APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday December 29, 2015 
Quote of the day:
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are under attack and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
--A quote by Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering, posted by Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, on Facebook, following the passing of the NGO bill.**

Breaking News:
Court cuts Olmert sentence to 18 months
Supreme Court justices reach final verdict in case of ex-prime minister who got six-year prison sentence for accepting bribes, overturning conviction for more major charge but upholding other conviction and reducing jail time. (Ynet and Haaretz)

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Acquittal or prisoner – This morning: High Court to rule on Olmert’s appeal
  • Incitement attack – Two Hebrew University lecturers called Justice Minister Shaked “filth, scum, neo-Nazi, your hands are covered in blood”
  • Pride and prejudice – 13 MKs of ultra-Orthodox parties left the Knesset plenum when Amir Ohana was sworn in as the first declared gay MK of the right-wing
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Tension over the expected ruling on whether Ehud Olmert would go to jail, the comparison of Israel’s government and its Justice Minster Ayelet Shaked with Nazis, and the release of one of the Duma detainees were top stories in today’s Hebrew papers. Meanwhile, Israel threatened back at Hezbollah and it allowed a Gazan baby to get an operation in Israel – without her mother.

The papers wrote extensively about the whether the High Court justices would accept the appeal by former prime minister Ehud Olmert against his earlier sentencing of six years prison for bribery. [Today, the justices decided to drop one of the charges and Olmert will sit for 18 months instead.]

Another hot topic today was the comparisons with Nazis. Hebrew University lecturer Dr. Ofer Cassif wrote on Facebook that Justice Minister Shaked is 'Neo-Nazi scum’ and told Army Radio afterward, "I think it's fair to compare Israel to Germany in the 1930s, and not to the years of genocide.” Cassif pointed to the Im Tirtzu video and Shaked’s NGO law. The article in Ynet noted that the Facebook posts come in the wake of the passing of the NGO bill, but it doesn’t mention that the bill requires the (mostly left-wing) NGO representatives to wear a special badge when they visit the Knesset committees to indicate that they receive more than 50% of their contributions from foreign states. Cassif shared on Facebook the post by his colleague Professor Amiram Goldblum, who sharply criticized Shaked for not revealing that she received ‘blood money’ contributions from a Jewish Belgian donor who is now in jail for selling arms to rebels in Sierra Leone. Private donations are not required to be revealed by the bill. Cassif was not alone in his comparison of Israel’s right-wing government to the Nazis. Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, posted a quote by a Nazi war criminal that described how fascist governments get their people to follow them, by “denouncing the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” Caspi added: "We're on the right path…” Now, the ambassador faces punishment by the Foreign Ministry. Oddly, the article by Yedioth’s Itamar Eichner did not mention the context of the posting of the quote: the government’s approval of the NGO bill that labels left-wing Israeli human rights organizations.
‘Release, appeal, and embarrassment,’ was the title of the Yedioth article, which described how one of the Jewish suspects in the Duma arson-murders was released to house arrest because, despite the Shin Bet’s promises of progress and indictments on the case, one of the detainees has ‘only’ been linked to an incident in which settlers beat up a Bedouin man near the extremist Baladim outpost. The parents of the 18-year-old are demanding an inquiry into alleged torture of the suspects. (MaarivDeputy Attorney General Raz Nazri met with the Jewish detainees to confirm their health situation in light of allegations that the Shin Bet was torturing them during interrogations. In a discussion in the Knesset Constitutional Committee, MK Osama Saadi asked the Deputy Attorney General why he only met with right-wing Jewish prisoners and not with Palestinian security detainees. Nazri: “I met with Palestinian detainees in the past. This isn’t the place or the time to demand the reasons and the number of times I did that.” Maariv and News1 reported.
After the warnings to Israelis by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah following the assassination of operative Samir Kuntar, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot shot back saying: “…we are ready for every challenge. As we have proven in the past, we know how to get to all of those who seek to harm us. Our enemies know that if they try to undermine Israel's security, they will be met with grave consequences." 

