Tuesday, April 28, 2020

From Ian:

Virus death toll rises to 208 but new infections appear to slow
Four people succumbed to the coronavirus late Monday and early Tuesday, bringing the Israeli death toll to 208, the Health Ministry said, as the country prepared to reopen schools and more businesses in the next few days.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 15,589, with 123 new cases over the previous 24 hours. The tally was nearly double the 68 new cases seen in the 24 hours before that, but still showed a steep drop-off from last week, which had seen more than 200 cases daily.

However, the improved figures were tempered by statistics released by the ministry showing that testing had dipped to below 10,000 samples a day, after reaching close to 14,000 daily tests a week earlier.

According to the ministry, 9,031 tests were performed on Saturday, 8,393 tests on Sunday — when fewer than 100 cases were confirmed for the first time in over a month — and Monday saw a slight uptick with 9,546 tests.

The Health Ministry said 117 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 94 are on ventilators, numbers that have also steadily declined in recent days.

So far, 7,375 people have recovered, according to Health Ministry numbers.
Israel health chief: If we’d not been tough, we could have wound up like Belgium
Israel’s Health Ministry director-general on Friday defended the country’s tough lockdown measures in the battle against COVID-19, saying if it hadn’t acted responsibly it could have found itself in a similar situation to Belgium.

Moshe Bar Siman-Tov was asked in a TV interview whether his own prediction in recent weeks, and that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that tens of thousands of Israelis could die from COVID-19, was exaggerated, when the current Israeli tally is below 200 fatalities and the restrictions are gradually being rolled back.

“We have a very simple check,” he said. “We were at a rate where the number of new patients was doubling every three days… There was a single day when the number of seriously ill patients rose by 50%.

“If that trend had continued, today we’d have over 600,000 people [sick], over 10,000 on ventilators, and many thousands who would have ended their lives.”

Pushed directly on whether that kind of concern has proven exaggerated, especially with Israel’s economy tanking and unemployment having soared from below 4% to over 26%, he replied: “I don’t think so… There are enough control groups — look at Belgium.” Belgium has a population slightly larger than Israel’s and a death toll approaching 7,000.

End all restrictions, they were unnecessary, Hebrew University researchers say
Israel should end all coronavirus restrictions and reopen the country to international travel, according to a Hebrew University research team that includes a prominent epidemiologist and two finance professors.

They crunched statistics from around the world and concluded in a newly published study that while lockdowns were necessary in London, New York and various other places, Israel didn’t need to confine people to houses or impose other strict rules.

Though researchers admitted that without those limitations, Israel’s death toll would have been higher, even significantly so, they believed it would have stayed within manageable rates, while protecting the economy from massive damage.

“The purpose of publishing this isn’t to criticize what was done,” Prof. David Gershon, an economist with the Jerusalem Business School at Hebrew University, told The Times of Israel. “It isn’t political, but it raises the question of why we are still in semi-lockdown. Why are we keeping the cemeteries closed on Memorial Day? It shows that there’s an overreaction.”

They assert that in retrospect Israel should have adopted a similar approach to the lockdown-free Sweden, despite the human cost. Sweden’s population is only slightly larger than Israel’s, but it has seen 11 times the number of COVID-19 deaths so far — 2,194 compared to 202.

While Sweden eschewed lockdowns and appealed for voluntary social distancing, Israel has implemented strict regulations, punishable by fines, to fight coronavirus. Israeli schools and universities were closed on March 12, soon followed by most workplaces, and most Israelis have been largely confined to their homes for weeks.

Restrictions are now being slowly eased, with many workplaces and stores reopening for business — under heavily restrictive conditions — and schools set to partially reopen next week.

But health officials have warned that a too-swift return to normal could see infection rates spike amid a second, potentially worse wave of the disease. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that a spike in cases is possible and could cause a return to lockdown.
Arab-Israeli Medic to Be Honored on Israel's 72nd Independence Day




CAMERA Op-Ed: The First ‘Palestinian Intifada’ Wasn’t Palestinian
One hundred years ago on April 4, 1920, a pogrom took place in Jerusalem. The violence lasted for four days and occurred during the annual celebration of the Muslim festival of Nebi Musa, memorializing the birth of Moses. While often overlooked by journalists and analysts today, the little- known Nebi Musa riots were, in fact, a harbinger of what is today referred to as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the causes and consequences of that violence echo still, a century later.

