Corona virus Index (Source: Pixabay)

Netanyahu Inaugurates Government with Call for Sovereignty:  Paul Shindman, WIN, May 17, 2020 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday presented his new government in the Knesset and said “it is time” to extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Don’t Bail Out Tehran’s Precision Guided Munitions Project: 

Jonathan Schanzer, and Bradley Bowman, FDD, May 15, 2020 — Iran, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, is demanding sanctions relief. Lebanon, too, is looking for a financial bailout after defaulting on a Eurobond. Neither should get the financial aid they are requesting. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon are undertaking a dangerous and determined campaign to field a precision-guided munitions (PGMs) arsenal across the Middle East. These weapons are as deadly as they are accurate. They can strike within a few meters of an intended target. They represent a grave threat to U.S. and allied forces stationed across the Middle East.

Table of Contents:

Israel Mulls Coronavirus Points System after Lockdown Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber, WSJ, May 1, 2020

10-4: How to Reopen the Economy by Exploiting the Coronavirus’s Weak Spot:  Uri Alon, Ron Milo and Eran Yashiv, NYT, May 11, 2020

A Gloomy Forecast for the Middle East Following the Coronavirus Crisis Oded Eran, INSS Insight No. 1305, April 22, 2020

American Foreign and Defense Policy: Between Scylla and Charybdis:  Mark Helprin, National Review, Apr. 16, 2020

Israel Mulls Coronavirus Points System after Lockdown
Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber
WSJ, May 1, 2020

As Israel begins to lift lockdowns aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, the government is considering a points-based system to help determine who should consider isolating even after measures are removed. Governments across the world are studying different plans that would allow them to restart their economies while minimizing the risk of new infections and deaths. Most will be left on the drawing board, considered too controversial, but the proposals illustrate authorities’ scramble to revive economic activity and limit the damage to society.

Clalit Health Services, a semipublic health-care provider that serves half of the Israeli population, has proposed a system that would assign points to help people determine their risk level and decide whether to remain at home after restrictions are lifted.

The government is considering the proposal among a number of others, according to officials. Under Clalit’s system, the risk would be assigned based on the person’s health and age. Pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure would be worth a point each on one’s risk profile, as would a history of smoking, obesity, or hospitalizations.

Depending on the number of points, vulnerable people would be categorized as extreme-risk or high-risk. Anyone aged 70 or older would automatically be considered high-risk, with three points or more putting them in the extreme risk category and seeing them advised to stay at home. Those between 50 and 69 with two points would be considered high-risk, as would those under 50 with four points or more.

Clalit is deliberating whether to issue blanket recommendations for those considered high-risk or tailor advice depending on location and vocation. For example, kindergarten teachers might receive a different set of recommendations than desk workers in cubicles.

Clalit, which is advising the government on reopening procedures, proposes that the government should offer extra support to high-risk individuals to encourage them to isolate. Ran Balicer, Clalit’s chief innovation officer, said that Israeli authorities are already using a version of the points system to decide how to prioritize coronavirus tests for patients. Israel has imposed varying degrees of lockdown since March, with a ban on arrivals of foreigners and non-residents.
… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

10-4: How to Reopen the Economy by Exploiting the Coronavirus’s Weak Spot
Uri Alon, Ron Milo, and Eran Yashiv
NYT, May 11, 2020

If we cannot resume economic activity without causing a resurgence of Covid-19 infections, we face a grim, unpredictable future of opening and closing schools and businesses. We can find a way out of this dilemma by exploiting a key property of the virus: its latent period — the three-day delay on average between the time a person is infected and the time he or she can infect others.
People can work in two-week cycles, on the job for four days then, by the time they might become infectious, 10 days at home in lockdown. The strategy works even better when the population is split into two groups of households working alternating weeks.

Austrian school officials will adopt a simple version — with two groups of students attending school for five days every two weeks — starting May 18. Models we created at the Weizmann Institute in Israel predict that this two-week cycle can reduce the virus’s reproduction number — the average number of people infected by each infected person — below one. So a 10-4 cycle could suppress the epidemic while allowing the sustainable economic activity.

Even if someone is infected, and without symptoms, he or she would be in contact with people outside their household for only four days every two weeks, not 10 days, as with a normal schedule. This strategy packs another punch: It reduces the density of people at work and school, thus curtailing the transmission of the virus.

Schools could have students attend for four consecutive days every two weeks, in two alternating groups, and use distance-learning methods on the other school days. Children would go to school on the same days as their parents go to work.

Businesses would work almost continuously, alternating between two groups of workers, for regular and predictable production. This would increase consumer confidence, shoring up supply, and demand simultaneously. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

A Gloomy Forecast for the Middle East Following the Coronavirus Crisis
Oded Eran
INSS Insight No. 1305, April 22, 2020

The extent of coronavirus infection has not yet created a medical crisis in the health systems of Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East. At the same time, the severe economic consequences of the virus are liable to affect the political environment. The cumulative damage results from the negative impact on five sources of income that have individually or collectively benefited every country in the region: oil and natural gas, tourism, transit fees, services, and remittances from workers in other countries, mainly in oil-producing countries.
Oil prices have plunged in the past two months to around $20 a barrel, the lowest level since the beginning of the century (adjusted for inflation).

