2012: Netanyahu’s shadow war for the GOP begins?

Posted: January 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Israel’s National Security Council calls U.S. President Barak Obama “naïve,” Israel’s pro-Netanyahu daily reports

Israel Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu free tabloid published by Jewish-American gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, published a story today on recent criticism dealt by Israel’s National Security Council of US President Barak Obama’s policy towards Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

U.S. President Barack Obama is “naive” and needs to face up to the threat presented by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East, Israel’s National Security Council concluded during a strategic discussion several days ago.

The council, responsible for providing the prime minister and cabinet ministers with strategic assessments, said it was concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt, especially in light of the group’s world view and pronouncements from its officials, repeated as recently as this week, that call the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty into question.

As the article states, the NSC is not an independent think-tank but a strategic assessment body, operating under the Prime Minister’s Office. The head of the NSC is retired IDF general Yaakov Amidror, who was a regular contributor for Israel Hayom until his appointment.

According to numerous reports in the Israeli media, Binyamin Netanyahu sees another Obama term as clear political threat to himself, to the point where he is mulling on calling early election in Israel, so that a possible Democratic victory in November doesn’t affect his standing in the polls.

Israel Hayom, which is very supportive of Netanyahu, is likely to throw its weight behind the Republican candidate. The paper has recently launched an English site, with translations of pieces from its Hebrew edition.

The coverage in Israel Hayom of Newt Gingrich’s campaign – who is considered the closest to Netanayhu of all GOP candidates and a personal favorite of Mr. Adelson – is extremely favorable, thought the even paper admitted today that Gingrich’s chances of winning the Iowa caucuses are practically non-existent.

Last year, Israel Hayom’s editor, Amos Regev, conducted a personal interview with Gingrich, in which the former House speaker called a possible Israeli attack on Iran “an act of self defense.” The paper’s response to the candidate’s hostile remarks towards the Palestinians was extremely favorable: One op-ed in Israel Hayom praised Gingrich for his “historical accuracy,” while another was titled “thank you, Mr. Gingrich.”

Sheldon Adelson recently backed Gingrich, saying that calling the Palestinians an “invented people” is correct.


Sheldon Adelson: Obama’s moves liable to bring the destruction of Israel

Posted: May 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The gambling billionaire, who publishes the pro-Netanyahu “Israel Hayom” tabloid, said he objects to an agreement with any of the current Palestinian leaders

Sheldon Adelson, Israel Hayom publisher (photo: 7th Eye / cc-by-nc-sa)

Sheldon Adelson, Israel Hayom publisher (photo: 7th Eye / cc-by-nc-sa)

Unlike the confrontation between the White House and Jerusalem over the settlements during the administration’s first year, I think that the current rift has more to do with tones and personal mistrust than actual policy differences. More than anything, it seems that President Obama’s Middle East speech was meant to help Israel avoid isolation at the UN, but Netanyahu overreacted, and later decided to play tough, mainly for political reasons. As I wrote yesterday, it worked out for him quite well.

What do people around the prime minister really think of Obama? A good example was given just before Netanyahu’s visit to the United States, in a phone interview Jewish Week’s Gary Rosenblatt conducted with Gambling Billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Apart from being a personal friend of the Netanyahus, Adelson is the publisher of the pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom (“Israel Today”), currently the most widely read paper in Israel (speculations held that the paper was started by Adelson to help Netanyahu personally). Many of Netanyahu’s men were on Adelson’s payroll until recently: The head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Nathan Eshel, was a deputy manager at Israel Hayom before joining the Neyanyahu campaign; former National Security Advisor Uzi Arad was part of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Research; the current NSA, Yaakov Amidror, was a pundit for Israel Hayom; the ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, was a fellow at Adelson’s conservative think-tank, the Shalem Center.

And what does Adelson think of Obama? Here it goes:

Any of the Republican hopefuls “are going to be 180 degrees” different from President Obama in terms of “what’s good for this country and for Israel,” Adelson said, adding that Obama is “the worst president” for Israel.

“All the steps he’s taken against the state of Israel are liable to bring about the destruction of the state,” he asserted.

Like Netanyahu, Adelson will praise peace, but object to the international community’s definition of the two-state solution:

“Can you make peace with people whose sole mission is to destroy you?” he asked. “You don’t have someone who wants to make peace with you.”

He said that for the Palestinian leadership, “the two-state solution is a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people,” and he sees no distinction between Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

“They sat with [PLO leader Yassir] Arafat for 40 years,” Adelson said of Abbas and Fayyad. “When he was planning terror, did they recuse themselves and leave the room?”

He said he saw no chance for peace as long as Palestinian children from the age of 3 are taught that “a Jew is a swine and ape” and should be killed.

