April 8, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli President Rivlin: Passover Reminds Us that the Jewish People Are All One Family (Jerusalem Post)
    President Reuven Rivlin addressed the State of Israel and Jewish communities around the world before the Passover holiday.
    "This year we will mark Seder night in difficult circumstances because of the 'corona plague'."
    "Suddenly, when we are faced with 'social distancing,' closures and isolation at home, we feel even more clearly the importance of the obligation to 'tell the story [of the exodus from Egypt] to your children,' of passing on the story from generation to generation."
    "Pesach reminds us that the Jewish people are all one family, with shared history, shared values and a shared destiny."
    See also Video: President Rivlin Reads the Hagada for Children - Pesach 2020 (YouTube)

Phone Tracking Identifies 1,500 Coronavirus Cases - Tova Tzimuki (Ynet News)
    Tracking the movements of coronavirus patients through their cell phones has helped to identify more than 1,500 new cases of the virus, according to the Israel Security Agency.
    For the past two weeks, the Israeli Health Ministry has been routinely passing names of confirmed coronavirus patients to the ISA, which then tracked their phones, analyzing who was in their proximity in order to alert them to immediately enter quarantine.

Thermal Cameras Deployed at Tel Aviv Hospital - Omer Kabir (Calcalist)
    Israel's AnyVision Interactive Technologies will deploy thermal cameras at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
    The cameras can measure body temperature from a distance and are capable of determining whether a high temperature is caused by disease.
    "The system will be able to identify potential coronavirus carriers at the entrance and before they arrive at locations where they might infect a large number of people," said the company's chief operating officer Alex Zilberman.
    The commonly used thermometer guns cannot differentiate between the different causes that could bring the temperature up. Thus, a person arriving at his destination after a bike ride might be mistaken to be ill.
    See also Israel Tests Radar to Examine Coronavirus Patients Remotely - Udi Etzion (Ynet News)

Coronavirus in Turkey: Government Targets Doctors - Sezen Sahin (Gatestone Institute)
    Turkey's coronavirus death toll climbed to 649, Turkey's health minister announced on April 6.
    However, medical experts in Turkey who have called on people to take more precautions or who have criticized the government for mishandling the virus crisis have been silenced by authorities.
    Two physicians have been made to apologize after giving information about the threat of the coronavirus, and two others have been summoned to appear at police headquarters for statements they made to the media.
    Yet, according to a report by Oxford University, the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey is growing at a faster pace than infections did during the same phase in other countries.

We wish our readers a Happy Passover holiday!
Daily Alert will not appear on Thursday, April 9

