April 6, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Lawmaker Says Military Was Right to Shoot Down Ukrainian Airliner (Radio Farda)
    Hassan Norouzi, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament's Legal and Judicial Commission, told the Hamdeli daily on Sunday that "The Iranian military did well by downing the [Ukrainian] passenger plane" on Jan. 8, killing all 176 onboard.
    He claimed that "the plane was no longer under the control of the tower and appeared to have come under America's control."
    Norouzi maintained that the plane "was in Israel the week before the incident and appeared to have been tampered with and manipulated there."
    "Given the fact that other countries were controlling the plane," the Iranian military had no option but to shoot it down.

Hizbullah Official Who Tracked Israeli Collaborators Found Murdered - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Ali Muhammad Yunis belonged to Hizbullah's security apparatus. His job involved tracking those suspected of collaborating with Israel and foreign intelligence agencies.
    His body, found in his car Saturday, was covered in gunshot and stab wounds, Hizbullah announced Sunday.

El Al to Airlift Medical Equipment from China to Israel - Michal Raz-Chaimovich (Globes)
    El Al Israel Airlines will carry out 20 cargo flights from China to Israel over the next two weeks to bring in urgent medical equipment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
    In addition, over the weekend Israir Airlines sent its first-ever flight to China, via Kazakhstan, to bring back 2 million masks.
    Israeli carrier CAL Cargo Airlines is also bringing in protective equipment for medical teams from China.
    See also First Plane with Medical Equipment Arrives in Israel from China (Times of Israel)
    The first planeload of medical supplies from China, comprising 20 tons of equipment including masks and protective suits, has touched down in Israel, the Defense Ministry said.
    Another plane is on its way from China and a third will take off later in the day.

PA Complains to UN after Receiving Israeli Aid to Curb Coronavirus (Algemeiner)
    Israel's UN envoy Danny Danon responded on Thursday to a letter sent to the UN Security Council by the Palestinian Authority that accused Israel of hampering the PA's efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
    "Even during an international crisis, the Palestinians are unable to break free from their repetitive and baseless complaints," Danon said.
    "The contempt they have for the truth and how to address a crisis situation is unparalleled. With one hand, they receive Israeli aid to curb the coronavirus in PA territory, and with the other they continue to make false allegations against Israel at the United Nations."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • New British Labour Party Leader Apologizes for "Poison" of Anti-Jewish Hate - Lee Harpin
    New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to "tear out the poison" of anti-Semitism within his party "by its roots." Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions, also said that anti-Jewish racism had "been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief it's brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry." Sir Keir was elected on the first ballot with 56.2% of the vote.
        Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl said: "History will not look kindly on Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party, where anti-Jewish racism has been allowed to run amok and some at the highest levels of the party have appeared to collude to protect - rather than discipline - anti-Semites." She added that the Board would now work with the party to "repair its relationship with the Jewish community."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Jihadists Describe Coronavirus as "Allah's Soldier" - Steven Stalinsky
    Jihadists have been gloating over the health restrictions enacted in the U.S. "They used to mock women wearing the Islamic niqab - now they are doing the same," read a March 17 post on the jihadist al Tawhid Awalan channel on Telegram. Balagh, a monthly magazine published in Idlib, Syria, by clerics with al-Qaeda sympathies, calls the virus "one of Allah's soldiers": the "corona-soldier."
        On Hamas' al Aqsa TV, Imam Jamil al Mutawa boasted that Allah "sent just one soldier," the virus, "and it has hit all 50 states" in America, driven Israel into lockdown, but left Palestinians mostly unaffected.
        Syrian jihadist commander Asif Abdul Rahman suggested that Iran could use coronavirus patients as a biological weapon - like the Mongols reportedly did in the 14th century when they catapulted the bodies of plague victims into the city of Kaffa (now Feodosia, Ukraine). Iranian authorities could certainly persuade patients to die as martyrs. The writer is executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Coronavirus Count Reaches 8,611, Death Toll Is 51 - Itamar Eichner
    The Israeli Health Ministry said Monday that the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Israel is 8,611, with 51 deaths. 141 people are in serious condition, including 107 patients on ventilators. 191 people are in moderate condition. Hospitals are treating 763 patients, while 5,279 people are fighting the virus at home and 875 people are in specially designated hotels. (Ynet News)
  • Israel to Produce Reagents for Coronavirus Tests - Sagi Cohen
    Prof. Itamar Grotto, deputy director general at the Israeli Health Ministry, said Sunday that Israel would begin locally producing the reagents needed to conduct coronavirus tests in order to increase the number of tests it can administer. Facilities in South Korea and Germany that produce the reagents had stopped supplying them to Israel. "At the moment, the bottleneck is reagents. We're working to adapt local industries to produce them and we're in the final stage of trials. If everything goes well, we can begin production tomorrow [Monday]. We have to rely on ourselves."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • A Passover Unlike Any Other - Adam Kirsch
    How is this night different from all other nights? That question, which Jews ask every year as part of the Passover celebration, will get a new answer in 2020. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center poll, the Seder is the most widely practiced Jewish tradition in the U.S.: Only 23% of American Jews regularly attend a synagogue, but 70% go to a Seder.
        In the age of Covid-19, however, bringing together old and young people in a small space to share food is simply too dangerous. In Israel, the Health Ministry has urged Jews to limit their Seders to their nuclear family. This advice is in keeping with the traditional Jewish principle that the preservation of life overrides almost any other duty.
        Covid-19 also gives new concreteness to the section of the Seder dealing with the ten plagues. For most people alive today, the idea of a plague that strikes a whole nation was until recently hard to imagine.
        For the Jews of Europe, times of plague were doubly dangerous, since they were often blamed by their Christian neighbors. During the Black Death of 1348, hundreds of Jewish communities in Western Europe were attacked, despite the intervention of Pope Clement VI, who pointed out that Jews were dying from the plague just like everyone else. The writer is on the seminar faculty of Columbia University's Center for American Studies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iranian Militias near Israel Border May Join Assad's Army - Anchal Vohra
    So far there are no signs that Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Hizbullah are planning to leave southern Syrian areas bordering Israel, despite coming under attack by the Israeli military. One Western diplomat who regularly visits Syria told Foreign Policy that Iran had agreed to eventually hand the area to the Syrian Army - though only under one condition. "Iranian militias will not exactly leave: They will become a part of Assad's army holding key positions," he said. "And then no one can object to their presence as outsiders."  (Foreign Policy)