"There is no limit to bureaucratic insensitivity," wrote Yedioth reporter Rotem Elizera after four-month-old Gaza baby, Rahmah Zatma, did not undergo planned heart surgery at an Israeli hospital last week because Israel only approved her 75-year-old grandfather to escort her. The recently harsher rules only allow someone over age 55 to escort a baby to a medical procedure in Israel. The baby's mother, Yasmin, said it was "cruel" to separate between them and that Rahmah is still breast-feeding. Yasmin would likely have been able to go if she passed a security check, which she requested, but the IDF liaison unit said it never received her phone number from the Palestinian committee for civilian affairs. However, Yedioth received a recording of the call in which the IDF liaison representative is heard admitting that his office did receive Yasmin's phone number. "Thus, it is unclear why she was not summoned for a security check that is necessary to receive the permission to travel with her daughter to the surgery," wrote Elizera. Physicians for Human Rights, which has been aiding with the case said: "Rahmah and Yasmin's case is another incident among many that we deal with that illustrates the arbitrariness of the mechanism for granting permits for Gaza residents. The security fear does not justify collective punishment and maltreatment of the ill and the mechanism must be cancelled to allow the ill access to medical services according to their needs." [Note: Physicians for Human Rights is one of the Israeli NGOs that is targeted by Minister Shaked's NGO bill. - OH]
Quick Hits:
  • PLO slams Israeli PM's comments on Jewish terrorism - “Mr. Netanyahu is claiming that the killing of any human being by a Jew is not comparable to the killing of a Jew by a non-Jew,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement. (Maan
  • Erekat denies proposing secret negotiations with Israel - The statement from the PLO official came shortly after the Israeli Broadcasting Authority published on its Reshet Bet website that Erekat had proposed secret negotiations, but that Israel had turned down the offer. (Maan)
  • Foreign Ministry director confirms: Israel foiled transfer of arms to Hezbollah - In interview with Saudi-owned website, Dore Gold says IDF stopped Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles from arriving to Lebanon. This is the first official Israeli confirmation of the military operations the IAF holds in Syria. (Ynet
  • American Family Visits Site of Ezra Schwartz's Murder in Terror Attack - Visit to Gush Etzion junction comes five weeks after Palestinian gunman fired at vehicle carrying Schwartz, other yeshiva students and volunteers. (JTA, Haaretz
  • Peace Now: Israel seeking to revive E1 construction plans - According to NGO, Housing Ministry hires architects to prepare new blueprints for the construction of 55,548 Jewish homes in the West Bank, including two new settlements, 8,300 of which would be in area cutting East Jerusalem from the West Bank. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Knesset increased 2015 defense budget by 2.5 billion shekels - The Knesset Finance Committee approved the transfer of NIS 2.5 billion of unspent funds from the budgets of different ministries and agencies for 2015 in the budget of the Ministry of defense. Now, the total defense budget for 2015 exceeds 69.8 billion shekels, despite the fact that the budget passed in law was 56.1 billion shekels. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF to Offer Grants for Soldiers Who Move to the Negev - Army concerned that many will quit rather than relocate with their elite units, which are being moved to the south. (Haaretz+) 
  • The Social Security Department at the Ministry of Defense approved the establishment of two new military preparatory programs - An education on values returns to the IDF: the all-Israeli pre-military prep program “Be’eri, in the name of Berl Katznelson” will be established at Beit Berl Center for young leadership and will be headed by Gadi Yivarkan, one of the heads of the campaign for social justice for Jews of Ethiopia. The other military prep-program will be named after Haviva Reik, and will operate from Givat Haviva center for humanistic leadership. The two new programs join dozens of others across the country, where some 3,500 youth study each year. (Maariv)
  • Israel's deposed missile defense chief was secretly monitored for a month - Defense establishment believes he stored classified info on his PC out of negligence, not malice. His termination is seen by some defense officials as disproportionate. (Haaretz+) 
  • Terrorist chillingly admits intention to kill soldier - Nur al-Din Hashiyah, who murdered soldier Almog Shiloni in Tel Aviv a year ago, admitted to the killing saying the reason was 'your rabbis entering al-Aqsa, making it impure.' (Ynet)
  • Stabbed with a Leatherman knife during IDF squad commanders' course - and sent to jail - The paratrooper, who stabbed another soldier with a pocketknife he received in basic training, was sentenced to 60 days in prison and a demotion to private. According to him, his friend taunted and threw pieces of gum at him. His lawyer: "This is a momentary dispute between good soldiers." (Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israel rejects Netanyahu family's request to pay for its dog's care - The family's request for the state to pay for their pup, Kaia, was denied by the Finance Ministry, and dismissed as a personal expense. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli authorities continue internment of 4 Palestinian brothers - The society said three of the four Zamaareh brothers, identified as Muhammad, 16, Bahaa, 17, and Abed, 23, were detained at the start of October during a detention raid in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron's Hahul village. Ahmad, 19, has been held for a year. Only two brothers have known charges against them. (Maan)
  • Rally organizers won’t be criminally liable for violations committed by demonstrators - Organizers will still be responsible for incidents taking place at demonstrations and may be subject to damage claims. Police respond to Association for Civil Rights petition to High Court of Justice (Haaretz+)
  • Likud to decide whether or not to support Netanyahu's suggestion to advance primaries - The central committee will also be choosing a chairman to replace Danny Danon, who has been appointed ambassador to the United Nations. (Haaretz+)
  • Most popular baby name in Israel: Mohammed - Some 2,650 Mohammeds were born in Israel in 2014, 650 more than Noam, the most popular name among Jews – but not all of these Noams were boys; 400 were girls. (Haaretz+) 
  • French Jewish Community: Paris Photo Exhibit Glorifies Palestinian Terrorism' - In Between Wars' is a photo exhibition by France’s Doctors Without Borders that French Jewish communities say incites anti-Semitism, besides that some texts in the gallery are inappropriate. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • French Jews condemn Corsica mosque’s attack - The attack on Christmas Day left 3 injured. The CRIF firmly disapproves the actions and defined them as ‘anti-republican’. (JTA, Haaretz
  • Group urges investigations into PA violations against journalists - PA security forces wearing civilian clothing on Friday assaulted several journalists and prevented them from covering clashes that broke out between the forces and protesters in al-Bireh, according to an investigation by the Palestinian Center for Developments and Media Freedoms. (Maan)  
  • 12.5 Tons of Iranian Uranium Shipped to Russia, Kerry Says - In step coinciding with nuclear agreement signed with P5+1, Iran allows shipment of low-enriched uranium to depart for Russia, though 450 pounds of high-enriched uranium remains. (Agencies, Haaretz
  • 'The Only Country ISIS Fears Is Israel' - German journalist returns from 10 days with ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, says organization is confident of its fighting capabilities against the U.S., but not the IDF. (Haaretz
  • At Least 32 Killed and 90 Injured in Attacks in Syria's Homs - A car bomb and a suicide attack in rebel-controlled area of Homs are the second major attacks since a recent ceasefire deal. (Agencies, Haaretz
  • Turkish Kurds Call for Self-rule Amid Heavy Fighting in Region - The declaration could escalate tensions between Kurds and the Turkish government, which adamantly opposes a separate Kurdish state. (Agencies, Haaretz

