April 14, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Stigma Hampers Iraqi Efforts to Fight the Coronavirus - Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times)
    In Iraq and some other Middle Eastern countries, one of the biggest obstacles for public health officials is the stigma associated with the coronavirus and quarantine.
    It runs so deep that people avoid being tested, prevent family members who want tests from having them, and delay seeking medical help until they are catastrophically ill.
    "Some believe the virus means that God is displeased with them, or maybe it is a punishment for a sin so they don't want others to see that they are sick," said Dr. Emad Abdul Razzak, a consultant psychiatrist at Iraq's Health Ministry.

The IDF Battle Against Coronavirus in the Israeli Arab Sector - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Col. (res.) Saleem Wahaby, 63, is serving as the IDF Home Front Command's directives instructor for the Israeli Arab sector in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
    Saleem, a Druze officer who served in the IDF for 44 years, is the son of Fahim, one of the founders of the Israel Police.
    Saleem established the IDF liaison unit that maintains continuous contact between the Home Front Command and local authorities in the wake of the 2006 Lebanon War, after Hizbullah rockets fell on Israeli Arab villages.
    "I established the unit as part of the lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War, when we understood the need to strengthen ties and trust between the [Arab] sector and the Home Front Command," he said.
    "The importance of this relationship is huge, and it's significant in times of emergency. Our success is reflected in the cooperation of the sector."

Jordan River Baptismal Site Is Mine-Free after 53 Years - Melanie Lidman (Times of Israel)
    After a massive explosion that triggered more than 500 landmines in a controlled explosion last month, the Qasr al-Yahud site where Jesus is believed to have been baptized on the Jordan River is free of landmines for the first time in 53 years.
    Nearly all of the major sects of Christianity have monasteries, churches and chapels at the site, 10 km. east of Jericho.
    In 1968, after the Six-Day War, Israel made the site a closed military zone, fearing terrorists could use the churches as a staging ground for attacks. The Jordan River is only a few meters wide at that point and easily crossable on foot.
    The site is also holy to some Jews. Qasr al-Yahud translates as "The Castle of the Jews," and some believe it was the spot where the Jewish people crossed into Israel for the first time after leaving Egypt.
    It is also believed to be the site of Elijah the Prophet's ascent to heaven in a "chariot of fire" and the place where his disciple Elisha performed miracles.

We wish our readers a Happy Passover holiday!
Daily Alert will not appear on Wednesday, April 15

