Ha'aretz ("The Land") was founded in 1919 and is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It is published in Hebrew and English, and owned by the Schocken family, M. DuMont Schauberg, and Leonid Nevzlin.
a photo of a man on his laptop overlooking a city
Alidad Vassigh and Irene Caselli

Free WiFi For All? Cities (And Nations) Making Universal Digital Access A Right

Whether it's to bridge the socioeconomic digital divide or to attract tourists, foreign businesses and digital nomads, the time may be ripe to offer free internet access across society. Here are some of those leading the push.

For years, certain big cities have been wooing tourists and remote workers by offering free WiFi hotspots to help find the best restaurants or connect for meetings from a park bench. This month, Mexico City won the Guinness World Record for most free WiFi hotspots in the world, with 21,500.

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Whiff Of History: Archeologists Discover Very Old Egg In Ancient Toilet
Genevieve Mansfield

Whiff Of History: Archeologists Discover Very Old Egg In Ancient Toilet

Archeologists digging near the central Israeli city of Yavne have uncovered the most delicate of artifacts in the remains of an ancient cesspool. Inside the 1,000-year-old cesspool, they were surprised to find an apparently intact hen's egg, dating all the way back to the Byzantine period, according to daily Haaretz.

Dr. Lee Perry Gal, a poultry expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority, explained how extraordinary it was to find the egg: "Eggshell fragments are known from earlier periods, for example in the City of David, Caesarea and Apollonia, but due to the fragility of the eggs, almost no whole hen eggs have been preserved. Even on a global level, this is an extremely rare find."

One of the archeologists excavating the site, Alla Nagorsky, credited the cesspool with the survival of the 1,000-year-old egg all these years, explaining that it was the soft human waste that preserved it. Yet after surviving for a millennium in a toilet, a small crack formed at the bottom of the egg as the scientists extracted it from the pit, as French monthly magazine GEO reports, preventing it from making it back to the lab fully intact. Only a portion of the yolk was salvageable, which scientists will use for future DNA analysis — but still leaving unanswered the eternal question: which came first, the chicken or the egg ... or that awful smell from the cesspool?

A tribute to a young women who committed suicide during the pandemic in Liege, Belgium
Anne Sophie Goninet

The Second Wave And Risks Of Rising Suicide Rates

PARIS — After first reckoning with the physical toll of COVID-19, the world also began to register the risk of rising rates of depression and isolation as the first wave of the virus forced hundreds of millions of people to stay confined at home for months at a time last spring. But now the second wave is raising the stakes, as mental health experts warn about the risk of an uptick in suicide.

Some parts of the world have already been experiencing "waves of suicides' such as Malawi, which reports a 57% increase between January and August in comparison with 2019, or India, as the pandemic put many out of a job and without financial resources. But according to a French study, with a second wave taking its toll on people's hopes and long-term economic effects, the worst is yet to come.

Hopes dashed: In Israel, the emotional first-aid hotline Eran received 837 suicidal calls during the country's second lockdown this autumn, a 49.5% increase compared with the first lockdown.

• While people were more preoccupied with surviving the virus threat during the first lockdown, they're experiencing more "emotional stress' during the second, especially because of the economic crisis; and many who had managed to cope during the first wave felt "their strength dwindled", Dr. Shiri Daniels, Eran's professional director, explained to Haaretz.

• "In the second lockdown we saw more loneliness, more depression and more reports of acute mental distress. The hope that we're coming out of the situation turned out to be an illusion," she told the Israeli newspaper.

• According to the service, the suicide calls stemming from economic distress rose from 4% to 15% between the first and second confinement and calls related to loneliness and personal relations increased from 26% to 35%.

Second wave's first weekend: England has imposed a second national lockdown this November and the impact on suicide prevention hotlines was immediate, with some reporting an increase in calls by almost one-third from the previous weekend, two days after the announcement of the new confinement, ITV News reports.

• 80% of callers to Papyrus, a national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, mention the lockdown as well as the fear of isolation, financial problems and the uncertainty over the future as the source of their desperation.

• The charity had to extend its opening hours and increased its staff to answer the rising calls.

