May 30, 2020

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04/08 Links Pt2: Pres. Rivlin: Passover reminds us that the Jewish people are all one family; Melanie Phillips: The story Jews repeat on Passover is the secret of their survival

From Ian:

Rivlin: Passover reminds us that the Jewish people are all one family
President Reuven Rivlin addressed the State of Israel and Jewish communities around the world before the Passover holiday, as many communities prepare to celebrate the holiday in lockdown.

“Dear Israelis, this year we will mark Seder night in difficult circumstances because of the ‘corona plague’, the modern affliction that casts a dark shadow on us all,” said Rivlin in a Hebrew video. “Suddenly, we realize how important the simple things that make up our daily lives are to us. Simple things like going outside, and breathing the spring air which is always part of Pesach; like the bustling and hurrying – that are so Israeli – of the preparations for the holiday; and like the gathering of the family, loved and familiar, together around the Pesach table.”

“Suddenly, when we are faced with ‘social distancing’, closures and isolation at homes, we feel even more clearly importance of the obligation to ‘tell the story to your children’, of passing on the story from generation to generation, from grandparents to children to grandchildren to great-grandchildren. This is our story, our anchor, what binds us together – even when we need to be apart,” added Rivlin.

The president stressed that it is still a holiday and “despite it all” we will get ready for the Passover seder and “tell the story to those who are sitting with us as well as to those who are no less close, but need to celebrate the holiday with us from afar.”

“In these days, my dear ones, we are all praying, together or separately, young and old, secular and religious, for the better days ahead. We all ask ‘remember the covenant of our forefathers’. Chag Pesach Sameach, a happy Pesach. To next year, together. Am Yisrael Chai, the Jewish people lives,” concluded the president.

Natan Sharansky: We will join forces and overcome this, together

Israel is a center of Jewish life, and a much safer, better-prepared society to handle world challenges. Now we need to think about how Israel can help the New York Jewish community, which is in a tough situation. In dangerous times, there is no place safer than Israel. In the past, when the plague struck Europe, millions died — almost a third of Europe’s population.

There were Jewish communities that were destroyed because people blamed them for the plague. The world has moved on, but even today there are some who blame the Jews for the current plague, and even say they are making money off it. This is a reminder to us all that prejudice does not die out. We need to be aware of it, and we must not stop our battle against anti-Semitism, whether it is aimed at Israel or at the Jews of the world.

As a former prisoner of Zion, I remember celebrating seder in solitary confinement. There were three slices of bread, three glasses of water, and a little salt. I decided that the warm water was wine, the dry bread was matza, and the salt was the bitter herbs. I tried to remember every sentence in the Haggada, and what I couldn’t, I made up. “Next year in Jerusalem” was a very powerful sentence for me. I felt that I was with the rest of the Jewish people, on the right path. Then, Passover was a good opportunity to know just how much we weren’t giving in and were continuing our battle.

I believe we will come out of this crisis stronger because we handled it correctly. The government made the right decisions before other countries did. It’s important that we come out of this crisis more united, with a unity government.

A happy, healthy Passover to everyone, with much confidence in our role and our path.

Israelis Mark Passover, a Celebration of Freedom, in Virtual Isolation

The Jewish Passover holiday typically draws crowds of Israelis outside to burn heaps of leavened bread, commemorating the Biblical exodus from slavery in Egypt.

But on Wednesday a tightened coronavirus lockdown meant the streets of Jerusalem and other cities were nearly empty on the first day of the week-long holiday, when they would normally be dotted with fires and columns of smoke.

Israel this week imposed special holiday restrictions to try to halt the spread of the disease.

Jews may only celebrate the traditional “Seder” meal that kicks off the April 8-15 holiday season with immediate family.

And travel between cities is banned until Friday, with roadblocks erected at main junctions leading from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

A full curfew was due to take effect on Wednesday at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT), just before the Seder begins, and will last until Thursday morning. This prompted a dash for last-minute shopping, which saw long lines of Israelis wearing face masks outside grocery stores.

