April 24, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Sheba Medical Center and America's NIH Join Forces on Covid-19 Research - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Sheba Medical Center and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will join forces to undertake applied scientific and clinical research to find treatments to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
    Sheba will provide the NIH Vaccine Research Center with blood samples, plasma and the Covid-19 virus from infected patients in Israel.
    Researchers will also share relevant information gleaned from a series of clinical trials the hospital is currently conducting, Sheba said Thursday.

Patterns of Military Activity in the Battle Against the Coronavirus - Stuart Cohen and Meir Elran (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    The commitment to serve the Israeli public is a cornerstone of the IDF's identity and image as a "people's army" that functions for the sake of the nation.
    Ever since its establishment, the IDF has indeed acted within civilian domains.
    As such, even under conditions of a crisis that does not fall into a conventional national-security category, the IDF will deploy its considerable assets and varied capabilities at the forefront of the effort.
    Stuart Cohen is professor (emeritus) of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, specializing in military-societal relations.
    Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Meir Elran, a former deputy director of Military Intelligence, is a senior research fellow at INSS.

The IDF Coronavirus Testing Lab - Hanan Greenwood (Israel Hayom)
    In a matter of four days, the IDF's specialized lab for identifying fallen soldiers through DNA testing, which is subordinate to the Military Rabbinate, was repurposed to test coronavirus samples.
    The lab operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, testing hundreds of samples daily, manned by soldiers in both the standing army and the reserves.

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The Eichmann Files - Tal Ariel Amir (Israel Hayom)
    Adolf Eichmann, who headed the Gestapo Department for Jewish Affairs, "displayed indefatigable energy, verging on overeagerness towards advancing the Final Solution."
    "[He] acted out of an inner identification with the orders that he was given and out of a fierce will to achieve the criminal objective," the Israeli judges wrote in their verdict and sentencing of Eichmann in December 1961.
    1,506 documents were filed by the court as "smoking guns" against Eichmann.
    They show how he insisted on reaching every single Jew, how he fumed that there were too few Jews on the death trains, and how he personally ensured that children were also sent to Auschwitz.
    Chief Inspector Dr. Yossi Hemi, a historian and the deputy head of the Israel Police Heritage Museum, has taken all the evidence materials and turned them into a book, titled Bureau 06: The Interrogation of Adolf Eichmann by Israel Police.

Israeli Farmers Deploy Pollinating Drones after Covid-19 Labor Shortage - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Date plantation growers in the Jordan Valley and Arava have turned to using drones for aerial pollination to overcome labor shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
    Aerial pollination has become increasingly important due to the declining bee population, as well as recent flooding in the Jordan Valley, which has prevented ground pollination in many areas.
    Israeli unmanned system operator Blue White Robotics uses multiple drones flying simultaneously, equipped with innovative pods developed by U.S.-based drone pollinator Dropcopter to dispense pollen.
    The solution replaces the inefficient technique of using fans attached to tractors.

Israeli TV Series Is Massive Hit in Arab World - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    The third season of the Israeli television series "Fauda," which depicts the activities of an Israeli undercover anti-terror squad, is the most-watched Netflix program in Lebanon, sixth in Jordan and third in the UAE.
    Co-creator Avi Issacharoff noted that a large amount of the show's dialogue is in Arabic.