The same is true for gas prices, which are linked to the price of oil. The main victims are the traditional oil producers; companies producing natural gas in Egypt and Israel will have to reprice the gas sold in local and overseas markets. The tourism sector and the related services have been paralyzed almost completely, with the recovery period projected to be among the longest. Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco (and Israel) are among the countries hit hardest in this industry. Egypt, Syria (until the outbreak of the civil war), Jordan, and Lebanon have all benefited over the years from income derived from international trade passing through their territory en route to East Asia and Europe. The reduction in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis has already hurt the large and local markets, consequently resulting in a loss in income. Egypt is prominent among those affected because of less traffic in the Suez Canal caused by the decline in international trade and tourism.

On the eve of the crisis, six million Egyptians, nearly 500,000 Jordanians, and approximately 400,000 Palestinians worked in the Gulf states, and one million Egyptians worked in Western Europe. The remittances by the workers in these countries to their families will be drastically affected by the crisis. Unemployment in host countries will rise, domestic demand will drop, and the immediate return of millions to their native countries in the Middle East will add to the burden on local systems, such as health and housing.

Governments in the region are dealing with the new economic situation in different ways. Egypt, for example, has allocated over $6 billion to combat immediate problems. Pensions and allowances were increased by over 10 percent, payment of salaries in especially hard-hit sectors was guaranteed, certain taxes were cut, and planned taxes were postponed. In the monetary sector, the bank interest rate was cut. The government intervened in the capital market, inter alia by buying shares. Salary payments were guaranteed in Jordan, especially for day laborers. Salaries were also ensured for public sector employees and those employed in the securities services. On the other hand, hiring in the public sector, the largest employer in Jordan, was frozen. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

American Foreign and Defense Policy: Between Scylla and Charybdis
Mark Helprin
National Review, Apr. 16, 2020

Fifteen years before the coronavirus pandemic, I wrote a speech for a world-renowned physician who was coincidentally the majority leader of the United States Senate, and thus not without influence. He went, wholeheartedly, all-in, delivering it in the Senate, at Harvard Medical School’s most important annual lecture, at Davos, at the Bohemian Grove (where the only Bohemian to enthuse sufficiently to request a copy was Henry Kissinger), and elsewhere.

And, of course, Senator Bill Frist took it to the White House. He presented a strong — one might even say urgent — a case for establishing joint research and vaccine-and-curative manufacturing centers judiciously spaced throughout the country; the doubling of medical- and nursing-school outputs; incentives for commercial pharmaceutical and medical-device research and production; increasing the number of hospital beds; providing for the stocks, structures, and reserve personnel for large-scale emergency field hospitals; and laying up stores of necessaries such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and, specifically, ventilators. Given that the laws of economics were not repealed, the ancillary effect of the supply surge in some of these medical goods — such as doctors, nurses, and hospital capacity — would have lowered their cost or at least slowed its rise. He asked for $100 billion per year. Had spending kept up at that level, which it need not have to assure adequate preparation, it would have amounted to only one-quarter of the monies shoveled into the furnace of COVID-19 in the last few weeks alone. He got a total of $2.4 billion over four years for the Strategic National Stockpile that of late has proved wholly inadequate.

This is the American way, a wing, and a prayer. We count on the forgiveness of the vast wilderness and its once-perceived infinite resources. Fail, and you can pick up and go elsewhere, all the while enjoying the protection of God and the two great oceans. But those days are over.

Perhaps we have learned the necessity of preparedness for epidemics, but even in the midst of this emergency, and especially so, it is of supreme importance to recognize that the same principle applies to defense and America’s continuing sovereignty as we know it, something we cannot take for granted given the threats to it both internally, as a result of many species of decline, and externally, the subject below. It may seem strange to address the question of war in a time of epidemics, but just as 15 years ago had the address of epidemics been heeded we might not be in the position we are in now, we have the opportunity to avoid a different kind of catastrophe 15 years hence.

In the three decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, American foreign and defense policy under four Democratic and three Republican administrations (one need not include the adult Bush and his adult presidency) has been a primarily reactive, deadly incompetent, crazy mix of unilateral disarmament, overextension, appeasement, misapprehension, and lack of prudent preparation. Having lost the knack of winning wars and maintaining alliances, politicians of both parties boast fulsomely about the military even as it has become decisively weaker both absolutely and relative to its expanding tasks and the growing strength of our adversaries. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

For Further Reference:

Coronavirus Outbreak’s Economic Impact Reuven Shiff, RSM, Apr. 20, 2020 — In recent weeks, Israel and the whole world are in a state of an unprecedented crisis, accompanied by confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety.

COVID-19: Implications for Canada and the Economic Impact: The Conference Board of Canada, May 14, 2020 — Here at The Conference Board of Canada, we have made the decision to give all Canadians access to our up-to-date and timely economic reports during this global pandemic.

These 7 Economic Signals Flashed Red This Week, Showing the Continued Damage Being Inflicted by Coronavirus:  Continued Damage Being Inflicted By Coronavirus Carmen Reinicke, Business Insider, May 16, 2020 — In just two short months, the US economy has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and sweeping shutdowns to contain the spread of the disease.

Israel Seeks Early Release of US Defense Funding Arie Egozi, Breaking Defense, Apr. 23, 2020 — Israel’s Ministry of Defense and high command have hammered out an emergency plan for an appeal to Washington to make changes in the Foreign Military Funds (FMF) agreement between the U.S and Israel.

A Tale of Two Leaders: Netanyahu During the Coronavirus Crisis and Ben-Gurion During the War of Independence Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, April 28, 2020 — Israel’s Independence Day, celebrated this year in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, invites an interesting comparison between PM David Ben-Gurion’s leadership during the War of Independence and PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership during the pandemic.