“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Terror in Jerusalem
- Shooter from Hebron convicted
- Investigation against Netanyahu
- Selection of Articles
East Talpiot attack inspired by Ramallah, imitated Berlin
The vehicular attack (…) in East Talpiot is the continuation of a wave of isolated, spontaneous or partially planned terrorist attacks that began (…) in September 2015. (…) Last weekend, the Palestinian Authority executed a media blitz against the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (…) Abbas made a preemptive strike. He instructed Palestinian preachers, in their sermons (…) to upgrade the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem from a political matter to a religious principle that Muslims from all over the world are commanded to resist, meaning that it’s grounds for jihad. (…) The vehicular attack in Berlin before Christmas and the one in Nice on last Bastille Day apparently created a model to imitate in the minds of fanatic Muslims. (…) A heavy truck is an available and deadly means that doesn’t require special preparation. (…) Even if a police checkpoint had stopped the truck driver on Sunday in Jerusalem, he would probably have been allowed to continue on his way. (…)
Ron Ben-Yishai, YED, 08.01.17
(…) This was neither the work of a dangerous, underground terrorist cell, nor was it a sign of a new wave of terrorism. (…) This was simply and most likely a surprise attack on untrained soldiers. (…) Israel has had ramming attacks in the past, but it was the two biggest ramming attacks of 2016, in Nice and Berlin, which were claimed by the Islamic State group, that were the inspiration for the attacker in Jerusalem, who wanted to kill a large number of people using simple and relatively available means. The lesson to be learned here is that minimal requirements for issuing heavy vehicle licenses need to be adhered to, and that periodic checks on drivers, specifically those with a criminal records, should be conducted. (…) we must reinforce the physical presence of security forces on the ground. It (…) seems the combination of surprise and the lack of basic skills shown by the cadets, who were all from non-combat units, led to the painful results, especially after the initial impact, when the driver was able turn around to run over his victims again before he was killed. (…) the attempts to link their conduct to the Azaria case are ridiculous (…). It seems unlikely that in the few seconds the incident lasted that any of the soldiers had the chance to think of Azaria. They feared for their lives, not their freedom. Despite the embarrassment, the main concern now remains copycat attacks. (…) There is no lack of strong emotions (…). And this is even before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump enters the White House and begins any attempt to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The main challenge security forces must face is to prevent a renewed outbreak of terrorism. Contrary to what was implied (…), there are no Islamic State cells or operatives in Jerusalem, and the organization has no operational capability in Israel. What we saw was a lone terrorist, armed with a truck and hatred (…).
Yoav Limor, IHY, 09.01.17
Preventing a vehicular attack is nearly impossible
(…) Even the strictest measures (…) are unable to prevent attacks like the one that took place in Jerusalem (…). The terrorist (…) was not known to the police, to the Shin Bet or to any other security services in regards to security-related offenses (…) and the Jerusalem Police believe that he acted of his own accord. A vehicular attack with a truck does not require starting any organization or forming a terrorist cell, which might have left an intelligence mark. (…) The only thing that pointed to what the terrorist, 28-year-old Fadi al-Qunbar, was planning and could have helped identify his intentions earlier, are a few social media posts suggesting that he identifies with Islamic State messages. That is precisely why one of the police and Shin Bet’s most effective tools in locating potential lone-wolf terrorists is activity aimed at locating and monitoring social media posts, which could point to an intention to carry out an attack. (…) Another prevention measure is to create deterrence by prosecuting supportive family members and even associates who knew about the terrorist’s intentions. In the past, this measure has motivated family members to turn their relatives in shortly before the planned attack. (…) Many times, however, the terrorist does not share his intentions with anyone, making this measure quite limited (…)
Roi Yanovsky, YED, 10.01.17
Understanding Israel’s assessment of ISIS-inspired terrorism
(…) “Psychopathic,” ideologically and religiously motivated terrorists (…) live and work in Jerusalem. The “truck terrorist,” Fadi al-Qanbar, a father of four young children, was from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber. He was not driven by socioeconomic deprivation or nationalist sentiment. He enjoyed complete freedom of movement and received the same social and economic benefits as Jews and other residents of Jerusalem. Jebl Mukaber is also known as known as a hotbed of jihadi incitement. (…) From a jihadi point of view, there is no difference between terrorism in Berlin, Nice, or Jerusalem. Palestinian jihadis and their fellow travelers in ISIS, al-Qaida, Jubrat al-Nusra in Syria, Hamas, Iran’s IRGC and its Hezbollah proxy have declared that Islamic terrorism against Europe and Israel stems from the same radical root and aims for the same extremist end: exclusive Islamic sovereignty across the lands of the Near East and ultimately the world.