Some areas found workarounds to keep festive traditions alive in a month that will also see Christians celebrate Easter and Muslims mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

Melanie Phillips: The story Jews repeat on Passover is the secret of their survival

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.

Benny Morris: The War on History

Review: The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 by Rashid Khalidi

Apart from misinterpretations and distortions, the book contains a series of whoppers, almost all of them politically tendentious. For instance, on page 218, Khalidi tells us that by running a slate of candidates in the parliamentary elections of 2006 Hamas implicitly “accepted . . . the two-state solution,” which is to say Israel’s existence. In fact, Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim fundamentalist party and terrorist organization that governs the Gaza Strip, has never gone back on its 1988 founding charter’s espousal of the destruction of Israel as its primary goal.

And there are small mistakes of fact, many with political intent. It is not true that the Palestine Arab congresses, “from 1919 until 1928,” “put forward a consistent series of demands focused on independence for Arab Palestine.” The first congress, in January 1919, called for the incorporation of Palestine into Syria, not Palestine Arab “independence.” It is not true that the eruptions of Arab violence against Palestine’s Jews—in 1920, 1921, and 1929—were “often provoked by Zionist groups flexing their muscle” (whatever that may mean). Indeed, the British commissions of inquiry that followed each eruption usually found that the violence was Arab-initiated and unprovoked.

Chaim Weizmann in 1917 was not, as Khalidi would have it, Herzl’s “successor” (Herzl died in 1904); he was a prominent British Zionist who only became president of the (World) Zionist Organization in 1920. UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 was not “crafted by the United States” but by Great Britain. Jumping to more recent times, the collision between an Israeli truck and a minivan carrying Arab workers which triggered the First Intifada occurred in Israel, not in the Gaza refugee camp of Jabalya; Arafat and the PLO were not “neutral” in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait—they backed Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s leader; and so on.

In his treatment of Palestinian terrorism and Israeli counterterrorism in the 1970s and 1980s, Khalidi is prolix in his descriptions and condemnations of Israeli targeted assassinations. But his depiction of what happened has one particularly blatant omission: He fails altogether to mention Black September, the Fatah-PLO group that committed a series of brazen attacks, starting with the assassination of Jordanian prime minister Wasfi Tal in 1971 and including the infamous murder of Israel’s Olympic team in Munich in 1972. This helps Khalidi clear the main Palestinian party, the “moderate” Fatah, which remains the mainstay of the PLO, of terrorism while casting the blame for Palestinian terror on “unimportant” fringe groups, such as the Abu Nidal Organization or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Khalidi smooth-talks his way through history, painting the conflict in simplistic black and white colors. Throughout, perhaps with an eye to what his fellow Palestinians might say, he is careful not to give any potential ammunition to their Zionist foes and blames only one side for how matters unfolded.

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine is not a new, revisionist history that challenges both Israeli and Palestinian readers with its reexamination of their respective narratives. It is simply poor history.

Super Stan

Review: Stan Lee: A Life in Comics by Liel Leibovitz

Like many contributors to American popular culture, Stan Lee’s Jewishness is omnipresent but diffuse; it tends to evaporate if focused on too closely. Although his family attended synagogue and Lee had a bar mitzvah ceremony, Leibovitz admits we should be wary about projecting onto him “any rabbinic-like familiarity with or passion for Judaism’s texts or traditions.” Nevertheless, he tries “to understand Lee’s creations by planting them in a Jewish context and seeing whether they fit.” The result is a series of daring homilies.

Some of these drashot are more plausible than others. I enjoyed Leibovitz’s application to Spider-Man of Rav Soloveitchik’s distinction between the Bible’s two paradigmatic human stances—the striving for mastery, on the one hand, and the experience of spiritual humility, on the other—which really does fit the teenage web-slinger. I’m less convinced when he suggests that the Thing and Mr. Fantastic are like Hillel and Shammai because they “routinely offer up divergent ways of looking at the world.” Nor is it particularly interesting to characterize the physically strong but ugly Thing as “a golem,” since that silent monster owes at least as much to non-Jewish, often antisemitic writers as to Jewish tradition. (And surely no golem ever bellowed “It’s clobberin’ time!”) Leibovitz’s attempt to link Mr. Fantastic to the dybbuk story because he is “possessed by . . . vanity and impudence” seems, like that elastic superhero, a bit of a stretch.