As the historians David Dalin and John Rothmann observed in 2008, Nebi Musa was “the first intifada…the first of many violent radical Islamic uprisings against the Jews of Palestine that would take place over the next eight or more decades, throughout the twentieth century and on into the twenty first.”[1]

The first lesson from the Nebi Musa riots lies with its perpetrators and their motives. The violence that left five Jews murdered, 211 injured and at least two Jewish women raped, was not initiated by those seeking Palestinian self-rule, nor was it done in the name of Palestinian nationalism. Those who instigated the riot, many of whom would become identified as the early leaders of the Palestinian Arab movement, were not hoping to create a Palestinian Arab state. Rather, they were trying to prevent a Jewish one—even if that meant being ruled from Damascus in what is today Syria, by a man, Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi, born in what is today Saudi Arabia.

All of that territory had been part of the Turkish-ruled Ottoman Empire until World War I led to the empire’s eventual dissolution. During that conflict, the British issued the Balfour Declaration on Nov. 2, 1917, which called for “the establishment in Palestine”—then but a vaguely defined geographic area whose Arab inhabitants had never had self-rule— “of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Debates about what to do with the land had begun long before the British military had seized itfrom the Ottomans as a consequence of that war. When the guns fell silent, the question of whether Britain and her victorious allies would continue to support a “national home” for the Jewish people on their ancestral territory was felt by some to be very much up in the air. Borders had yet to be demarcated and, in some cases, rulers had yet to be anointed.
"Palestine is not our cause" is trending in the Arab world
The times, they are a'changin!

The trending hashtag "Palestine is not my cause" from the Gulf states is surprising, to say the least.

Here's a sample of whats appeared today on Twitter

One post blames the Palestinians for selling their land to the Jews.

Another shows a Palestinian mother feeding her baby a diet of hatred and treachery



Amid Uproar, Stark to Remain Conference of Presidents Chair for Another Year
Amid an uproar from conservative members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations over the nomination of Dianne Lob from HIAS as its next chair, the Jewish umbrella organization announced that its current chair, Arthur Stark, will serve for another year, with Lob serving as chair-elect.

In an email to members on Sunday, the Conference said that it has approved the creation a chair-elect position as a way to “forge greater unity in the Conference.”

It said “we believe it is in the best interest of the forward-looking governance of the Conference to implement a practice that is in place in many organizations, which is to create the role of Chair-Elect. In that structure, we propose Arthur continue serving as Chair and Dianne serve as Chair-elect through April 1, 2021, after which she will become Chair.”

The announcement by the Conference comes after several conservative members raised objections to Lob, who has worked as head of global business development for AllianceBernstein, an investment management firm.

Many longtime members and financial supporters were uncomfortable with the political positions of HIAS, which has clashed repeatedly with the Trump administration over recent US immigration policies. The Conference, which represents 53 Jewish organizations, was established as a liaison to the US executive branch and works closely with the president, as well as representing the US Jewish community abroad.

Additionally, concerns were raised that Lob’s nomination violated several bylaws of the organization. At the same time, some objected to the timing and method of the vote to approve her nomination on April 28, which would have to take place virtually via Zoom due to coronavirus restrictions.
Caroline Glick: Lob's hostile (but disarming) takeover
On the face of things, the surprising move seems like a concession to the many Jewish groups and activists who vociferously oppose Lob's selection. But upon reflection, it is no such thing. Stark, Daroff, Lob and their associates have not budged from their determination to install Lob as the next chairman. They will not acknowledge the bylaw breaches endemic to the nomination process that selected her.

Instead, they have decided to neutralize the criticism by laying low for a year. They assume that within a few months, people will grow used to the idea that a woman, who led an organization that abandoned its Jewish identity officially in 2014 and works openly with political activists that seek to deny American Jews their civil right to express their support for Israel and their opposition to anti-Semites and terrorist organizations, will now be the head of the most important American Jewish organization in the United States.

Lob will undoubtedly go on a "listening tour," and make everyone feel that they are listened to. And then, beginning in April 2021, she will allow her allies on the post-Jewish Left to control the Conference just as they control HIAS.

Last week, to calm concerned Jewish leaders and donors, Conference officials argued that even if Lob wants to transform the Conference into a HIAS knockoff, she won't be able to. The Conference's bylaws, they explained, require the leaders of the executive committee to act within the consensus of the Conference's members. This position is exposed as a lie by the speed with which Stark and Lob oversaw a radical change of the Conference's bylaws to create a new position of "Chairman-Elect." Obviously, the bylaws can be changed at the drop of a hat.