Dan Diker, JPO, 11.01.17
A necessary, natural move
The Palestinian terrorist, who perpetrated the deadly ramming at the Armon Hanatziv promenade (…) did not any need any excuse to murder his victims. It’s possible he was influenced by previous ramming attacks carried out by Islamic State supporters in France and Berlin. It is also possible, however, that he was influenced by recent threats from people close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who warned that moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — as promised by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump — would lead to an ungodly eruption of violence. (…) Jerusalem is home to Israel’s state institutions, from the President’s Residence to the Knesset (…) Trump, therefore, can relocate the embassy to Jerusalem unperturbed and also make it clear that such a move, while necessary and natural, will not decide any of the fundamental questions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not even regarding Jerusalem. With that, it would be best for Trump to notify Washington’s allies in the region and explain to them, politely but firmly, that moving the embassy is recognition of the reality on the ground, which Jordan and Egypt also accept. Doing so would help prevent any unnecessary emotional outbursts.
Prof. Eyal Zisser, IHY, 10.01.17
God is great
(…) This week’s killer hailed from Jabel Mukaber. I imagine that he sang out his faith while plowing his truck like a huge, raging bull into a group of sight-seeing soldiers, crushing four of them to death: Allah hu-akbar. So too his compatriots and neighbors: Those who hacked to death some Jews riding a Jerusalem bus; or shot up a group of men at prayer in Har Nof; or ran over an elderly pedestrian in Mea She’arim; or slaughtered eight young yeshiva students — my sixteen-year-old son, Avraham David, among them— with a Kalashnikov assault rifle at point blank range. All were scions of that hill where they proclaim, five times daily, that God is great. We Jews, when we bury our shot and crushed and butchered, when we mourn our murdered children, always pray that God’s name will be exalted. For we know all too well that man’s horrendous inhumanity has diminished it. Every evil hand that passes out sweets, every voice that praises murderers of children as martyrs, every preacher who promises paradise has stained that Name. And all men of conscience ask how, how can that hill, awash in the blood of so many innocents, continue to cry out that God is great?