Accumulative effect: In France, the Fondation Jean Jaurès conducted a study, led by Michel Debout, a psychiatrist and professor of forensic medicine in Saint-Étienne, to measure the suicidal risks that the two lockdowns imposed by the country this year could generate. According to the report, the suicidal effects caused by crises tend to materialize several months, or even years later.

• After the 1929 stock market crash in the United States, the suicide rate only increased significantly in 1930-31; and for the 2008 financial crisis, European countries observed an uptick only one or two years later.

• "There is always a gap between the economic and social deconstruction and the reactions of the people who are the most affected on the individual and collective level," writes the French psychiatrist.

• It is therefore too soon for now to fully know the effects of the crisis on suicides and suicide attempts of the coronavirus pandemic, but the study reveals that among the French people surveyed who admitted they seriously considered taking their lives at some point this year, 11% of them considered it during the first lockdown and 17% after the end of the confinement, which confirms that "the crisis is ahead of us," the report says.

More prevention needed: Many aid organizations are calling for government actions to avert a looming mental health crisis, with more prevention to encourage people to seek and find help if they're having suicidal thoughts.

• "Everyone is cautiously talking about mental health and the lockdown and careful not to link suicide with lockdowns for fear of copycating. However 75% of people who die by suicide are not even known to mental health services," Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of Papyrus, told The Express. "We have to talk about it sensibly and openly."

• Fondation Jean Jaurès has a similar message, pushing local representatives to integrate suicide prevention in their health policy, with the help of professionals and charities. It also calls for the establishment of a global medico-psycho-social program for the thousands of unemployed, artisans and business leaders, who, according to its study, are more at risk.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protesting against the accord
Mourad Kamel

Arab-Israeli Rapprochement: Is Saudi Arabia Next?

The accord to normalize relations between two Arab countries and Israel is a major diplomatic victory for U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made good on a pledge to bring a breakthrough to Middle East negotiations just before his bid for reelection in November.

Still, the fast-moving events of the last month — culminating with Tuesday's signing ceremony at the White House of what's being called the "Abraham Accords' — are above all a sign that real change may be on the way to the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that it took Israel 26 years between the second peace agreement with an Arab country (Jordan) and the third last month with the United Arab Emirates, but only 29 days to seal its fourth, with Bahrain last Friday. In a video posted to his Twitter profile, Netanyahu promised "there will be more" Arab countries that follow this path.

Whether that "more" will include Saudi Arabia, Washington's most important Arab ally and economic partner in the region, is the next big question. Despite promising not to normalize relations with Israel until a peace deal is agreed between Palestinians and Israelis, it is in the Kingdom's interest to see that Israel is normalizing relations with other Gulf states.

What's bringing former foes together, of course, is a common enemy: Iran. Riyadh and Tehran have been in a longstanding battle for regional dominance, including numerous proxy wars in the region: Syria, Yemen, Iraq and even Lebanon. The two countries represent the two main denominations of Islam : Sunnis (Saudi Arabia) and Shias (Iran). Even though they share the fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam, the divide, which is 14 centuries old, originated over the question of who would succeed the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Islamic faith.

What's bringing former foes together is a common enemy: Iran.

But what is shaking up the region today is not only religion, but questions of global influence. Zvi Bar'el, a columnist for Israeli daily Haaretz, noted that last Friday's deal announced with Bahrain has an important military component. "Bahrain is an important part of the Persian Gulf's strategic defense against Iranian influence," he writes. "It hosts a U.S. Navy base with around 6,000 service members, and could serve as a launch pad for attacks on land and sea threats from Iran."

The first deal with UAE announced in August was particularly notable for the Emirates influence (and independence) in the Gulf region. But Bahrain's overture may have even more long-run significance for what comes next. "Bahrain's king, who is entirely dependent on Saudi Arabia — to which it is linked via a 25-kilometer causeway — received a Saudi "license" to move forward with normalization" writes Bar'el. "Crown Prince Mohammed is demonstrating for Trump his power to build the Arab mantle for the president's Middle East peace plan."

