April 7, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

UK Jewish Coronavirus Deaths Rise to 115 (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    115 Jewish people in Britain have died from coronavirus, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said Monday - up from 85 announced on Friday.
    See also The Jewish Community in Devastated Spain - Faygie Holt (JNS)
    Isaac Querub, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, where more than 13,000 have died from the coronavirus, said that among the 13 Jewish communities, some 80 people have the virus and 6 have passed away.

Israel Turning Radar into Coronavirus Symptom Detector - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems have developed cutting-edge coronavirus symptom detectors using radar and camera technology, enabling medical teams to screen patients from another room, thereby greatly enhancing their safety.
    The Defense Ministry announced that its National Emergency Team has developed prototypes to measure the vital signs of patients, including pulse, respiratory rate and temperature, and pick out patterns that indicate a likely coronavirus infection.
    Currently, medical teams have to examine patients directly through close contact and at longer intervals, putting them in danger of infection.

Israeli Scientist Creates Sniff Test for Coronavirus - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    Noam Sobel, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science's Department of Neurobiology, notes that coronavirus victims experience a sudden inability to smell and has built a website to help people keep tabs on their odor-assessing abilities.
    At smelltracker.org, users select five items they have in stock at home and are happy to smell daily. Choices include honey, peanut butter, vinegar, freshly chopped garlic, and toothpaste.
    They receive a reminder to sniff each item each day, and adjust on-screen sliders to rate its strength and pleasantness. If their sensitivity to an odor changes significantly, the site warns them.

Welcome to Israel's Coronavirus Hotels - Maya Margit (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    Ten hotels across Israel have been converted into housing for coronavirus carriers with mild symptoms, as well as for those in isolation after having returned from abroad. Additional hotels are being added each day.
    The goal of the hotel project, run by the IDF, is to ease the burden on hospitals as the number of Covid-19 cases rises.
    Before they can be released, each resident must test negative twice.

UK Labour Party Shadow Foreign Secretary Supported Arms Embargo Against Israel - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Lisa Nandy, the UK Labour Party's new shadow foreign secretary, is the former chair of Labour's Friends of Palestine group and has supported an arms embargo against Israel.
    She has also been outspoken against anti-Semitism in her party. "Anti-Semitism, let's be honest, is a particular sort of racism," Nandy said last month. "Unless it is addressed, it will poison everything that we do."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Supreme Leader Approves Tapping Sovereign Wealth Fund to Fight Coronavirus
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has approved the withdrawal of one billion euros from the country's sovereign wealth fund to help fight the coronavirus epidemic, President Rouhani's official website said on Monday. (Reuters)
  • Iranian Official Urges Probe into U.S. Role in Creation of Covid-19
    Brig.-Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali said the U.S. government may have been behind the creation of the coronavirus. "The U.S. is believed to have taken a deliberate measure (in creating coronavirus) with the highest probability," he noted. Jalali called for "a fact-finding committee...by the countries that are independent of the influence exerted by the other states, such as the U.S., in order to study the aspects of the subject."
        The Iranian general called for the establishment of an international monitoring committee to control the activities of the 25 American laboratories with biosafety level 3 and 4 across the world. He also proposed a global campaign to push for the closure of the biological research laboratories in various countries that are exempted from international monitoring. (Tasnim News-Iran)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Coronavirus Count Reaches 9,006, Death Toll Is 60
    As of Tuesday morning, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Israel was 9,006 and 60 people had died, the Israeli Health Ministry said. 153 people are in serious condition, including 113 patients on ventilators, while 181 are in moderate condition. Hospitals are treating 708 patients, while 6,484 people are fighting the virus at home. Another 819 are in specially designated hotels. (Ynet News)
        See also Spread of Coronavirus in Israel May Be Slowing
    Almost all of those who have died from Covid-19 in Israel have been elderly and suffered from pre-existing conditions, according to hospital officials. A top medical expert said Sunday that new cases had been doubling every 6 days until recently, and were now doubling only every 11 days. Experts are also pointing to the relatively slow rise in the number of patients on ventilators. (Times of Israel)
  • Chinese Donate Medical Supplies to Israel - Nathan Jeffay
    As a plane laden with medical aid from China touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday, it was revealed that much of the cargo had been donated by former tourists and academic exchange alumni who have fond memories of Israel. Additional flights coming to Israel with medical goods from China would also be carrying donations, alongside goods that Israel is buying.
        "There are so many Chinese people who want to help Israel," said Betty Xi, a visiting scholar at Peking University and a graduate of Israel's Bar-Ilan University. She raised $10,000 in 72 hours, mostly from people who have become academics after postdoctoral fellowships in Israel. "We have such good memories of being at Bar-Ilan in Israel and were so deeply influenced by the spirit of the university, so we really wanted to do something for the university," she said by telephone from Beijing. She recalled that Israeli help was received in China when the coronavirus crisis was at its height there.
        Yossi Ben Shitrit, strategic adviser to the Israeli consulate in Shanghai, said people are inundating the diplomatic mission with medical materials for shipping to Tel Aviv. "We got donations from several entities. There are very rich people in China who were willing to donate, people who love Israel. In China it's opposite to other places in the world, in that there isn't anti-Semitism but rather lots of admiration for Israel and Jews."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Unity in a Time of Crisis - Arthur Stark, William Daroff and Malcolm Hoenlein
    A crisis engulfed our community over the past month. Covid-19 strains resources, threatens lives and well-being, and strikes at the fabric of the Jewish community. The Jewish community is working together to meet these challenges and fill the void created by the enforced isolation. By sharing what we have, by responding to all who need our help, we are recognizing our obligation to do acts of lovingkindness that will bring relief from the current crisis.
        The members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations may differ when it comes to political leanings or religious affiliations, but we approach this challenging time more united by common purpose. We stand together in the face of this plague, as Jews have done for millennia, working together to repair a world ripped apart by disaster.
        Arthur Stark is president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, where William Daroff is CEO and Malcolm Hoenlein is executive vice chairman. (JNS)
  • Iran and Palestinians Are Wrong Candidates for Aid at Wrong Time - A.J. Caschetta
    Imagine if FDR had offered a multi-million-dollar aid package to Germany before the Nazi surrender in 1945. Or if Truman had air-dropped food, medicine, and cash on Japanese cities before Emperor Hirohito announced his country's surrender. But today, pundits and politicians are advocating sending aid to Iran, a sworn enemy of the U.S., to combat the coronavirus. They are also urging the release of aid for the Palestinians, whose leaders range from hostile (Fatah) to terrorist (Hamas). These proposals would aid and empower our enemies, and undermine rather than serve U.S. interests at a critical moment.
        While Israeli missile companies convert their production lines to make ventilators, Hamas' money is used to make more missiles. As Michael Milstein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center in Tel Aviv, put it, "Hamas is doing almost nothing for the people of Gaza....All the money needed today to confront the coronavirus is going towards rockets."
        Demands that the U.S. dial back its "maximum pressure" campaign on the Iranian regime ignore the fact that Iran is engaged in a disinformation campaign to convince the world that the coronavirus originated in the U.S. as a biological weapon. There should be no Marshall Plan for Iran as long as the present regime continues on its belligerent track. The writer is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology. (National Review)