Fitch Affirms Israel's Credit Rating - Amiram Barkat (Globes)
    International credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed Israel's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating at "A+" with a Stable Outlook.
    Fitch expects the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic to cause real GDP to contract in Israel in 2020, but the agency projects 5% growth in GDP in 2021, and around 3% annual growth thereafter.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • The Mossad's Role in Fighting Coronavirus in Israel - Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv
    In recent weeks, the Mossad has let the world's media run wild with exaggerated tales of Jewish 007s craftily smuggling goods to their country's hospitals. The truth is far simpler. The Mossad's main role is managing a national control center. The decision-makers, however, are dozens of doctors, experts and officials from the ministries of health, finance and defense, who coordinate the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. They have actually done quite well, as the death toll in Israel is lower than was feared.
        One key to success is a tracking system far more intrusive than anything any Western government would feel it can do. The Israel Security Agency was ordered to send a text message to any Israeli who came within a few yards of a known coronavirus sufferer. The capability to know the location of every mobile phone in the country is one that Israeli intelligence wields to locate terrorists and their accomplices.
        As for procuring equipment, Israel has signed contracts to import 14,000 ventilators, tons of oxygen, and tens of millions of masks, gloves, goggles and gowns for health workers. The purchases were from commercial suppliers in China and Europe. None of it was stolen. (Middle East Eye-UK)
  • Mossad Director: Iran Is Hiding the Real Coronavirus Death Toll - Barak Ravid
    The director of Israel's foreign intelligence agency, Mossad, said in a briefing to health care officials on Thursday that Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria are intentionally underreporting cases and deaths from the coronavirus. "There [has] been widespread infection and they are lying about it. The numbers the Iranians are reporting about are not true. The numbers of infected and dead I know about are much higher."  (Axios)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Rebuffs EU over Criticism of New Government - Raphael Ahren
    The Israel Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed the European Union's foreign minister over his statement on the agreement to form a new Israeli government, in which he reiterated the EU's opposition to Israeli annexation of areas in the West Bank.
        "It's unfortunate that Josep Borrell, who pretends to be responsible for the foreign relations of the European Union, chooses in this manner to welcome a new government," the ministry said. The ministry also questioned Borrell's decision to issue the statement, saying he did so only after failing to gain backing for it from all EU states. "We wonder which states the honorable gentleman is choosing to represent," the ministry said.
        Foreign Minister Israel Katz said, "I thank our friends in Europe who oppose Borrell's announcement and prevented the adoption of the text in the EU's name." A diplomatic source said the EU did not hold a vote on approving the text. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel's Coronavirus Death Toll Is 193
    Israel's coronavirus death toll is 193, up from 191 on Thursday, the Israeli Health Ministry said Friday morning. 139 are in serious condition (up from 136 on Thursday), and 107 are on ventilator support (no change from Thursday). There are 421 receiving treatment in hospitals (down from 455). 2,501 people are in specially designated hotels (up from 2,384). 5,685 Israelis have recovered (up from 5,334). (Ynet News)
  • New U.S. Law Allows Terror Victims to Sue PA - Ariel Kahana
    Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in 2019 came into effect this week, exposing the Palestinian Authority to lawsuits over its support of terrorism. The Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 seeks to impose U.S. court jurisdiction so that American citizens can target the PA with lawsuits for suicide attacks in the early 2000s. The law was passed following the PA's refusal to pay damages to family members of hundreds of Israelis and Americans murdered or wounded in terrorist attacks in Israel.
        U.S. courts have time and again ruled that the PA is responsible for carrying out such attacks and is obligated to compensate the victims. It is believed the Palestinian Authority owes terror victims and their families $423 million. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior intelligence and security expert at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told Israel Hayom that the legislation was another step in the pressure the U.S. is exerting on the Palestinian Authority to make it suspend its "pay-for-slay" policy. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Is It Wrong to Let Israel Make Decisions for Itself? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The agreement on Israel's new coalition government allows for a Knesset vote in the upcoming months about extending Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, including settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley. As far as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is concerned, whether or not they do so is up to the Israelis.
        The current American government doesn't think that it is entitled to dictate policy to the Israelis. And it is this unwillingness to give orders to the Jewish state that really shocks critics of Israel and the foreign-policy establishment. These critics had sought to "save Israel from itself" since the policies adopted by its democratically elected government were not in accord with their own vision of how to achieve peace. They believed they had the right to override the will of the Israeli people as expressed at the ballot box.
        As Israel's sole superpower ally, the U.S. has always arrogated to itself the right to expect the Israelis to do as Washington instructed. Indeed, every U.S. ambassador prior to David Friedman acted like a pro-consul of the Roman or British empires, whose job it was to issue orders to a client state that held pretensions of sovereignty that were not to be treated with too much deference.
        The principle at stake here is Israel's right to decide its own fate. The problem is not only that the wisdom of the critics' policy prescriptions for Israel is questionable, it's also that they are rooted in a misguided belief that Israelis are too stupid or too driven by ideology or faith to do what's right. Israelis deserve more respect from Americans. (JNS)
  • Washington Post Omits Facts in Gaza Op-Ed - Sean Durns
    On April 15, 2020, the Washington Post published an op-ed entitled "Gaza is an open-air prison. As covid-19 spreads, it's time to life the siege." The author, Tarek Loubani, was identified as an "emergency room doctor" and "associate professor at the University of Western Ontario."
        In fact, Loubani is a veteran anti-Israel activist. Loubani has worked with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group that sends foreigners to interfere with Israeli counterterrorism efforts, and was deported from Israel in 2003 for obstructing the construction of a security barrier during the height of the Second Intifada terror wave (2000-05).