Netanyahu, Trump and foreign ministers of Bahrain and UAE at Tuesday's signing ceremony — Photo: White House

Another sign that Saudia Arabia may be preparing the terrain for its own deal with Israel was visible last spring — on television sets. Two drama series broadcast during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia, which featured Israeli characters, appeared to be a prime example of the Kingdom using "soft power" to get its population ready for a new era in the region where Israel is now regarded as a partner. In Exit 7, one of the actors asserts that the Palestinians are the real "enemies'" who insult the kingdom "day and night", despite decades of financial aid, while featuring a friendship between a Saudi and an Israeli through an online video game. The second series, Oum Haroun, follows the life of a Jewish community in a Kuwaiti village in the 1940s. Both formats were produced by the MBC Group, under the control of the Saudi government, and scored high ratings during Ramadan, even as they were lambasted by some on social media.

As for the Palestinian National Authority, which remains an unrecognized state by the international community, the smiles and signatures on the White House lawn are largely seen as bad news. Ahmad Majdalani, Minister of Social Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, called it a "stab in the back," a metaphor that has circulated in the region ever since another peace deal, between Egypt and Israel in 1979.

Now all eyes will be on whether Saudi Arabia keeps its promise to normalize relations in Israel only if there's a peace deal with the Palestinians. If the Saudis decide not to wait, it could be the mother of all back-stabbings.

Hamas militants sent incendiary balloons into Israel, prompting retaliatory airstrikes

The Latest: New Gaza Flare-Up, Biden-Putin Meeting, Unmasking Spain

Welcome to Wednesday, where Israel carries out first airstrikes on Gaza since the ceasefire in May, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin meet for the first time since Biden's election and Ronaldo changes Coke into water. Chinese daily Economic Observer also advocates for more open discussion about the real reason why China's couples are not having more children.

• Israel air strikes in Gaza after Hamas incendiary balloon attacks: Early Wednesday morning, Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza in response to fire balloons launched by Hamas from the territory. This is the first major flare-up since last month's ceasefire following a brief but deadly war. It is not known whether the latest strikes have caused any injuries or death.

• Biden-Putin Summit in Geneva: U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin have a highly anticipated bilateral meeting in Geneva today. On the agenda: regional conflicts, climate, COVID and cybersecurity. No major breakthroughs are expected but there are hopes that the leaders will find some common ground after trading invectives from afar in recent months.

• Taiwan reports largest incursion by Chinese air force: According to Taiwan's government, 28 Chinese air force aircrafts entered the island's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) yesterday. Over the last few months, multiple missions of the Chinese air force have taken place near the self-ruled island, but this was the largest incursion since the Taiwanese ministry began regularly reporting the activities last year.

• Car bomb explosion at Colombia military base injures 36: In the Colombian border city of Cucuta, two men drove a white Toyota truck into the military base after passing themselves off as officials. According to the Defence Minister Diego Molano, the hypothesis is that the National Liberation Army guerrillas are to blame but the attack is still being investigated.

• Leftist Castillo wins popular vote in Peru's presidential race: With all ballots counted, and a turnout of nearly 75%, leftist candidate Pedro Castillo has just over 50% of the votes. But he cannot be declared the winner until electoral authorities have finished processing legal challenges brought by right-wing contender Keiko Fujimori. It could take weeks before a winner is formally announced.

• China to send astronauts to new space station: On Thursday, three veteran astronauts will become the first Chinese astronauts to land on the initial stages of China's orbiting space station module, Tiangong or Heavenly Palace, which is still under construction. The mission, called Shenzhou-12 or Divine Vessel, is the first of four planned and marks a significant milestone in China's expanding space program.

• Greenpeace parachuting protesters lands on soccer fans: Several spectators were treated for injuries caused by a Greenpeace protester who parachuted into the Munich stadium before France played Germany at the European Championship. The parachutist seemed to lose control and had a brush with the supporters before landing on the field. Greenpeace has apologized for putting people in harm's way.

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The MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship, which has been burning for two weeks off the coast of Sri Lanka, has started to sink, heightening fears of an oil and chemical spill

The Latest: Netanyahu Exit Nears, Canada Wants Pope Apology, Going Back To Venus

Welcome to Thursday, where Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as Israel's Prime Minister appears to be coming to an end, Canada calls on Pope Francis to apologize and NASA is finally going back to Venus. Le Monde also takes us to Belarus where the shocking arrest of a dissident journalist brings new attention to the still ongoing repression of activists by authorities.

