“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:
- Charge against the 16 year old Palestinian girl
- Massive dismissals in Teva
- UN-General Assembly contradicts Trump
- Selection of Articles
Resist the psychological warfare
If you think all Israelis feel ashamed over the images of young Palestinian women hitting IDF soldiers, then think again. (…) The purpose of this type of psychological warfare is to make the Israeli public feel negatively about the IDF and soldiers. This psychological terrorism is intended to foment divisions among us. (…) The public and its leading media pundits need to be cognizant of this form of warfare. (…) In that same vein, it must be noted that the shooting incident in Hebron involving soldier Elor Azaria was also a psychological terrorist attack, which drew senior IDF and defense officials into its trap. The strategic effect achieved in Hebron by the enemies of Israel and the manner in which Azaria’s case should have been handled did not have to correlate. He could have been punished and at the same time the Palestinians and their collaborators did not need to be awarded with the ensuing discord among the Israeli public and its leadership. (…) Israel should consider adopting an “offensive” policy on the psychological warfare front, such as rounding up all the European activists engaged in these sorts of provocations and expelling them from the country. Generally speaking, restraint and self-control are beneficial. (…)
Amon Lord, IHY, 20.12.17
A slap across Israel´s face
(…) despite the clear-cut story which the images tell, some observers have come out in praise of the two men in uniform, as though their passivity in the face of violence was something worthy of approval. Nothing could be further from the truth and it is imperative that the IDF adjust its policy accordingly.
Restraint is admirable on a personal level, but soldiers in uniform represent more than just themselves. They embody the state and its security. Their task is not to educate young Palestinians about propriety in interpersonal relations, but rather to project power and defend the nation. In that respect, the two sentinels failed at their task, exemplifying weakness and inviting derision. (…) consider what lessons other young Palestinians throughout Judea and Samaria took away from the clip: You can berate, curse and even physically assault Israeli soldiers without fear of a response. Better yet, your video can go viral and earn you acclaim on the Palestinian street and at school. Simply put, that single act of docility on the soldiers’ part is likely to entice other young Palestinians to become copycats and try their hand at provoking soldiers, perhaps even escalating the types of violence and abuse that are employed. (…) Anyone who perpetrates such acts should be arrested on the spot and not only once the story broke in the press, as happened in this case. When that Palestinian youth struck an IDF soldier, she slapped all of Israel in the face. (…)
Michael Freund, JPO, 21.12.17
Restraint is wise, not humiliating
It was not easy to watch that video showing teenage girls accosting and even hitting Israeli soldiers in the village of Nabi Saleh. (…) The troops would have been humiliated if their weapons had been stolen or if their mission had been compromised. They were not humiliated by this unsuccessful attempt to provoke them and get them to act against good judgment. The video is not going to convince anyone that the IDF has lost its power of deterrence. Rather, it will convince people that Israeli soldiers are wise enough not to walk into the trap laid by young girls. (…) All of us have had to face surreal situations in the field and have had to improvise to deal with the old lady at the checkpoint, the woman who goes into labor just as she is being questioned, the parents who are punished because of their children’s bad behavior, and so on. Even the most moral among us have seen immoral behavior we would prefer to forget, including some of our own. (…) so long as the adherents of the status quo call the shots, more controversial videos will surface (…). We must do our utmost to put an end to this perpetual temporary state (…)
Yossi Beilin, IHY, 20.12.17
Israel must free Ahed Tamimi
The government has to start caring more about what the international community thinks and less about extremists on the far right, which is why the detained 16-year-old Palestinian girl should be released. (…) It seems Israel wants to fend off the criticism and scorn voiced in Israel for the restraint the soldiers demonstrated by coming down hard on the Tamimi family. (…) the exemplary restraint the soldiers exhibited is the exception to the attacks that usually characterize relations between the IDF and those resisting the occupation. Israel will pay a heavy price for its aggression against this girl who resists the occupation, who acted with minimal violence toward the representatives of the army who invaded her home and had earlier critically wounded her cousin. Displaying sensitivity and understanding to these motives will earn Israel compliments, and justifiably so. Leaving Ahed Tamimi in jail for a long time will once again show the ugly face and violence of the Israeli occupation. (…) Tamimi and her relatives must be allowed to return home, and the IDF needs to recognize the value in moderation and to encourage its soldiers to act with the minimum required force – certainly against unarmed young girls.
