The hunt for something to read into: 6 things to know for December 6

1. Criminal tide: The vast naval acquisitions scandal known as Case 3000 leads the news agenda, a day after prosecutors announced they intended to charge a former navy chief and other former top officials with bribery.

  • Included in the indictment is Netanyahu’s cousin and former lawyer David Shimron, accused of money laundering. Interestingly, in much of the foreign press Shimron is seen as the main story, while in Israel he is regarded as just a small part of it.
  • The indictments led all three main news broadcasts Thursday night, but with most of the sordid affair having already been revealed, there’s not much new under the sun to report.
  • Channel 13, which made sure viewers knew that its reporter Raviv Drucker was the first to report on the alleged scandal several years ago, reports on the strange absence of former Deputy National Security Adviser Avriel Bar Yosef from the charges. According to the channel, the prosecution is still working on another unspecified legal avenue with him, but he is also expected to be charged with bribery.
  • The case also gives tabloids and others a chance to revisit their favorite puns from when the case first broke, like “diving into corruption” (Israel Hayom), and “sea of corruption” (Yedioth Ahronoth).
  • Ynet reports that prosecutor Shai Nitzan, speaking at a legal conference in Haifa, explained why the case “shook the whole country,” in his words. “The security of Israel is the holy of holies.”

2. The things we lost in the scandal: Even if the past is known — pending a hearing and a trial — the future still looks murky.

  • In Haaretz, Hagai Amit writes that the case will haunt Israel for years to come, especially when it comes to purchasing military hardware, with a deal for a sixth submarine already frozen by the scandal.
  • “The main damage the affair has caused seems to be to security,” he writes. “Even if the defense establishment decides that the five subs Israel already has is enough, it will have to replace them in the second half of the next decade, since they will become obsolete and will need to be removed from service, one after the other. And it’s not yet clear how the scandal will influence Israel’s future procurement.”
  • Former Defense Ministry procurement chief Shmuel Zucker, who was in the post at the time of the scandal but was not caught up in it, worries that the same kind of graft can happen.
  • “The system overseeing the process made bad decisions, and the issues still hasn’t been internalized, checked and investigated. Who will intervene to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again?” he asks on Army Radio.
  • Walla’s Amir Oren writes that he has at least learned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contempt for law enforcement only goes as far as the cases against him, with the premier notably silent on the submarine scandal, despite it netting a number of aides and his former lawyer and cousin.
  • “No Bibi — no boo-hoo. I guess submarines are only made in shipyards, not hatchet shops,” he writes.

3. Lisbeen there, done that: Netanyahu indeed remained mum about a lot that doesn’t have to do with Iran or West Bank annexation on his trip to Portugal, as noted by ToI’s Raphael Ahren, clearly annoyed at the crumbs of headlines to come out of the seemingly needless visit.

  • “Why he chose to fly five-and-half hours to the far end of Europe for only two meetings — one Wednesday evening with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and one with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Thursday — remains unclear,” he writes. “It is possible — indeed quite likely — that the coming days and weeks will reveal the true importance of this hastily arranged trip to Portugal. After all, it’s reasonable to assume that he didn’t fly without a good reason.”
  • Hebrew-language reporters squeezed a few drops of news out of Netanyahu’s comments about failing unity talks, especially after he was asked why he wants to serve only six months and he answered “Six months? I want two years.”
  • While the comment was meant to underscore the compromises he is willing to make for unity, some took it as proof that his claim to be okay with serving for six months was just malarkey, forcing Netanyahu’s office to issue a clarification.
  • In Walla, Tal Shalev writes that Netanyahu is saying he doesn’t want new elections, but his trip shows the opposite, or why else would he skip out on unity efforts to go meet an American and talk about vague security related matters that he can’t push forward as a caretaker prime minister anyway.
  • “The mutual defense treaty and annexation of the Jordan Valley were cards pulled out by Likud during the last campaign cycle, and now, with another one ahead, they have returned to center stage, not so much to push unity with Blue and White but rather to bolster support for Netanyahu on the right.”

4. No-one expects the Netanyahu inquisition: As has become almost tradition, the trip was nearly overtaken by something silly done by Netanyahu’s wife Sara.

  • This time, it was her answer to Zman Yisrael’s Shalom Yerushalmi after he asked whether the Spanish/Portuguese inquisition was worse or the one against her family.
  • Rather than laugh off the silly question, Sara runs with it, telling Yerushalmi that her family is in fact in an inquisition, and her redonkulous answer is quickly picked up across Hebrew media.
  • Yerushalmi notes that while the prime minister wasn’t comfortable with her answer (though he was comfortable using a memorial to slaughtered Jews as a leaning post), Sara said she would be happy to continue the conversation, so stay tuned.
  • Haaretz’s Noa Landau on Twitter writes about another less reported strange comparison — this one by the prime minister.
  • Asked at a briefing why he wants to remain prime minister, he answers by noting a US News and World Report survey of the strongest countries, in which Russia in No. 2.
  • Netanyahu asks the reporters why Russia is so high, and they guess it’s because of President Vladimir Putin, which they then confirm via Google.
  • “Netanyahu is actually comparing himself to Putin,” she tweets, also noting that while Putin got a score of 10/10 on the leadership index, Netanyahu got 2.8/10.

5. Land of the free and home of the Israeli expats: If any Israelis want to upgrade from Country 8 to Country 1, the US of A, a front page column in Israel Hayom will give just the encouragement they need.

  • The column is by Miriam Adelson, who happens to own the paper and happens to be an Israeli who moved to America, on the occasion of the Israeli-American Council’s annual confab, which she and her husband Sheldon happen to be funding.
  • Adelson writes that Israelis who move to America should not be ashamed and should slough off the epithet “yerida,” literally “descent,” which is used to denote the act of moving away from Israel. In fact, she says, they are ambassadors of Israel and better than Diaspora Jews.
  • “Unlike some Diaspora Jews, Israeli immigrants are committed to supporting Israel with no strings attached. They understand Israel’s existential problems,” she writes.
  • Commenting on the column (and its prominent placement) media critic Tomer Persico tweets “Adelson is convincing us that yerida is actually cool. They support Netanyahu, so i guess it’s patriotic and pro-Israel.”

6. The rocket’s opaque glare: Those who haven’t fled for the land of Starbucks and Christmas jingles yet got a show in the sky Friday morning, as Israel test launched a rocket, leaving a trail of white smoke over the center of the country.

  • The nature of the rocket being tested was not immediately clear and the Defense Ministry was unusually vague.
  • Channel 13’s Or Heller notes that while Israel usually says what was being tested or what purpose it served, this time “aside from an announcement from the Defense Ministry that it was a test of a ‘rocket propulsion system’ Israel is not saying what the launch was.”
  • Unsurprisingly, the mystery leads directly into speculation, especially that the test was meant to send a signal to Iran.
  • “One can estimate that the test was meant to bolster Israel’s strategic deterrence — especially against Iran,” Roon Ben Yishai writes in Ynet.
  • Most reports assume that the rocket was a test of a Jericho-type ballistic missile, though Israel Hayom notes that “Israel itself … has never transmitted any information about the existence of ballistic missiles in its possession.”
  • “According to foreign reports, Israel is developing a series of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles of the Jericho 4 type with a range of thousands of kilometers and the ability to carry a nuclear warhead,” Israel Defense reports.

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