April 17, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Man Who Escaped Strike on Car in Syria Named as Slain Hizbullah Leader's Son - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    A passenger in a car targeted in a Wednesday airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel was Mustafa Mughniyeh, the son of slain senior Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in a 2008 car bombing, Al-Arabiya reported Thursday. Mustafa survived the attack.
    Mustafa Mughniyeh has been identified as a senior Hizbullah commander playing an active role in the terror group's efforts to establish a permanent military presence along the Syrian Golan Heights.
    An agreement with Russia was supposed to push Iranian and Tehran-backed militias, including Hizbullah, dozens of kilometers away from the border.

Israeli-Russian Philanthropist Donates 3 Million Surgical Masks to Israel - Aaron Reich (Jerusalem Post)
    3 million surgical masks for Magen David Adom (MDA) and other essential institutions arrived in Israel on Thursday from China, donated by Israeli-Russian tech investor and philanthropist Yuri Milner and his wife Julia.
    Now based in Silicon Valley, Milner made a fortune as an early investor in many giants of the tech industry.
    Israel's Consul-General in San Francisco Shlomi Kofman said, "It is moving to see Israelis across the ocean supporting their country during this difficult period."

Ford Taps Israeli Military Intelligence Colonel to Lead Big Data - Keith Naughton (Bloomberg)
    Ford Motor Co. has hired IDF Col. (ret.) Gil Gur Arie, 44, to become chief of Ford's global data insight and analytics on May 1.
    Ford equipped all new vehicles with cellular connectivity last year and has said it will outfit new models with high-speed 4G LTE modems this year.
    The connections provide a portal into the vehicle for drivers to receive software updates and marketing information, while giving automakers a huge cache of data on how its vehicles are operating.
    Analyzing that data smartly gives carmakers an edge in deciphering what drivers desire and will pay for in their cars.

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Israel Launches "Contactless" Roadside Covid-19 Testing Booths with Zero Contact between Patient and Medic - Jake Wallis Simons (Daily Mail-UK)
    Israel has launched a network of "contactless" roadside Covid-19 testing booths.
    The booths provide an entirely sealed, sterile environment for the medic, and can be quickly disinfected between patients.
    The medic carries out tests using two rubber gloves attached to the wall with airtight seals.
    Results are processed in a matter of hours and reported directly via the patient's electronic health record.
    The booths are easy and fast to manufacture, and Israel's health services planned to make tens of units.

Covid-19 Patients in Israeli Quarantine Hotels Find Solace, Unity - Keren Setton (Xinhua-China)
    The IDF is operating 12 "Corona hotels": eight host mild Covid-19 patients, and another four host civilians who need to be quarantined.
    The hotels allow needed care without taking up precious hospital beds.
    "This is the only place in the country where there are so many people, without masks and free because everyone here is sick and we are not afraid of getting sick anymore," said Eden Emmanuelle Dori, 21, who is staying at a quarantine hotel in Jerusalem.
    Eden was on a trip to South America when she decided to return to Israel. She then tested positive and was taken to the hotel.
    She is asymptomatic and has self-appointed herself to be in charge of entertainment in the hotel, where she has conducted Zumba lessons and singing and dancing shows for her fellow guests.
    The hotel is currently hosting 150 patients, as Arabs, Jews and Christians are staying under the same roof.
    "There is not a drop of racism, hate or negativity. Everyone is together in this situation. Everyone talks to each other," said Noam Shuster-Eliassi, 33.

New Canal to Allow Water to Flow from Kinneret to Jordan River - Tzvi Joffre (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Water Authority decided on Thursday to open a canal to flow water from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to the Jordan River instead of opening the Degania Dam.
    The canal has already been dug and will open next week, according to Channel 12.
    Due to heavy winter rains, the Kinneret has reached just 16 cm. below the level at which it would begin overflowing its banks.
    Using the canal will avoid negatively affecting pumping stations in the area and the financial costs required to open the dam.