Editorial, HAA, 23.12.17
The blue-eyed poster girl of Palestinian propaganda
Ahed Tamimi’s success in the Western public opinion stems from the fact that she doesn’t look like a typical Muslim or Palestinian woman; she generates sympathy because she looks like the daughter of the white family next door. As long as she delivers the goods, the clear racist aspect in this ability to identify with her doesn’t really matter. (…) For years, she has been at the center of more and more staged provocations. She always tries to get IDF soldiers to respond with violence, and she always fails. (…) But in a region which holds the world record for cameras per square meters, some kind of inappropriate behavior is found every few months, as not everyone is perfect. (…) We mustn’t delude ourselves. In the battle between the propaganda of lies and Israel, the lies win. The somewhat exaggerated restraint of the Israeli soldiers isn’t helping either. (…)
Ben-Dror Yemini, YED, 27.12.17
Teva as a parable
(…) Labor unions are nearly irrelevant in this era of the global economy. Teva provided jobs, but it is not a local employer (…). The dismissals in Israel are part of a policy that the failing company must implement worldwide, in order to try to save itself. (…) Even a yearlong strike would not be able to change this cruel fact. (…) Teva was well aware that its patent for Copaxone was about to expire. And although at least half of its enormous profits were based on the sales of this treatment for multiple sclerosis, the company insisted on sailing straight into the iceberg and colliding with it. Instead of taking advantage of Israel’s “brain reserves” and rescuing itself by investing billions of dollars in the research and development of new drugs, while seeking new sources of success, the company preferred to blindly ignore the expiration of the only patent that led to its success. (…) There is no better and no sadder parable for Israel’s situation. Here too there is a talented and successful society, which has all the characteristics necessary for prosperity and is well aware of what must be done in order to save itself from destruction and failure. But instead of adopting the only course of action that could really save it — an agreement with the Palestinians, as soon as possible, for the establishment of two nation-states — its government is ignoring the patent and is preoccupied with endless shenanigans, which are filling the air with deafening noise and of course failing one after the other. (…)
Tzvia Greenfield, HAA, 17.12.17
Teva’s meltdown has been colossal. (…) Teva has debts of about $35b., while the market believes the company is worth only around $18b. (…) Some are arguing that Teva’s crisis is proof that the law was abused by the company and did nothing to prevent its demise. But we run the risk of allowing populist zeal get the better of us. In the globalized world we live in, Israel must compete with other countries to attract multinational concerns (…). If Israel refrains from offering competitive tax rates to companies like Teva, Intel and Check Point, those companies will pick up and go to a country where it is cheaper to manufacture. (…) Tens of thousands of jobs were created as a side effect, even though they were not directly employed by Teva. (…) Ideally, it would be nice if for every shekel in tax breaks Israel gave, it got back a shekel from Teva in the form of salaries to Israelis or investment in R&D or construction of a factory. But attempts to regulate these matters would only generate excessive red tape and bloated regulatory oversight, which would scare away potential investors. (…) Teva’s fall is tragic. But we should not learn the wrong lessons. The Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investments is (…) one of several tools that Israel has at its disposal to boost economic growth. Amending it or annulling it would signal instability and do more harm than good.
