Bleak news make for bleak outlooks in the Hebrew press after three terror attacks strike Israeli cities

Yishai Montgomery (left) and the guitar with which he tried to thwart a Palestinian terrorist in Jaffa on March 8, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Yishai Montgomery (left) and the guitar with which he tried to thwart a Palestinian terrorist in Jaffa on March 8, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)


After a brief decline in the number of major violent attacks on Israelis, the unrelenting un-tifada comes back into sharp relief in the Hebrew press. Tuesday’s spate of bloody terror attacks predictably dominates the headlines in the following morning’s papers, with the Jaffa attack that left an American tourist dead and at least 11 injured taking the lead.

Israel Hayom plays up the fact that the deadly stabbing spree that started in Jaffa Tuesday evening coincided with a visit by American Vice President Joe Biden, who was less than a half kilometer from the incident when it began. Yedioth Ahronoth highlights the symbolic impact of the Palestinian terrorist’s rampage in the heart of a city of “coexistence and liberalism,” managing to “gouge a bleeding wound in the fabric of life in Jaffa.” Haaretz points to the fact that two of the Palestinians involved in Tuesday’s three attacks had entered Israel illegally and that the IDF cordoned off the villages they hailed from, allowing no entries or exits except for humanitarian cases. Police, it reports, have started to crack down on Palestinians illegally in Israel.

Following the editors’ lead, Boaz Bismuth welcomes Biden with a smug sneer in his Israel Hayom column. Taylor Force, the man killed in Jaffa, had yet to even be named by the State Department before Bismuth tried to use his murder to score some political points off the Americans with a “we told you so” op-ed.

“Welcome, Mr. US Vice President Joe Biden, to our Israeli reality these past six months. There are those who’d even say — quite rightly — the past six months and hundred years,” he writes.

“While Biden and [former president Shimon] Peres talk about a window of opportunity, the terrorist found himself at every open window of cars standing [in traffic] an opportunity to murder more and more Jews,” he says.

Tuesday’s attack, Bismuth says, will not guarantee that Biden won’t utter “once again the familiar refrain” that the lack of peace talks is an impetus for terrorism.

His punchline? Terrorism is an ideology, not a response to occupation or despair, and no political solution will solve it.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s Nahum Barnea couldn’t take a more different approach from Bismuth. He writes, in his column, of despair on both sides. Tuesday’s attacks “demonstrate one thing — the unabated willingness of young Palestinians to go out on suicide missions.” While Israel’s security forces have managed to prevent attacks, “they haven’t succeeded in halting the trend.”

“Despair — that’s the motivator, the impetus, the reason. Personal despair, sometimes over family feuds, national despair, generational despair — all for one and one for all,” he writes of the Palestinians.

“We need to find ways to tire out despair, to confuse it. Income is a good way: Employed Palestinians distance themselves from terrorism as if from fire; government ministers are fighting against every attempt to increase the number of work permits: this is foolish,” he argues. Barnea also calls for greater punishments for Israeli employers who hire Palestinians without work permits.

Instead of “wrapping itself in its righteousness, preachiness, self-pity, and victimization,” he says the government should get to work.

In Haaretz, Amos Harel posits that what Tuesday’s violence proves is that the new intifada’s statistics have no bearing on Israelis’ sense of security. Despite the fact that attacks are down in recent months, as are casualties, Tuesday’s events “once again undermined personal security and put terror back in the main headlines.”

He expresses doubt that the three attacks were connected, or timed to coincide with Biden’s visit to Israel.

“So long as terror remains at its current level, in which in which we get a painful reminder once a week about our painful times, it would appear that there won’t be any significant change,” he says. “The attacks serve essentially as a tool for political battering: Opponents of the prime minister will criticize him for not being concerned enough about security, and he’ll reply that their solutions aren’t good enough, and at the same time he’ll attack the Arab MKs for some of their open support for terrorism.”

Characteristically, on such a bleak news day, the tabloids find themselves a hero in the midst of the bloodshed: a Tel Aviv resident who beat the Palestinian attacker in Jaffa with his guitar.

“If I didn’t have my guitar in my hand he would have succeeded in stabbing me,” Yishai Montgomery tells Israel Hayom.

Montgomery and his beat-up acoustic also make it to the pages of Yedioth Ahronoth. “He was in shock from my response, I started cursing him out and continued to run after him in order to try and chase him away and maybe even harm him, and I continued until it ended with gunshots from the police.”

Yedioth Ahronoth pulls out an aughts reference by calling Montgomery “guitar hero” in its headline, because nothing’s more complimentary than a decade-old video game title. After talking to Montgomery, the paper contacted Israeli rocker Aviv Geffen and told him about the broken guitar, and the musician immediately decided to give the man one of his own.

“The incident touched my heart and I thought of giving him one of my guitars,” Geffen told the paper. “And I hope this guitar will only have artistic and classical uses.”

As reported by The Times of Israel