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. to Block Iran's Request to IMF for $5 Billion Loan - Ian Talley
    The U.S. plans to block Iran's requested $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund for funding Tehran says it needs to fight its coronavirus crisis. Senior U.S. officials said Iran's government has billion-dollar accounts still at its disposal. If allowed to tap IMF financing, Tehran would then be able to divert those or other funds to finance militants in the Middle East.
        Iranian "officials have a long history of diverting funds allocated for humanitarian goods into their own pockets and to their terrorist proxies," said one administration official. The U.S. is also opposed to Tehran tapping the $5 billion in reserves held in its account at the IMF due to the likelihood the funds would be diverted. The U.S. government is required by law to vote against IMF aid to countries designated as state sponsors of terror, as Iran is. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Deploys Missiles Covering the Strait of Hormuz - H.I. Sutton
    Evidence suggests that Iran has deployed an array of anti-ship missiles and large rockets on the eastern end of Qeshm Island overlooking the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil route patrolled by the U.S. Navy and its allies. Multiple amateur videos and photos of the weapons began surfacing on social media on April 4. Weapons systems include Noor anti-ship missiles, and Fajr-3 and Fajir-5 rockets. The Fajr-5 can hit targets 45 miles away across the whole Strait. The anti-ship missiles are equivalent to the U.S. Navy's Harpoon. (Forbes)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Coronavirus Count Reaches 9,404, Death Toll Is 71
    As of Wednesday morning, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Israel was 9,404 and 71 people had died, the Israeli Health Ministry said. 147 people are in serious condition, including 122 patients on ventilators, while 199 are in moderate condition. Hospitals are treating 740 patients, while 5,985 people are fighting the virus at home. Another 859 are in specially designated hotels. 801 have made a full recovery. (Ynet News)
  • Man Arrested in Israel for Spying for Iran - Anna Ahronheim
    An Israeli citizen, age 50, was arrested on March 16 for having links with Iranian intelligence agencies and providing intelligence on strategic sites in Israel, the Israel Security Agency announced on Tuesday. At the time of his arrest, authorities seized encryption devices as well as a disk drive that he tried to destroy during his arrest. The man held meetings with Iranian intelligence officers several times while abroad, during which he received funds, training, and secret encryption tools.
        "This investigation demonstrates that once again Iran and its proxies are working to recruit and exploit Israeli civilians to work for Iran," the ISA said. (Jerusalem Post-Ynet News)
  • IDF Military Intelligence Switches Focus to Coronavirus - Anna Ahronheim
    Troops in the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate have refocused their research to the deadly coronavirus. Col. N, commander of the Military Intelligence Technology Department, said 300 officers and troops from the research division have been working around the clock to gather all available data on the disease in order to help the government, Health Ministry and the IDF Home Front Command make critical decisions. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Calls to Reduce Pressure on Iran's Regime Are Reckless and Misguided - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein
    Emergency aid to the Iranian people should not weaken the U.S.-led "maximum pressure" campaign, the main line of defense against resurgent Iranian adventurism and malign activity. The malice and incompetence of the Islamic Republic has killed thousands of its citizens over the past year. In November 2019, 1,500 Iranians were murdered in the streets by the regime during protests.
        If the regime were desperate for an end to "maximum pressure," it could agree to the standard of non-proliferation adopted by the UAE, which allows its nuclear program to provide more energy than the Iranian program does now while minimizing the risk it will be used toward more insidious ends. Instead, Iran continues to creep toward the nuclear threshold in defiance of its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.
        The belief that an "offer to send experts to help with technical assistance" would demonstrate "American generosity" and result in the release of U.S. citizens held hostage by Iran demonstrates a painful lack of awareness of the ideological anti-Americanism that defines the regime. Khamenei's worldview would lead him to suspect any U.S. offer is part of an American conspiracy.
        Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former Chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, is executive director of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, where Ari Heistein is a research fellow and chief of staff. (Times of Israel)
  • Lebanon Suffocates under the Coronavirus - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    The Covid-19 pandemic has destabilized Lebanon's fragile body-politic and confirmed that Hizbullah is the real power-broker. Hizbullah has overruled regulations forbidding people coming from Iran to land in Lebanon, insisted that the government allow the return of 20,000 Shiite Lebanese from Africa, and forced the government to stop short of declaring a state of emergency, which would have put the army in charge of the country and would have put Hizbullah under army control. The pandemic outbreak has been of great assistance to Hizbullah since it has ended public anti-government protests.
        Certain very powerful people, with the active complicity of some banks, have smuggled more than $6 billion out of the country in less than three months, defying emergency laws forbidding the withdrawal of more than $1,000 per week. The writer is a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • This Is Not a Passover for Despair - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Nothing, not even the 9/11 attacks, brought our world to an extended collective halt the way the effort to contain the coronavirus has done. Nor has anything prepared us for the way Covid-19 has taken such a toll. The list of those who have succumbed to it is growing. Among Jewish victims are a disproportionate number of persons who survived the Holocaust, or who have long served their communities as rabbis and scholars.
        Throughout thousands of years of history, Jews have celebrated Passover under far worse conditions. Today we live in a uniquely wonderful time in which liberation is not a dream or a metaphor, but a reality. When we conclude our seders by singing "Next year in Jerusalem," it's not a fantasy (assuming, as we must, that the world has gone back to normal). Our current situation of sovereignty and unprecedented strength in our historic homeland is a scenario that most Jews would have regarded as science fiction only a couple of generations ago. (JNS)

  • Throughout history, there have always been times when Jews had to celebrate Passover alone and in unimaginably dire conditions. There are unbearably moving accounts of it being celebrated by the inmates of Nazi extermination camps during World War II.
  • What was so astonishing was the iron determination of those Jewish inmates to celebrate the deliverance of the Jewish people from a terrible evil while themselves being subjected to another, even more terrible evil.
  • By observing Passover in whatever way they could, those inmates affirmed what the Nazis sought to eradicate - the indelible sense of their own identity as Jews and their utterly unbreakable connection to the Jewish people.
  • The strength of that connection has ensured the survival of the Jewish people despite their unique history of persecution and oppression.
  • As former British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has observed, Jewish identity is based on collective memory; and that means it survives as the result of the story the people tell themselves about who they are, how they should live and their bond with those who came before them. If there is no such story to be told, a nation and its culture cannot survive.
  • A strongly internalized and indelible sense of identity is the unbreachable defense against tyranny, slavery or imprisonment. It's inside your head and your heart, and nothing and nobody can take that away from you.

    The writer is a columnist for The Times of London.

        See also Why the Jewish Story Matters to Us - Yossi Klein Halevi
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. (Times of Israel)