What Jerusalem Post articles were the stars of 5779?

The stories that made you click.

September 28, 2019 17:26
What Jerusalem Post articles were the stars of 5779?

THE HEADQUARTERS of ‘The New York Times’ on 8th Avenue in the eponymous city.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The biggest stories of the year were, as expected, Israel’s entangled web of political intricacies, its scientific discoveries and its archeological finds. Readers of The Jerusalem Post went to the Moon and back with JPost.com in excitement and disappointment.

Find out which animal made readers around the world look toward Jerusalem. Based on data from the Post website, discover which stories our readers preferred over the past year.

The year of the election(s)

In Israel, 5779 was the year of the elections. With two elections in the span of five months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his top political rival, Blue and White head Benny Gantz and “kingmaker” Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman were among the names featured in our top-read stories.

On April 9, Netanyahu threatened the public: “I received a dramatic update that there is low turnout in Likud strongholds but that there is high turnout in left-wing strongholds. We have to save the Right. There are only a few more hours.”

His calls to action on September 17 were nearly the same, and readers paid attention.

Despite original assumptions, voter turnout in the second election was higher than the first: 69.72%, up almost 2% from April. Nonetheless, the results of the election were strikingly similar.

On April 9, as the first exit polls were released, a Post headline read, “Gantz beat Netanyahu with largest number of seats, coalition unclear.” The story quickly evolved to describe a stalemate at 35 seats each.

However, by early morning it was assumed that Netanyahu had actually won the election.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won Tuesday’s election,” political correspondent Gil Hoffman reported. “Although his Likud Party and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party each won 35 seats, Netanyahu is the one who will be able to form a governing coalition able to withstand a bribery indictment by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, according to the results after 98% of the votes have been counted.”

On September 17, the first headline after the exit polls declared, “Israel elections: Netanyahu and Gantz stalemate.” The headline stuck all night and into the next day as the Central Elections Committee slowly updated the final results.

However, the big difference after the second election versus the first was that the public understood there was only one kingmaker: Liberman.

“Avigdor Liberman’s high-risk election gambit appeared to have paid off on Tuesday night,” the Post’s Jeremy Sharon wrote from Liberman’s post-election party. “The Yisrael Beytenu leader vowed that no attempts to tempt him with ministerial positions or even a prime ministerial rotation agreement would persuade him to abandon his goal of a national unity government without the sectoral [ultra-Orthodox, far-Right and Arab] parties.”

At press time, President Reuven Rivlin was trying to form a national unity government but had not yet revealed whether Gantz or Netanyahu would get the first shot at making it.

SUPPORTERS OF current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trumpet his candidacy. ( Credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

A year plagued by antisemitism

Although the Post reported on hundreds of antisemitic incidents across the world, including in the United States, our readers appeared most upset by “New York Times internationally prints antisemitic cartoon of Trump, Netanyahu.”

The story, broken by opinion editor Seth J. Frantzman on April 28, first described the Times’ cartoon that pictured an apparently blind Trump wearing a yarmulke being led by a dog with a Star of David collar and the face of Netanyahu. The cartoon was part of the newspaper’s opinion section and appeared next to a column by Thomas Friedman about immigration, Frantzman explained.

Within 24 hours, the Post was able to report condemnations and even outrage by public officials and Jewish leaders. Yet our readers could not get enough. Perhaps this was for the reason that Frantzman described in a subsequent op-ed: “The Nazis also depicted us as animals. They also put Stars of David on us.”

He continued: “Antisemites have compared us to dogs, pigs and monkeys before. It used to be that it was on the far Right that Jews were depicted as controlling the world, like an octopus or a spider. But now we see how mainstream it has become to blame the Jews and Israel for the world’s problems.”

THE QUESTIONABLE cartoon in ‘The New York Times.’ (Credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)

Two days of rocket terror

In early May, more than 700 rockets rained down on Israel from Gaza, murdering four people and critically injuring several others, leading to threats by Hamas and Islamic Jihad of a full-on war with Israel.

“Defiant Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials said on Sunday that they don’t rule out the possibility that the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip could lead to an all-out war with Israel,” the Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh wrote on May 7.

He quoted Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Braim saying that the “resistance was on the threshold of a new phase in repelling the [Israeli] aggression that could lead to an open war.”

The remarks came after Israel retaliated for the rocket fire.

The May rocket attacks called into question the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome technology which, according to JTA, intercepted only 240 of the 690 rockets launched from Gaza.