  • All the peoples of Europe are now finding their inner strength. Even the most convinced Europeanists have become more Italian, or French, or English, at this time when lives are under threat - and tomorrow, this won't be forgotten. The borderless utopia of the European Union has been called into question.
  • The overcoming of national customs in favor of European ones, the mutual loyalty, the EU notion of solidarity and moralistic claims - nothing is certain anymore. None of it held up when faced with a true challenge.
  • As the coronavirus pandemic spread, EU member states closed their borders one by one. They prohibited the export of goods deemed essential and withheld humanitarian aid. In the end, national interest won out.
  • The current crisis has revitalized the national idea, which draws its strength from one's own customs, traditions, mutual loyalty and natural solidarity, and cast into doubt an international unity that has turned out to be rhetorical, useless, bureaucratic, and more an impediment than anything else.
  • What a pity that the EU failed to understand the aspiration of nations to remain themselves and the strength that comes from being able to do this.

    The writer, a member of the Italian Parliament who served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
    See also Coronavirus Heralds the End of Globalization - Prof. Shmuel Trigano interviewed by Rona Tausinger (Israel Hayom)

Shmuel Trigano, a Jewish-French-Israeli sociologist and philosopher, said in an interview:
  • "The age of corona means the death of the European Empire. From the start of the 21st century, we have been faced with the appearance of a new empire: the EU, a new regime that cast doubt on the validity of a nation-state."
  • "Coronavirus...is the end of globalization. When it comes to government, we are seeing an anti-global phenomenon in which all the [EU] countries are reverting to nation-states, to borders, to police rule, to closures. The peoples are barricading themselves behind borders. Every country is keeping its resources to itself."
  • "We saw...that it is not possible to depend on a global body. Practically speaking, the national frameworks are the ones that are active. The collective identity of each people is strengthening. Corona means the return of nations and states, a return to the national structure."

    The writer, professor emeritus of sociology at Paris Nanterre University, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.