Trains, Complaints and Canceled Deals


It’s Monday, which must mean a strike is in the works. This time (as the last few times) it’s going to be the trains (with milk waiting on deck!). Yedioth Ahronoth has the least flattering picture possible of (now out of work) train workers union head Gila Edrey, along with the headline “Tomorrow: General strike on the train.” Can’t wait.

Maariv, which throws lovely cutouts of Minister Yaakov Katz and union chief Ofer Eini into the mix, runs the headline, “On a collision course.” Get it? Because it’s the train. It works even better in Hebrew where the word for track, maslul, also means course.

Israel Hayom makes sure we know this will be a non-time delineated strike, and Haaretz, whose workers maybe take the bus or drive, leaves the train drama off the front page.

There isn’t much coverage beyond the basic facts. The train workers want more rights and the train administration and government want the train workers to stop threatening strikes over everything.

But wait, there’s more, as the papers also report that other transportation branches, like buses, airports and the like, may also decide to take a collective vacation day or two. Get ready for a strike-tastic spring.

The other big story is the High Court’s rejection of the Migron deal that would have allowed the outpost’s settlers to stay put until 2015. Now they will have to leave by August. Haaretz, which makes no secret of its anti-settler stance, goes with the straight headline “High Court invalidates deal between the state and Migron settlers: Harms the rule of law,” in contrast to Yedioth’s “High Court clears out Migron,” and Israel Hayom’s “Migron storm.”

There’s nothing talking heads like to do more than wax poetic on a sexy story like Migron, and Israel’s inkiest pens have at it. Haaretz legal analyst Aeyal Gross skips any legal analysis and instead celebrates the decision and calls for more like it against the occupation: “Migron is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the tip of the iceberg of outposts and settlements built on Palestinian land. It is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the government turns a blind eye or even cooperates with the unauthorized outposts. It is a tip of the iceberg in terms of ignoring High Court rulings.”

Maariv runs centrist Ben Caspit (“There is a law and there are judges, even in the territories”) against right-winger Ben-Dror Yemini, who laments the faith the right-wing put in new Supreme Court president Asher Grunis, under whose watch the deal was canceled. “The makeup of the court has changed. The president is Grunis, and he landed a mortal punch on all who thought that what was will be, that the politics would continue and rightist activism would replace leftist [activism].”

Maariv also has an interview with Binyamin Council head Avi Roeh, who says the settlers are not angry with Minister Benny Begin, who brokered the now canceled deal. But…

“There is anger at the government,” he says. “The government needs to clarify to the High Court who rules the state of Israel. Like I said, the judges need to understand that there is a government in Jerusalem. The court is disconnected from what happens in the country.” He adds that the judges did not even bother to see the site before making a ruling, which even the state prosecutor did, to understand that the outpost won’t be easily dismantled. “The whole point of the negotiations and the deal we signed was to respect the law and fix the problem in a peaceful way.”

Right-wing MK Uri Arieli turns his anger toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel Hayom, writing that he is responsible for what happens come August, when the outpost is evacuated. “He is the one who now, after he said publicly he respects the High Court ruling, is able to find a solution and prevent the rioting and bloodshed that will be on his hands alone.”

Last rights

Maariv’s front page is dominated by a picture of the cadets killed in the Carmel fire over a year ago, who will be awarded posthumous medals and officer promotions. This was decided yesterday, just before the State Comptroller report into the fire is set to hit the stands next month. The three Prison Service cadets who were saved from the fire will not receive the promotion. “It’s too bad it took them a year and four months to come to this decision,” one of the widows told Maariv, “but I always thought they deserved it. This is least they can do for families who lost a loved one.”

Yedioth has a story that an Israeli diplomat had to be saved yesterday from a protest in Morocco. Thousands of people in Rabat showed up to protest David Saranga’s inclusion in a Euro-Med conference at the parliament, and after hiding inside the building for several hours, he escaped through a side door and was whisked away to the airport under heavy security, where he flew to Paris.

Israel’s newest skyscraper also makes headlines in several papers. David Azrieli’s planned tower, to be built near his three existing towers that are already a symbol of Tel Aviv, will be one story higher, and thus become the country’s second-tallest building, after the Moshe Aviv tower in Ramat Gan. The cornerstone was laid Sunday.

Dancing against the dark

In Maariv’s op-ed department, Yehuda Sharoni calls for MK Nino Abesadze to be allowed to participate in Dancing with the Stars, as a way of putting a little levity into the humorless Knesset. “Abesadze wanted to participate because she understood it would afford her some positive and refreshing exposure. By the merit of the program, people would finally be able to pronounce her name correctly. But despite this, Knesset zealousness stopped her from the experience.… Instead of channeling extra aggressiveness into dancing and smiling, MKs prefer that the tension be broken through harsh words and physical attacks. Today it is spilling a glass of water on MK Raleb Majdale’s face, but tomorrow it can be something much worse.”

In Yedioth, Elyakim Haetzani calls for an Iron Dome against incitement, saying that words can lead to deadly acts, as the massacre in Toulouse proves. “Jews are excellent at PR. Where has this ability disappeared to? Iron Dome — in broadcast, writing and online – to protect against harmful words, is no less a part of [the Jewish] soul than a spiritual dome (skullcap). So why have we allowed ourselves to be steamrolled by Arab lies?”

In Haaretz, Amira Hass compares Israel to the hyperbolic and hypocritical Cossack who cries about how everybody is out to get him, when he is the one doing the pillaging and raping. The reason for the derisive comparison: Israel has the audacity to try to make itself look good in a report to countries who donate money to the Palestinian Authority. “With smug arrogance, the report’s authors ignore Israel’s complete domination over the resources essential to economic progress and expansion: land, water, time… With all the precision of a shopkeeper, the drafters of the report recount all of the measures that Israel, in its great magnanimity, has taken ‘to support economic growth in the West Bank.’” 

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