Naftali Moses, TOI, 11.01.17
Not a drop of compassion at the military court
Not a single word of compassion was heard from the panel of judges at the military court in Tel Aviv towards IDF soldier Elor Azaria or towards his family throughout the entire reading of the verdict. (…) Reading 309 clauses of the ruling while keeping the soldier in terrible suspense symbolizes the court’s humiliating attitude. The judges did not see before their eyes a young soldier who was sent on a difficult mission in an impossible reality. (…) And that is the essence of the injustice: Retroactively judging—inside a protected and air-conditioned courtroom—something that happened in a chaotic reality, while turning their backs on a person who was sent to the battlefield to defend us all. A public that neglects its emissaries at moments of crisis and difficulty is a cruel public. (…) The court forgot that soldiers are human beings too, creatures who tend to make mistakes and fail. Elor Azaria made an error in judgement, there is no doubt about it, either intentionally or mistakenly. But he was sent into a situation in which civilians attack soldiers with knives inside a crowded city and terrorists carry explosive devices on their bodies. (…) Azaria did not choose to be in the place he was in. The IDF sent him there, and the IDF betrayed him. Not in the actual prosecution, but in the senior commanders’ renouncement of him. (…)
Yifat Erlich, YED, 05.01.17
The citizenry of Israel should have been in the dock with Azaria
(…) Elor Azaria (…) does not sit alone. Millions of accused should be sitting with him right now. (…) We, as his lawyers, accuse the citizens of Israel of creating the conditions that made the act of our client possible, due to their failure to oversee the conduct of the army in the territories, as is required of citizens in a democratic country. We accuse the institutions of the country and the army of imposing the responsibility of policing the West Bank, policing that should have ensured the security of both the settlers and the Palestinians, on the army, despite the unsuitability of a standing army for such a task. (…) you have encouraged a blurring of the boundaries between the army as it carries out policing work and the settlers – even though the setting of boundaries between the army and society is essential to building the identity of the citizen as a soldier who is entirely subject to military authority.(…) You knew that settlers repeatedly break the law and have not been prevented from doing so by soldiers. And you have remained silent. You have also been silent knowing that army commanders who have tried to put settlers in their place have had their careers damaged.. (…) you have permitted the army and state institutions operating in the West Bank to be taken captive by the many settlers who staff them, as a result of which Elor Azaria’s crime scene in Hebron was administered by the settlers and not by the army. (…) Under such circumstances, wouldn’t it be expected of a simple soldier such as Azaria to understand that the blood of a wounded Palestinian on the ground was up for grabs? (…)
Yagil Levy, HAA, 05.01.17
The IDF’s new social contract
(…) Certainly Azaria didn’t act like a model soldier. (…) But unlike the IDF’s senior leadership, the public believed that the fact that it was B’Tselem that produced the film meant that it had to be viewed with a grain of salt.(…) In 2007, B’Tselem launched its “Camera Program.” (…) In many cases, the videos B’Tselem produced distorted reality for the purpose of criminalizing both groups. (…) Along with the films, came stories that soldiers on leave told their friends and family about the IDF’s rules of engagement (…) that all initiative is placed in the hands of the enemy. Not only can terrorists attack at will. They can flee afterward and expect that no harm will come to them, because what is most important, the soldiers explain, is to ensure that IDF maintains its reputation as the most moral army in the world. This was the context in which Azaria killed the wounded terrorist. (…) B’Tselem’s produced the film to advance its goal of obliging Israel’s national leadership, including the IDF brass, to care more about “world opinion” than about the opinion of Israeli citizens.(…) Since the shooting in Hebron, the General Staff’s treatment of the public has become (…) disdainful. (…) Eisenkot insisted that IDF soldiers are not “our children.” They are grownups and they are required to obey the orders they receive. By making this statement (…) Eisenkot told us that the General Staff no longer feels itself obligated by a sacred compact with the people of Israel. Azaria is the first victim of a General Staff that has decided to cease serving as the people’s army and serve instead as B’Tselem’s army. (…)
Caroline Glick, JPO, 05.01.17
(…) Azaria was clearly and unequivocally guilty for shooting an already wounded Palestinian terrorist, who posed no immediate threat. He shot the terrorist out of revenge. Yet (…) 70% of the public favors a pardon for the soldier. That’s a worrisome figure reflecting a rift between public opinion and judicial prudence. (…) one would have expected the country’s leadership to make statements rejecting the lawlessness and violent timber surrounding the protests (…).we may not like the outcome, but in a democracy, the law reigns supreme.(…) Rather than (…) condemn the incitement, Netanyahu undermined the court by calling for Azaria to be pardoned before he had even been sentenced. (…) No waiting for the sentencing (…). Instead the prime minister basically rejected the court’s carefully stitched decision and threw his lot in with public opinion. (…) Azaria’s life should not be ruined by his actions, but he and every other soldier must know that they cannot take the law into their hands. That is why it is premature to speak about a pardon. (…) Israel needs to remain a country where the rule of law is respected.