Israel's Elbit Wins Latin American Drone Upgrade Deal (Israel Hayom)
    Elbit Systems announced Sunday that it was awarded two contracts valued at a total of $20 million from Latin American customers to integrate satellite communication systems and automatic takeoff and landing into the Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft systems that the customers are already operating.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Gives $5 Million to Palestinians to Help Fight Pandemic
    The U.S. is giving $5 million "for Palestinian hospitals and households to meet immediate, life-saving needs in combating Covid-19," U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman announced on Thursday. "The USA, as the world's top humanitarian aid donor, is committed to assisting the Palestinian people," he added. (Reuters-New York Times)
        See also Coronavirus Grant to Palestinians Not a Policy Change on Aid Cuts, U.S. Officials Say - Amir Tibon
    The U.S. decision to send $5 million to Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank to help them fight the coronavirus does not represent a change of policy regarding aid to the Palestinians, but is part of a larger decision to fight the spread of the pandemic across the Middle East, according to sources within the administration. The State Department is also providing $25 million to Iraq for the same purpose, as well as $13 million to Lebanon, $6 million to Libya, $2 million to Morocco, and $8 million to Jordan. $18 million will be provided to international organizations on the ground in Syria. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Coronavirus Death Toll Is 148, with 12,855 Confirmed Cases - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    Israel's coronavirus death toll is 148, with 12,855 confirmed cases, the Israeli Health Ministry said Friday morning. 182 patients are in serious condition, including 129 patients on ventilator support. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rise in Coronavirus Cases Levels Off in Israel
    As of Thursday evening, new coronavirus cases in Israel have remained steady at 300-450 per 24-hour period, and serious cases and those on ventilators have not risen significantly for at least a week, according to Health Ministry figures. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Loans PA Money to Help with Covid-19 Crisis - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel loaned money to the Palestinian Authority to help avert a Covid-19 economic and humanitarian crisis. The Israel Finance Ministry told the Jerusalem Post that in light of the coronavirus crisis, Israel is now providing the PA with a loan. In addition, thousands of Covid-19 test kits and protective equipment were transferred to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the Finance Ministry said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • PA and Hamas "Coronawash" Their Own Corruption - Sander Gerber
    Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority's official spokesperson claimed Israel is "striving for the epidemic's spread in Palestine." As usual, Palestinian leaders intend to blame it all on the Jews. Israel's enemies never miss an opportunity to criticize the Jewish state, even if it means using a global public health emergency to "coronawash" the failures of Palestinian leadership.
        The Palestinians have received more development and humanitarian assistance over the last 30 years than any other group in history. Yet they completely lack the organization and infrastructure needed to combat this pandemic. The PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza have both squandered billions of dollars of aid that was meant to build a public health system, spending the money instead on corruption, incitement, and terrorism.
        Shortages of medical supplies are not the result of any action or inaction taken by Israel. Medical supplies pass through Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt every day, while the West Bank has virtually no restrictions on medical imports from Israel or Jordan.
        The real story is that in the West Bank, the PA steals foreign aid money for its own enrichment. In Gaza, Hamas uses it to build rockets and terror tunnels. Both groups steal the people's money, rather than make investments in healthcare, and the Palestinian people pay the price. The writer is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Times of Israel)
  • The Covid-19 Crisis, the World Health Organization, and China's Strategy
    The performance of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the present corona crisis, and specifically that of its director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, constitute perhaps the major factor in the global administration and regulation of the international struggle to contain the coronavirus, to reduce the amount of victims, and to generate, encourage and coordinate efforts to find the medical response to the challenge.
