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The Numbers Crunch: Passover, Grass and Iran
By ELANA KIRSH
04/13/2012
This week in news: Israelis break for Spring, a poet stirs controversy, Iran stories trend ahead of nuke talks.
 
The news cycle all but grinds to a halt over Passover, and even more so when Easter falls on the same dates. This year, Israelis eased off for Spring breaks from the day before the holiday, while the Knesset closed and temperatures rose after a cold and rainy winter. Apart from weather and traffic stories, local news in Israel was slow.

Of course, the world doesn’t stop when press releases do, though the Easter break certainly heightened the overall news freeze effect. A few international stories made headlines in Israeli media, including a series of strong earthquakes off Indonesia on Wednesday, the lead-up to French presidential elections and Rick Santorum’s decision to drop out of the US presidential race.

The one story which stood out in local media was that of German poet Günter Grass’s controversial poem calling Israel an impediment for world peace and Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s subsequent decision to ban him from entering the country. Passover break or not, the story spun into a series of follow ups and analysis and opinion pieces, as well as a few unflattering caricatures.

Asked what they thought of Yishai’s move in a quick vote taken this week, Jerusalem Post readers were overwhelmingly supportive. A total of over 80 percent of respondents agreed with the decision, citing the Iranian nuclear threat as well as Grass’s SS past.



On JPost.com, the Grass story didn’t make it into the most-read stories by page view, though it did stir up discussion on the talkback forums. Instead, readers were interested in reactions to a Grad rocket which slammed into Eilat last week, dialogue on Iran ahead of talks in Istanbul scheduled for Saturday, and a list of the world’s richest Jews.

JPost Top Five most-read stories:

1. PM on Eilat rocket: We can never stop fighting terror
2. 'Forbes Israel' ranks world's wealthiest Jews
3. Iran slams BBC over film about Israel relations
4. Dagan: Israel should trust Obama to stop Iranian nukes
5. Ahmadinejad: World pressure can't deter Iran

JPost Top Five most-active threads:

1. Peres downplays US statement on Pollard
2. Report: Obama could accept Iran civilian nuclear program
3. Dagan: Israel should trust Obama to stop Iranian nukes
4. PM on Eilat rocket: We can never stop fighting terror
5. PM slams author Grass for 'ignorant' Israel slurs

The Grass story was also less popular on Facebook, where for a second week running the top post on the new JPost timeline was a photo from Jerusalem Post photographer Marc Israel Sellem. Here also, posts on diplomatic and security issues flooded the Top 5 list.

JPost Top Five most-popular Facebook posts:
 

1. Picture of the day: Making matzot in Jerusalem
2. Egypt launches operation to gain control of Sinai
3. Netanyahu lays down three demands for Iran talks
4. Dagan: Israel should trust Obama to stop Iranian nukes
5. Mofaz: Netanyahu, Barak are enslaving Israelis

Zooming out to regional news as the deadline ticked over on a UN-brokered cease-fire in Syria, 15% of Americans were following the international efforts “very closely,” according to the Pew Research Center’s News Interest Index, while 3% of the news hole covered the story. By way of comparison, 33% were most interested in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, though the largest portion of the news hole (22%) was devoted to coverage of US Presidential campaigns.

And to wrap up, the average Israeli by numbers, according to lifestyle figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released this week.

The average Israeli:
- Works 2,000 hours per year, or 43 hours per week
- Is online 32.1 hours a month
- Watches 232 minutes of television a day
- Watches three movies at the cinema a year
- Sleeps 6.5 hours a night

From news sites to blogs, tweets to videos, The Numbers Crunch is a weekly column which zooms out and brings you the big picture online, from Israel, the Middle East and around the world, and poll results from JPost.com.

The writer is the Internet desk manager at The Jerusalem Post
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