        Loubani was arrested in Egypt in 2013 while trying to enter Hamas-ruled Gaza. In 2014, he was detained in Ben-Gurion Airport. And in 2018 he took part in the Hamas-orchestrated Great Return March in Gaza.
        In his op-ed about Israel's "siege" on Gaza, Loubani fails to mention Hamas once. He merely echoes the U.S.-designated terrorist group's talking points. According to the Post's own standards and guidelines, "No story is fair if it omits facts of major importance or significance." The writer is a senior research analyst for CAMERA. (CAMERA)
  • How the Jewish National Home Entered International Law - Prof. Efraim Karsh
    The San Remo conference in April 1920 appointed Britain as mandatory for Palestine with the specific task of "putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government [the Balfour Declaration], and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." This mandate was then ratified on July 24, 1922, by the Council of the League of Nations - the UN's predecessor.
        The importance of the Palestine mandate cannot be overstated. Though falling short of the proposed Zionist formula that "Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people," it signified an unqualified recognition, by the official representative of the will of the international community, of the Jews as a national group - rather than a purely religious community - and acknowledgment of "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" as "the grounds for reconstituting their national home in the country."
        It is a historical tragedy that 100 years after this momentous event, the Palestinian leadership and its international champions remain entrenched in the rejection not only of the millenarian Jewish attachment to Palestine but of the very existence of a Jewish People (and by implication its right to statehood).
        Rather than keep trying to turn the clock backward at the certain cost of prolonging their people's statelessness and suffering, it is time for this leadership to shed its century-long recalcitrance and opt for peace and reconciliation with their Israeli neighbors.
        The writer is emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College, London, and director of the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • The International Community Signed a Treaty 100 Years Ago to Establish a Jewish National Home - Melanie Phillips
    On April 26, 1920, the four principal allied powers involved in World War I - Britain, France, Italy, and Japan - signed a resolution at San Remo that turned the Balfour Declaration into an internationally binding treaty to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine, with Britain being given the mandate to facilitate Jewish immigration there.
        The Palestine within which the Jews were legally entitled to settle as their designated national home included not just the Israel that emerged in 1948, but also Judea and Samaria. That legal right given to the Jews to settle the entire land of Mandatory Palestine has never been abrogated.
        When Israel eventually recovered this land as a result of the Six-Day War in 1967, much of the international community pretended that its own earlier guarantees didn't exist. The international community claimed that the areas Jordan ethnically cleansed of Jews in 1948 must indefinitely remain Jew-free zones. The writer is a columnist for The Times of London. (JNS-Israel Hayom)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • How the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Sparked Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories - Fiamma Nirenstein
    The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of spreading Covid-19 and refusing to explain to the Palestinians how to fight it, even though Israeli hospitals invited Palestinian doctors, including those from Gaza, to brief them about preventive measures. Israelis, they say, are sending Palestinian workers back to the territories in order to spark a massive surge in infections and are intentionally infecting Palestinian prisoners and even children.
        Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has claimed that Israeli soldiers are trying to spread the virus by spitting on the door handles of cars driven by Palestinians. Al-Hayat al-Jadida – the official daily of the Palestinian Authority - on March 16 published a cartoon depicting the coronavirus as a large tank pursuing a Palestinian carrying an infant.
        The EU is certainly right when it helps the PA combat Covid-19. But why does it not make this aid conditional on stopping the most vulgar forms of anti-Semitism? Why hasn't the EU addressed the Palestinian and the Iranian regime's insistence on blaming the Jews for Covid-19?
        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. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel Enters "Life in the Presence of the Coronavirus" - Amos Harel
    Israel was spared a disaster on the scale of New York and some Western European countries thanks to a mix of natural advantages (a young population, only one major port of entry) and correct decisions made early on (supervision of those entering the country, isolating the elderly, a partial lockdown). Now, the distance from a total collapse of the healthcare system - where the number of people who need respirators exceeds the number of machines - looks safe. The measures that were taken by the executive are responsible for containing the coronavirus, for "flattening the curve."
        Prof. Ran Balicer, from the Clalit HMO, told Yediot Ahronot Thursday: The lockdown has played itself out; the partial return to normalcy is called for, but it must be carried out with maximum caution. We are now entering "life in the presence of the coronavirus."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Unsung Heroes Battling Covid-19 in Israel - Roy Arad
    Ida Katan, 67, is a senior radiographer at Sharon Hospital in Petah Tikva. Hers is quite a hazardous job because she must enter sickrooms and touch patients in order to do x-rays and other types of scans. Katan was supposed to have retired in February, after 44 years on the job, but she opted to stay on. "I extended my contract, because there aren't enough radiographers - it's a field where there's a shortage of personnel," she explained. "And I'm glad I did, because I have the great privilege of working at this particular time."
        "My family is definitely afraid....But I have to help, like everyone else here. I am deputy chief radiographer, and I've asked members of our staff who never do night shifts - mothers of small children, some with risk factors - to work longer shifts. They all agreed."
        Natasha Blausov, 50, is director of quality control in a microbiology laboratory at Sheba Medical Center, where she has worked for 22 years. She says, "The lab is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everyone has been mobilized, not just the permanent staff but students and volunteers, too....There's plenty of work, but we are pleased and feel we have a mission."
        Q: Are you afraid of being infected?
    Blausov: "None of our workers are sick. I feel safer in the coronavirus labs than at home. I'm protected by two robes, two pairs of gloves, an N-95 face mask, a face shield and something that protects my head. I look like an astronaut. Plus the room is ventilated, and I open the test tubes under a special hood."  (Ha'aretz)