Leibovitz himself cites a Marvel comic from 2002 in which the Jewish identity of Ben Grimm, a.k.a. the Thing, is finally taken up directly. In this issue, not penned by Lee, Grimm returns after many years to his old neighborhood on Yom Kippur and comes to the aid of an impoverished Jewish pawnbroker, who gives him a Magen David necklace after the superhero recites the Shema. Saying the Shema once every few decades is the most Judaism of any explicit sort you’re likely to find in the Marvel universe. Lee’s Jewish spirit is there, but it’s mostly a matter of humane humor, tempered experimentalism, and uneasy hopefulness.

And how fares this spirit today, a year and a half since the passing of the great man of Marvel comics? It is a question as to whether Lee’s patriotic, broadly liberal, Kennedy-era sensibility can withstand the demands of today’s cancel culture, Hollywood political conformity, and woke capitalism. Having built his movie monument to Lee’s vision, Feige may not at this point mind letting the woke left live off some of the capital—consider actress Brie Larson’s petty attack on male fans while she was promoting last year’s Captain Marvel film—but eventually the corrosive effects—including boredom—will become more noticeable. These heirs of Fredric Wertham’s censorious puritanism will suck the life out of popular culture as readily as Lee and Kirby’s archvillain Galactus sucks the life out of planets.

Baird: Islamists “Incredibly Organized” for 2020 US Elections

Benjamin Baird, deputy director of the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch project and head of the Counter-Islamist Grid, spoke to participants in a March 27 webinar (video) about Islamism in American politics.

Baird explained that Islamists – “a minority among Muslim Americans” who have a “theocratic vision” and “believe that their religion should dominate all facets of life” – have become “incredibly organized” politically in recent years, especially since the 2016 elections, when they saw President Donald Trump’s policies on immigration and foreign affairs “as a direct challenge to their agenda.” In the past, many Islamists looked at voting as something to be avoided because they rejected “corrupt” Western political institutions. Today, they treat democratic participation as “somewhat of a religious obligation.”

There are two main trends in Islamist political organizing. The first, led by such groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and Emgage, is focused on increasing registration and turnout of Muslim voters, and on supporting scores of Muslim candidates win elections, mostly at the local level. They use identity politics in hopes of mobilizing Muslims into a monolithic voting bloc to push their agenda.

The second trend consists of organizations, such as the Turkish Heritage Organization and the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), that are tied to foreign regimes and focused on pressuring candidates to support the interests of those regimes. The NIAC, for instance, “will evaluate candidates based on how well they support … the Iran nuclear deal, or whether or not they’ve stood up against sanctions, whether or not they want to take away the president’s war powers.”

Both trends support progressive leftists, such as Bernie Sanders, due in large part to their anti-Israel views and opposition to Trump policies.

Khaled Abu Toameh: PA official to Post: Only used Israeli items banned, trade continues

Shakhrah said that among those infected with the virus are 84 Palestinian workers in Israel. PA Health Ministry officials have been deployed at border crossings between the West Bank and Israel to conduct tests on workers returning to their homes. The workers have been instructed to remain in isolation in their homes to prevent the spread of the disease.

Since the outbreak of the virus last month, the PA has conducted 15,000 coronavirus tests, and there are no patients in intensive care units, Shakhrah said.

On Tuesday, PA security forces arrested a Palestinian from Hebron for bringing used furniture from Israel. Earlier this week, the PA National Economy Ministry banned Palestinians from bringing used material and furniture from Israel to curb the spread of the virus.

National Economy Minister Khaled al-Osaily told The Jerusalem Post that the ban does not include all goods imported from Israel, but only used items, including furniture, purchased by Palestinian merchants from Israelis.

