Thursday, March 1, 2012

MIDDLE EAST WRAP: WAR-INESS

The Azrieli Center-Tel Aviv....Photo by Ron Shoshani

A round-up of the Hebrew newspapers in Israel; covering the major events happening in Israel and the Middle East. Haaretz-Maariv-Yedioth Ahronoth-Israel Hayom-The Jerusalem Post-Ynet-Arutz 7 News-Army Radio-and Israel Radio 
The Israeli dailies lead their Wednesday editions with the retirement of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch. The event is significant since Israel’s highest court will now be run by Asher Grunis, a justice who, unlike Beinisch and her predecessor Aharon Barak, is viewed as more conservative.

The headline in Maariv read: ‘Barak-Beinisch Era Ends, Grunis Sworn In as President.’ Makor Rishon, sympathetic to the religious Zionist viewpoint, wrote in its top headline: ‘A New Era: Asher Grunis Sworn In as Supreme Court President.’ Right-wing critics, who have frequently lambasted Aharon Barak and Beinisch for ‘activist’ rulings which they viewed as biased toward the liberal political spectrum, viewed the changing of the guard as a happy occasion. “Outgoing president, Beinisch, represented the activist spirit championed by Aharon Barak, who pushed for “inundating the land with justice” and who turned the state of Israel into a judicialocracy, a new form of governance that lies somewhere between democracy and aristocracy but closer to the latter,” Uri Elitzur wrote in Makor Rishon.

An incident that caught the press’ attention occurred during Grunis’ swearing-in ceremony, when Salim Joubran, the Israeli Arab justice on the bench, refused to sing the national anthem. Joubran kept quiet as the other judges were joined by President Shimon Peres in a rendition of Hatikva. The justice’s actions outraged right-wing lawmakers, including National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari, who accused Joubran of “defiling the Supreme Court”.

Another major story that dominates the headlines is the recent announcement that the government plans to hike gas prices to an all-time high. The news touched off howls of protest from motorists and rekindled talks of socio-economic unrest triggered by the increasing cost of living by the Israeli middle class.

Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post lead their front pages with Iran. According to the lead story in Haaretz, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is gearing up for  a critical meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, will insist that Washington go further in its threats by explicitly stating that it will take military action in the event that the Iranians cross certain “red lines” in their nuclear program. The prime minister is eager for Obama to go beyond the usual “all options are on the table” rhetoric by escalating threats that appear more “credible,” Netanyahu aides told Haaretz.

And the top story in The Jerusalem Post states that the head of Israel’s anti-missile defense system believes the Arrow is capable of intercepting Iranian missiles that would likely be launched at Israel in retaliation for any offensive against Tehran’s nuclear installations.

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