There is a way to resolve this situation. Conference members can transform the formality of the vote on Tuesday into an actual election and vote against Lob. In so doing, they would send the entire appointment process back to the nominations committee for another – more legitimate – round of deliberations and votes. If this happens, there is a chance the Conference of Presidents will save itself from a hostile takeover by radical activists who oppose the views of 95% of American Jews and seek to transform the Conference into an anti-Israel, post-Jewish pressure group. Barring such action, however, the chance of saving the Conference from the post-Jewish Left will effectively disappear.


Eugene Volokh: Fifth Circuit Anti-BDS Lawsuit Dismissed as Moot
The Fifth Circuit panel held that, because Texas's law had been narrowed in a way that excluded these particular plaintiffs, the challenge should be dismissed:

This appeal touches on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2017, Texas enacted a law that forbids its governmental entities from contracting with companies who engage in economic boycotts of Israel. The plaintiffs, who support the Palestinian side of the conflict, then brought two separate suits for declaratory and injunctive relief in federal district court, alleging that requiring "No Boycott of Israel" clauses in Texas government contracts violates the First Amendment. After the two suits were consolidated, the district court held that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that the First Amendment prohibited Texas's "No Boycott of Israel" certification requirement. The district court then preliminarily enjoined the enforcement of "No Boycott of Israel" clauses in all contracts with Texas governmental entities. Whether that ruling was correct has been the subject of wide and intense debate, as demonstrated by the fourteen amicus briefs filed in this appeal.

This opinion will not address that debate, however. Instead, we have decided that this appeal is moot because, twelve days after the district court's ruling, Texas enacted final legislation that exempts sole proprietors [and certain other businesses] from the "No Boycott of Israel" certification requirement. The plaintiffs are all sole proprietors….


For more on the lawsuits, and Prof. Michael Dorf's, Prof. Andrew Koppelman's, and my argument on why the anti-BDS laws being challenged generally don't violate the First Amendment, see here. The Eighth Circuit case was argued three months ago, and I expect that the panel will likely decide the case on the merits.


Video: CAMERA webinar on anti-Israel activism and antisemitism
On April 23, CAMERA on CAMPUS sponsored a live webinar featuring Israeli journalist Eylon Levy in conversation with UK Media Watch managing editor Adam Levick, focusing on the correlation between anti-Israel activism and racism.

Here’s a video of the event:

Cambridge graduate who said Jews should be exterminated stands trial
A Cambridge graduate has appeared in court charged with antisemitic hate crime, for having allegedly posted online that "extermination was the best option" for Jewish people.

Oliver Bel, 23, from Oldham in Manchester, who graduated from the prestigious university last year, is also accused of having a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook. Published in 1971, the book contains instructions on how to manufacture explosives, the Daily Mail has reported.

Bel appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Manchester on Friday in a virtual court hearing, where he spoke to confirm his identity and his nationality as British.

He faces two charges: The first that on September 14, 2017, he sent a "grossly offensive" electronic message, contrary to the Communications Act 2003, according to the BBC.

The second is that on November 15, 2019 in Salford, he had in his possession a document likely to be of use to someone planning on committing an act of terrorism.


NPR Repeats Palestinian Slurs Against Israel
Daniel Estrin, NPR’s international correspondent in Jerusalem, recently reported on Covid-19 in the West Bank. The theme of his April 17th report was how the Palestinians were battling the crisis “using familiar tactics from half a century of Israeli military occupation.” Focusing on Palestinian grievances against Israel, he omits essential details about the situation – namely any detail that shows Israel in a positive light.

For example, there is nothing about the aid from and cooperation with Israel regarding the coronavirus, and certainly nothing about how the Palestinian Authority has responded by inciting hatred against Israel and the Jewish people.

Estrin had, weeks earlier, reported about the cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians but apparently felt that report obviated the need for subsequent non-partisan and accurate reporting. By omitting this relevant information in the more recent report while emphasizing questionable Palestinian slurs about Israel, Estrin misinforms his audience.
Haaretz Corrects No Israeli Approval Needed For Passage Through Egypt-Gaza Crossing
Israel’s COGAT, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, has confirmed that Israel has absolutely no control or involvement whatsoever over the Rafah crossing. Therefore, Gazans who wish to enter or exit the territory through Egypt absolutely do not need any approval from Israel.
In response to communication from CAMERA, Haaretz commendably amended the second passage. The updated online article now states:
The majority of Gazan youngsters wanting to study abroad leave the Strip through the West Bank and Jordan. This requires them to obtain the approval of up to four authorities: Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Committee, Hamas and Jordan. Leaving the Strip directly through Egypt’s Rafah crossing requires only Hamas and Egypt’s approval but is considered a last resort for students, as getting Egyptian approval is expensive and requests are often denied the first time.

