Guns n’ loyalty: 8 things to know for August 5

1. This is America: After twin deadly shootings in the US in a matter of hours the tsk-tsking from Israel is nearly as loud and rapid as the staccato of an AR-15. (Not that it’s not deserved.)

  • “Even in a place like the US, where mass shootings have become almost a regular occurrence, this was an especially horrific day,” reads the lede to Yedioth Ahronoth’s coverage.
  • Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev diagnoses the US with a “sick mental illness. It maintains a perverse relationship with deadly rifles and handguns that is unparalleled anywhere in the world.”
  • “No place in the US is safe from the phenomenon,” Channel 12’s Arad Nir warns. “There’s no doubt that this trend is on a worrying rise, and its doubtful that anything will change.”
  • It’s not just in Israel: “US in the midst of a white nationalist terrorism crisis,” reads a headline in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.

2. Trump’s war: Indeed in the US and many other places, including Israel, much of the conversation is revolving around the fact that the shooters all seem to be white nationalists, and the fact that US President Donald Trump, even if not hurting matters, is certainly not helping.

  • “The El Paso killer was a white supremacist who wrote a ‘send them back’ manifesto, echoing the words of President Trump,” says top Jewish Democrat Haile Soifer, ToI’s Eric Cortelessa reports. “Trump is responsible for fueling a fire of xenophobia and hatred in our country, and Republicans are responsible for allowing it to occur.”
  • In Trump-backing Israel Hayom, though, the problem has nothing to do with Trump.
  • “Any attempt to tie the unthinkable killings over the weekend in El Paso and Dayton to the polarized atmosphere and ideological, cultural and social divisions … ignores the fact that there has been violence of this type throughout American history,” writes columnist Avraham Ben-Tzvi, going through a short list of mass shootings in the US before Trump’s time, and claiming that there is no common thread tying the shooters together.

3. Not about the Benjamins: Trump isn’t the only one being accused of fostering hate. Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid also gets roundly slammed after tweeting a satirical campaign video portraying senior ultra-Orthodox politicians as venal and corrupt, demanding large sums of money in exchange for pledging loyalty to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • “Anti-Semitism — there is no other word,” Shas head Aryeh Deri says on the video.
  • UTJ head Yaakaov Litzman also tries his hand at leveling criticism but is summarily smacked down by Lapid over his moves to protect alleged pedophile and sexual assailant Malka Leifer.
  • “Lapid steps up his incitement against the ultra-Orthodox,” ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar Hashabbat writes.
  • Walla News reports that members of Blue and White are also unhappy with the video. “It’s not mine or [Benny] Gantz’s style,” Moshe Ya’alon is quoted saying. MK Asaf Zamir is also quoted saying it’s not his style.
  • But while Kikar Hashabbat reports that “Blue and White is turning against Lapid,” fellow ultra-Orthodox news site Behadrey Haredim says that “Gantz and his friends are keeping quiet in the face of Lapid’s wild incitement.”
  • Channel 12’s Amit Segal notes that though some in Blue and White have tried to distance themselves, the party had no problem with a similar video a month ago which used the same money-grubbing themes for Deri and Litzman.

4. Dear leader: It might be possible to criticize the loyalty pledge without being accused of anti-Semitism.

  • Haaretz for instance, goes whole hog after Likud, comparing the party to North Korea (this column also made an oblique reference to the Kim-ness of the whole affair on Sunday.)
  • “The blind faith that Likud members are expected to place in Netanyahu, as if he were the supreme leader of some dictatorship, is eroding what used to be the liberal nationalist movement into something unrecognizable,” the paper’s lead editorial reads.
  • Parties also get in on the mockery: Activists from the Labor party place a placard in central Tel Aviv on Monday for passersby to vow loyalty to human beings, while the United Right announces it will require a pledge of allegiance to its values.
  • Former Likud minister Limor Livnat mocks the pledge in Yedioth as worth about as much as Netanyahu’s various promises to party ministers which never came to fruition or only did so extremely late.
  • “Between us, Bibi, do you really think that if some senior Likud lawmaker thinks now, or on September 17 after the vote, that in order to build a government in which Likud is a central element they need to switch you out for another candidate, this signature, which was pushed yesterday under media pressure, will stop them?”

5. Perhaps the whole country will need to sign next? A Walla poll shows that most of the country opposes a unity government of Likud and Blue and White led by Netanyahu.

  • The opposition comes from both left and right, though there is slightly more support on the right since Netanyahu is at least prime minister in that scenario.
  • The poll doesn’t ask about support for a Gantz-led unity government.
  • Despite the opposition, Walla’s Tal Shalev writes that based on current projections “it seems like there won’t be any choice but [a unity government] or the country going to elections again.”

6. Adelson’s anger: Unlike most other other papers, Israel Hayom mostly plays down the loyalty pledge, giving it just a few grafs of straight reportage, likely as recognition of how embarrassing it could look.

  • The decision is just the latest by a paper that has consistently backed Netanyahu, though publisher Sheldon Adelson expressed strong unhappiness with Netanyahu while being grilled by police, according to Channel 13 News Sunday.
  • The casino magnate told police that Netanyahu had pushed him to “hate” then justice minister Ayelet Shaked, who now leads the United Right party, because she supported a 2014 bill that would have forced the free Israel Hayom to end its free distribution.
  • Netanyahu apparently had not revealed to Adelson that he too had pushed for limiting Israel Hayom in various ways during his conversations with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes.
  • Adelson also told interrogators, according to the transcripts, that Sara Netanyahu had pushed for him to fire Israel Hayom editor Amos Regev: “She tossed around very rude comments about how [my wife] Miri might be having an affair with Amos,” Adelson recalled. “It indeed was a very rude comment. I intended to get up and go at that instant — but Miri didn’t want to.”

7. The editor in chief: Netanyahu’s control of the media extends far beyond Israel Hayom, critics say. The Seventh Eye media criticism site notes that even though Netayahu is still the “editor in chief of Israel,” and is still exercising influence, he has seemingly put the brakes on his anti-media blitzes lately.

  • Instead, the job has fallen to his son Yair: “Netanyahu the son’s missives are more outspoken than his father’s, and also contain personal attacks based on the external looks of journalists,” Itamar BZ writes.
  • Nonetheless, he notes that the two share a passion for hating on Channel 12’s Guy Peleg.

8. Digging for answers: The reopening of a cold investigation into the 1982 murder of 12-year-old Nava Elimelech, who was violently murdered and dismembered, makes major headlines.

  • On Sunday, police exhumed her remains, citing “new evidence,” without elaborating.
  • The new interest in the case in unsurprising, given the attention it was given 37 years ago, when Elimelech went missing near her home sparking a massive search before pieces of her body began washing ashore on beaches 10 days later. At the time, police said they put together the largest investigation in the nation’s history, but never fingered a suspect.
  • Yedioth, which devotes almost its whole front page and several more leafs to the case, quotes the family’s lawyer saying the exhumation caused “a lot of pain on one hand, but on the other there is a little hope that maybe after all these years it will be possible to shed light on the terrible murder.”
  • The girl’s mother, now 90, tells Channel 12 news of her anger at the state “abandoning the family” over the last 37 years, but also says she approved the exhumation because “I am willing to do anything so we will finally know what happened to Nava.”
  • The rabbi who approved the exhumation tells the station that he only gave his okay to the family, who asked him, when police told him the move would lead to someone being charged and punished for a crime.

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