        Very serious allegations are appearing in the international community and through international media regarding Tedros' alleged collusion with China's efforts to conceal the seriousness of the corona outbreak and to delay declaring the outbreak a pandemic, which may have resulted in immense damage in terms of human casualties. Only on March 11, 2020, did the WHO declare it a pandemic. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Why China's Revised Coronavirus Death Toll Matters - Seth J. Frantzman
    China revised its official death toll for coronavirus on Friday, adding 1,290 to the number of dead. It's important because numerous models have relied on China's numbers in order to plan their own lockdowns and mitigation efforts.
        No other country in the world has been able to produce such a rapid decline in new cases as China reported. We now know that those who raised the alarm early were right. Those who presented an optimistic curve that would flatten and then decline in two weeks, as the WHO presented in late February, were mistaken. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Is Iran Not Changing Course? - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
    Iran is still reeling from the U.S. killing of Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as well as the erosion of public confidence following Tehran's initial attempt to conceal its responsibility for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane. Iran's leaders must now navigate the worsening pandemic, a weakening economy, lack of public confidence and the loss of a linchpin in the Islamic Republic's foreign operations. Yet until there is a real alternative to the reigning power, the bitter masses will prefer relative stability to anarchy
        In the meantime, it doesn't seem as though Iran is changing its plans in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Yemen. It will continue igniting tension in these countries, even if the flame has slightly dimmed since Soleimani's killing. The attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq made clear that the Iranians are continuing to push their agenda, though less vigorously and perhaps less ably. The writer was the national security adviser to the prime minister of Israel and head of the National Security Council. (JNS-Israel Hayom)
  • ISIS Is Still Alive - Jonathan Spyer
    Across a broad swath of Iraq and Syria, ISIS retains networks of support, and lines of communication and supply. Some 20,000-30,000 members remain active in this area, with no shortage of either money or weaponry. Beneath the nominal authority of the Assad regime, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council and the government of Iraq, the structures and networks of ISIS are alive.
        With all three administrations preoccupied with the pandemic, Islamic State is raising its head, with a sharp uptick in ISIS activity over the last two weeks across a broad but contiguous majority-Sunni Arab area. The ongoing, slow-burning ISIS insurgency is proof that the "victories" in the wars in Syria and Iraq have resolved little. Both Baghdad and Damascus are dominated by non-Sunni ruling authorities with little interest in the large Sunni Arab populations living under their rule. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Why There Is No Credible Alternative to the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism - Peter Wertheim
    The internationally recognized Working Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) emphatically affirms that criticisms of Israel and antisemitism are not mutually exclusive. The IHRA is made up of 33 democratic countries, including Australia.
        The IHRA definition says that when criticism of Israel: is couched in terms which employ or appeal to negative stereotypes of Jewish people generally; or denies the Jewish people their right to self-determination;   or applies double standards by requiring of Israel standards of behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; or holds Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel; then the line has been crossed. It's antisemitism.
        So, when law-abiding Australian Jews who support Israel are accused of being more loyal to Israel than Australia, it's antisemitism. When Jews are said to have inordinate control over the media, economy, and government as a means of supporting Israel, it's antisemitism.
        Claiming that the State of Israel is a racist endeavor - smearing Israel as an "apartheid state" - is a way of denying the legitimacy of a Jewish state and thus denying Jewish people their right to national self-determination. The writer is co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (ABC-Australia)