“I favor peace,” he said, “but to be pro-Israel you also need to have a position vis a vis Israel’s enemies. And no reasonable person would make Israel sign with people pledged to destroy them.”

(h/t rotter.net)


Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Netanyahu tabloid now the most widely read paper in Israel

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

israel hayomThe rightwing free tabloid “Israel Hayom” (ישראל היום, Israel today) is now the most widely read daily paper in Israel, with, for the first time, a slight lead over Yedioth Ahronoth on weekdays.

Israel Hayon is known for his support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper’s publisher, gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is a close friend and political ally of Netanyahu, and according to reports, the papers editor, Amos Regev, was part of Netanyahu’s inner circle for some time.

Most papers in Israel don’t disclose the number of copies they distribute, so their share of the market is evaluated by the TGI poll, taken twice a year by TNS Tlgal surveying company. Advertising prices are also determined according to the TGI poll.

The Jan-June 2010 TGI survey, released yesterday, had Israel Hayom leading with 35.2 percent of daily papers readers, comparing to Yedioth’s 34.9%. Readers’ exposure Ma’ariv is at 12.5% (median 14.4% last year), exposure to Haaretz is 6.4%. The free paper Post has 7.9% exposure.

On weekend Yedioth has a share of 43.7, and Israel Hayom, who just began distributing a weekend edition, 25.7%.

Yedioth Ahronoth has been the most widely read paper in Israel since the 70′s. At times, it controlled more than 50 percent of the market.

Since its first appearance, the paper has taken an extreme pro-Netanyahu line. Mr. Adelson has rejected claims of his paper’s political bias.

The introduction of Israel Hayom sparked a war between Israel’s daily papers. Yedioth and Maariv, who were rivals for half a century, are now joining hands in fighting Adelson’s paper (with little success so far). The two papers were said to be behind the unsuccessful attempt to introduce an anti-dumping law that would have forced Israel Hayom to start charging money for its copies. PM Netanyahu had the Likud party oppose the bill, which failed to pass in the Knesset.

Ironically, Israel Hayom is printed and distributed by Israel’s Liberal paper, Haaretz. Estimates are that the high prices Haaretz’s publisher, Mr. Amos Schoken, is charging for these services, are part of the reason for his paper’s ability to survive these days.

Needless to say, Haaretz opposed the dumping bill.


Adelson answers critics: Israel Hayom is “fair and balanced”

Posted: December 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, The Right | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

israel hayom

Israel Hayom, the free rightwing tabloid which has become second only to Yedioth Ahronoth in circulation, has launched its counter attack on the MKs and newspapers publishers which have been trying to pass the “journalism law” in the Knesset. If approved, this bill will allow only Israeli citizens to publish daily newspapers. Israel Hayom is owned by the gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the richest Jew in the world, who is known for his conservative views and his close friendship with PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an interview to Jacob Berkman at JTA, Adelson called Arnon Moses, the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, “the most powerful man in the State of Israel” and blamed him for attempting to block Israel Hayom.

Adelson said that Israel Hayom is not endorsing or supporting Netanyahu specifically (Adelson reveled that some of this criticism actually gets to him when he used the nickname the paper got in Israel, Bibi-ton), and that by publishing the paper he wasn’t trying to involve himself in Israeli politics, but rather give the Israelis a “fair and balanced” newspaper.

JTA: Your critics say that your involvement has been or could be detrimental to democracy in Israel. How do you answer those critics?

Adelson: Who are you talking to? J Street? What I am doing is detrimental to the State of Israel? I would like to know what they are doing that is positive for the State of Israel. What do they view as positive and negative?

You were also close at one time with Ehud Olmert, but you broke with him over ideological differences (namely Olmert’s readiness to accept a two-state solution). Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly voiced support for a two-state solution.

What are you trying to figure out?

Do you still stand behind Netanyahu now that he has come out in favor of a two-state solution?

I am not against a two-state solution if it is on the right terms. But I don’t think the right terms will ever be achieved.

In Israel, your political involvement is well known …

What political involvement? I am not involved politically in Israel. Period. And everybody thinks I started the newspaper Israel Hayom purely to benefit Bibi. Nothing could be further from the truth. I started the newspaper to give Israel, Israelis, a fair and balanced view of the news and the views. That’s all. It is not “Bibi-ton.” It is not a newspaper started for and operated for Bibi. And this is the propaganda of our competitors to say to their customers, “Don’t take Israel Hayom seriously because all it is a promotion for Bibi. …”

All it is just competitive propaganda. I am not involved politically whatsoever.

So why do you think people outside of the newspaper business have latched onto this idea?

Because they read it in Yedioth and Maariv. Because [Arnon] Mozes, the publisher of Yedioth, is the most powerful man in the State of Israel and all he wants is to maintain his power, and he manipulates the government.