“Our decision relates only to used goods,” Osaily clarified. “Some of these items may come from areas where the virus has spread, and that’s why we banned them. Today approximately 200 trucks loaded with Israeli goods entered our markets. Trade between us and Israel did not stop for one day. We continue to export to the Israeli market, and import from the Israeli market. We encourage both sides in this regard.” (h/t Zvi)

Omar Barghouti joins the Daily Freier (satire)

Tel Aviv, The Old North: Israel is abuzz today with exciting news… The Daily Freier hired Omar Barghouti. That’s right, the founder of the BDS Movement has signed with the #1 Voice in Anglo-infused Israeli satire! Mr. Barghouti, long known for pushing a hard line on Boycotting the Jewish State unless, like, you know, it personally inconvenienced him, will now be a full-time writer. In fact, Omar hit the ground running by submitting a satire piece to the Jerusalem Post entitled “If Israel develops a Corona Virus Vaccine, you can take it.” The Daily Freier spoke to its writing staff on what Mr. Barghouti’s arrival meant to them.

”OMG, this guy is amazing.” noted Yekutiel Bornstein. “I hope he doesn’t mind that we used to say he looks like a chubby Buster Bluth.”

Aaron Pomerantz was simply in awe of his new colleague. “He’s so full of shit…. it’s….it’s…. Majestic.“

Of course, there have been some growing pains along the away for both sides, as Editor Yuval Weiss explained. “We asked him to do a satire piece where he pretends to study at Tel Aviv University….. and then he reminded us that he no-kidding studied at Tel Aviv University.”

Also, Mr. Barghouti will have to deal with the fact that our Unisex Restroom has a sign that says “Occupied”.

After Nearly 200 Years of Publication, Coronavirus Drives UK’s Main Jewish Newspaper Into Liquidation

One of the world’s oldest Jewish newspapers announced that it was going into liquidation on Wednesday, with staff members learning on the eve of the Passover holiday that they were to lose their jobs.

The Jewish Chronicle, which began publishing in the UK in 1841, announced on its website that its Board had taken the decision to seek a creditors voluntary liquidation of Jewish Chronicle Newspapers Ltd, the paper’s parent company.

“Despite the heroic efforts of the editorial and production team at the newspaper, it has become clear that the Jewish Chronicle will not be able to survive the impact of the current coronavirus epidemic in its current form,” the paper explained in a note to readers.

News outlets that are heavily dependent on their print editions have been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis, as revenue from advertisers has been slashed.

The closure comes despite the paper’s merger in February with its rival, the Jewish News, in a bid to secure the financial futures of both. The deal was in the process of being finalized.

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, management told staff they were in negotiation with the Kessler Foundation — which owns the paper — “to possibly secure the future of the Jewish Chronicle in some form, potentially involving rehiring a number of people, although this would require new funding.”

On social media, commentators and Jewish community advocates mourned the announcement, while some anti-Israel activists expressed pleasure at the news that Jews in the UK might no longer have a weekly news outlet that supported the Jewish state.

HR Prompts Correction to False Charge Against Israeli Health Minister

Pink News ran a story making a very serious charge against Israel’s Health Minister, Rabbi Yaakov Litzman:

There have been reports of extreme and homophobic statements from some hardline religious leaders of different faiths concerning coronavirus.

Rabbi Litzman, however, is not among them. What’s more, had Israel’s health minister made such a statement, it would have caused an uproar within Israel, an overwhelmingly liberal and gay-friendly society. A story of this nature would certainly have made headlines in the Israeli press, including the many professional English-language news sites that are easily accessed by journalists the world over.

So where did this story come from? A Pakistan-based website and a progressive secular humanist site that got it from… the Pakistani site.

This is an unfortunate demonstration of how easy it is for fake news to spread from illegitimate sources.

To its credit, Pink News responded to our email immediately, acknowledging that an error had been made. The story has been amended and the following correction issued:
An earlier version of this article referenced two inaccurate reports regarding Yaakov Litzman blaming the coronavirus pandemic on homosexuality. This has since been corrected.