  • Weekend Features

  • This Year in a Covid-19 Ward in Jerusalem - Rachel Gemara
    I am a nurse at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, taking care of coronavirus patients. I spent my Passover Seder this year in the operations room looking on as the corona patients inside the unit had their very own unique Seder. That afternoon, a nurse went in to set up a beautiful table for the patients that are well enough to sit. We also arranged portable oxygen tanks for the patients that need constant oxygen supply.
        The rabbi leading the Seder is a new patient - he arrived the day before. I'm in awe as I watch him give religious commentaries and excitedly engage the other patients throughout the Seder. Even under unfortunate circumstances he has turned this experience into a positive one for everyone there.
        It's amazing to watch them help each other out, bringing the elderly patients in with wheelchairs. By the end of the Seder, they get up to form a circle and dance and sing: Next year in Jerusalem. Many with tears in their eyes, they hug each other and shake hands. The brotherhood is so strong I can feel it just by watching the screen. (Jewish News-UK)
        See also On the Frontlines of Israel's Coronavirus Fight - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
  • In Israeli War on Coronavirus, Arab Doctors Rush to the Front - Joshua Mitnick
    Dr. Yasmin Diab shuttles daily between her home in the Israeli Arab village of Tamra and 24-hour shifts at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, one of thousands of Arab health care professionals putting themselves on the line in Israel's battle against Covid-19. "This is the first time that Israel is conducting a war and [that] the Arab citizens have been recruited," says Eran Singer, Arab affairs reporter for Israel's public broadcasting company, alluding to the fact that most Arab citizens aren't obliged to serve in the army.
        Over the past two decades, as rising numbers of Arab youth have pursued higher education, many have chosen to become health professionals. Arabs, who comprise 20% of Israel's population, make up 17% of its doctors, 24% of nurses, and 48% of pharmacists.
        Dr. Diab estimates that 2/3 of the doctors on the Rambam coronavirus ward are Arab. As for her Jewish patients, she says, "I always get smiles from them. They aren't insulted or surprised to have an Arab opposite them. I've never felt anyone treat me differently because I'm an Arab."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Lessons from a Jerusalem Pogrom - Sean Durns
    On April 4, 1920, the Nebi Musa riots in Jerusalem, named for the Muslim festival memorializing the birth of Moses, left five Jews dead, 211 injured, and at least two women raped. As Bruce Hoffman documented in his 2015 book Anonymous Soldiers: "A large Arab crowd had gathered just outside Jaffa Gate. Egged on by tendentious speakers from the nearby Arab Club, the crowd began to chant the rhyming Arabic couplet: 'Palestine is our land, the Jews are our dogs!'"
        When trying to make sense of Arab violence in the Middle East, Western analysts tend to fall back on predictable cliches: riots result from resentment, oppression, poverty, or perhaps "ancient hatreds"; where the riots involve Palestinians, they are also the result of frustrated national aspirations.
        In the case of the Nebi Musa riots, none of these explanations fit. To the extent that national aspirations were involved, they had nothing to do with Palestinian statehood, and everything to do with the incorporation of Palestinian Arabs into Greater Syria. The riots were an attempt to influence Arab opinion by showing support for Syrian rule of the territory.
        Moreover, the British rewarded Haj Amin al-Husseini, who addressed the crowd before the riots, by creating the position of grand mufti of Jerusalem for him. He concluded that the risks of instigating pogroms were low, and resorted to this tactic in 1929 and then again from 1936 to 1939. The writer is a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA). (Mosaic)
  • The British Doctor Who Fought Typhus and Starvation at Bergen-Belsen - Matt Lebovic
    Within days of becoming the first Allied Medical Officer to enter the German "horror camp" of Bergen-Belsen, Brigadier H.L. Glyn Hughes set about creating the largest hospital in Europe. In the course of fighting typhus and starvation at Bergen-Belsen, the British officer began using an unusual set of parameters in making his plans: death rates, alongside numbers of mass graves and typhus-infected barracks. In her new book, All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, author Bernice Lerner juxtaposes the feats orchestrated by Hughes with the plight of her own mother, one of the inmates liberated by the officer.
        When Hughes arrived with the British army, he was forced to make immediate decisions about triage. In addition to the corpses stacked everywhere, there were 60,000 survivors who needed urgent medical attention. "His highly focused plan involved placing inmates into one of three categories," wrote Lerner. "Those likely to survive, those likely to die, and those for whom immediate care would mean the difference between life and death." Assisted by army staff and 97 British medical students, Hughes coped with hundreds of daily fatalities well past the camp's April 15 liberation.
        The army took control of a hospital near the camp and emptied its German patients to make room for camp victims. Hughes also authorized "tours" of Bergen-Belsen for German leaders from the region, hundreds of whom were forced to witness what had been done in their name.
        "Belsen was unique in its vile treatment of human beings," said Hughes after the war. "Nothing like it had happened before in the history of mankind. The victims of this infamous behavior have been reduced to a condition of subhuman existence, and there we were, a mere handful of war-weary men trying to save those who could still be saved and to allay the sea of suffering and the depths of agony."  (Times of Israel)

  • There is a wide discrepancy between how Jordan openly conducts itself in regards to Israel - using critical, sometimes inciting, rhetoric aimed at pacifying its Palestinian majority - and how the kingdom acts behind the scenes. Jordan enjoys economic, military, and intelligence cooperation with Israel that is often critical to its interests.
  • Jordan also holds special status on the Temple Mount, and has in effect become Israel's silent partner in managing affairs there. The Al-Aqsa mosque holds a status of almost existential importance for Jordan, given its place in the narrative and consciousness of the Hashemite dynasty and many of the kingdom's residents. Jordan will think twice before putting that at risk.
  • Israel's relations with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have served Jordan well over the years, given its dependence on foreign aid. In 2018, the U.S. signed a deal to provide Jordan with $6.5 billion in military and economic aid over five years.
  • Jordan has over the years come to accept Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem; the construction of Jewish neighborhoods there; the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem; and U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements. While these developments might not be to its liking, Jordan will also survive the annexation of the Jordan Valley and Israel's settlements in Judea and Samaria.
  • The last thing Jordan wants is to find itself shoring up a complicated border with a Palestinian state in the West Bank that would pose a threat to the sense of belonging of the kingdom's Palestinian population as well as a challenge to its government. The Jordanians prefer that the IDF remain a buffer between them and the Palestinians in the West Bank.

    The writer has documented Jerusalem for Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom for over thirty years.
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