On December 24 2010, Yediot’s Friday Political Supplement ran an interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick by Adi Gold. Most of the interview was dedicated to his new biography of Barack Obama. Gold did ask a political question on Israel and Reminck’s response was very blunt. Note that this is a reverse translation (Hebrew original of section here.)
Do you see a certain change in the US Jewish community?
“A new generation of Jews is growing up in the US. Their relationship with Israel is becoming less patient and more problematic. They see what has happened with the Rabbinical Letter [proscribing rental and sale of property to Arabs -- DR], for example. How long can you expect that they’ll love unconditionally the place called Israel [sic]? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967. It’s been happening for so long that even people like me, who understand that not only one side is responsible for the conflict and that the Palestinians missed an historic opportunity for peace in 2000, can’t take it anymore.
“The US administration is trying out of good will to get a peace process moving and in return Israel lays out conditions like the release Jonathan Pollard. Sorry, it can’t go on this way. The Jewish community is not just a nice breakfast at the Regency. You think it’s bad that a US President is trying to make an effort to promote peace? That’s what’s hurting your feelings? Give me a break, you’ve got bigger problems. A shopping list in exchange for a two month moratorium on settlement construction? Jesus [sic].”
Last night, Channel Ten TV News’s Raviv Drucker exposed a letter written to Benyamin Netanyahu in early 2009. The author, one Yisrael Yagel, a former executive in Netanyahu’s 2008 election campaign, penned an indictment of the Prime Minister’s management style, with particular emphasis on the role and influence of Ms. Netanyahu (“the Boss”).
This morning, Maariv also ran the letter, but as the first of a three-part series, with follow-ups from mid-2009 and early 2010. Ben Caspit, Maariv’s senior political columnist who has been a brutal critic of the Prime Minister’s Bureau, explains:
I have been in possession of these letters for more than a year. It was not Yagel who gave them to me. But it was Yagel who urged me not to publish them. After I got to know him, I made a very unreporterly-like decision and acceded to his request. I tried repeatedly to describe in this newspaper the dangers of the prime minister’s behavior. The weakness of his working environment. And most importantly: the degree to which the prime minister’s wife was involved in making most of the decisions, small and big, the power she wields, the terrible fear he has of her, the fact that some of the prime minister’s employees, who are actually our employees, are really her employees and are subordinate only to her will.
Below are translations of the letters as published in Maariv, the response provided by the Prime Minister’s Bureau and Caspit’s (separate) commentary. There’s a lot of “insider baseball”, but a lay reader will still get a sense of the Byzantine politics surrounding Israel’s helm. Here, for example, is a passage from the first letter:
“The matter reached an extreme level, which let a red light, a few days ago, in the debates on how the campaign should be run during the war in the south of the country [Cast Lead]. In a phone conversation, it appears (I only heard him) that Natan Eshel [a confidante of Ms. Netanyahu who was later appointed Netanyahu's first Bureau Chief] unsuccessfully tried to persuade you to ramp-up the campaign. At the end of the call Natan told Yisrael Bachar (I was also in the room) that ’he (meaning you) doesn’t yet know that the campaign will change, because I’ve already settled the matter with the Boss (meaning Mrs. Netanyahu.’ So the process is run by an outsider (Natan) who operates you (through Mrs. Netanyahu) like a puppet??? This is the point I decided not to remain silent!!! Even if what Mr. Natan Eshel said was tinged with bluster, it reflects an extremely problematic situation.”
The second season of the Israeli version of the reality show Beauty and the Geek is an even bigger hit than the first. Not least because the producers constantly prove that, in Israel 2010, reality outdoes satire.
In the second episode, broadcast Tuesday evening, the girls are quizzed in the Channel Ten TV News studio on the Israeli-Arab conflict by high-brow interviewer Yaron London and mythical Palestinian affairs reporter Yoram Binur. Most of the section is heart breaking. At one point, however, viewers are treated to a dose of honest wisdom that would never be broadcast on a “serious” venue [watch the entire episode here; the passage translated below starts at 48:14].
Yaron London: We’ve talked enough about wars. Let’s talk about peace. What’s the difference between the Oslo Accords and the Road Map, Lital?
Lital: The Oslo Accords were an agreement that was meant to give them the feeling that at end of the day they will have a state on their own lands. But it didn’t really happen.
London: Meaning that we were cunning…is that what you’re saying?
Lital: We were…a kind of hoodwinking.
Lital won the quiz.
Arik Bender, Maariv, November 8 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
Cooperation between the extreme right wing in Holland and Israel: Dutch anti-Muslim nationalist Geert Wilders will come to Israel in order to support the idea that “Jordan is the Palestinian nation state,” which is being promoted by MK Arieh Eldad (National Union).
Eldad, chairman of the Hatikva party, one of the constituent parties of the National Union, is convening a special conference of his party in order to discuss an “alternative foreign policy plan,” which mainly consists of recognition of the fact that Jordan is the Palestinian state, while only one state will exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea—the State of Israel.