Following Contact from CAMERA, The Hill Changes Image Linking Jews to Coronavirus

After contact from CAMERA, The Hill deleted an offensive image that implied a connection between Jews and the coronavirus.

The Hill’s April 6, 2020 tweet, “New CDC data suggests children get less sick, but still vulnerable to coronavirus,” was initially accompanied by a picture of several visibly Jewish individuals, including children. The report itself, however, had nothing to do with coronavirus and the Jewish community.

But as CAMERA pointed out to Hill staff, depictions of Jews spreading diseases are a staple of antisemitic propaganda and have appeared throughout history, often resulting in anti-Jewish violence and discrimination. Indeed, as a Feb. 7, 2020 Times of Israel report noted: “The spread of and fear generated by the coronavirus has led extremists to promote conspiracy theories and share their anti-Semitic views, the Anti-Defamation League said.”

Following contact from CAMERA, The Hill quickly and commendably chose a different picture to accompany their report and deleted the offensive tweet.

Forward Columnist Appropriates Passover Story, Compares Israel to Egyptian Slave-Holders

If you thought that the Forward would take a break from its anti-Israel propaganda during a global health crisis, well, you thought wrong. Instead, it’s using the crisis as fodder.

Despite the fact that CAMERA has repeatedly exposed opinion-writer Muhammad Shehada’s falsehoods, the Forward continues to provide him a platform, allowing its putatively Jewish brand to extend credibility to him. Most recently, Shehada, a contributing columnist at the magazine, twisted the Passover story to compare the people of Gaza to the enslaved Hebrews and, by extension, Israel to the Egyptian enslavers. (“The man-made plagues of Gaza,” March 31, 2020.)

He writes,
The story of Passover and the ten plagues always filled me with awe: Egyptians punished with hunger and thirst, bloody water, blinding darkness and loved ones lost overnight. When I was a young person, those horrifying plagues were unimaginable. Then, I experienced similar, man-made plagues, plagues that continue to swallow Gaza — slowly, painfully.

I remember summer of 2006, when the entire enclave was plunged into blinding darkness after a massive explosion sent shockwaves through the city. We rushed to the radios to find out what had happened, and learned that Israel had bombed Gaza’s only power plant to the ground.

The same plant was bombed again in 2014, and darkness, a “darkness that can be felt,” (Exodus 10:21) has engulfed Gaza ever since; at best, we’ve had eight hours of electricity per day, while on many days, we’re lucky to see a flicker of light.

Not long after the first bombing, in 2007, Israel put the entire region on lockdown. An aerial, naval and ground siege, and then Operation Cast Lead the following year pounded the enclave’s infrastructure, leaving large parts of Gaza so broken that its people were forced to live like it was the stone age.

God sent the plagues to force the Egyptians to set the Hebrews free; in our case, we’re held in confinement by those same people.

To Shehada, it doesn’t matter that the electrical plant was bombed in response to the kidnapping of one Israeli soldier and the killing of two others. Seven armed terrorists dug a cross-border tunnel to carry out what the Israeli government deemed “an unprovoked attack,” only one year after Israel withdrew every last soldier and civilian from Gaza. The Hamas takeover of the strip in 2007, and all of the circumstances of the 2014 war, are similarly irrelevant to him. To Shehada, Jews defending themselves are comparable to slave-owners.

In 2016, the Forward published a very different opinion piece by a former member of the British National Union of Students, who explained why Holocaust inversion is so harmful. Comparing “the plight of Palestinians to the plight of Jews at the hands of the Nazis,” he wrote, “was to use the memory of the Holocaust as a stick to beat its victims and their descendants.” Shehada’s appropriation of the Passover story and grotesque comparison of Israelis defending themselves against terrorism to the ancient Egyptians who kept Jews as slaves does the same.

Of course, there are numerous factual problems with the piece as well.

BBC News continues to push inaccurate Gaza healthcare narrative

The lead item on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on the morning of April 7th was a filmed report titled “Coronavirus: ‘Gaza has no resources to fight this virus’”.
“In Gaza, people are bracing for a coronavirus outbreak as more than 10 cases of infection have been confirmed in the small enclave.