• Israeli opposition reach deal to oust PM Netanyahu: Opponents of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalized an 11th-hour coalition government. Centrist party leader Yair Lapid and right-wing settler movement leader Naftali Bennett — with the support of Islamist party leader Mansour Abbas — plan to split the Prime Minister's Office, each taking a two-year term. The agreement is expected to be approved by parliament in the next week, likely bringing an end to Netanyahu's 12-year reign.

• Twitter vs. Nigerian president: Twitter has deleted a tweet by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that vowed punishment for rebels as a response to recent attacks on government buildings. The social media company claims the tweets violated their abusive behavior policy.

• FBI accuses Russian linked hackers to attack on meat plants: JBS meat plants have begun reopening after a severe cyber attack halted production at multiple locations. The FBI blamed Russian based criminal group, REevil, and President Joe Biden stated that he will discuss cyber attacks with President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting in two weeks.

• Canada seeks Church apology: After the discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 215 indigenous children, the Canadian government is calling on Pope Francis to apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in the residential schools system. For most of the 20th century, the church operated a large portion of the country's residential schools, during which many indigenous children were subject to physical and verbal abuse.

• EU court says Germany "persistently" violated air pollution rules: The European Union's top court said Germany may be subject to fines and penalties if it does not improve air quality in several large cities. The court found that Germany breached nitrogen oxide (NO2) limits from 2010-2016.

• NASA sets sights on Venus: Some 30 years after last visiting the planet sometimes referred to as "Earth's twin," NASA has announced two new missions to Venus. Expected to launch between 2028-2030, one mission will focus on analyzing our neighbor's "hellish" atmosphere, while the other one will map its surface.

• Elephant herd escapes, bulldozes 300 mile path: A herd of 15 elephants wreaked havoc after escaping a nature reserve in China, destroying 56 hectares of farmland and causing more than a million dollars' worth of damage, during a 311-mile journey through the southwestern province of Yunnan.

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Parisians enjoy a coffee at an outdoor café on the first day of a partial reopening of economic and cultural activities after a near seven-month closure.

The Latest: Hamas Ceasefire Signals, Navalny’s Recovery, French Café Life Returns

Welcome to Thursday, where fighting continues in Gaza despite Hamas's moves toward a ceasefire, there's good news on Alexei Navalny's health, and a young French driver sets a new kind of speed record. Clarin also looks at the Brazilian Left's refusal to recognize its own failures and how that might allow Bolsonaro to win a second term.

• Hamas signals ceasefire possible: Shelling continued today from both sides across the Israel-Gaza border, following a statement from a senior Hamas leader of a ceasefire "within a day or two." Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given no indication of a halt to operations even after increased pressure from Washington.

• 55 million people internally displaced worldwide: Two NGOs report that at least 55 million people around the world are internally displaced within their own countries, a record number, with 2020 seeing the highest number of new people displaced in a decade, despite restrictions on movement imposed by many countries to curb the spread of COVID-19.

• Navalny slowly recovering: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who has been in jail for more than three months, has "more or less' recovered from his hunger strike and is now able to communicate with his family, the head of Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service declared on Thursday. The activist's deteriorating condition had raised international concerns and prompted demonstrations around the world.

• Prisoners beheaded in riot in Guatemala: Guatemalan police said that at least seven prisoners have been killed in a fight between rival gangs in a jail in Quetzaltenango, western Guatemala. Most of the victims were found beheaded.

• China-U.S. row over disputed waters: Chinese authorities said on Thursday that an American warship had illegally entered its territorial waters in the South China Sea and was expelled by its forces. The U.S. government denied the accusation.

• Bitcoin recovers after Chinese curbs on cryptocurrency: Bitcoin recovered to reach $40,000 in early trading Thursday, a day after a brutal selloff over concerns over tighter regulation in China and Tesla's recent decision to no longer accept cryptocurrencies. The most popular cryptocurrency plunged 14% on Wednesday to its lowest level since late January.

• Harry Potter quiz show for 20th anniversary: A new TV quiz competition series is being launched by WarnerMedia as part of 20th anniversary celebrations for the first Harry Potter movie, and the corporation announced on Wednesday that it will open a cast for fans to participate in quiz challenges.

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On patrol in Milan, April 23

How Criminals Exploit A Coronavirus World

With a large chunk of the world's population forced still to stay at home, local communities and entire nations are recording steep drops in overall crime rates.

