“We will never forget this period, the way people never forgot the Second World War. I didn’t know how my parents kept remembering that war as if that was such a vivid moment in their lives, but they did because when you do face a danger, and you face it together with lots of other people it becomes incredibly vivid and personality shaping in terms of your memory,” – former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaking on coping with the coronavirus.(Algemeiner, Mar. 20, 2020)
“Well, we’ve never had a threat like this and the coordinated response has been, there are a number of adjectives to describe it. Impressive, I think is one of them,”– said infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci while interviewed by Mark Levin on ‘Life, Liberty & Levin’ on the White House Task Force response to the coronavirus. (RealClearPolitics,Mar. 23, 2020)
“Benny Gantz, this is the moment of truth for leadership and national responsibility. The citizens of Israel need a unity government which will act to save their lives and livelihoods. This is not the time for fourth elections. We both know that the differences between us are small, and that they can be overcome to form a government. Let’s meet now and form a government today. I’m waiting for you.” – tweeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Arutz Sheva, Mar. 24, 2020)
“We should emphasize at this point the distinction—which is clear to most Israelis—between Israeli Arab citizens and the Joint Arab List. With few exceptions, the majority of Israeli Jews not only believes in upholding the human and civil rights of Arab citizens, but practice these values every day. Most Israelis run into Arabs at work, on the beach, in the parks, in restaurants, and accept them. What else are they supposed to do? Roughly 20% of Israelis are Arab and it’s in both groups’ best interests to get along. The Joint Arab List is a different story altogether. Forged not by ideology but by the need to survive Avigdor Liberman’s draconian legislation, which set the threshold vote at 3.25%, meaning a party has to get 4 seats before it can enter the Knesset. As a result, some reasonable, business-oriented Arab leaders were forced to join hands with fanatical Islamists, communists and Palestinian nationalists, many of whom are on the record as denying both the Jewish state and its Zionist agenda,” – writes columnist David Israel on the Blue&White coalition that includes the Joint List’s 15 seats. The results of the Direct Polls indicated that if a 4th election were held today Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing bloc would receive 62 Knesset seats, and Benny Gantz’s center-left bloc 58 seats. (Jewish Press, Mar. 20, 2020)
That the Supreme Court’s ruling that demanded he permit a vote on a new speaker “is not based on the letter of the law but on a one-sided and extreme interpretation. It is a grave and flawed decision… It undermines the foundations of democracy. As one who paid a personal price of years in prison [in Russia] for the right to live as a citizen in Israel, as a Zionist and as the speaker of this House I will not let Israel come to anarchy. I will not give my support to a civil war. Thus for the good of the State of Israel and to renew the spirit of statesmanship in Israel I am resigning from my position as Knesset speaker. We will pray and work for better days,” — Likud Speaker of the Knesset said prior to resigning his post. He added, “The High Court decision contradicts the Knesset’s bylaws and destroys the work of the Knesset.” (WIN, Mar. 25, 2020)
“In these extraordinary times when Israelis aren’t certain they’ll be able to have a normal life anytime soon, given that the usual rules and conventions of everyday life are being steamrollered, with their economy being battered senseless, with their enemies prioritizing waging their battle against Israel over protecting their own citizens, I’m on my knees begging Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to set aside their political differences and agree to form a coalition government. … It borders on the bizarre that either of Israel’s two leading parties would seriously consider bringing the Joint List into the government, given that its Arab members frequently express disdain for the Jewish state and actively militate against Israeli interests,” – writes Henry Roth, Blue&White leader Benny Gantz’s Canadian cousin. (WIN, Mar. 23, 2020)