Moreover, the editors’ transparent steps to set the record straight included the following correction appended to the bottom of the article:
Correction: An earlier version of this report stated that students leaving Gaza for studies abroad need the approval of at least four authorities: Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, Hamas and Jordan or Egypt – depending on where they depart from. However, leaving Gaza via Egypt requires only Hamas and Egypt’s approval.
Anti-Israel Propaganda Book Mentioned in NY Times “By the Book” Column
The New York Times runs a weekly “By the Book” column in which writers are interviewed to discuss books they’ve read or recommend. CAMERA previously criticized the column for featuring author Alice Walker, a radical anti-Israel activist whose own writings reflect anti-Semitic views, recommending an anti-Jewish screed by a notorious racist and conspiracy theorist, David Icke.

A recent “By the Book” column interviewed novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to discuss “what she reads while she works.” Among the list of the books “on her nightstand” is “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” by Ilan Pappé, an author who cares little about honesty and truth. As CAMERA has pointed out in the past, Pappé himself readily admits that his historical writings are driven by subjective ideology rather than factual accuracy. Indeed, the book referred to in the column, has been panned as “sloppy” and “dishonest”. See, for example, Benny Morris’ “The Liar as Hero”, Raphael Israeli’s “Alice in Ethnic Cleansing Land”, and Seth Frantzman’s “Flunking History” in which scholars debunk some of the foundational myths of Pappé’s false narrative and book.

Although the article includes a quote by Adichie in which she criticizes “a fictional portrait masquerading as nonfiction,” she is not referring to Pappé’s fictions in “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” Rather, she is answering the interviewer’s question of whether any book has ever brought her closer or come between her and another person.
Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Increased Funding for State Department Antisemitism Envoy
The senators also cited a study by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry that found that violent antisemitic attacks globally increased 18 percent in 2019. The study also indicated that the coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in antisemitic incitement scapegoating Jews for spreading the disease, in addition to the economic downturn caused by it.

“Providing additional funds in FY 2021 will ensure the State Department has the resources needed to track and respond to this growing scourge and that the United States remains a leader in combating anti-Semitism internationally,” wrote the senators. “Specifically, these funds would support the Special Envoy’s efforts to improve the safety and security of at-risk Jewish communities, combat online radicalization, ensure public officials and faith leaders condemn antisemitic discourse, and strengthen judicial systems in their prosecution of antisemitic incidents.”

The letter did not specifically state how much more funding should be allocated for the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. The 2020 spending bill Congress passed in December 2019, which was signed by US President Donald Trump, included $500,000 for that office.

The letter was endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America, American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, National Council Supporting Eurasian Jewry, B’nai B’rith International, Union for Reform Judaism, Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Christians United for Israel Action Fund, Agudath Israel of America and Human Rights First.
Digital ceremony marks anniversary of Poway Chabad synagogue shooting
The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) held a digital ceremony on Monday, marking the anniversary of the fatal shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in 2019, which killed one congregant, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and left three people wounded, including the now-retired rabbi of the Poway Chabad, who was shot in both hands and lost his index finger.

Johnathan Morales, the off-duty United States Border Patrol agent who drove the shooter out of the synagogue, spoke at the ceremony and relived his first-hand account of the tragic shooting - describing the subsequent impact it brought upon his life as well as the traumatic effect it had on the San Diego suburb community as a whole.

“What I have learned from this antisemitic attack, is that we can’t change people’s beliefs in these antisemitic ideas, but we can promote awareness and education on these issues," Morales said during the ceremony. "We need to be prepared to protect ourselves and [I] thank God I could immediately step into action to protect our community. But we also need to continue to fight antisemitism with light and love.”

Morales was joined alongside notable speakers such as Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, the US Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism Elan Carr and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion and Belief Dr. Ahmed Shaheed.

Dr. Shaheed authored a report following the events of the Poway shooting, in which he noted he is “alarmed by the growing use of antisemitic tropes by white supremacists including neo-Nazis and members of radical Islamist groups in slogans, images, stereotypes and conspiracy theories meant to incite and justify hostility, discrimination, and violence against Jews" - alerting international communities of an overall growth in rising antisemitism worldwide.
German Jew sues Berlin to stop antisemitic Quds Day rally
After the city-state of Berlin declined to take action against an annual Iranian-regime sponsored protest calling for the destruction of Israel, German Jewish retiree Gilbert Kallenborn filed a lawsuit to stop the rally.