MK Eldad will present the main points of his idea at the conference, which will be held in Tel Aviv at the beginning of next month. Eldad will be followed by a guest speech by the Dutch nationalist Wilders, in which he will voice support for the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Jordan. Former defense minister Moshe Arens and former GSS director Ami Ayalon were invited to the conference in order to respond to the speeches.
The party led by Wilders, the Dutch Party for Freedom, currently holds 24 of the 150 seats in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament. Wilders, who is opposed to Muslim immigration to Europe, sparked a furor following the film “Fitna” that he wrote, produced and directed in 2008. In the film, he presents Islam and the Koran as a religion that supports terror. Since then, he has received many death threats and is under heavy security.
The back page of Yediot’s daily magazine supplement, “24 Hours,” sports a mysterious full page advertisement for a tourism package to Syria. You can view the orginal here and bottom of post. Here is a translation of the text:
A captivating journey to the antiquities of the ancient city of Tadmor.
Syria, from $329, including flights, three-star hotel and a vehicle for four days.
The ad is pricey (at least $15,000) and is obviously a teaser — there is no phone number, URL or any identification of the advertiser. The question is, a teaser for what? A travel agency, perhaps, or, more likely, a full-blown campaign calling for resumption of peace-talks with Syria.
H/T Dana Zimmerman
Zvika Brott, Yediot, May 26 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
There is no adolescent who doesn’t wonder about the question when his “first time” will be. A new initiative in the Knesset seeks to put an end to this deliberation, and simply decide for Israeli teenagers: You cannot have sexual relations before age 16.
The “abstinence bill” initiated by Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Carmel Shama (Likud) aims to toughen the currently existing law in Israel, which forbids having sexual relations before age 14. It states that sexual relations under age 16 will be forbidden, even among partners of the same age. “The lower the age that people begin to have sexual relations, the greater the physiological and psychological risks it entails,” MK Shama writes in the bill. “The age currently determined by law is too low, we must not forget that we are talking about children.”
It should be noted that the model proposed by Shama is in force in many countries around the world such as the US, Canada, Britain, Holland, Norway and Finland. However, there are also many countries that follow the rules that apply in Israel, including Spain, Hungary, Moldova, Croatia, Chile and Albania.
The bill does not specify the penalty that will be imposed on minors who have sexual relations beneath the permitted age, but it states that this will be proportional and coordinated with the welfare authorities.
The “abstinence bill” is important to MK Shama not only as a parliamentarian but also as a concerned parent. “Last week, my eldest son turned 14. I am horrified by the thought that he and his friends will have sex at this age, and with the consent of the State of Israel’s law book,” he explains. “There is no intention to go into the teenagers’ bedrooms, and certainly not to punish, but rather to convey the message that this is forbidden and has dangers. In the world of online acquaintance and liberal norms of partying and drinking, there are grounds for guiding intervention by the state.”
The bill enjoys the support of many MKs from the coalition and opposition, and it will be officially submitted to the Knesset secretariat this morning.
- November 16, 2009: The interview was given just before the Gaza withdrawal, when the country was in extreme turmoil. It was Peres’s birthday and the interviewer closed with a jocular “so what’s your secret?”. Instead of a short and lighthearted answer, the (then) Minister provided a long and rambling lifestyle prescription on a hard-news program on prime time. This kind of insular self-absorption may help put his latest condescension (noted here, here, here and here) in perspective.
Shimon Peres: The secret for a long life
“Ha-kol Diburim” [prime time news show], IBA Radio, July 20 2005
Shimon Peres: In my view, food. I’ll tell you exactly what I do every day. I get up in the morning, and the first thing I do is exercise five-to-ten minutes. I’ve been doing a few exercises for the last 40 years. That includes a few hundred jumps of different kinds. I bounce, jump. Forty years ago, I suffered from back pain. Since then, I’ve never known back pain. I also suffered from headaches, by the way. I stopped smoking, and I haven’t had headaches since. It’s, first of all, the simplest of things. Then, I eat breakfast, which is made up of a little fresh lemon, every morning. In my opinion, this has a big effect on a person’s digestion. Afterward, I eat fruit – an apple, peach or banana – no more. And I drink tea, usually weak tea, light tea, because dark tea, in my opinion, is harmful to many things, including your color. And I leave for work after reading the newspapers. Usually by 7:30 a.m., I’ve already eaten, had something to drink, exercised, anything you could ask for. I wake up at 5:30 a.m., and in the afternoon I eat again – chicken or fish with salad, a vegetable salad and a lettuce salad. If I’m very hungry, I eat another piece of fruit, perhaps watermelon, cantaloupe, or some other fruit. Then I go back to work. And I eat a very light supper, usually cottage cheese or whole wheat bread, or something else, and leben [slim yogurt]. And I also drink a glass of wine. I really like drinking a cup of wine or two per day. But, in my opinion, the essence of a person stems from his curiosity, from the meaning in what he does. You have to be a person who is always active. I always say, you are as large as the size of the interests you are serving. And you will be small if you serve only your own interests.