The report explained that the number of Israeli civilians killed in the 48-hour conflict was only one fewer than during the two-month Operation Protective Edge battle of 2014 (since then, a fifth victim has died.) That summer, terrorists launched more than 4,500 projectiles, of which the IDF said Iron Dome batteries managed to stop 90%.

The latest escalation revealed what former National Security Council head and current Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies senior fellow Yaakov Amidror defined as a critical gap in the country’s protection system.

He told the Post that if a rocket is shot at a location less than a few kilometers away, “We don’t have enough time to intercept it.”
He also said that Iran was behind the escalation.

“Why did the Islamic Jihad do this?” Amidror asked. “The answer is again and again and again – Iran.”

Islamic Jihad, unlike Hamas, is a completely owned and operated Iranian subsidiary, Amidror said in an interview with diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon. “It was established by Iran, financed by Iran, and does what Iran wants it to do.”

Tehran’s interest, Amidror explained, is for Israel to embark on another major operation in Gaza, freeing up the Islamic Republic to do what it wants unhindered in Syria.

AN IRON Dome anti-missile system fires an interceptor missile as rockets are launched from Gaza toward Israel on August 9. (Credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Science and innovation still from the Start-Up Nation

Among the hallmarks of 5779 were the biomedical innovations developed in Israel.

In January, the Post was first to report on a small team of Israeli scientists who claimed they might have found the first complete cure for cancer.

Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi) reported that it had completed animal trials on what the company calls a disruptive and potentially game-changing anti-cancer drug based on SoAP technology, which belongs to the phage display group of technologies.

The announcement was disregarded and ridiculed by the larger medical community, but the developers stuck to it, claiming that there is a chance it will work – and that if it does, a patient could stop treatment after only a few weeks.

In April, a team of Israeli researchers revealed that it had “printed” the world’s first 3-D vascularized, engineered heart, made using a patient’s own cells and biological materials.

Until then, scientists had successfully printed only simple tissues without blood vessels.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. In Israel, it is the second-largest cause of death, after cancer. Heart transplantation is often the only treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure. The waiting list for patients needing transplants in the US can be as much as six months or more. In Israel and the US, many patients die while on the waiting list, hoping for a chance at survival.

“People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future,” said lead researcher Prof. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and the Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology.

A 3D printed, small-scaled human heart engineered from the patient’s own materials and cells. (Credit: (“3D PRINTING OF PERSONALIZED THICK AND PERFUSABLE CARDIAC PATCHES AND HEARTS”; NOOR ET AL.; ADVANCE)

In July, Israeli scientists demonstrated the ability to have mammals mate and produce only female babies. A similar system based on identical principles could produce only males.

The research for the study was led by Prof. Udi Qimron, Dr. Ido Yosef and Dr. Motti Gerlic, and conducted by Dr. Liat Edry-Botzer, Rea Globus, Inbar Shlomovitz and Prof. Ariel Munitz, all of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine. The research was published in EMBO Reports.

“We proved the concept in mouse models, but the concept could also be demonstrated in cattle, swine, goats, chickens and other animals,” Qimron said. He noted that humans are likewise mammals, and the concept could ultimately be applied to human children. “If a mad ruler decides he wants to engineer the people to have only male or female offspring – we have provided the proof of concept.”

Space exploration

In March, Israel launched its Beresheet spacecraft with the goal of landing on the Moon a month later.

THE ISRAELI spacecraft ‘Beresheet’ takes a selfie 37,600 km. from Earth. (Credit: SPACE IL/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Tens of thousands of readers looked to The Jerusalem Post to see the spacecraft’s first “selfie,” taken some 37,600 km. (20,000 miles) from Earth and showing the Southern Hemisphere and Australia in the background.

The Post reported that in the image, one could see a plaque that was installed at the front of the spacecraft featuring the Israeli flag and the message Am Yisrael chai (“Long live the people of Israel”).

“The selfie of the spacecraft is proof of the technological power of Israel,” said Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis. “Despite the small size of the spacecraft Beresheet, it brings us great joy. The spacecraft is proof of the technological strength and power of Israel, and its success passes on an educational message as well to the children of Israel: You need to dream big.”

On April 11, Israelis watched and waited for the anticipated landing. Unfortunately, it never happened.