The Berlin-based B.Z. paper reported on Monday that the 66-year-old Kallenborn seeks to prevent the mid-May Al-Quds rally from taking place in the heart of Berlin’s shopping district. “The destruction of the Jewish state of Israel is called for there," said Kallenborn.

According to B.Z., the authorities are examining legal measures and have not issued a decision.

When asked if the city of Berlin plans to ban the Quds Day rally, Martin Pallgen, a state interior ministry spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post: “This year's Al-Quds assembly was not ‘approved’ by the State of Berlin. According to the Assembly Act, based on Article 8 of the Basic Law, demonstrations do not have to be requested, but only registered. The Al-Quds demonstration was already registered in July 2019 for May 16, 2020.”

Pallgen added that “The possibilities under the right of assembly to impose or prohibit an assembly remain unaffected.”
Brazilian foreign minister compares social distancing to concentration camps
Brazil’s foreign minister compared social isolation to Nazi concentration camps in a critique of a book recently released by an Italian publisher.

“According to the author, Arbeit macht frei is the correct motto of the new era of global solidarity that is coming as a result of the pandemic,” wrote Ernesto Araujo in an April 22 post on his Portuguese-language blog, Meta Political Brazil. “The communists will not repeat the Nazis’ mistake and this time they will use it correctly.

“How? Perhaps convincing people that it is for their own good that they will be trapped in this concentration camp, devoid of dignity and freedom. It occurs to me to propose a definition: the Nazi is a communist who did not bother to deceive his victims,” Araujo wrote.

He was discussing the book “Virus” by popular far-left Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

Several Jewish groups reacted to the foreign minister’s statement, which was part of a post titled, “The commie-virus has arrived.”

“Chancellor Araujo’s bizarre comparison is a clear example of the trivialization of what concentration camps were, which took so many lives and left so much suffering. It is in bad taste, dangerous, and demonstrates a complete ignorance of the subject,” said Ariel Krok, a Brazilian member of the steering committee of the World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomatic Corps.
‘Sustainable Nation’ film showcases Israeli water tech
“Sustainable Nation,” a documentary that follows three Israeli innovators applying Israeli water technology solutions to help water-stressed countries, will premier live online on April 26 at 2pm EDT/11am PST/9pm IDT. It will be available on YouTube until May 2 and then on Amazon Prime by the summer.

The hour-long documentary is from Imagination Productions, a division of the nonprofit educational media company OpenDor Media (formerly Jerusalem U), based in Israel and the United States.

“Sustainable Nation” follows three individuals – including Sivan Ya’ari of Innovation: Africa — using inventions developed in water-poor Israel to change the grim global situation where one in 10 people lacks access to safe drinking water.

“Over the course of just a few decades, Israelis developed a unique social consciousness around water conservation that has resulted in homegrown solutions that are now used around the world,” said director Micah Smith.

“This is the kind of transformation we dream of for the global community. When it comes to water, Israelis are incredible role models for how individuals around the world can have an impact.”

Dina E. Rabhan, CEO of OpenDor Media, tells ISRAEL21c that the film took two years to create, as the crew traveled to India, Africa and California to explore specific projects.

“Sustainable Nation” was shown at 16 film festivals in 2019, winning awards at the Boston Jewish Film Festival and at Agrofilm in the Slovak Republic. The film was produced in partnership with the Jewish National Fund.


Jerusalem Film Festival, others, to go online in YouTube event
The Jerusalem Film Festival will take part in a 10-day digital film festival screened on YouTube with 20 partners, streaming free to film fans everywhere.

Titled “We Are One: A Global Film Festival,” the event will run May 29-June 7, and will be available online on YouTube. The programming will be ad-free, and will include feature films, shorts, documentaries, music, comedy and panel discussions, according to Variety.

The programming will come from 20 top film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, as well as smaller film festivals, such as the Jerusalem Film Festival, according to Variety.

It is being produced and organized by New York’s Tribeca Enterprises.

The Jerusalem Film Festival, hosted by the Jerusalem Cinematheque arthouse theater and normally held during the first weeks of July, is currently considering alternate dates for its annual event, according to a spokesperson for the event.

Each film festival will curate its own programming tracks, and a full schedule of the online festival will be available in the coming weeks.
San Remo Conference Centenary
To mark the Centenary of the San Remo Conference, which took place from 19-26 April 1920, UK Lawyers for Israel has posted six talks by various contributors:

Dr James Vaughan, lecturer in International History at Aberystwyth University and specialist in the history of British and American diplomatic policy towards the Middle East.


Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, specialising in constitutional and international law and Director of the Kohelet Institute.




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