Letters to the Editor: Hatred of Israel: It’s Not Just Because of Jewish Extremists (Haaretz)

Close the IDF’s Missionizing Unit (Haaretz Editorial) The Israel Defense Forces must not be subject to rabbinic and messianic influences; It must educate its soldiers and commanders toward values shared by all of Israeli society.
Mystery shrouds dismissal of Israeli missile defense chief (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) Yair Ramati’s humiliation doesn’t seem to be a result of American pressure. 'We felt that somebody was lying in wait to settle accounts,' a close friend says. 
Breaking the silence: the eruption of fascist Jewish racism endangers the foundations of democracy (Uri Savir, Maariv) While Likud ignores the unprecedented atrocities taking place on the far right, the left-wing needs to fight for democracy, but instead they just stutter and try to please. 
Killing a Palestinian Baby Twice (Shoham Smith, Haaretz+) What would the sages say about these new Jews, the neo-fanatics? They would decree destruction because of unjustified hatred.
Troubles in the APC: Recently, the IDF is not only fighting the Arab enemy, but the enemy within (Ran Adelist, Maariv) A number of incidents indicate that the front between the IDF and the extreme right and its representatives, including Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, are constantly expanding. And that’s a good thing. I didn’t think of turning into the reporter for the rift between the army and the government, but the crisis events, which are increasingly more frequent between the legislative and the executive arms on matters of life and death, require that citizens decide whether they are in favor of the IDF or the right-wing government. 
Why the Left should be ashamed of itself (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Where are all the Israelis who are convinced that the ongoing occupation will destroy us? Where is their money, and why do they expect Sweden's government to fight their battle against the Right?
The stability litmus test (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) In a chaotic Arab world, Palestinians recognize the value of the stability they enjoy. 
Neighbors In Syria, the Mafia Profits From Kidnapping Newborns and Trafficking Organs (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Besides smuggling weapons and refugees, selling children and organ harvesting are two sources of income for mafia in the Syrian civil war.
Not bad seeds, just bad (Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Israel Hayom) Jews who celebrate the murder of a Palestinian toddler do not represent Judaism in any way.
Israel Now Has Its Very Own Jewish Hamas (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) If rules need to be bent to get the information required to convict the Duma murderers, then so be it. To the security services: Do what you have to do. Do it quickly. Do it now. 
The two faces of fascism in Israel (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Those who believe in democracy try to convince; those who have lost faith in democracy try to impose. That's exactly what far right-wing activists and far left-wing activists are trying to do. 
Israeli Liberals Must Strive for Autonomy (Carlo Strenger, Haaretz+) In light of the looming ethnocracy here, we must reframe our goals and define ourselves as a minority with rights of its own.
France's Jews are waiting (Dr. Mickael Bensadoun, Israel Hayom) The most effective encouragement to move to Israel comes from stories of positive integration experiences. 
Democratic activists are now marked out as Israel's new 'traitors' (Daniel May, Haaretz+) Speakers from Breaking the Silence triggered my engagement with Israel. Now I'm afraid for their lives. 
The only leader who dared (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) Ariel Sharon defeated not only the second intifada and his own outlook, but also the Jewish minority group which had been considered undefeatable until then: The hardcore of the settlers.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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