Iran in Crisis: Corona, Sanctions, Uranium - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Dr. Michael Doran (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser:
  • Maximum pressure on Iran should be maintained because there is no other option and because it is working. It puts the regime in a very difficult position. It is losing a lot of money and if its propaganda campaign to blame the U.S. for its failures fails, it may not see a way out of the difficult position it is in.
  • Israel wants to see more pressure on Iran and is fully behind what the U.S. is doing right now. At the same time, Israel is trying very hard to prevent Iran from harming it, and is fighting the Iranian presence in Syria and the Iranian efforts to improve the capabilities of Hizbullah in Lebanon with precision-guided rockets.
  • The Iranians are very rapidly accumulating 4.5%-enriched uranium, not 3.67% as the JCPOA allowed up to 300 kilograms. They have everything working, both new centrifuges they have developed and the old centrifuges, including in the underground fuel enrichment plant in Fordow. I think they are about four to six months away from having enough fissile material for the first nuclear device if they choose to, and they are continuously shortening the time.
  • Everybody is worried, but no one is doing anything about it. This is very dangerous because if the Iranians feel cornered, they could try to make a dash for a bomb. This poses a great danger to the entire world. Even though their chances of success are small - the Americans have already sent two aircraft carriers to the Gulf in order to send a warning - left without any other options, the Iranians may consider it.
Dr. Michael Doran:
  • There's not a lot of appetite in the Trump administration to do anything to change the status quo at the moment because it calculates that time is on its side, that the more time goes on, the deeper these sanctions bite into the Iranians.
  • I follow the Iranian social media and see lots of postings by Iranians about warehouses full of antiseptic materials and protective equipment for hospitals that isn't getting to the hospitals. Collecting these stories, validating them, and making them better known would be a useful activity.
  • The Iranian regime has no compassion for its own people; it only cares about its base. Social media now coming out of Iran gives us lots of opportunities to explain to American college students what a rapacious regime looks like, how it behaves, and how it uses our own sense of compassion against us.
  • The Iranians got the fear of God put in them with the killing of Qasem Soleimani. It showed that the United States is capable of escalating and can inflict a very big price on them with a single drone or two from Qatar, not even launched from inside Iraq.

    Brig.-Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division and director general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, is director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center.

    Dr. Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served in the departments of State and Defense, and on the U.S. National Security Council.

    This report is from a special online experts' briefing hosted by the Jerusalem Center on March 26, 2020.