Daily Briefing: Media-ocrity of the Week (May 13,2020)

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“As the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is aggressively pushing a theory that the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese government lab. The U.S. government’s accusation is that the virus was released from the lab when a worker became accidentally infected, without realizing it, and went home. This past weekend, Mike Pompeo – Mr. Trump’s Secretary of State and the former director of the CIA – made the latest round of stark allegations on a Sunday talk show, but he could only point to circumstantial evidence: “We’ve seen the fact that they kicked the journalists out … We saw the fact that those who were trying to report on this, medical professionals inside of China, were silenced. They shut down reporting – all the kind of things that authoritarian regimes do …

“This is why Mr. Trump, who has always been a sleight-of-hand carnival barker, is aggressively attempting to change the channel and get Americans … mad at China. China bears responsibility, at the very least, for the consequences of its irresponsible secrecy in the initial stages of the crisis. If a proper and non-partisan investigation (should that ever be possible) does reveal that it did originate in a government lab, China’s complicity will be all the more damning. But the origin of the virus is a separate issue from Mr. Trump’s performance in the ensuing crisis. And while it’s unclear how, if and when China will face scrutiny, the American public has the chance to pass judgment on the President in November – which is why he is desperately trying to get it to focus on anything else,” – writes Richard Fadden is a former national security adviser to the Prime Minister, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and deputy minister of national defence. (Globe and Mail, May 8, 2020)

                                       WEEKLY QUOTES

“I said to him, Amit, you are my only son, you have to understand what this means. He responded that we have no other country and I went with him to Tel Hashomer to sign – and I told him how proud I was of him,” – said First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal’s father at his son’s funeral. in a highly emotional eulogy. Amit Ben Yigal was killed during an overnight arrest raid in the West Bank town of Yabed when a rock thrown by an attacker that hit him in the head. He was buried in the military cemetery of Be’er Ya’acov, with hundreds in attendance. (Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2020)

The New York Times, which buried the Holocaust, Is best known for pioneering ways to libel and demonize the Jewish State. Now it is doing the same,” – tweeted Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.  He slammed the NYT after it accused Israel’s Defense Ministry’s research-and-development arm of “pioneering cutting-edge ways to kill people and blow things up, with stealth tanks and sniper drones among its more lethal recent projects.” (Israel Hayom, May 10, 2020)

“Well, as I said in my confirmation hearing, one of the reasons I came back is because I was concerned that people were feeling there were two standards of justice in this country.  I wanted to make sure that we restore confidence in the system. There’s only one standard of justice. And I believe that this case, that justice in this case requires dismissing the charges against General Flynn,”—US Attorney General William Barr told CBS News investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge.  Barr recently dropped charges against General Michael Flynn claiming that the FBI laid a perjury trap for Flynn.  As regards the FBI’s use of the Steele Dossier and the Trump Russia collusion investigation, he claimed that there will be consequences for those involved in any wrongdoing before and after the election. (RealClearPolitics, May 7, 2020)

“There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic—not just institutional norms—but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places,” — former President Barak Obama told members of the Obama Alumni Association.  His comments were then “leaked” to Yahoo News(WSJ, May 10, 2020)

“We doubt Mr. Obama has even read Thursday’s Justice Department motion to drop the Flynn prosecution. If he does ever read it, he’ll find disconcerting facts that certainly do raise doubts about whether “our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk,” though not for the reasons he claims,” – writes the WSJ editorial board.  The editorial was responding to President Obama’s claim that dropping the charges against General Flynn placed the rule of law at risk. The Journal pointed out that “Mr. Flynn was never charged with perjury, which is lying under oath in a legal proceeding. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to the FBI in a meeting at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 that he was led to believe was a friendly chat among colleagues.” They then listed a slew of prosecutorial violations committed by the Obama Justice Department that included them violating the Brady rule that obligates the prosecution “to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense.”  Neither did they “disclose that the interviewing FBI agents at the time didn’t think that Mr. Flynn had lied about a phone call with the Russian ambassador. … Worst of all, as a legal matter, is that they never told Mr. Flynn that there was no investigative evidentiary basis to justify the interview.”  (WSJ, May 10, 2020)

 

 SHORT TAKES

MINISTER GILAD ERDAN APPOINTED AMBASSADOR TO UN, US(Jerusalem) — Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan will serve as Israel’s ambassador to the UN as well as envoy to Washington.  The appointment to both positions is unusual. He will be taking over for Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and for Ron Dermer; ambassador to the U.S. Erdan will continue serving as a government minister until his new appointment is approved by the government. (WIN, May 11, 2020)