Editorial, JPO, 18.12.17
Culinary distraction: My coping mechanism for Teva’s woes
(…) Teva is not what it used to be. (…) My colleagues and friends are all waiting to hear of their fate, as am I. (…) 1,750 employees and their families in Israel that will be directly affected by the layoffs. None of them is to blame, and none was involved in the decisions that led to Teva’s woes. (…) Teva needs to be saved. (…) coming to work every day is unpleasant and depressing. (…) Instead of quiet chatter, rumor-mongering, and general anxiety I chose to reframe our situation at work via culinary distraction. I bought a toaster oven, and each morning, we bake a cake bringing a pleasant aroma to the corridors. Our daily baking project has become a tool for people to reframe their anxiety-filled environment. (…)
Joel Kaye, TOI, 20.12.17
Middle Israel: Wanted, Capitalism with a human face
(…) Teva is part of a global need for a new economic idea. (…) Eli Hurvitz, a former kibbutznik (…) became an executive in the firm (…) Hurvitz the man and Teva the company would loom as emblems of this country’s journey from socialism to capitalism. Hurvitz understood the promise of globalization, steadily focusing Teva’s sales and production in the US. (…) Hurvitz was not just a symbol of this transition; he was a piston in its engine. (…) Hurvitz delivered the industrialists’ agreement to slashing the duties that protected them from foreign imports, while the unions gave up on salary indexations and food subsidies, and the politicians cut defense spending and outlawed printing money as a means of covering deficits. Israel was thus severed from its socialist roots, while the privately held and shamelessly profitable Teva became the antithesis of Koor – the union-owned conglomerate of 32,000 workers whose bankruptcy in 1988 resulted in 10,000 layoffs and wholesale closures and spin-offs en route to its privatization. (…) Strategically, Teva relied too heavily on its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone (…) Teva’s flagship drug would demonstrate the short psychological distance between treasure and adventure. (…) Teva did not use the good years in order to prepare for the bad ones(…) Feeling compelled to expand geographically, Teva ventured into moral moonscapes (…) the combination of financial gluttony and moral decadence (…) is is the broader context of what Teva now faces (…)
Amotz Asa-El, JPO, 24.12.17
Teva´s collapse – Israel´s biotech recovery
(…) More than any other company, Teva’s implosion accounts for the poor performance of all Israeli stock market indexes. (…) it might be too late to solve that problem for Teva, but not for the Israeli scientific and technology ecosystem that can build life science solutions to global health problems. (…) The government should use current negotiations it is holding with Teva over tax assessments as a lever to help restructure some of Teva’s huge debt and transform that into a public-private partnership with the government and scientific research institutes in Israel. This could enable Israel to regain some value of the tax subsidy it lost subsidizing Teva’s disastrous buying spree. (…) Israeli biotechnology and medical device companies are still some of the highest performers in Israeli equities. (…) More companies can emerge from the process of disruptive growth in the life sciences industries as science and technology improvements mature. But, we must construct the investment vehicles for drug development and delivery.
Glenn Yaho, JPO, 27.12.17
Running to the UN won’t bring a Palestinian state closer. Abbas has to bite the bullet and talk to Trump
The Palestinian leadership’s unprepared response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has left it with a credibility problem. (…) President Mahmoud Abbas (…) panicked (…) concentrated his energies on international fora already friendly to the Palestinian cause – but have precious little real-world influence. President Abbas risks doing himself and the Palestinian cause a disservice unless he focuses on establishing an independent Palestinian state. And the only way that is going to happen is by finding a way to work with America, and the Trump administration. (…) Trump left the door open. He did not say that Jerusalem in its entirety is the capital of Israel. (…) The next logical step would have been for the Palestinians to say that they would be prepared to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – on condition Trump also recognizes Palestinian claims to have their capital in the holy city, while also calling for the resumption of talks. (…) Abbas cannot simultaneously call for non-recognition and recognition. (…) The next stop for Abbas is the United Nations. (…) UN resolutions are not sacred texts (…). Even when they are binding, they are seldom enforced. (…) Abbas should call on states to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (…). This would also be consistent with the Arab Peace Initiative. (…)
Victor Kattan, HAA, 18.12.17
An American paradigm shift
The vote at the United Nations General Assembly (…) is the familiar anti-Israel hatred that has become part and parcel of the United Nations. (…) Unlike past votes on anti-Israel resolutions, this time the draft resolution has (…) to do with our very existence and with the U.S. decision to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which has received bipartisan consensus for more than two decades. (…) The U.S. has had to pay a price for standing by Israel and by its principles. Despite the perception that this creates international isolation, over the long haul the Americans are driving home the message that the world’s strongest superpower is offering unequivocal support for its allies. This will bolster Washington’s credibility and its ability to navigate the chaotic and challenging international system in the Middle East and beyond. (…)
Lior Weintraub, IHY, 21.12.17
What happens at the UN GA stays at the UN GA
