Oct 31: Was it the last Rabin memorial rally?

The daily Hebrew media roundup: Haaretz’s Tzvi Barel points to the similarities between Israel and the South African Apartheid

Headlines: Bombs away

> All four major dailies are leading with the Al-Qaeda mail bombing plots, presenting a pretty identical viewpoint in headlines and commentary. Haaretz’s chief intelligence analyst Yossi Melman sounds impressed, with a commentary titled “Simple and Daring”; Maariv columnist and Channel 10 foreign affairs editor Nadav Eyal gives thumbs up to Obama’s reaction to the alert, in a column titled “A president and a commander.” Yedioth confines itself to charting out various details of the plot, and Yisrael Hayom puts emphasis on Yemen as the next big scene, in a commentary by Boaz Bismut: Al Qaeda, the Yemen Branch.

> Next in line is the Rabin memorial rally held in Tel Aviv last night. All newspapers refer to the dwindling number of attendants and to rumors this year’s rally may well have been the last one. Yedioth provides us with a helpful graph of the dropping number of participants: 300k in 1995, 200k in 1997, 100k in 2000, 2003 and 2006, 70k in 2008 and 30k in 2009 and 2010. If the estimate is accurate, it’s half as much as the number given out by the Tel Aviv municipality last night, and less than one-third the claim of the organizers. Maariv shafts the rally all the way down to page 12, with a second headline reading: “The desperate left.” Yisrael Hayom relegates the story to half of page 11. Haaretz leads this story with a commentary by Gideon Levy, focused on “a search for leadership.” Search for a father figure – a permanent fixation of the Left ever sine Rabin’s slaying – is also the theme of the rally’s most quoted speech, that of Rabin’s own grandson, Yonathan Ben Artzi. The fact that Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir is smiling strangely preoccupies Haaretz.

Columnists’ corner

>In Haaretz, Tzvi Barel thinks that South Africa is already here, pointing out similarities between recent Israeli and historic Apartheid legislation, and generously provides rightists with a list of other laws they might like to adopt to complete the transition. Gideon Levy rages against the victimhood espoused by the Givati soldiers convicted of using an 11-year-old child as a human minesweeper during operation Cast Lead. The editorial informs us the latest meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee was “even scarier than usual”, due to a particularly enthusiastic support expressed by the Shin Bet security service for withdrawal of citizenship .

>In Yisrael Hayom, former ambassador to Washington Zalman Shoval takes a fairly ethnic approach to the upcoming midterm elections in the US, assuring us that “even if the balance between democrats and Republicans shifted, the number of Jewish representatives will remain the same,” and that “on the whole, support for Israel will grow.” Yuval Benziman casts a fond glance at the Rally to Restore Sanity, but concludes grimly it won’t matter much – the “sane” moderates will stay at home and “extremists” will cary the day on Tuesday. Chaim Shein invites the state to withdraw the citizenship of Amir Mahoul, convicted in a plea bargain of contact with a foreign agent.

>In Yedioth, Gadi Taub dares settlers to stay in a Palestinian state. Uri Misgav favorably compares education minister Gideon Saar, who he says shown some backbone by firing a creationist chief scientist and opposing discriminatory stipends for yeshiva students, to our proverbially spineless prime minister. Eitan Haber breaks the shocking news that most top generals being pretty similar, and that the defense minister and PM choose the people they’d find it most convenient to work with. Menachem Geshaid deplores the attack on the stipends for yeshiva students, and argues the liberal Israelis equally detest Arabs and ultra-Orthodox.

> Maariv seem to have concealed their op-eds particularly well, or else have completely merged news and opinion. Same goes for Yisrael Hayom and their absent editorial

> Haaretz and Yisraeli Hayom inform us a document composed by Turkey’s national security council defines Israel as a ‘strategic threat’.
> Yedioth reminds us the departing Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is due to testify to the State Comptroller on his role in the Galant document affair
>Maariv balances that with a fawning description of Ashkenazi’s visit to the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem – a kind of a kiddie’s pool for would be politicians. Ashkenazi, like all of Israel’s chiefs of staff in the last two decades, is expected to enter national politics as soon as he retires from his army post.
>Only Yisrael Hayom and Haaretz give front page space to a general strike that might grip the country this coming Tuesday.
> Maariv carries Lawrence J Korb’s LA Times op-ed calling for clemency for Jonathan Pollard.

Bottom line: If it wasn’t for plots and memorials, we’d have nothing to begin our week with.