Burglars are generally less likely to prey on a home that's occupied, and most theft and assault hotspots such as sporting venues and pubs are shuttered. Still, it's not all a pretty picture, as the unique dynamic of national lockdowns puts new pressure on law enforcement and spurs more cases of certain crimes.

Italy's L'Espresso weekly "Criminal Contagion: How the Mafia is getting rich from coronavirus'

Here's a quick tour of the world of crime in the time of coronavirus:

  • Gangs on the rise: In Mexico, about 200 criminal groups see the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to grow their influence. Positioning themselves as guardians and protectors of communities, the gangs use extortion, kidnapping and violence on a regular basis. Forbes Mexico reports that the country's already high homicide rate rose even more, hitting a new record in March, as the state redirected resources into containing the health crisis and trying to prop up its sluggish economy.

  • Plague of domestic abuse: Reports from China to France to Argentina confirm fears that confining families to their homes will increase domestic violence. In Israel, the daily Haaretz reported that the number of cases opened by the police involving sex crimes within the family jumped by 41% this March compared to last year.

  • Digital delinquents: Since a big part of our lives went online, crimes are bound to follow. The Swedish newspaper ETC has reported an increase in online pedophile activity and cyberbullying. Europol warns about cyber-attacks exploiting the global chaos, including fraudulent online sale of COVID-19 tests, face masks and sanitizers.

  • Mob stories: In Italy, some fear that cash-strapped, small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs will turn to the mafia to save their businesses. This way, mafia money enters in competition with the social and business support programs set up by the government, Radio France Internationale reported. According to Mario Vaudano, the former anti-mafia magistrate, other European countries with a significant mafia presence, including Slovakia, Poland or Malta, are in a high risk to see organized crime capitalize on the pandemic.

  • Police brutality: In some countries, authorities have been accused of excessive violence and abuse when enforcing the curfew, reported Le Monde. In the first days of lockdown in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal and elsewhere, social media were flooded with images showing the military and police beating people in the streets, forcing them to do push-ups or even dancing in front of the camera while reciting curfew restrictions.

  • Crimes of contagion: Curiously, the pandemic is also giving rise to some new, illness-related offenses. "Malicious coughing" is now a crime and has already sent a man in the UK to jail for six months. In the Czech Republic, a man posted on social media that he has coronavirus and licks bread in supermarkets for fun, the Czech news site iDNES.cz reported. The suspect is now facing up to eight years in prison for scaremongering during a state of emergency.

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Passersby take pictures of cherry blossoms in a park in Tokyo, Japan, where the sakura season has begun.

The Latest: Colorado Shooting, Israel Elections, $2.9 Million Tweet

Welcome to Tuesday, where a lone gunman kills 10 in Colorado, Israel votes (again!) and a tweet is worth $2.9 million. Italian weekly L'Espresso also helps us sort through the damage from the tons of trash Italian waste traffickers are dumping in the neighboring Balkans.

• Another Colorado mass shooting: A lone suspect has been arrested after the second U.S. mass shooting in a week, when 10 people were killed at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. The state of Colorado has been the site of some of the worst such tragedies in the past two decades, beginning with the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

• Vaccine stumbles: The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may have used "outdated information" in trials, meaning that efficacy data could be incomplete. Meanwhile, Slovakia's deal to obtain the Sputnik V vaccine has sparked a possible government crisis, as the EU has not approved the Russian-made vaccine.

• Israel national elections: Israel heads to the polls for the fourth time in two years, as embattled longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes for a boost linked to the success of the country's vaccine rollout.

• EU sanctions China: For the first time in 30 years, the EU has agreed to sanction China for human rights abuses. China strikes back with sanctions on ten European individuals and four entities.

• Saudi Arabia-Yemen peace deal: Saudi Arabia has offered a ceasefire and the reopening of airports and seaports with Yemen.

• Bangladesh refugee camp fire: At least 15 are dead and another 400 missing after a fire breaks out in the Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar. Roughly 50,000 people were forced to flee.

• Brick by space brick: To celebrate 40 years since the first Space Shuttle launch, Danish toy manufacturer Lego has unveiled its new 2,354-piece Space Shuttle Discovery set.