(…) Netanyahu, who doesn’t miss an opportunity to use the UN stage to put on his theatrical shows, has failed to understand that that’s the General Assembly’s exact purpose: (…) Engaging in pretend diplomacy. (…) The main thing the General Assembly is explicitly unauthorized to do is to act. This power is reserved to the Security Council, and that’s the only place where Israel could really suffer. (…) That’s no coincidence. When the Americans founded the organization at the end of World War II, they realized that if they wanted to secure their hegemony, they had to create a semblance of comradeship and equality and give each member a false representation of power. And that’s exactly what the General Assembly does: It allows countries with no real influence in international terms—military, political or economic—to feel as if they have some kind of influence. (…) thanks to the possibility to let off diplomatic steam in the form of anti-Israel resolutions at the General Assembly, the Arab states, Turkey and Iran are essentially settling for symbolic victories—especially for internal needs—which reduce the pressure to act against Israel at the Security Council. (…) we should remember that as long as the General Assembly focuses on words against Israel, the Security Council will likely avoid taking action against Israel.
Yoav Fromer, YED, 25.12.17
Despite PM’s foreign trips, Israel remains nearly isolated in UN
(…) Benjamin Netanyahu uses every opportunity to boast that Israel is enjoying unprecedented diplomatic prosperity and that the Jewish state is admired and appreciated all over the world. (…) Since the formation of the current government, Netanyahu has embarked on 30 journeys abroad, visiting 37 countries (…), and he has been out of the country for 103 days. (…) Of the 193 UN member states, the Jewish state is supported primarily by the US, Canada and a few island countries. (…) According to Foreign-Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, “In the past few years, we have been seeing a favorable strategic change in different countries’ attitude towards the State of Israel. This is reflected, among other things, in international institutions’ votes. When a country moves from voting against Israel to abstention, it is also seen as a diplomatic achievement. (…) The trend is positive and it will keep improving. The State of Israel is a significant player in the international arena, and many countries understand that and are moving closer to us in all respects.”
Itamar Eichner, YED, 27.12.17
Above the fold: UN vote on Jerusalem – a huge success
(…) People are looking at the wrong numbers. (…) The number we need to concentrate on is 65. Nine plus 35 plus 21 equals 65. Nine nations had the diplomatic guts to stand up to the rest of the world and unabashedly side with the US and Jerusalem. (…) Thirty-five nations had the wherewithal to abstain. That wasn’t easy either. As for the 21 no-shows, they were all calculated decisions. (…) What was disappointing is that certain nations, themselves democracies, failed to vote alongside the US. Each for its own reason, countries like Great Britain, Germany, France and even India, bailed when it came to the vote. (…) the US and Jerusalem succeeded in garnering a third of the UN votes. That’s significant. (…) The General Assembly has always been a release valve for angry anti-Western sentiments. (…) The world leaders who chose to vote against the US should have seen the writing on the wall and known that the US would be offended. The United States of America, especially under President Trump, does not like to be humiliated in public. (…)
Micah Halpern, JPO, 31.12.17
It’s Time for the Israeli Right to Get Out and Demonstrate
(…) The corruption festival is over, Israel deserves better leaders. (…) The haze of corruption surrounding Netanyahu has evidently managed to crack the political wall which had previously kept rightist voters away from the protests (…) Now, however, budding opposition is evident on the right as well. (…) what we know so far about Netanyahu’s cases, and his attempts to enact destructive laws for his personal benefit, is enough to state unequivocally that this isn’t how any public servant ought to behave, and certainly not the prime minister, even if he’s politically one of their own. (…) Fighting corruption is a supreme value for any democratic country, an interest shared by leftists and rightists alike. (…)
Editorial, HAA, 22.12.17
Lorde and the BDS Bullies
What does Lorde, the 21-year-old singer from New Zealand, know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Very little, which made her a perfect candidate to be taken captive by the BDS movement. (…) Bullying pop artists into conforming to the opinions of a left-wing consensus that sees itself as having a monopoly over what is acceptable to think and believe is a tactic that is not unique to the BDS movement. (…) For the young Lorde, who is clueless about Zionism and knows nothing about Israel’s long history of struggle with a violent, intolerant and antisemitic Arab national movement, it is no political statement to appear in Tel Aviv before a crowd of globalized Israeli youths. It is an economic statement. (…) By caving in to BDS pressure, Lorde let herself be used as a political tool and joined a short list of performers who backed out of shows in Israel out of some distorted sense of solidarity with the Palestinian cause. (…) The commissars of “correct” opinions who pressured Lorde are clearly motivated by a bias against Israel that is most probably rooted in antisemitism. What else explains why no noise has been made about Lorde’s intention to appear in Moscow and St. Petersburg? Apparently, Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, its atrocities in Georgia and Chechnya and its repression of basic human rights do not justify a boycott. (…) Lorde is supposed to play music. Unfortunately, this time she let herself be played.