The truth is, of course, that Israel Hayom is “fair and balanced” exactly as the news network that invented this phrased (I wrote more about this here). Ofer Nimrodi, publisher of the tabloid Maariv – which also took a mostly rightwing approach in recent years – said in a recent interview that during business negotiations with Adelson, the American billionaire accused him that his paper “is not patriotic enough.” Read the rest of this entry »


A Knesset move against Sheldon Adelson will do more harm than good

Posted: December 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, The Right | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The excellent Coteret blog, which futures translated articles from the Hebrew media with independent commentary, has a post dealing with the “journalism bill” in the Knesset, which is meant to block the growing influence of Israel Hayom – the rightwing daily free-paper published by gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson. According to the new bill, license to publish daily papers will be giving only to Israeli citizens (Adelson is an American).

There are rumors of extensive lobbing on this issue by the owners of the two other tabloids, Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth, so this legislation effort actually stands a chance.

Personally, I tend to oppose the “journalism bill”, for the following reasons:

1.    It would give politicians greater control over the papers, which will now be at their mercy. Just imagining the promises made in backrooms right now on this issue makes me worried.

2.    It won’t help to ease the legitimate concerns over Israel Hayom: the proposed bill states that it will be enforced on existing papers after an adjustment period of two years. By that time, Sheldon Adelson can transfer the paper to an Israeli citizen, or even better, become one himself. On the other hand, it might harm Haaretz, who’s under joint ownership of the Shoken family and a German partner.

3.    It might actually open the door for limitations on other “foreign influences” in the public arena, and most notably, the financial support human rights and peace groups receive.

4.    Journalism as we know it is doomed. Even the Knesset can’t save it.

Basically, you have to be a bit naïve to think that any kind of legislation that protects human rights or freedom of speech will come out of the current Knesset. In that sense, the opposition party of Kadima is just as bad as the ruling Likud (it was Kadima, for example, who pushed for the creation of national biometric database). It is more likely that any legislation on these issues will be either meaningless or abused, so I rather things will be left the way they are.


Israel Hayom Deputy Editor: J-Street same as Jews who defended Nazi Germany

Posted: November 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Gonen Ginat is deputy editor for Israel Hayom, the free paper billionaire Sheldon Adelson has launched last year in support of Benjamin Netanyahu and that since became the second widely read paper in Israel.

(The not-so-secret admiration of Israel Hayom for the PM was demonstrated again this week, following a visit by Netanyahu to a navy base. The PM slipped on a boat, and nearly fell to the water. The day after three out of four dailies printed the pictures of Netanyahu loosing his footing, while one showed the PM in full command, standing next to the Chief of Staff. You can read more about it and see pics here.)

Back to Ginat. This weekend, Israel Hayom published its first weekend edition (what caused great concern among the other tabloids). Ginat holds the prestigious last page column of the political section, and he decided to make its debut with a brutal attack on J-Street. His entire article was dedicated to comparing the new lobbying group to a Jew named Yaakov Trachtenberg who published in April 33′ a statement in support of Nazi Germany. Read the rest of this entry »


What is Neo-Zionism?

Posted: September 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: racism, The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about the relations between the Arab citizens of Israel and the Jewish majority. I think it is the most important issue on the agenda today, and the one that will determine the nature of this state in the years to come.

As the price of holding on to the West Bank is growing, more and more Israelis are coming to accept the idea of an Israeli withdrawal. However, on the same time they demand the state to go on favoring Jews, both on the symbolic level (meaning that state symbols, such as the flag and the anthem, will be Jewish ones) and on the practical level, meaning that Jews will enjoy a better position in the citizenship acquiring process, or with regards to ownership over land, etc.  And something else is happening: racism is on the rise, contrary to what happened during the first round of the peace process, in the 90′s.

I’ve been referring here to those people who want to strengthen the exclusive Jewish nature of the state as “neo-Zionists”, as oppose to the “post-Zionists”, who emphasized the liberal-democratic (and sometimes multi-cultural) nature of the state. Post-Zionism was on the rise during the 90′s; neo-Zionism is the dominant intellectual and political force of the past decade, and it hasn’t even reached its full potential. Read the rest of this entry »


Madonna, the PM, the Holy Ari and the Palestinian quality of life

Posted: September 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: culture, media | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

madonnaI’ve written her before about the blunt support of the free paper Israel Hayom for PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel Hayom is owned by gambling billionaire and personal friend of Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson. Having past both Maariv and Haaretz in circulation, it is now the second largest daily in Israel, read by more than 25 percent of Jewish paper readers.

We have seen some strange items in Israel Hayom, but nothing until now came even close to this:

On today’s back page of the paper, instead of the usual gossip column, was the following article (signed by political correspondent Shlomo Tzezna), describing a Friday evening’s meeting between PM Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife and pop singer Madonna, whose visit and shows in Israel last week caused something close to mass hysteria.