Everything is shut, including vital food aid centres, and people are being asked to stay at home.”

The declaration the BBC chose to promote so prominently in the report’s headline and on its website in fact comes from one of the interviewees who is only identified by her ‘kunya’ teknonym. BBC audiences are not informed of her real identity or her qualification to make such a pronouncement – other than “Palestinian refugee”.

That video is based on a filmed report which was aired on April 6th in the BBC News Channel’s “BBC News Special Coronavirus Daily Update”. Presenter Clive Myrie introduced the item (from 1:57:50 in the video below) as follows:
Myrie: “In Gaza people are bracing for a Coronavirus outbreak with 12 cases confirmed so far. Everything is shut including vital food aid centres and people are being asked to stay at home. The health system in the Strip, which is home to nearly 2 million people, has been shattered by an Israeli blockade lasting more than a decade.”

While 12 cases had indeed been confirmed in the Gaza Strip as of the date of this broadcast, six had already recovered. Although UNRWA did close its food distribution centres in late March as a precautionary measure, it soon began delivering food to the homes of its clients. As we have all too often had cause to note here in the past, the state of healthcare in the Gaza Strip is not attributable to Israeli – and Egyptian – counter-terrorism measures but to the financial priorities of the ruling Hamas terror organisation and the rift between it and the Palestinian Authority which is responsible for health services in the Gaza Strip.

Wiesenthal Center Demands Social-Media Platforms Delete Viral Antisemitic Posts

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging social media platforms to remove posts that use the coronavirus pandemic to promote antisemitism and violence against Jews.

“This is exactly the breeding ground for extremists,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Fox News.

Its new study “Deadly New Virus Intersects with History’s Oldest Hate: Report and Analysis,” released in April, highlights one of many posts on Telegram, the popular instant-messaging app, that shows an image of the coronavirus with the words ”Holocough: If you have the bug, give a hug, spread the flu, to every Jew.”

“The coronavirus pandemic may be new, but Jews have a long and tragic history of being accused of spreading deadly viruses,” the report stated.

Such antisemitic posts are being used “to incite lone-wolf-type of attacks, God forbid, one-on-one, and to demonize a community,” said Cooper.

He added about Telegram, “It’s a hot spot in which extremists can promote and communicate with each other. While they occasionally take things off, I’m not holding my breath that we’re going to get any positive results.”

‘F**k Kikes’ spray-painted on Los Angeles synagogue

Anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted on a synagogue in Los Angeles.

“F**k Kikes” followed by “Daniel M” was painted on the outside of the Ahavat Shalom synagogue, an Orthodox Persian synagogue.

A photo of the graffitied synagogue was first posted on Facebook Tuesday by a sports management student at the University of Delaware who returned home to his family.

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“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. There is no room for hatred in this world especially during these times,” he wrote. “This is a time that we have to all come together as one. Am Yisrael Chai!!!!”

The graffiti was covered by a piece of cardboard taped to the side of the building.

“We are outraged by reports of anti-Semitic graffiti outside a synagogue in L.A.,” Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles tweeted. “In the midst of a pandemic in which it is more important than ever for us to stand together and just before the start of Passover, it is shocking to see this hateful message on a house of worship.”

The synagogue has been the target of graffiti against Jews in the past.

Israeli tech helps African villages protect against corona

It’s estimated that 450 million people across Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to clean water and basic hygiene.

This greatly increases their risk of infection if the novel coronavirus reaches their villages. Nearly 600 COVID-19 cases are already confirmed across the continent.

Israeli nonprofit organization Innovation: Africa (iA) – which installs Israeli solar and water technologies in remote villages in Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon and South Africa — is ramping up its efforts to prevent mass infections.

“How can we tell these communities to wash their hands when there is no clean water? Their medical facilities do not have proper equipment, refrigeration or even light to work at night,” says Sivan Ya’ari, CEO and founder of the award-winning Innovation: Africa.

