How many Jews in his cabinet will it take for Israelis to think Biden is pro-Israel?; Why does Netanyahu think women are animals?; Did the PM meet with MBS? (Yes!); and will an embrace between Egyptian and Israeli singers end with one of them in jail?
Let the Jew count begin
As President elect Joe Biden begins to announce his cabinet appointments, Israelis are concerned about what all this means for them. Important to remember that Israel, if it had been the 51st state, would have been one of the reddest, pro-Trump states in these elections, and many here fear what Biden is planning for the region. So, his recent appointments of a few Jews to senior cabinet posts has many on Twitter engaging in a bizarre activity: counting Jews.
Here's Uri Keidar, Executive Director of the "Be Free Israel" NGO, kicking it off with some numbers:
"Meanwhile, according to my count, Biden's chief of staff is Jewish, the Treasury secretary is Jewish, Secretary of State is Jewish, Secretary of Homeland Security is Jewish. As my friend Mickey Gitzin said, it's only a matter of time till we hear how anti-Semite and anti-Israeli they are."
Former Israel Consul General in NY, Dani Dayan, tweeted a similar tweet to Keidar's, with a picture of Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve and reportedly Biden's choice for Treasury. Not much later, after many responses to his tweet, he wrote in defense of the count:
"Half of the responses to this tweet were of the 'Why should I care if they're Jews? I only care about how they'll treat Israel' kind.
This makes me sad. I thought Jews would be interested in Jews even if it's not connected to Israel. 'The sea is not the border of our nation,' said Menachem Begin."
Akiva Bigman, correspondent for the right wing paper Israel Hayom, strongly supportive of the Trump administration, basically said it doesn't matter how many Jews are in the cabinet anyway:
"After 4 years of a good president for Israel who was portrayed as a Nazi despite many Jewish appointments (orthodox, as well); get ready for a bad president for Israel who will be portrayed as Joshua, because of a few Jews in his cabinet."
Attorney Moty Cristal, an expert on crisis negotiations, didn't like the whole counting thing to begin with...:
"Am I the only one disgusted by this whole thing of counting Jews in Biden's circles?"
A date with MBS? Yes! Yes!
The big news this week was another step towards normalization with an Arab country, and this time the jewel in the crown. Israeli sources reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the futuristic city Neom, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday. Seeing as how the Abraham Accords with the UAE and Bahrain were seen by many on the Israeli Left and critics of the PM as just another weapons deal, not a real breakthrough in the region (certainly not helping the Palestinian cause), Netanyahu's supporters came out swinging fast this time.
Here's Yotam Zimri, a right wing powerhouse on Twitter, saying:
"So, when do we start with the 'We never were at war with Saudi Arabia anyway?'"
The Israeli Broadcast Authority's Military Correspondent Roy Sharon had a funny take on the visit, lamenting the still closed borders to Egypt that keep Israelis from one of their favorite vacation spots:
"It's unbelievable that Bibi can fly to Saudi Arabia and I can't travel to the Sinai."
Avi Issacharof, expert on Palestinian affairs and the guy who wrote the Netflix series "Fauda", took issue with Israel leaking the meeting to begin with, linking it to the recent attempt to investigate the Prime Minister in the submarines case, Case 3000, and the PM's alleged attempt to stop people talking about stuff he doesn't like:
"The Saudi Foreign Minister denies the meeting between MBS and senior Israelis. I don't know how much of that is true but the denial itself shows that those Israeli seniors who made an effort to run and tell everyone about it apparently managed to anger some people in Saudi Arabia. But what won't they do to divert public attention from the submarine issue"
Israel's Kiss n' Tell
Here's a great story that somewhat connects to what Issacharoff was just talking about, Israel's "kiss n' tell" obsession.
It all started when an Emirati journalist, Hamad al-Mazroui, posted a photo of Egyptian actor-singer Mohamed Ramadan with Israeli pop star Omer Adam. while both were visiting Dubai. Worth mentioning that there's a lot of anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt, despite the peace agreements.
“The most famous artist in Egypt with the most famous artist in Israel. Dubai brings us together,” al-Mazroui wrote. But then, he deleted the photo.
However, an Arabic language Twitter account of the Israeli government retweeted the photo with the caption: “Art brings us together.”
And that's when all hell broke loose. Since then, Ramadan has been suspended from a stage and film professional’s union and has been ordered to appear before a court!
Making things even worse was this video that went circulating on the web, posted here by Twitter user Moran T:
"Video that adds some more oil to the fire shows that the place where Mohammad Ramadan took a photo with Omer Adam had 'Hava Nagila' playing in the background"
Comedian Noam Shuster Eliassi summed up both fiascos well with a clear reminder about the truth:
"It was a week of Hasbara mess-ups in Israel: Israel hurries to publish the picture of Omer Adam in Dubai and damages a popular star in Egypt. Israel hurries to publish the secret meetings in Saudi Arabia. To sum things up, we're not still not invited to this party, folks, and we won't be embraced until there is peace and equality with our real neighbors."
Women are animals. Wait, what???
If you ever really wanted to know how the Israeli Prime Minister feels about women's rights, well, this week was your week.
“A woman isn't an animal you can beat, and nowadays we say 'don’t hit animals'. We have compassion for animals, women are animals, children are animals, with rights.”
Haaretz Diplomatic correspondent, Noa Landau, making a well deserved comparison:
"Biden choses first females for Vice President and Treasury secretary; Netanyahu: Women are animals"
Twitter user John Brown:
"Netanyahu: 'I'm against cannibalism. As a vegan I'm against eating animals, and women are animals, therefore I oppose eating women.'"
Twitter user Avinoam took a swipe at the PM and his tendency to always mention his wife Sara and deceased brother Yoni.
"Women are not animals. I mean they are. I mean we're all animals. Even the animals are. And we can't be beaten like some kind of animal. I mean not even the animals should. What are they, women? I mean of course you can't beat women. And not the other way around, as well! Important. Where was I. Women. No beating. What else. Animals. My wife Sara. My brother Yoni."
One of my favorite Tweeters these days, attorney and activist Liad Verthaizer, was funnily confused:
"In the end I didn't get who we're not supposed to beat, women or animals"
But vocal critic of the PM on Twitter, Iris Boker, said this was all much ado about nothing:
"Unpopular opinion but I don't care.
Bibi got it wrong and messed up yesterday in his speech about battered women and then got into a deeper mess. He doesn't think women are animals, he meant that we're used to showing compassion for animals and less for women.
We don't need to go to war over this because he's right, unfortunately.
And there are enough things to critique him for, this is not one of them."
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