Editorial, JPO, 07.01.17
Elor Azaria’s unprecedented trial
(…) Never before has a soldier been put on trial for the murder, or manslaughter, of a terrorist. This trial sets a devastating precedent by exposing IDF soldiers who engage terrorists to legal action by the IDF. (…). This trial reveals a deteriorating relationship between Israeli society and the IDF that is tearing Israel apart. It is a symptom of the politicization of our basic institutions, which are dominated by judicial activists who are extreme leftists. (…) Not only was Azaria on trial, so were the IDF and Israeli society in general. (…) Azaria did not (…) receive a fair trial. (…) The court ignored the critical context of the shooting: the incident occurred in a conflict zone in which Jews – civilians and soldiers – are constantly attacked by terrorists. The court ignored the reality that in fact we are at war, not in a “peace process.” (…) The court sought to send a message of caution and self-examination, but that should not have been done in a trial. (…) The court’s decision has confused this crucial distinction, and therefore undermines the effectiveness and safety of those who defend us and endangers the security of our country.
Moshe Dann, JPO, 10.01.17
Only a surprise can save Netanyahu from an indictment
(…) Mendelblit tried doing everything he could so as not to reach the point of having Netanyahu questioned as a suspect. If, after all his contortions and twists, the AG was forced into ordering an investigation that he was hoping to shelve, the default option from here on is an indictment. (…) Only an extreme turn of events, astonishing and unexpected, can prevent the filing of charges against Netanyahu. (…) Mendelblit (…) is emotionally connected to someone who was his direct superior while he was cabinet secretary, without whom he would not have been appointed as either the secretary or attorney general. (…). A (…) burden is Mendelblit’s military past, in which he played a support role, not a combat one, bearing the rank of general (…). His multiple roles put him in a situation in which he served as an adviser on discussions concerning the outpost of Amona on one day, and as prosecutor of his boss the next day.(…) Netanyahu himself (…) and his wife are recidivists who have learned nothing from previous predicaments, ones which ended with a forgiving attitude but not in the clearing of their names. They haven’t been cured. It’s stronger than they are. On a personal level, Netanyahu will hide behind claims of innocence. Publicly, his investigation should render him unfit to govern. (…) The government should appoint an interim head and remove him for a few weeks. (…)
Amir Oren, HAA, 03.01.17
Time for full disclosure of Netanyahu’s tapes
(…) The separation between commercial and editorial considerations in the media is the only guarantee of courageous and unbiased journalism, the kind that portrays reality without neglecting, concealing or systematically distorting facts. (…) The willingness to lend the services of an influential newspaper to a reigning prime minister in order to retain a portion of the market is a seminal event in this country’s history. The depth of Netanyahu’s obsession with the media, reflected as the tip of the iceberg revealed by these secret conversations, should concern anyone who cherishes the rule of democracy. (…) It was clear that he was creating ambiguity regarding the fate of public broadcasting, making it subject to his beneficence. (…) Now it turns out that he was also trying to maneuver between the two largest newspapers in the country, waging some sort of pricing war, in which the side making a better offer in terms of support and praise for the leader gets to dominate the market. (…)The public deserves a full disclosure, not only in order to understand that this was an attempt at bribery which must be addressed in a court of law, but because it deserves to know how some of the largest media outlets in Israel conduct themselves. These media shape reality for the public and their improper conduct damages the heart and soul of democracy.