The Jewish Imperative for the Post-Corona World - Ronald S. Lauder (Times of Israel)
  • For many weeks now, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our civilization, and the Jewish people have once again found themselves at the forefront of the struggle against a worldwide calamity.
  • New York City has been an outsize victim of the pandemic - and some of its Jewish communities have been especially hard hit. London, too, has suffered badly - and in some of its Jewish communities the number of cases has been especially high. So, too, in other major European cities, chief among them Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Antwerp and Moscow.
  • From Borough Park to Golders Green, from Williamsburg to Stamford Hill, Jewish communities are experiencing loss, panic, hardship and pain. But these same communities are demonstrating exceptional fortitude and cohesion. Their difficult hour is also their finest hour.
  • Today more than ever, it is clear just how dependent we are on one another. And it is doubly clear that we must overcome that which divides us, rediscover what unites us - and above all support one another. The imperative to nurture a strong, unified Jewish community grows exponentially in the face of the dangers surrounding us.
  • In the last few years, we have witnessed a new outbreak of one of the oldest and most odious plagues the world has ever known: hatred of the Jews. Today, there are those who blame the Jews for the spread of coronavirus, and there will be those who will blame the Jews for the coming severe economic dislocation.
  • On this front, there is absolutely no room for compromise. We must stand as one against those who would destroy us. We must protect every Jew and every Jewish community that comes under attack.
  • Above all, we must re-embrace our age-old ethos of mutual responsibility and love-of-Israel. In the post-coronavirus world, globalization will wane and nationalism will rise. Thus, we must act now, fostering the Jewish spirit of enlightened, generous, humanistic and democratic nationhood.

    The writer, a former U.S. ambassador and deputy assistant secretary of defense, is president of the World Jewish Congress.
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