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Israelis React: 'Is It Just Me Who's Tired Of Hearing About Iran?'

  • Joanna Paraszczuk

Iran's heavy water plant in Arak (file photo)

Iran's heavy water plant in Arak (file photo)

As Israeli politicians rushed on July 14 to blast the international powers' nuclear deal with Iran -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a "historic mistake" -- some Israelis took to social media to express more nuanced views, as well as fatigue over constant media reporting on Iran.

"I'm tired of commentators saying 'we've lost, you will have to get used to a nuclear threshold state,'" tweeted one Israeli, @Amitna87. "Iran is already a nuclear threshold state. The choice is between no supervision and the possibility of supervision."

@Amitna87 was criticizing comments by Alon Ben David, the senior defense correspondent for Israel's Channel 10, who wrote an op-ed in the centrist daily Maariv.

Ben David warned that the deal would make Iran more "confident" and "allow itself to become more and more involved in conflicts in the region."

"It could be that [U.S.] President [Barack] Obama, who wants to bring about world peace, has brought with this agreement the opening salvo in a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race," Ben David concluded.

Some Israelis tried to look on the bright side of the deal, joking that with the deal struck, Netanyahu would now have time to deal with domestic issues instead of being preoccupied with Iran.

"The advantage of a nuclear deal with Iran?" Nir Goshen, an Israeli Twitter user, tweeted on July 14. "Netanyahu will finally have to deal with internal matters: the cost of living, the housing crisis, the report on poverty, and so on."

Others expressed boredom with the wall-to-wall coverage of the deal in the Israeli press.

"Is it just me who's tired of hearing about Iran?" tweeted @yitzy4.

While Twitter user Shmulik Krasik complained, "The radio on the bus: Iran, Iran, Iran, Bibi, Boge (Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon), Bibi."

Outside of social media, Israelis said they hoped Iran would not cheat on the deal.

"The important question is probably whether Iran will keep its part of the deal or continue to work on the bomb in other locations," Ilan Hirshberg, a math professor at Ben Gurion University, told RFE/RL.

"Nonetheless, I hope Bibi doesn't cause any more damage by trying to fight Obama in Congress over that."

Initial reactions in Israel's mainstream media to the nuclear deal were split between apportioning blame to Netanyahu and to the world powers or Obama.

"A HISTORIC MISTAKE," screamed the early edition of Israel HaYom (Israel Today), Israel's largest circulation free Hebrew daily, as shown on the newspaper's website.

That headline quoted Israeli Defense Minister Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon, who described the impending nuclear deal with Iran thus in a July 12 tweet.

But as it went to press before the deal was announced early on July 14, Israel HaYom -- owned by American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and often accused of supporting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu -- updated its front page to quote the Israeli premier instead.

"The deal is full of holes," the new headline read.

Israel HaYom's lead story that greeted readers on July 14, titled The Deal And The Danger, places the blame for the deal firmly in the court of world powers. It is illustrated with a graphic showing the heads of Obama and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei together under the headline: A Deal At Any Price. (The title is a direct quote from a July 13 warning from Netanyahu.)

The first reaction of some columnists in other, less pro-government Israeli newspapers was to slam Netanyahu, blaming him for the deal.

Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, writing in centrist daily Maariv early on July 14, shortly before the nuclear deal was signed, said the deal was "a personal failure of Netanyahu."

The Israeli prime minister had "been running for two decades on one main agenda: to prevent Iran from going nuclear," wrote Caspit. "This is the mission he promised to maintain and which he failed to carry out."

Meanwhile, B. Michael, the pen name of satirical columnist Michael Brizon, wrote a scathing op-ed mocking Netanyahu's preoccupation with the Iranian nuclear program.

"With the stroke of a pen, the world powers took away his favorite toy of all. The apple of his eye and the joy in his heart. The rock of his existence and the source of his strength. And mostly -- the rock of his faith and his refuge: the Iranian bomb," wrote Michael in the left-leaning daily Haaretz, adding that the Israeli premier was "like a baby who lost his security blanket."

And while Israel's serious media laid into Netanyahu, some Israelis offered suggestions to help cheer the prime minister up.

"I don't understand anything about the deal with Iran. All I can see is Iranians being happy and Bibi being sad," tweeted @shellypritzker. "This is the time for him to adopt a cat."

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