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Erdogan and Modi in India
Ayaz Ali

Turkey, India And Israel: The Changing Faces Of Populism

Political Scientist Soner Cagaptay once dubbed Recep Tayyip Erdogan the "inventor of 21st-century populism." There may be some truth to that, especially given the way the Turkish president's style of leadership has quickly spread in recent years. But as we progress further into the millennium, it's also clear that populism has evolved. Those with a claim to redefining the populist formula include U.S. President Donald Trump, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, and India's Narendra Modi.

Still, since his election as prime minister in 2003, Erdogan's rise is instructive. Initially working on a mandate of liberal inclusivity with echoes of Tony Blair, his policy and rhetoric alike morphed as he consolidated power. An analysis by the Guardian shows how he changed his language to stir and take hold of his electorate: His enemies became "enemies of the people;" his electoral successes became victories against the "tyranny of elites."

In time, to spread his populism he needed to infuse it with religion, and soon the "will of the people" became the "will of God." Grounded in Islamic Nationalism, Erdogan won the presidency in 2014 and 2018 after a decade as prime minister — despite persistent allegations of corruption.

Perhaps Erdogan's brand of populism is finally losing its appeal.

But with his party's recent failure to capture Istanbul's mayoral seat, Erdogan's influence seems in question. The shock loss of the AKP in Istanbul initially prompted calls for a recount, which confirmed the result. Its first defeat in the city in a quarter century, the party's response has now been to up the stakes: they want to re-do the election altogether, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reports.

A high-risk move that threatens its legitimacy, the strategy speaks to how thoroughly the AKP's power is at risk; perhaps Erdogan's brand of populism is finally losing its appeal. To understand why we must look beyond Turkey's borders.

Erdogan's style is echoed by the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi, both of whom appeal to the common voter with a religious nationalism that in some degree relies on the exclusion of Muslims. All three leaders face a time of uncertainty in their leadership, and a look at how they maneuver it may prove revealing.

Netanyahu after elections results earlier this month — Photo: Oliver Weiken/DPA/ZUMA

Netanyahu has faced his own challenges of late. Dogged by corruption allegations from his own attorney general, he also battled through an unexpectedly tight election. But unlike Erdogan and the AKP, Netanyahu prevailed by forming a coalition. His success also stems from his good international standing, another way in which he distinguishes himself from the Turkish leader. As such he continues to enjoy powerful support from international leaders like Donald Trump.

Modi is the latest of the three to face a leadership challenge, as India begins the early stages of humanity's largest ever election, seen by many as a referendum on Modi himself. While by no means certain, the fate of India's leader seems somewhat secure. The Israeli daily Haaretz noted that like Netanyahu, Modi's style of populism sees success in stirring and uniting voters against international danger. For Israel, this remains Iran, while for India, the clearest enemy is Pakistan, reconfirmed by tensions in Kashmir.

Modi's style of populism sees success in stirring and uniting voters against international danger.

In the case of both Netanyahu and Modi, their brand of populism feeds on fears of national security, rallying the franchise not just against a domestic elite but against the global enemies of progress, fighting those who oppose the "national interest" and the wellbeing of the common people.

In many senses, Modi, the newest of the three leaders, fuses the two populist styles that preceded him in both Netanyahu and Erdogan. Like Erdogan, his rhetoric stresses the importance of his nation's historical legacy, as noted by Indian politician Shashi Tharoor. And Modi's final aim, according to Professor Sumantra Bose of the London School of Economics, seems to be to emulate the Israeli model of the religious nation-state.

Without exception, all three populist leaders present themselves as a champion of marginalized people excluded by modern secularism. But where India distinguishes itself alone is in not just its size, but its position as a rapidly developing world power with a deep, historically entrenched commitment to democracy. Using this may be Modi's key to forming a newer kind of populism, and avoiding the mistakes of the "inventors' before him.

Clashes in Gaza on May 14

A Bloody Contrast, 24 World Front Pages After Gaza Killings

PARIS — The world reacted in a chorus of shock Tuesday after the deadliest day in Gaza since 2014, as Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians protesting at the border against the opening of the new American embassy in Jerusalem. U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize the holy city as Israel's capital, against the will of almost the entire international community, has been the source of deadly clashes for months. But the response of Israeli Defense Forces on demonstrators Monday was brutal. Haaretz, the progressive Israeli daily, posted an editorial Tuesday titled: "Stop The Bloodbath."