Editorial, HAA, 12.01.17
Netanyahu-Mozes affair: Everyone is a suspect
Everyone is a suspect: The prime minister, (…) the publisher (…), the bureau chief (…), who is playing the poker game around the investigations involving the prime minister in distorted ways. And I am a suspect too. (…) Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit would do well by ordering the police to release the recordings for publication. (…) The troubling factor is that these meetings were held during a period in which the newspaper harshly criticized Netanyahu, and Netanyahu described its publisher as a multi-headed monster who secretly controls all the government systems through dark means. (…) Harry Potter on the one side, and Voldemort on the other. (…) A prime minister can complain to a publisher about articles published in his paper, demand a correction, blast reporters. He cannot dictate a line. That may be possible in Turkey, but not in Yedioth. And a publisher cannot promise to emasculate the writers in his newspaper. (…) The work procedure which Arnon Mozes has adopted with me (…) is simple: He doesn’t call. (…) I have been working in the newspaper for 28 years, and until this very day he has not expressed his opinion to me on a single word I have written, has not asked to remove anything and has not suggested any additions. I am grateful to him. Not every publisher would act the same way. (…) The investigation in this case has one positive result: It has made it clear to everyone that the initiative called Israel Hayom is not a legitimate business but rather a forbidden gift. When Netanyahu negotiates on behalf of the free newspaper, he basically admits that it is an asset controlled by him.(…) According to a Haaretz report on Tuesday, Adelson lost NIS 730 million on the newspaper in its first seven years—about NIS 100 million a year. Imagine what the government could do with such a sum: Solve the hospital density problem once and for all, establish a university in the Galilee, get thousands of Israelis out of the poverty circle. So much money just to organize a cult of personality for one family and sabotage free press in Israel. Isn’t it a pity? (…) Netanyahu gets his salary from the state. There are gifts he is not permitted to accept, especially as there was an alleged return (…).
Nahum Barnea, YED, 12.01.17
It was all about the money
Yedioth Ahronoth journalist Nahum Barnea was 2007 Israel Prize laureate in communications. (…) Well, after reading his spiel in Arnon (Noni) Mozes’ defense, (…) one can only hope that, for the sake of the future of Israel’s media, aspiring journalists cease to view him as a role model. (…) Barnea succeeded in tugging at my heartstrings when he wrote that Mozes, instead of wallowing in “self-pity,” embarked on a brave, William Tell-style journey to save himself and the livelihood of his employees. (…) A newspaper can be rightist, leftist and even pro-Palestinian, but, it cannot, under any circumstances, pander to the occasional financial needs of its owners. (…) The height of hypocrisy conveyed by Mozes’ reporters was the struggle they waged against Israel Hayom, which was, without doubt, one of the lowest points in the history of freedom of speech and the press in Israel. Those reporters, who have been constantly citing empty slogans warning that Israel Hayom poses danger to democracy and the rule of law, were recruited by their publisher to defend a clear financial interest.(…) Yedioth has launched an all-out war against the Right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family. (…) This week, it was proven that the war was intended to undermine Israel Hayom.
Dr. Haim Shine, IHY, 12.01.17
Paris conference risks pushing peace further away
(…) while the intention of the parties involved in the summit is to advance peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, they will achieve the exact opposite. (…) If the Paris summit demands a settlement freeze or recognizes a Palestinian state along the 1949 armistice lines, the Palestinians will not agree to anything less. (…) former US president George W. Bush realized that calling for a full settlement freeze or declaring that all Israeli settlements were illegal were unrealistic and counterproductive demands. (…) If the nations participating in the Paris summit make a move similar to the one made by Obama and make Kerry’s principles the starting conditions for renewing negotiations, they will not advance peace talks. (…) Central to the success of achieving a negotiated peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is ensuring that all terms of the deal are reached between the two sides – Palestinians and Israelis, and that no terms are dictated by outsiders, no matter how good their intentions may be. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 06.01.17
The skepticism is justified. But Paris can be more than just another vague peace initiative