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 209 UK Jews Have Died Due to Coronavirus
    The number of coronavirus-related fatalities has risen to 209 among UK Jews, up 57 from the last announcement on April 7, according to data collated by the Board of Deputies of British Jews released on April 13. (Jewish News-UK)
        See also Jews Account for Over 10 Percent of Coronavirus Deaths in Morocco - Judy Maltz
    Israeli officials who monitor the Moroccan Jewish community reported that as of Monday, 13 members had died of the coronavirus, all in Casablanca. The death toll in the Jewish communities of France and Sweden has also been disproportionately high. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Shadow Campaign Offers Lessons for U.S. in Standoff with Iran, Report Says - Missy Ryan
    Israel's unacknowledged military campaign against Iranian targets in Syria could provide a model for the U.S. as it struggles to contain Tehran's network of armed proxies across the Middle East, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. The campaign Israel has conducted in Syria in recent years, consisting of more than 200 airstrikes on Iranian-affiliated targets, has limited Iran's military power without triggering a significant escalation.
        "This is a strategy that can push Iran back, achieve some American objectives and dramatically reduce the chance of an all-out war," said Ilan Goldenberg, one of the report's authors, who served as a Pentagon and State Department official during the Obama administration. Key to Israel's approach have been efforts to minimize Iranian casualties, part of an attempt to reduce pressure on Iranian leaders to respond with force. "What the Israelis have demonstrated is that the military tool does not need to be taken entirely off the table," the report states. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Coronavirus Death Toll Is 118, with 11,868 Confirmed Cases
    Israel's coronavirus death toll is 118, up by 8 from Monday morning, with 11,868 confirmed cases, up by 633, the Israeli Health Ministry said Tuesday morning. 181 patients are in serious condition, including 136 on ventilators. Experts have pointed to the relatively slow rise in the number of patients on ventilators as a source of encouragement. (Times of Israel)
  • Inside an Israeli Coronavirus Ward - Nir Hasson
    In the coronavirus wards at the Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, the dozens of workers all volunteered to be there. Ayala Van Dijk, who is head nurse in the urology department, said: "I felt that I couldn't stay home and keep quiet while a battle was taking place in the hospital, in a place where I have the knowhow and ability to contribute."
        Dorit Oriah Shurka, who had been a head nurse in the emergency room, said, "Everybody working here called and said that they want to work with the coronavirus. There's a feeling of a shared fight. My children say that there's a biological war and Mom is one of the soldiers."
        On Sunday, Hadassah Hospital finished printing large stickers with the faces of the doctors and nurses. The staff attach the stickers to the chests of their isolation suits, so that the patients can know what they look like behind the masks and tell them apart. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Two-State Solution and U.S. Interests - Michael S. Doran
    The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as traditionally envisioned, is unrealistic and the Trump administration is wise to adjust U.S. policy accordingly. For the two-state solution to become viable, Hamas must collapse, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank must craft a shared vision of the future, and then they must march in lockstep toward a compromise with Israel. The number of stars that must align for this vision to become reality is too great to count.
        For a quarter century, U.S. leaders have stubbornly insisted on treating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as if it were ripe for settlement. Between 1993 and 2017, three presidents and dozens of their senior aides invested thousands of hours in pursuit of a permanent peace agreement. No other diplomatic goal has received this level of sustained attention across administrations. The meager fruits of this work do not justify the massive investment.
        In the last 25 years in the Middle East, Washington has seen the rise of Iran, the disintegration of Arab states, the advent of jihadism, the reemergence of Russia as a spoiler, and the deterioration of U.S.-Turkish relations. More than ever before, Washington's interests lie in building Israeli power to shore up the battered U.S. regional security structure, not in tearing it down in the pursuit of a peace fantasy.
        The writer, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as Senior Director for the Near East and North Africa at the National Security Council and as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Labour Can Expel Antisemites - But that Won't Root Out Antisemitism in Our Culture - David Feldman
    Before anyone can effectively address the problem of antisemitism, they must rethink the way it operates in Britain today. Labour's friends and enemies say the party's problem is the number of antisemites in its ranks. But the more fundamental problem is one of antisemitism, not antisemites. The source of Labour's difficulty lies in our political culture.
        In Britain, the number of committed, ideological antisemites remains small: less than 5% of adults. However, a large minority, more than 30%, will readily agree with negative and stereotypical ideas about Jews. These ideas about Jews have accumulated over centuries and are embedded deeply within our culture.
        Antisemitism is not "virus" but a deep "reservoir" of stereotypes and narratives. A significant minority assent to antisemitic stereotypes and prejudices drawn from this reservoir.
        The writer is director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and a professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London. (Guardian-UK)

Assessing the Palestinian Response to the Coronavirus - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eitan Dangot (JNS)
  • In the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, the Palestinian Authority has adopted Israel's health policy, which is based on closure, isolation and the opening of designated recovery centers for coronavirus patients. It is also receiving test kits from Israel and the international community. The number of patients that the PA is reporting should be viewed with skepticism due to its general lack of transparency.
  • PA head Mahmoud Abbas is conducting backstage management of the crisis from his home. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has taken charge of internal responses, and in the process has strengthened his position in Fatah for the day after Abbas.
  • PA officials under Shtayyeh's leadership have been inciting against Israel, accusing it of having an interest to increase the disease among the Palestinian population - an obvious falsehood that ignores the ongoing coordination and requests for further assistance.
  • Until recently, Israel has allowed tens of thousands of Palestinian workers to remain in its territory, but under a now more stringent policy, it is gradually returning most of those workers. With 100,000-plus Palestinians dependent upon work in Israel for their income, the return of Palestinian workers to the West Bank ratchets up the social, economic and health pressures on the PA.
  • In Gaza, the Hamas leadership is fully aware of the potential for massive damage to its rule if the pandemic takes root. It has set up 22 isolation centers for treating patients and has received economic assistance from Qatar. For now, Hamas has significantly decreased its terror activities against Israel in order to focus on the health threat.

    The writer, former IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, served as the military secretary to three Israeli defense ministers.