“We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15 day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go!” tweeted President Donald Trump.suggesting he might lift restrictions intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus if the economic pain from the measures becomes too great. (The Hill, Mar. 23, 2020
“ … What followed was one of the swiftest and most dramatic turnarounds in presidential-primary history, clearing the Democratic field of all of Biden’s opponents but Sanders and leaving Biden as the de facto presumptive Democratic nominee after landslide wins in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona a week ago. This is supposed to be a happy occasion! … But they are not celebrating the Democrats’ front-runner, … Instead, they are watching President Trump and various state governors, mayors, and county executives of both parties grapple with a situation that evolves daily. … Biden is frozen in place … He can’t even formally celebrate wrapping up the nomination, because Sanders stubbornly insists on continuing his campaign. So Biden is reduced to reading embarrassingly halting statements off cue cards in an empty room. This is a bizarre situation for the man who may well be the next president of the United States. But since then, Biden has all but vanished from the news, going days on end with no public appearances and little in the way of coordinated messages from surrogates.” – writes political columnist Dan Mclaughlin. (National Review, Mar. 24, 2020)
PRAY FOR UNITED HATZALAH FOUNDER ELIEZER YEHUDA BEN CHAYA (Miami) — The founder of United Hatzalah of Israel and President of the US-based organization Friends of United Hatzalah Eli Beer contracted pneumonia following a coronavirus infection while visiting the US. He is hospitalized with pneumonia and acute respiratory failure at University Hospital in Miami, Florida. He apparently contracted the virus during Purim services in a Miami synagogue. (Jewish Press, Mar. 22, 2020)
AUSTRIAN LEADER ‘THANKS GOD’ FOR NETANYAHU’S ADVICE ON CORONAVIRUS (Vienna) –There was great concern in Austria because the nation shared a border with Italy and had witnessed the “collapse” of Italy’s health-care system. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he “thanked God” for a conversation he had with Netanyahu, in which the Israeli leader warned him that he was not taking seriously enough the effect that coronavirus would have on Europe, and urged him to “wake up and do something.” Kurz said that the conversation shook him, but also prompted him to make Austria one of the first European countries to take serious action to counter the spread of the virus. (JNS, Mar. 22, 2020)1 MILLION ISRAELIS UNEMPLOYED BY PASSOVER, EMPLOYMENT CHIEF PREDICTS (Jerusalem) — Overnight Monday, an additional 31,146 Israelis registered online for unemployment benefits, bringing the total number of job seekers in Israel to 615,834 since the beginning of March. Ninety-one percent of those filing for unemployment benefits were placed on unpaid leave. Almost half of Israeli employers have placed some or all of their employees on unpaid leave. “We estimate that by the end of Passover, we will reach about one million new jobseekers due to the Coronavirus crisis,” said Rami Graur, head of Israel’s Employment Bureau. (WIN, Mar. 24, 2020)
CORONAVIRUS: 2,170 ISRAELIS ARE NOW SICK WITH THE VIRUS (Jerusalem) — New stricter regulations to contain the coronavirus outbreak are going to come into effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Health Ministry announced, as the number of sick Israelis continues to climb, hitting 2,170 by 1 p.m. The number, released by the Health Ministry, comes on the backdrop of the news that two more Israelis died overnight, bringing the total number of victims in the country to five. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 25, 2020)
ISRAEL RESCUES CITIZENS STRANDED IN AUSTRALIA, SENDING PLANE FOR 150 MORE IN COLOMBIA (Jerusalem) — In a historic first, El Al organized a marathon direct flight to and from Australia to evacuate about 230 stranded Israelis, of which 80 came from New Zealand, because of border and flight closures due to worldwide efforts to contain the coronavirus. The plane landed in Perth on Tuesday and will take off for a direct flight back to Israel on Wednesday. (United With Israel, Mar. 24, 2020)
ISRAEL CORONA APP TELLS YOU WHEN YOU’VE CROSSED PATHS WITH A CARRIER (Jerusalem) — The Health Ministry launched a phone app that enables people to instantly be informed if they have unknowingly crossed paths with a coronavirus victim so that they can quarantine themselves. The application, available both in the Google Play store and Apple’s AppStore, is updated in real-time with the history of every new patient’s whereabouts. This way, people do not have to keep studying the ministry’s website to see if they were in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive. (WIN, Mar. 23, 2020)