Faith in the peace process is at a nadir. (…) Trump’s election, Israeli rejectionism. But the January conference in Paris could still produce concrete progress. The (…) conference will clearly not be a game-changer on the way to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, such international conferences don’t happen often.(…) a variety of ideas and initiatives (…) have been floated by various international actors. The vast majority of them never went past the theoretical stage. This damages the credibility of the international community, and enables Israelis and Palestinians to easily dismiss and reject such initiatives (…).the French decision to convene the conference in Paris (…) is an important signal not only to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on the official level, but also to Israeli and Palestinian pro-peace civil society groups seeking constructive international steps to advance Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution. (…) The Israeli center-left leadership, which refrained until now from challenging Netanyahu on key foreign policy and national security issues, can and should start doing it now. (…) An effective international incentive package should be end-game-oriented (…) and should address the collective needs of Israeli and Palestinian societies, rather than only economic and practical needs. It could be based on incentives already presented by international actors (…) – such as in the Arab Peace Initiative, the EU’s Special Privileged Partnership, and U.S. security guarantees for the two-state solution. (…) there’s been a growing understanding that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process requires broader regional and international involvement. However, this has not yet been translated into a concrete new international architecture. (…) The Paris conference is a chance to make progress on this (…). the Paris conference should relate to the Kerry parameters, and call for the establishment of a new international mechanism and assign it a concrete first task. Such a mechanism could include the U.S., the EU and the Arab League. (…)
Nimrod Goren, HAA, 09.01.17
Germany: The West’s last stalwart of enlightened liberalism
(…) The lights of the Eiffel Tower were turned off, demonstrators swept across the streets of Berlin and London. Numberless citizens of the Democratic Republic of Facebook are expressing their fury and showing their bleeding hearts for all to see on the social networks. Indeed, things have come to such a pass that we have to ask: If all the world is protesting, who is being silent? (…) It has to be said that Hadash at least has a type of internationalist stance. For good or for ill, the party (…) identifies with one of the sides in the struggle of forces now under way in the region and worldwide with regard to Syria. (…) What’s new in the current situation is the fact that the camp of the anti-capitalist left no longer exists – anywhere. The global civil war has ended, and the red flag hasn’t flown over the Kremlin for quite some time. But more than that: The banner of anticommunist liberalism has also been put away.. (…) Accordingly, a dogmatic pro-Western posture is meaningless: (…)As of now, the only representative of the values of enlightened liberalism still standing on two feet is Germany. (…) Merkel is now the heroine of a horror movie. One after the other, all her liberal allies have turned into lifeless zombies: (…) Germany is the only major country that took in such a large number of refugees. (…) Merkel is the exclusive exponent of an empathetic policy toward the refugees (…). In realpolitik terms, the wobbly axis that has Germany at its center is the only significant world power that can still be trusted and remains worthy of being defended. (…)
Ofri Ilany, HAA, 01.01.17
Golan Telecom sale marks the end of insane prices
The fantasy referred to as Golan Telecom Ltd. came to an end (…) with the company’s sale (…). Thus ended one of the dizziest rollercoasters ever put in motion by the Israeli regulator for the purpose of dealing with the high prices in the cellular market. (…) Everybody now realizes that the only reason why Golan Telecom did what it did to the Israeli market and got away with it was that it had no costs – because the state gave it all its costs. Golan Telecom could not operate and maintain itself under a lawfully run company. It was living a lie – an opiate for the masses aimed at lowering cellular prices. The moment it had to operate as a commercial company obeying the law, without manipulating the system, the magic disappeared, and we found out that there was no such thing as a cellular package for NIS 20 a month. (…) Completion of the deal raises several questions about the future of competition in the cellular market. (…) what will happen to prices (…) Why is the deal worthwhile for Electra Consumer? (…) It is well known that any profit that the cellular companies are making now comes from sales of end-user equipment, and Electra Consumer already has a strong marketing arm, with a cellular brand that is only getting better. There is also a question about whether Golan Telecom’s competitors will behave aggressively to take its customers away in the period before the deal is closed. (…) In any case, it is the end of an era in the cellular market. Michael Golan, who drove an entire country crazy, will certainly not be missed by his competitors, and it is questionable whether the customers will miss him. (…) Michael Golan could only lower cellular prices because the state subsidized him. (…)
Gad Perez, GLO, 03.03.17
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Dr. Werner Puschra,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel