’. He claims he fights for them. But he rejects them. He has already stated that no ‘refugees’ will be allowed to enter ‘Palestine’. They must stay in their squalor until they can ‘return’ to Israel.
Aren’t they good enough for him?
Some observers of the Arab world feel that, should Abbas accept anything less than a full ‘return’, he will be assassinated. The Arabs have been teaching too many children for too long that they are destined to ‘return’. Compromise on this ‘question’ is not an option. The Arab culture in the PA simply won’t allow it.
At 4:30 pm Monday, November 18, 2013, one news outlet headlined that Hollande had recommended to Abbas to be ‘flexible’ on the refugee issue. Less than two hours later, at 6:14 pm, that news outlet headlined Abbas’ response: no peace without full right of return.
In international politics, that kind of unequivocal response—given so quickly--is the equivalent of a bare-knuckles punch in the face. It will instructive to see how Hollande talks about Abbas’ aggressiveness when he (Hollande) returns to Jerusalem.
Will he do as the EU has done—and ignore it? Or, will he step up—as he did with Iran—and confront it for what it is—a deal-killing demand that no rational nation anywhere could accept.
One wonders: while in Ramallah, did Hollande see the new Fatah logo? It shows a map of the new 'Palestine' replacing Israel. If he saw it, would he declare that France would never support that kind of 'peace'?
Abbas, meanwhile, is in fighting form. He airs his hate of Israel with an almost jaunty spirit: he used this news cycle to name soccer teams after Jew-killers and to declare that, if Israel wants peace, it will have to change its governing coalition.
Take a look at the other headlines. They tell their own stories. Some combine to create their own story lines. Can you find them?