RABBIS TO BIDEN: RESTORING TERROR FUNDING “MORALLY REPUGNANT” (Washington, DC) — The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, called upon Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2020 Presidential race, to withdraw his statement that he would resume funding to the Palestinian Authority despite its ongoing provision of financial rewards to the families of terrorists, and his claim that Israel would ‘jeopardize a two-state solution’ were it to extend sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the ‘West Bank’. “Every American should be outraged,” said Rabbi Dov Fischer, Western Regional Vice President of the CJV. “Joe Biden has just said he would break US law to do something which is also, of course, morally repugnant — to reinvolve the American taxpayer in incentivizing terrorism against innocent Americans like Taylor Force and others.” (CJV, May 10, 2020)

ISRAEL TO LOAN FINANCIALLY STRAPPED PA NIS 800M(Jerusalem) — Israel intends to transfer 800 million shekels ($228 million) to the PA to help in cash-strapped Ramallah’s efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak. The funds will be transferred as an advanced payment on taxes Israeli collects on behalf of the Palestinians under a mechanism up as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords. (Israel Hayom, May 8, 2020)

ISRAELI DOCTORS SAVE LIFE OF 2-YEAR-OLD PALESTINIAN ‘MIRACLE BOY,’ SEND HIM HOME (Holon) – Hamza Ali Mohammed, who was born with a life-threatening congenital heart disease, returned home from Israel after undergoing life-saving heart surgery at the Save a Child’s Life clinic in the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, known for operating on the hearts of thousands of children from around the world. He underwent open heart surgery by the SACH volunteer medical team in February and had been hospitalized since then during the coronavirus crisis. (United With Israel, May 12, 2020)

‘YEAR 2 OF FREEDOM’: ANCIENT COIN FROM BAR KOCHBA REVOLT FOUND NEAR TEMPLE MOUNT (Jerusalem) — The Israel Antiquities Authority revealed a coin minted during the Bar Kochba revolt that was unearthed near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. The coin, which was found in the William Davidson Archaeological Park next to the Western Wall, is adorned with a cluster of grapes and the words “Year Two of the Freedom of Israel” on one side — declaring the rebels’ purpose — while the other side has a palm tree and the word “Jerusalem.” (Times of Israel, May 12, 2020)

REPORT: PA IS ERADICATING A HASMONEAN-ERA FORTRESS IN SAMARIA (Shomron) — The Palestinian Authority, taking advantage of the absence of Civil Administration inspectors during the coronavirus shutdown, is consolidating its takeover of “Tel Aroma,” a Hasmonean fortress in Samaria.  Situated on a commanding ridge controlling the passage between the Jordan Valley and the heart of Samaria, the Tel Aroma Fortress is the northernmost of eight fortresses established by the Hasmonean Kingdom to protect Israel’s eastern border. (JNS, May 11, 2020)

SICK: PREGNANT SUICIDE BOMBING VICTIM WAS A ‘LEGITIMATE TARGET,’ CLAIMS PALESTINIAN LEGAL EXPERT(Jordan) — Several Republican U.S. Congressmen have demanded that Jordan extradite Ahlam Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian terrorist on the FBI’s Most Wanted List who planned the 2001 suicide attack in a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed 15 civilians, two of whom were U.S. citizens. In response, a so-called Palestinian international law expert claimed on Jordanian TV recently that the two American victims, a 31-year-old pregnant woman and a teenager, were “legitimate targets.” Their crimes? One of them dared to visit Jerusalem as a tourist and the other immigrated to Israel. (United With Israel, May 12, 2020)

CITING VIRUS, IRAN SAYS IT’S READY FOR PRISONER SWAP WITH US (Tehran) — Iran says it is ready for unconditional prisoner swap talks with the US because of fears that the coronavirus could put the lives of the prisoners at risk.  There are several Iranians in U.S. custody, including Sirous Asgari, a 60-year-old university professor. Last week, U.S. officials said they were making progress in efforts to secure the release of a detained Navy veteran in Iran, but were pushing back on Iranian suggestions that a swap was in the works for the imprisoned Iranian American officials have been trying to deport since last year. (Newsmax, May 13, 2020)

IRAN NAVY ‘FRIENDLY FIRE’ INCIDENT KILLS 19 SAILORS IN GULF OF OMAN (Tehran) — Nineteen sailors were killed and 15 others injured in an accident involving Iranian naval vessels in the Gulf of Oman. The support ship Konarak was hit by a new anti-ship missile being tested by the frigate Jamaran during an exercise. The Konarak had been putting targets out in the water and remained too close to one, according to Iranian media reports. The incident took place near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically important waterway through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes. (BBC, May 11, 2020)

ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS HIT ALL-TIME HIGH IN 2019 (NY) — The American Jewish community experienced the highest level of antisemitic incidents last year since tracking began in 1979, with more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment reported across the US, according to new data from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). The record number of incidents came as the Jewish community grappled with vicious and lethal antisemitic attacks against communities in Poway, Jersey City and Monsey, and a spree of violent assaults in Brooklyn. (ADL, May 12, 2020)