Editorial, JPO, 25.12.17
Jerusalem as the basis of a binational state
(…) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s great goal is the destruction of the Palestinian national movement (…). The fact is that all of Israel’s attempts to break the Palestinians have thus far failed. In this sense, Donald Trump’s announcement about Jerusalem changes nothing. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that the Palestinians will soon have to decide what the final goal of their struggle is: dividing the land into two states, or helping the Israeli right in its effort to commit suicide by means of a single state for two peoples. Indeed, the Palestinians will only benefit if there’s a single state here, but Israel won’t survive. If the Palestinians (…) decide to demand Israeli citizenship for residents of Jerusalem, now that it has been declared an Israeli city under American auspices and on America’s responsibility – and such a demand would be accepted as self-evident in both America and Europe – this will indicate that they’ve started to think seriously about a binational state. (…) the alternative to the two states the Israeli right doesn’t want is a single state, which will necessarily spell the end of Zionism and lead quite a number of Israelis to emigrate. (…) Therefore, anyone who desires the continued existence of a Zionist, free and democratic Israel must do everything in his power to ensure that the Palestinians don’t decide to present us with the bill for the actions of an ignorant, boorish American president. And that bill will be simple. It’s inconceivable that this “united” city, capital of “the only democracy in the Middle East,” should have two types of residents: free people who enjoy all the benefits of democracy and are citizens of their country, and people without citizenship who have the status of third-class residents. (…)
Zeev Sternhell, HAA, 16.12.17
Recipe for failure: A divided Jerusalem
US President Donald Trump’s (…) stance is in line with the Oslo Accords, to which both parties agreed (…). But despite the Palestinians’ signatory acceptance of Jerusalem’s disputed status, their disregard for international law and diplomacy has consistently undermined peace efforts. (…) Abbas, who routinely distorts and denies Jewish history in Jerusalem to get his way, and has turned down offers for a two-state solution three times, having learned well from his mentor, Yasser Arafat. Shortly after Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, he placated the Muslim world by proclaiming the agreement was merely “the first step on the road to Jerusalem and jihad,” (…) Palestinian leaders’ modus operandi indicates beyond the shadow of a doubt that handing over east Jerusalem to a terrorist entity which continuously proves it will never keep its end of the bargain would be a tragic mistake with deadly consequences for both Israelis and any Palestinians who sincerely desire peace and a chance for a normal life. (…) If Palestinians realized that real states require statesmanship, they would have had their state long ago. (…) Bullying, saber rattling, rage, dire threats and violence – not Israel – are impeding the dream for peace which the Palestinian leaders claim to be seeking.
Earl Cox, JPO, 18.12.17
Israel will join the United States in removing itself and its funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It’s about time. (…) UNESCO has in recent years proven to be an organization hijacked by an anti-American, antisemitic agenda that completely disregards concern for individual rights. (…) it elected Syria to its human-rights committee. We need say no more. (…) UNESCO rewrote history to leave out the Jews. The body that is charged with educating and protecting culture decreed last October that Jews have no connection with the Temple Mount. (…) The main argument against the decision to leave UNESCO is that by removing themselves from international forums, the US and Israel limit their ability to bring about change from within. UNESCO has an opportunity to change. But for that to happen it will need to clean shop and rid itself of the anti-Israel bias that has been a stain on the organization since it was founded in 1945.´For now, it has become apparent that little can be gained by participation in UNESCO. American and Israeli taxpayers’ money can be put to better use.