The text is so funny I bring it here in full version. The Hebrew original follows, as some of the better subtleties just get lost in my translation:

After two successful shows in Park Hayarkon (Tel Aviv) which ended her current world tour, Madonna saved the remaining weekend in Israel for spiritual activity and a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah.

On the night between Thursday and Friday, Madonna’s helicopter landed in Ziv hospital in [the town of] Zfat. Haim Azulay, the PR man from Zfat who escorted Madonna through her visit, has told us that “the bodyguards waited her and she and her partner Jesus boarded the bullet proof car which took her to the new cemetery in Zfat.

“Over there, Madonna got off the vehicle and walked on foot towards the grave of the holy Ari [Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, a well known Jewish mystic]. When the entourage arrived at the grave, Madonna wrapped a red scarf around her and her partner, and sang the Mizmor [traditional Jewish song] “Lecha Dodi” in an ancient melody that touched the feelings of all the people present there,” said Azulay.

The next day, on Friday afternoon, the singer arrived at the official resident of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, escorted by her personal manager, Guy Azury. After exchanging courtesies and a formal introduction, in which Madonna has received compliments on the successful shows she gave in Israel, Sarah Netanyahu and Madonna lit up the Shabbat candles and said the blessings together.

Madonna sang the blessing, and some close associate who were gathered outside the door said the atmosphere inside was especially warm and cordial.

In the friendly conversation that followed Netanyahu didn’t forget to mention the change that has already taken place in Israel’s handling of the Palestinians.

The Prime Minister spoke of the easing of the Palestinians life, the growing Palestinians economy, and the nightclubs that are being opened in Ramallah and in Nablus, and about the improvement in the quality of life of the Palestinians. Finally, Sarah and Benjamin Netanyahu took their picture with Madonna and her manager, and said goodbye.

And here is the original: Read the rest of this entry »


Top Israeli official: “US administration at complete chaos”

Posted: July 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

cross-posted with FPW.

Israel Hayom, the free paper published by gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, quoted a “top Israeli official”, stating that:

The Americans are totally confused. Their foreign policy is collapsing. This chaos can be seen in almost any area where the administration is acting, in the diplomatic effort in our region, in the relations with Iran and in North Korea.

The paper adds that this view is shared by PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the Israeli Foreign Office alike.

It should be noted that Israel Hoyom’s editorial line is known to be very supportive of Netanyahu, and the paper enjoys almost unlimited access to the PM’s people. Netanyahu’s own chief of staff, Nathan Eshel, has worked until the elections in Israel Hayom – so I believe the paper reflects the common view around the PM in saying that “the (American) administration is trying to form a regional plan – but has no idea how it is going to be done.”

What’s important here is not whether Israeli officials are right or not in thinking the administration lacks a coherent policy for the region (it’s too hard to tell at this point) – but rather the fact that the Israelis think so, and will probably behave accordingly.

In the last few weeks, it seems that the hostile atmosphere in Israel towards the new administration is playing into Netanyahu’s hands. At the moment his coalition is very stable, and it appears as though the PM believes he was able to contain the pressure from Washington. As long as the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas are not able to work some sort of a deal and form a united government, and while there is no serious peace initiative from the American side, the Israeli government will not grant the administration with any more concessions.

The talks between Israeli officials and the special envoy George Mitchell regarding the settlements go on and on – and can continue forever, for all the Israelis care. It the administration doesn’t want to lose the momentum from Obama’s speech in Cairo, it’s time to make the next move.


Everything is Personal: How Jerusalem Lost Contact with Washington

Posted: June 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

cross-posted with FPW.

Is the Israeli government ready to come out of its shell and respond to President Obama’s Middle East plan?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting that he will present his answer to Obama’s speech in Cairo next week. The PM intends to hold his own “major diplomatic speech,” in which he will discuss “our principles for achieving peace and security.” According to Haaretz, the speech will probably be given in the Bar Ilan university near Tel Aviv, where Netanyahu will receive an honorary doctorate on June 16th.

In the past few weeks, Netanyahu has faced growing criticism– even from his supporters – for not preparing himself for the shift in the American administration’s policy. When Washington started sending signals – and later on, explicit demands – with regards to the settlements issue and the two-state solution, the Israeli government responded with panic. Instead of presenting his own vision of the future of the Middle East – even as some sort of lip service, just to get the Americans off his back – the PM made it seem like there is no partner in Jerusalem.

It is clear today that the new Israeli government has failed to appreciate the magnitude of the changes happening in Washington. Part of the reason is poor timing: the Obama team has been preparing a new policy since November. Netanyahu had just a month in office before he met the new president. One could guess that the fact that the first person to leave office after the Israeli elections was the Israeli ambassador in Washington didn’t do much good either.

Read the rest of this entry »