The death toll had risen Tuesday morning to 60, with more than 2,000 wounded. As those killed yesterday are being put to rest, more protests are expected as Palestinians also commemorate the 70-year anniversary of the Nakba, when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 war.

The killings have sparked protests as well as official condemnations from around the world, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, who said he was "profoundly alarmed and concerned by the sharp escalation of violence and the number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests."Many of Tuesday's newspaper front pages captured the contrast of Tuesday's events, where Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump was beaming during the inauguration of the new embassy, while unarmed civilians were being killed just miles away at the border. Le Monde"s lead article opened with the following words: "Champagne in Jerusalem, blood in Gaza."



Israel Hayom

The Jerusalem Post

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Saad Hariri resigned as Lebanon's prime minister on Nov. 4

Lebanon, Palace Intrigue And Risks Of The Next Proxy War


Lebanon can be seen as a microcosm for the entire Middle East: intractable sectarian conflict, economic potential, terrorist threats and a labyrinthine web of competing national interests. These days, it seems, the small nation of just over six million inhabitants risks again becoming the live theater for the region to play out its many rivalries with the next proxy war.

The surprise resignation one week ago of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has indeed had repercussions well beyond Beirut, not least because it was announced from the Saudi capital. A Sunni Muslim with dual Lebanese-Saudi nationality, Hariri had been leading a national unity government that included the Shia party/military organization/terror group Hezbollah, a close ally of Iran, Saudi Arabia's archrival. In his strongly-worded resignation speech, Hariri — whose father, former Prime Minister Rafik, was assassinated in 2005 allegedly by Hezbollah — said he feared for his own life, and attacked both the organization and Tehran, saying that "Iran's arms in the region will be cut off."

The move quickly fueled speculation that Hariri had been at least pressured, if not detained, by Saudi Arabia, as part of the kingdom's broader strategy against Iran. Hariri's televised interview Sunday, in which he said he would "soon" return to Lebanon to formally hand in his resignation that President Michel Aoun has so far refused, will have done little to contradict this perception, as The New York Times noted.

Saudi Arabia is trying to "move its confrontation with Iran from Syria to Lebanon."

French journalist Jean-Pierre Perrin of the investigative website Mediapart offers further suspicions of foul play by Riyadh. The journalist noted the virtually simultaneous news of Hariri's resignation and the wave of highly-politicized arrests led by Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Perrin reports that Hariri and his construction company Saudi Oger (which closed in July) allegedly played an important role in laundering money for Mohammed bin Salman's rivals, many of whom were arrested in what critics have described as a purge. Seen from this angle, a trapped Hariri provides the Crown Prince with the stone that could kill two birds: reinforce his hand domestically and increase the pressure on Iran.

Beyond that, these moves might also serve to show, as former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro wrote in Haaretz, that Saudi Arabia is trying to "move its confrontation with Iran from Syria to Lebanon," with Iran's ally Bashar al-Assad "clearly having survived the challenge posed by Saudi-backed rebels." And some observers are worried that by shifting the focus to Lebanon, Riyadh is trying to draw Israel into the conflict and get it to "do its dirty work."

Writing for Hebrew-language website Walla, Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff plays down the risk of an escalation because of Hariri, but he observes nonetheless that "it's been a very long time since the Sunni-Shia split was this sharp and clear. The removal of the Islamic State from the scene also removes the common interest of the Iranians and the Saudis, leaving an unbridgeable gap. This is a basic religious gap, a conflict more than 1,400 years old, which has reemerged."

In Beirut meanwhile, La Stampa"s Giordano Stabile reports that most people believe the theory of Hariri as "a prisoner of Riyadh" and that the fear of yet another war is on everybody's minds. In his editorial for the Lebanese French-speaking newspaper L'Orient-Le Jour, Elie Fayad urges the country to "get out of the mess it finds itself in. ... Because if Saudi Arabia has shot itself in the foot, as some seem to believe, Lebanon should avoid aiming at its own brains."

One can only hope. But sadly, for both the people of Lebanon and the entire Middle East, it again looks like the gun is in the hands of others.