Editorial, JPO, 24.12.17
Anything but a boycott
(…) The danger of ostracism rather than dialogue is that it leads to a choice between a threat of force against the legitimate government or the withdrawal of a desperate minority into its own shell. (…) a boycott has the potential to do great damage, and the Foreign Ministry understands this. (…) In contrast to the after-the-fact invitation from Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand to meet with pop singer Lorde after she gave in to BDS and canceled her concert, such meetings should be conducted in advance, at dozens of embassies in Israel and abroad, as a preventive measure. That is what is needed, not boycotting the boycotters and abandoning the battlefield. (…) Israel has benefited from its practical ties with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, but its attitude toward it is one of hostility and dishonesty. (…) what’s the point of resigning from UNESCO, as Israel has announced? Is it because the organization treats Israel unfairly? It would be better to remain a member and to argue and accuse and get angry and pound on the table, but not to leave. The United States can always return. But Israel? There’s no knowing. (…) Israel should maintain its presence in every possible international forum, arguing, getting angry and admonishing but without boycotting or quitting. (…)
Dan Margalit, HAA, 28.12.17
Israeli Labor Party lawmakers submit to Avi Gabbay
(…) the key to understanding Labor MKs’ spineless behavior is fear. With several slots on the Knesset slate reserved for candidates of Gabbay’s choosing, and given the current mood in the party, the chances of any of them getting reelected next time are approaching zero. (…) this fear, like the accompanying despair, has its roots in previous fears and despairs, the ones that led them to support Gabbay for party chairman to begin with. MKs and party members are fed up with sitting in the political wilderness. They want to return to power, and fast, and they truly believe (…) that they have a winning card. (…) Their conclusion was that “only Gabbay can do it.” (…) There’s almost nothing left for them to say but “it’s a tactic” or “he’s honest.” Even the claim that “he’s a social democrat” has disappeared, and all that remains in its place is “he’s for a two-state solution” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To Gabbay’s credit, it must be said that he means what he says. He’s a man of the right, and he has nothing to do with salient leftist values (…) or the right to full civic equality and social justice, or the desire for peace and rejection of the occupation. (…) Labor is turning into another Likud (…)
Avirama Golan, HAA, 16.12.17
When will the leftists in their kibbutzim absorb refugees?
The left is horrified. Look at the right wing, the left whines from its comfortable armchair, pointing mainly at Miri Regev and Arye Dery. Look at what it has done now to those poor refugees, tossing them away to their deaths. (…) Where was your holier-than-thou morality two years ago and three years ago and 10 years ago? (…) It’s so easy to cluck with disapproval and raise the universal cry of “people are all equal” when hardly any of these self-righteous writers or spokespeople have ever actually seen or met a Sudanese or Eritrean. It’s so easy to sit in remodeled Arab villas in Old Jaffa or in big houses in north Tel Aviv or Tzahala, or in Rehavia or Talbieh, and to hand out grades to the rest of the world, as if this were some theoretical exercise and not real life. (…) you have the nerve to criticize those who do share their (…) living space with one of the most wretched and put-upon groups of people in the country? No, my friends, this is not some cool exotic encounter, this is a war for jobs, for home, for basic survival, for human dignity. The day that the kibbutz movement announces to the world that it is ready to take in thousands of refugees rather than continue squeezing every drop it can from the public coffers (…), to bestow land on its third and fourth generations; the day when all those pure-hearted leftists declare that they insist that all the refugees be dispersed equally among all Israeli cities and provided with the means for a decent life; (…) then we’ll be able to sigh contentedly and say that the Jewish conscience has returned to its starting point, that it has resumed its true calling. (…)
Ron Cahlili, HAA, 22.12.17
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: January 2018
Dr. Werner Puschra, Executive Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel