October 4, 2022

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04/21 Links Pt1: Israel’s Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 181; Poll: Only 7 Percent of Israeli Arabs Define Themselves as "Palestinian"; Monsey Hanukkah stabbing suspect not fit to stand trial


From Ian:

Israel’s Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 181, Total Number of Cases at 13,883
Israel’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 181 on Tuesday, after four more people succumbed to the disease overnight Monday and on Tuesday morning.

Among the four fatalities was Aharon Turchin, a 48-year-old father of 14 with no preexisting health conditions. Turchin, who lived in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, passed away at the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv after being transferred there over the weekend from Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak after his condition deteriorated.

According to Israel’s Health Ministry, there have been a total of 13,883 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country since the beginning of the pandemic, including 170 new cases since Monday night. While 4,353 Israelis have officially recovered, 142 are still in serious condition, 113 of whom are intubated. However, the number of Israelis recovering from the virus has exceeded the number of new infections for four days in a row, according to the ministry.

The update comes just days after officials tentatively rolled back some of the strict limitations placed on movement and commerce in the last several weeks, as well as lockdowns on Bnei Brak and two dozen neighborhoods in Jerusalem with particularly high coronavirus infection rates.

Bnei Brak continues to have the highest per capita coronavirus infection rate in the country, but residents are now subject to the same regulations as all other Israelis.

Jpost Editorial: The Holocaust and the coronavirus

It is even more tragic that survivors such as Even and Levin had to spend their last days alone, away from their families, and had to be buried after tiny funerals due to the virus.

As we honor the memories of six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust and salute the estimated 400,000 survivors still alive today, we should also pause to remember the dozens of survivors who have recently died from corona complications.

The opening ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day was broadcast via the Yad Vashem website, YouTube and Facebook Live on Monday night. Its theme was “Solidarity in a disintegrating world” and included the gripping stories of the six torchlighters and heartfelt prayers from the chief rabbis.

Thousands uploaded messages on virtual plaques on a special memorial site established by the March of the Living organization, which was forced to cancel its annual march from Auschwitz to Birkenau this year for the first time in 32 years, due to the virus.

“The combination of hatred and technology is the greatest danger threatening mankind,” Simon Wiesenthal once said. “Technology without hatred can be a blessing. Technology with hatred is always a disaster.”

As we grapple with the current pandemic, Wiesenthal’s words ring true. But so does the refrain of the “Partisan Song,” posted in English by The Jerusalem Post’s Greer Fay Cashman on Facebook: “Never say that you are walking on your final way. Though blue skies are hidden by days of gray, the hour for which we yearn will yet arrive; The earth will tremble with our tread; We are here!”

Despite the many tragedies experienced by the Jewish people, it has proven to be a resilient nation which today has a state of its own. Israel is a source of strength in fighting antisemitism and hate around the world.

That is why, even as we are separated today due to the coronavirus, we stand together and declare “Never again” for the entire world to hear.

Michael Doran: Coronavirus: How Will It Change the World?

The Coronavirus crisis will likely strengthen nationalism and weaken globalism, Gadi Taub tells Mike Doran.

Poll: Only 7 Percent of Israeli Arabs Define Themselves as “Palestinian”

According to preliminary data from the Jewish People Policy Institute’s (JPPI) upcoming annual Pluralism Index for 2020, over the past year there has been a significant change in the way Israeli Arabs identify themselves.

According to the survey, conducted by Prof. Camille Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, about a quarter of Israeli minorities (23%) define themselves primarily as “Israeli” and half (51%) self-identify as “Israeli-Arab.”

The proportion of non-Jewish people who define themselves primarily as “Palestinian” now stands at around 7%, down from 18% this time last year.

Moreover, there was a sizable increase in the number of Arabs who define themselves as Israeli – that number rose from 5% last year to 23% this year.

COVID-19 and the Need for Enhanced U.S.-Israel Technology Cooperation

Israel has emerged as a superpower in terms of its capabilities to develop cutting-edge technologies in the fields of biotechnology and the life sciences. More than 1,400 companies operate in the medical innovation sector, developing transformative technologies to detect and treat an array of serious illnesses.

Thousands of the world’s most accomplished scientists and engineers from the life sciences and many other disciplines have set aside their usual work and research to focus full-time on the war against the pandemic.

These private sector actors are part of an extraordinarily rich biotech ecosystem that is supported by the government and also encompasses world-class academic institutions and medical centers with a proven track record of rapidly bringing life-saving breakthroughs to market.

In recognition of Israel’s role as a global hub of biotech excellence, billions of dollars in foreign investment have flowed to Israeli firms and research institutions over the past decade.

Israel has defined several main vectors for battling Covid-19 in the short term, including: rapid identification of virus carriers; short-circuiting the virus’ transmission to larger populations; building accurate models that analyze all relevant data to understand the virus’ behavior and inform “exit strategies” for reopening society once infection rates flatten; and developing better tools for treating hospitalized patients while protecting medical personnel.

Over the longer term, the goal is to develop effective anti-viral therapies and, ultimately, an efficient vaccine that will dramatically reduce the threat posed by the virus.

The United Nation’s WHO is Not a Neutral Player

Like its reliance on the Chinese Communist government as a source of information on the coronovirus outbreak, the WHO’relies on Gaza’s Health Ministry officials as a source of information. These officials are, after all, employees of Hamas, a terrorist regime sworn to Israel’s destruction. Indeed, the Hamas Interior Ministry has issued guidelines for reporting events and discussing them with outsiders. It is no wonder then that health ministry officials have been proven again and again to lack credibility.

With the Hamas ministry the source of its information, and by gnoring and concealing the decisions and activities of the Palestinian leadership that affect medical care delivery to Palestinians, the WHO’s reports amount to nothing more than partisan political documents that are weaponized by those who seek to demonize Israel. Thus, the latest report was cited as a definitive assessment of the situation in news reports and by such organizations as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, Medical Aid for Palestinians, which take a comparable politicized anti-Israel approach to problems in the Palestinian healthcare delivery system.

The WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean region country-specific website for what it calls “Occupied Palestinian Territory” serves as a disseminator of crude anti-Israel propaganda in the form of videos, health situation reports, referral access reports and interviews that are twisted to demonize Israel.

Were the WHO really interested in improving Palestinian healthcare, it would examine all the factors involved in regulating healthcare. But like the Hamas Health Ministry, the WHO seems more concerned with spreading anti-Israel propaganda than in seeking improvement to Palestinian healthcare.

It has taken a global pandemic to shed light on the fact that the United Nation’s World Health organization (WHO) is not the politically neutral organization it was meant to be – not in communist China nor in the Middle East. If the WHO is to reclaim its original mission of promoting health and keeping the world safe, it must become a neutral arbiter of healthcare by renouncing political partisanship across the board.

Israeli NGO That Fights Terror Files Suit Against China Over Coronavirus

An Israeli NGO that focuses on getting remuneration from terror groups will file a class action lawsuit against China for its negligence regarding the coronavirus, according to N12.

The Jerusalem Post reported, “Shurat HaDin usually focuses on terror groups, yet according to Aviel Leitner, husband of Shurat Hadin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, just as states cannot commit acts of terror and claim immunity due to their being sovereign agents, China should not be able to avoid its own alleged failure in containing the virus.”

“Over 15 years, Shurat HaDin has won about $2 billion in judgments, has frozen more than $600 million in terror assets and collected about $300 million. Operating solely on donations, it provides services to victims for free and is reimbursed only for expenses in cases it wins,” the Cleveland Jewish News reported in August 2019.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner recently secured a ruling holding the Palestinian Authority liable for civil damages for terrorist attacks launched during the Second Intifada. The damages could amount to 1 billion shekels.

Attorney Rachel Weiser, who works for Shirat HaDin, said in August 2019, “We also, behind the scenes, helped to push forward a law that was passed just two or three months ago that said if the Palestinian Authority accepts aid from the United States at all, they also have to accept jurisdiction of our courts. About two or three months ago, the Palestinian Authority said, ‘We’re not accepting aid from the United States.’ That’s why. And that’s okay, because anything we can do to stop the flow of money, it’s been proven time and time again, it slows down the flow of terror.”

The Israeli NGO is not alone in filing a lawsuit against China. “At least four federal class-action lawsuits have been filed against the Chinese government that aim to recover trillions of dollars in damages for what plaintiffs allege is China’s failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak and notify the international community about its dangers,” Newsweek noted.

Netanyahu said to favor curfew on Independence Day, Ramadan nights

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly leaning toward approving a nationwide curfew on next week’s Independence Day, and a curfew in Arab cities and villages every night during the month of Ramadan.

Netanyahu was due later Tuesday to announce his decision regarding restrictions on movement to be imposed during Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims, Independence Day and Ramadan.

The National Security Council has sent cabinet ministers a message saying that Netanyahu wants to approve a full-blown curfew on April 28-29, when Israelis normally gather en masse to celebrate the country’s anniversary, Channel 12 reported, without citing a source.

The council, along with the Health Ministry, has reportedly advised Netanyahu to announce a curfew from the end of Memorial Day until the end of Independence Day, 24 hours later. Independence Day follows immediately after Memorial Day, beginning in the evening, as is the tradition for days marked on the Jewish calendar.

The aim is prevent the social gatherings and parties — notably large barbecues — that are a fixture of Independence Day. The Health Ministry is worried that, as some lockdown restrictions were lifted on Sunday, the public may become too lax in sticking to the remaining limits on social gatherings, which authorities are already struggling to enforce.

Israeli Olympian Shares Training Regimen, Raises Money for Coronavirus Relief

Israeli Olympian Sagi Muki is sharing his home-training regimen online to help motivate those in isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, and dedicating his time to projects to raise money for coronavirus relief.

Muki is Israel’s first male world judo champion, winning gold at the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo, and is the gold medal favorite in the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, now planned for 2021.

He has auctioned belts, badges and his entire uniform from the Tokyo win, raising more than $40,000 so far to purchase ventilators for hospitals in his hometown of Netanya.

According to the athlete, quoted as part of an ongoing ESPN photo series that examines the ways that the coronavirus pandemic has “upended and reshaped athletes’ lives,” Muki said that “to have [the Olympics] delayed one year is not that easy, but this is the reality and I accept it.”

Before gym closures due to the pandemic, Muki was training at the Israeli Olympic facility at the Wingate Institute, but has since turned his living area into a gym, using household props like tables and chairs, and filming home workouts for his more than 47,000 followers on Instagram.

Celebrate Israel parade canceled due to virus pandemic

The annual Celebrate Israel parade which draws tens of thousands of supporters to march along New York’s Fifth Avenue, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which organizes the Celebrate Israel parade, confirmed Monday this year’s parade, scheduled for June 7, will not take place, according to The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

In its place, a virtual event will be organized, the council’s Executive Vice President and CEO Michael Miller said, as quoted by the JTA.

“We’re saddened by the necessity of canceling this parade,” Miller said. “Its absence on Fifth Avenue will be notable, but its absence in the hearts of New Yorkers, Jewish and non-Jewish, who support Israel is incalculable.”

The first Celebrate Israel parade took place in 1965, and some 40,000 people participate in the march each year.

Trump Says He Will Suspend All Immigration Into US Over Coronavirus

President Donald Trump said on Monday he will suspend all immigration into the United States temporarily through an executive order in response to the coronavirus outbreak and to protect American jobs.

The move, which the Republican president announced on Twitter, effectively achieves a long-term Trump policy goal to curb immigration, making use of the health and economic crisis that has swept the country as a result of the pandemic to do so.

The decision drew swift condemnation from some Democrats, who accused the president of creating a distraction from what they view as a slow and faulty response to the coronavirus.

Trump said he was taking the action to protect the US workforce. Millions of Americans are suffering unemployment after companies shed employees amid nationwide lockdowns to stop the contagion.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” Trump said in a tweet.

MSNBC Graphic During COVID-19 News Shows ‘Palestine’ in List of Countries

A background graphic on MSNBC last week showed “Palestine” in a rolling list of countries depicting numbers associated with the coronavirus pandemic, despite it not being an independent nation.

The graphic was displayed during “The 11th Hour With Brian Williams” on April 16 while internal medicine physician Lipi Roy was analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as discussing the debate over whether or not some parts of society should reopen.

Media critics criticized MSNBC for the background listing “Palestine” as a country.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important for the media to engage in careful and thoughtful reporting,” Sean Durns, senior research analyst at CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, told JNS. “And the facts are clear: ‘Palestine’ is not, and has never been, an independent state.”

He said “that’s what negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are about—negotiations that the media has reported on for years, and which the PA [Palestinian Authority] has, in recent years, declined,” he continued. “MSNBC’s decision to grant de facto recognition of statehood is but another example of careless reporting at a time when we can least afford it.”

Judge: Monsey Hanukkah stabbing suspect not fit to stand trial

A man accused of stabbing five people with a machete at a suburban New York Hanukkah celebration is not mentally fit to stand trial, a judge ruled in a decision made public Monday.

Grafton Thomas, 37, is charged in an attack at a rabbi’s home on December 28 that left five people wounded in Monsey, an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. The most critically injured victim, Josef Neumann, 72, died three months after the attack.

Judge Cathy Siebel wrote that Thomas should be committed to a treatment facility for no more than four months to determine if he can reach “the capacity to permit criminal proceedings to go forward against him.”

The ruling only applies to Thomas’s trial for federal hate crimes. He has also been indicted on state charges including attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutors have said Thomas had handwritten journals containing anti-Semitic comments and a swastika, and had researched Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jews online.

Murder charges filed against German synagogue attack suspect

German prosecutors said Tuesday they have charged the suspect in last year’s botched attack on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle with murder and attempted murder, among other offenses.

The German man in his late 20s attempted to attack a synagogue on October 9, which was Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day. He later killed two people. The attack stoked concern about anti-Semitism and far-right violence in Germany.

The man, who was previously unknown to police, posted an anti-Semitic screed before the attack and broadcast the shooting live on a popular gaming site.

The attacker tried but failed repeatedly to force his way into the synagogue as 52 worshipers were inside. He then shot and killed a 40-year-old woman in the street outside and a 20-year-old man at a nearby kebab shop, which prosecutors say he picked as an “appropriate target” to kill people with immigrant roots.

Unity Deal Allows Netanyahu to Push Trump’s Peace Plan

The unity government agreement finalized on Monday evening by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz allows Israel to promote the annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria as early as July, sources privy to the details of the deal told Israel Hayom.

According to Article 29 of the 14-page agreement, Netanyahu, who under the rotation deal with Gantz will retain the premiership for the next 18 months, “will be able to present the agreement reached with the US on the application of sovereignty [in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley] for the approval of the government and the Knesset starting July 1, 2020.”

The Trump administration presented its Middle East peace plan in late January. Gantz was previously hesitant to support any annexation move, but under the unity deal, his party has pledged to vote with the coalition on the issue.

Moreover, the deal states that both leaders “will act in full agreement with the US, including on the issue of the maps, and in dialogue with the international community.”

The agreement further outlines two legislative paths to enact annexation, seeking to bypass any objections in parliament.

The Trump administration has also linked Israel’s sovereignty moves in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley with Israeli support for a demilitarized Palestinian state.

US envoy Friedman hails new government as J Street decries annexation plans

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Monday night expressed his satisfaction with the new Israeli unity government agreed in a deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz.

“Delighted to see that Israel’s two leading political parties, led by PM Netanyahu & MK Gantz, have agreed to form a unity government,” Friedman tweeted. “The United States looks forward to working closely with the new gov’t to advance our shared values and interests bilaterally and across the world.”

One of the key issues Friedman and the US administration will be be working on with the new government is Israel’s plan to annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley as part of the US peace plan.

Though the Trump administration has indicated it will green-light annexation under the plan, it conditioned the move on a new government being formed and on a joint committee mapping out the areas of the West Bank that Israel may annex.

Though Gantz has indicated he would be opposed to unilateral annexation, the coalition deal allows Netanyahu to move ahead with the issue after July 1, so long as he has a Knesset majority to do so — which he almost certainly will even without Blue and White’s support.

Annexation would likely elicit outrage in the Arab world, could have dire consequences for relations with the Palestinian Authority and is even seen as potentially endangering Israel’s peace deal with Jordan.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians decry Netanyahu-Gantz deal, warn ‘annexation’ ends peace deal

Palestinians from across the political spectrum have reacted to the agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz to form a unity government by warning that the extension of Israeli sovereignty to any part of the West Bank would signal the end of the two-state solution.

Some Palestinian officials and factions called on the Palestinian leadership to immediately halt all forms of cooperation with Israel, including security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF.

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said that the “formation of an Israeli annexation government means ending the two-state solution and the dismantling of the rights of the people of Palestine as established under international law and resolutions.”

On Monday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas warned the Israeli government and the US administration against proceeding with plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

Addressing the weekly meeting of the PA cabinet via videoconference, Abbas said that the Palestinians’ preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic does not mean that they have forgotten about “annexation” or US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, which is known as the Deal of the Century.

The Trump plan proposes for Israel to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, while entertaining the idea for Israel to swap out populated Israeli territory in the Triangle Area to a future Palestinian state.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in response to the Netanyahu-Gantz deal that the new Israeli government “has two options; to either open the doors for a meaningful peace process or to further jeopardize any hope for peace.”

Israeli Strikes Reported on Iran-Linked Targets in Central Syria

Syrian air defenses responded to an Israeli aerial attack on the city of Palmyra in eastern Homs province in central Syria and downed several “hostile targets,” state media said on Monday.

A news flash on state media did not give any details of the aerial attack on the ancient city in eastern Homs where Iranian backed-militias are dug in on its outskirts according to Western intelligence sources.

The attack is believed to be the second in less than a month by Israel which has launched in recent years hundreds of strikes on Iranian-backed militias and their bases in Syria, where they have a large presence across the country.

StandWithUs: What are Israel’s Existential Threats on its Northern Borders

What threats loom on Israel’s Northern Border?
Join us live as we chat with Sarit Zehavi, founder and CEO of ALMA Research & Education Center, who will tackle this issue and other burning issues including, how the defeat of the rebels in the civil war in Syria has changed the IDF’s security doctrine on the Syrian border, how deep is the Iranian involvement there and how Hezbollah is preparing for the next con?ict with Israel.

PMW: As Israel commemorates Holocaust, PA Antisemitism thrives: Israel’s “love of money” prevents them from fighting Coronavirus – says PA spokesman

As Israel commemorates the millions of victims of the Holocaust on the annual national Holocaust Remembrance Day today (Yom HaShoah), and despite global efforts for decades to eliminate Antisemitism, it is alive and well in the Palestinian Authority.

The same demonization of Jews as was customary during the Middle Ages and which was repeated by Hitler and the Nazi regime is still practiced by PA leaders – today!

Even now, during the global fight against the Coronavirus epidemic, the PA disseminates antisemitic stereotypes. The PA Government spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem, said that Israelis “love money” and therefore Israel prefers to keep the economy running instead of dealing with the virus:

Official PA Government Spokesman Ibrahim Melhem: “The settlements are incubators for the [Coronavirus] epidemic, and also the workplaces in Israel, hotels, buses, gas stations, and direct mutual contact with Israelis. Israel is having trouble because Israelis are not observing the preventative measures because they love money and want to continue to turn the wheels of production.”
[Official PA TV News, April 14, 2020]

Palestinian Media Watch continuously exposes antisemitic statements similar to this made by Palestinian leaders. This is not the first time the PA Government spokesman has promoted this antisemitic smear about Jews. A few weeks ago, he said that Israelis prefer profits to saving Israeli lives from the virus:

Israeli Official Slams Pro-Palestinian Social Media Users for Comparing Jews to Viruses With #Covid48 Hashtag

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official condemned on Monday pro-Palestinian social media users for vilifying the Jewish state amid the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

“On the eve of #YomHaShoah, as #Israel commemorates the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust, there’s a campaign going on in Palestinian social media using the hashtag #Covid48,” Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Dan Poraz tweeted.

“This wouldn’t be the first time Jews are compared to viruses,” Poraz added.

Tania Berg-Rafaeli — the deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Romania — tweeted, “So sickening that nowadays we still have to face this kind of propaganda. #Antisemitism is not just words, it is what led to the darkest period of the modern era. This evening, #Israel will commemorate #YomHashoah and the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis.”

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