As the spacecraft approached the moon, SpaceIL lost contact with Beresheet several times. The scientists continued to hope as the connection was restored, but just minutes before the spacecraft was supposed to touch down, contact was lost once again and Beresheet crashed on the moon.

Mount of tension

Finally, the Temple Mount was the target of much attention this year, as clashes between Jews and Muslims broke out on the holy Jerusalem hill more than once.

In February, clashes erupted over the closure to Muslim worshipers of the Golden Gate site, also known as the Gate of Mercy.
Khaled Abu Toameh reported that Jerusalem Police had detained five east Jerusalem Arabs who tried to enter the Golden Gate, which has been closed by a court order. In response, the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of “waging war on Islam.”

Riots again broke out in June, as Jewish worshipers flocked to the Temple Mount to pray on Jerusalem Day.

Arab worshipers threw stones, chairs and other objects at police as officers attempted to protect Jewish visitors and disperse the crowd.

The incident arose against the backdrop of Jerusalem Day falling in the middle of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

PALESTINIAN MEN pray on the Temple Mount as they mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on August 11. (Credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

Other popular stories

Abbas: Trump offered US peace plan based on confederation with Jordan
The US presented Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a peace deal based on a confederation with Jordan, the Israeli left-wing organization Peace Now reported.

The group publicized the possibility of a US-led confederation peace plan after it met with the PA leader in Ramallah. Jordan immediately rejected the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation and said the proposal was a non-starter.
– Tovah Lazaroff, September 2018

US Navy may stop docking in Haifa after Chinese take over port
The US Navy acknowledged that its longstanding operations in Haifa may change once a Chinese firm takes over the civilian port in 2021, prompting Israel’s national security cabinet to revisit the arrangement.

The Jerusalem Post, in an exclusive report, explained that Haifa, the nation’s largest port city, regularly hosts joint US-Israeli naval drills and visits from American vessels. But a 2015 agreement between Israel’s Transportation Ministry and Shanghai International Port Group – a company in which the Chinese government has a majority stake – has raised intelligence and security concerns that are only now prompting an inter-agency review.
– Michael Wilner, December 2018

Iran publicly hangs man on homosexuality charges
The Islamic Republic of Iran publicly hanged a 31-year-old Iranian man after he was found guilty of charges related to violations of Iran’s anti-gay laws, according to the state-controlled Iranian Students’ News Agency.
The unidentified man was hanged on January 10 in the southwestern city of Kazeroon based on criminal violations of “lavat-e be onf” – sexual intercourse between two men, as well as kidnapping charges, according to ISNA. Iran’s radical Sharia law system prescribes the death penalty for gay sex.
– Benjamin Weinthal, January 2019

PEOPLE STAGE a mock hanging as they protest outside the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin on February 4, 2013, where Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi was due to deliver a speech. (Credit: THOMAS PETER/REUTERS)

Brutal murder of 19-year-old girl shocks Jerusalem

Ori Ansbacher, from Tekoa in Gush Etzion, was murdered in Jerusalem.

The young woman, a volunteer in the Yeelim youth center at Ein Yael, which is located in the Emek Refaim Forest, was found dead in Ein Yael. She was 19 years old.
– Maariv, February 2019

Two Israeli criminals murdered in Mexico City
Infamous criminals Alon Azulay and Jony Ben were named by Mexican authorities as the victims of a murder in Mexico City.

The two were eating in a café in a Mexico City shopping center when a couple who had been sitting at an adjacent table approached the Israelis and shot them with a pistol, according to a report released by the Mexican authorities.
– Alon Hochman, Maayan Hoffman, July 2019

Foxes seen walking near the Western Wall, fulfilling biblical promise
As the Jewish world was counting the days until the Ninth of Av (Tisha Be’Av) – the date on which Jews mourn the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, the first by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in 70 CE – foxes were spotted walking near the Western Wall.

It is written in the Book of Lamentations (5:18), which is read on Tisha Be’Av, that Mount Zion where the Temples stood will be so desolate that “foxes will walk upon it.” The understanding, according to the Talmud in Tractate Makkot (24b), is that if the prophecies of destruction have been fulfilled, so will be the ones by the prophet Zechariah about the Temple being rebuilt.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, referred to photos of the foxes and commented, “One cannot refrain from crying at the site of the fulfillment of the prophecy of ‘Foxes will walk on it.’”
– Jerusalem Post Staff, August 2019

Related Content

October 19, 2019
Brexit day of reckoning: UK Prime Minister Johnson battles further delay


Cookie Settings