IN WORLDWIDE HATZALAH-THON, EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE RAISES OVER $14 MILLION (Kentucky) – In its first-ever Hatzalah – thon, the world-renowned all-volunteer emergency medical service raised a staggering $14, 130,307 in a 24-hour telethon that took place on Lag B’Omer May 11 – 12th.  Hatzalah serves mostly Jewish communities worldwide. The program was assembled in a week and assembled a stellar list of popular Orthodox Jewish singers such as Avraham Fried, and Chazan Yitzchok Meir Helgot, who recently recovered from a severe case of Coronavirus.  Donations came in from all over the world.  The highest single donation was $300,000. Donors contributed online at unitedforprotection.com, and can continue to do so.  Hatzalah’s funds were largely depleted during the coronavirus pandemic.  (YouTube, May 12, 2020)

AT LEAST 1,300 JEWS DIE OF CORONA IN FRANCE (Paris) — At least 1,300 members of the French Jewish community died from the coronavirus, which represents around 5 percent of the roughly 26,000 deaths recorded in France. The half-million Jews in France make up only 0.8 percent of the total population of the country. The death toll might actually be closer to 2,000 because the number does not necessarily include secular Jews, who may not have reported their religion. The report only lists those who were buried according to Jewish tradition. (WIN, May 10, 2020)

22-YEAR-OLD CORONAVIRUS PATIENT WHO WAS ON LIFE SUPPORT RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL (Tel Aviv) — Afik Swisa, the 22-year-old who suffered serious complications from coronavirus, was released from Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center on Tuesday morning. After being hospitalized in March, Swisa’s condition deteriorated and he was placed on life support and transferred to Ichilov. In early April, Swisa regained consciousness and was taken off life support. Swisa will continue rehabilitation treatment in Sheba Medical Center. (Arutz Sheva, May 12, 2020)

‘SHE SURVIVED’: 113-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, THOUGHT TO BE SPAIN’S OLDEST, BEATS CORONAVIRUS (Spain) — Maria Branyas, 113, possibly the oldest living person in Spain survived the coronavirus after being infected in April. Branyas, who was born in the US, was isolated in her room for weeks while she battled the virus. According to a local Spanish news station, only one worker dressed in personal protective equipment was allowed into her room to care for her. (Washington Examiner, May 13, 2020)

US ON TRACK TO EXCEED TRUMP PROMISE OF 100,000 VENTILATORS IN 100 DAYS (Washington) — As requests for ventilators from the national stockpile reached a crescendo in late March, President Donald Trump made what seemed like a bold claim: His administration would have 100,000 within 100 days. At the time, the Department of Health and Human Services had not ordered any new ventilators since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in January. But records show that over the following three weeks, the agency scrambled to turn Trump’s pledge into a reality, spending nearly $3 billion to spur U.S. manufacturers to crank out the breathing machines at an unprecedented pace. (WIN, May 10, 2020)

JERRY STILLER, COMEDIAN AND ‘SEINFELD’ ACTOR, DIES AT 92(NYC) — Comedy veteran Jerry Stiller, who launched his career opposite wife Anne Meara in the 1950s and reemerged four decades later as the hysterically high-strung Frank Costanza on the smash television show “Seinfeld,” died at 92. He died of natural causes, his son — a comedy star himself — said in a tweet. Stiller earned a 1997 Emmy nomination for his indelible “Seinfeld” performance. In a 2005 Esquire interview, Stiller recalled that he was out of work and not the first choice for the role of Frank Costanza, father to Jason Alexander’s neurotic George. (WIN, May 11, 2020)

  
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

In Montreal, Minyans on Balconies Serve as Bridges Across Cultures:  Emily Benedek, Tablet, May 11, 2020 — On a recent April day, Jennifer Dorner, a resident of the Outremont neighborhood of Montreal, heard spirited singing outside her home.

 

WATCH:  Israel’s Incredible Response to Coronavirus:  YouTube, Apr. 8, 2020 

 

On UN Video Call, Prominent US Rabbi Urges Global Unity in Coronavirus Fight Algemeiner, May 12, 2020 — A prominent US rabbi issued a call for global unity amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis in a United Nations General Assembly video conference that took place on Tuesday.

WATCH: IDF Troops on Hunt for Soldier’s Killer in Rock-Throwing Attack:  WIN, May 13, 2020

WATCH:  Tucker: Adam Schiff Should Resign Tucker Carlson, Fox News, May 8, 2020 — Rep. Adam Schiff and the entire apparatus of official Washington has been exposed by these transcripts, as well as by the documents just released in the Michael Flynn case.