“We operate in areas where COVID-19 could wipe out entire villages. I feel a greater sense of urgency than ever to bring them access to clean water and electricity.”

Over the past decade, Innovation: Africa has delivered light, clean water, drip-irrigation technology, education, maternal healthcare and more to about 1.7 million people across 300 villages and 10 countries.

This year, iA expects to work around the clock to complete another 200 water and solar projects, said Ya’ari.

Israeli coronavirus mapping technology to assist authorities globally

An artificial intelligence-driven remote monitoring platform used by the Health Ministry to identify coronavirus hotspots will assist authorities combating the outbreak globally, according to the developers of the technology.

The remote screening platform developed by Tel Aviv-based Diagnostic Robotics, initially intended for emergency room and private physician use, has played a key role in Israel’s efforts to monitor the spread of the outbreak in recent weeks.

Founded by Technion researchers Yonatan Amir, Dr. Kira Radinsky and Prof. Moshe Shoham, anonymous health questionnaires developed by the start-up are sent out to millions of residents in order to build an accurate heat-map of the outbreak and improve understanding of the spread of the virus. Now, the company is rolling out its solution internationally.

“After witnessing the catastrophic consequences of this pandemic from a clinical and economic point of view, we decided to take all the technological stacks that we have already developed and adapt them for COVID-19,” Amir, the chief executive of Diagnostic Robotics, told The Jerusalem Post. (h/t Zvi)

Amar’e Stoudemire immerses in Judaism during coronavirus lockdown

It’s not every day that you can sit down and discuss religion with a six-time NBA All Star and future Hall of Fame player. And it’s certainly not every day that you can discuss Judaism as that religion. But that was the case when Hillel@Home hosted a Diversity in Jewish Life conversation with Amar’e Stoudemire this past week just ahead of the Passover holiday.

Stoudemire is currently playing with Maccabi Tel Aviv after beginning the season in China. Last year, the player formally known as “STAT” (Standing Tall and Talented) plied his trade with Hapoel Jerusalem. The Florida native, who decided to stay in Israel during the coronavirus outbreak, began talking about his desire to reach God through Judaism.

“The most important factor for me in getting involved with Judaism is that when I was young I was always pursuing Go,” said Stoudemire. “By converting to Judaism I have been able to learn Torah at a very high level. There’s so much to learn and everything is based upon God and is God-driven. By praying three times a day one is always surrounded by God.”

With the current coronavirus pandemic affecting the entire planet, Stoudemire is thankful that he is in the Holy Land.

“It’s been great in Israel. We have been ahead of the curve and we went into quarantine in advance. We are on lockdown where we can’t go to the beach, but we can go to the pharmacies and supermarkets. Everyone has a mask and we are all social distancing. Israel has been rated one of the safest places in the world, top 10 in fact.”

While the 37-year old can’t physically go out to learn Torah, thanks to modern technology he’s been able to keep up to date right from his home.

Jewish charity donates lunches for health care workers at assisted living communities

Grilled cheese sandwiches, salads and drinks were all packed in brown paper bags for Tuesday’s lunch for workers at the Brookdale senior living facility in Dr. Phillips.

“This was the idea of one of our generous donors and he thought it’d be really great to thank our health care workers,” Nancy Ludin with The Jewish Pavilion said.

Ludin said The Jewish Pavilion is a nonprofit organization that usually focuses on visiting and entertaining seniors at assisted living communities around Central Florida.

“We visit about 70 different buildings and we provide Jewish holidays and ice cream socials and musicals and all kinds of things to make the seniors happy,” Ludin explained.

The organization has already donated dozens of meals within the past couple of weeks amid of the coronavirus pandemic and are planning to donate more meals to health care workers this week.

She said the task has been challenging because of the pandemic and CDC guidelines, but said the act of kindness can be spread anywhere even during hard circumstances.

“We have health care workers who are doing so much to help our seniors and this is a way of saying thanks,” Ludin said.

The Jewish Foundation and Toasted food truck will deliver food to other health care workers in Longwood on Wednesday. (h/t Zvi)

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