TRIBUTES POUR IN AFTER LEADING UK RABBI DIES OF CORONAVIRUS (Leeds) — Dayan Rabbi Yehuda Yaakov Refson, the senior rabbi of the Leeds Jewish community, passed away on Sunday at the age of 73. Refson served as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Leeds, rabbi of the Shomrei Hadass Synagogue and director of the Leeds Menorah School. He was also the head of the regional Beit Din. (Algemeiner, Mar. 24, 2020)
CORONAVIRUS DELIVERS THE LATEST DEVASTATING BLOW TO IRANIAN Regime (Tehran) — Even before the virus hit, leaving an estimated 2,000 Iranians dead and 25,000 infected according to official figures at the time of this writing, the regime had hit its lowest point since the 1979 revolution. .. (IPT, Mar. 24, 2020)
IRANIAN OFFICIALS STOLE OVER $1 BILLION IN CORONA AID, WARNS POMPEO (Washington) — Iranian officials have stolen more than $1 billion in European assistance to combat the coronavirus pandemic, pocketing the funds for themselves, alleges U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Iran has the sixth-most confirmed coronavirus cases with 23,049, and the highest number of cases in the Middle East. At least 1,812 people have died from the virus there. (United With Israel, Mar. 24, 2020)
HAMAS THREATENS TO ‘DOUBLE NUMBER OF CORONA PATIENTS IN ISRAEL’ (Gaza Strip) — Hamas has relayed messages to Egypt and Qatar threatening to “put half of the Israelis into shelters and increase the number of corona patients” if Qatari financial aid is not handed over to the Gaza Strip in the near future. Israel responded that it would not tolerate renewed attacks from the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ demands come as it seeks to increase aid to the Gaza Strip due to the state of emergency in dealing with the coronavirus and following fears that Qatari aid to Gaza will be postponed. (United With Israel, Mar. 22, 2020)
JOINT ARAB LIST GETS CHAIRMANSHIP OF COMMITTEE DEALING WITH COMPENSATING TERROR VICTIMS (Jerusalem) — The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee deals with many issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the rehabilitation of disabled IDF veterans and of families of victims of war and terror. It also controls the IDF soldiers’ pay regulations. And, as of this week, the chairmanship of the committee has been awarded to the Joint Arab List. The committee is expected to include four Blue&White members, four Likud, two from the Joint Arab List including the committee chairman, and one representative each from all the other Knesset factions. (Jewish Press, Mar. 24, 2020)
2 JEWISH PROFESSORS WIN ABEL PRIZE, THE EQUIVALENT OF A NOBEL PRIZE IN MATHEMATICS (Oslo) — Hillel Furstenberg, 84, and Gregory Margulis, 74, two retired Jewish professors, including a Yeshiva University graduate who taught in Jerusalem for nearly four decades, have won the Abel Prize for mathematics, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize. They will split the monetary award of about $700,000. There is no Nobel for mathematics. The Abel has been given out annually by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters since 2003 to honor important advances in mathematics. Furstenberg and Margulis were recognized for their trailblazing work in probability and dynamics. (JTA, Mar. 19, 2020)
TRUMP WEIGHS SCALING BACK SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES (Washington) — The White House is eyeing ways to ease the advisories that have sidelined workers, shuttered schools and led to a widespread economic slowdown. The U.S. is now more than a week into an unprecedented 15-day effort to encourage all Americans to drastically scale back their public activities. President Trump argued that tens of thousands of Americans die from the seasonal flu or in automobile accidents and “we don’t turn the country off.” (Newsmax, Mar. 24, 2020)
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE
Analysis: Anti-Netanyahu Laws An Attempt to Change Rules Mid-Game: Eugene Kontorovich, WIN, Mar. 23, 2020 — This week, Israel’s “center-left” bloc of political parties formally jettisoned former Israeli Chief Justice Aaron Barak’s constitutional vision and instead embraced the understanding of parliamentary sovereignty most commonly associated with the right.
WATCH: The New Arab Bloc and the Future of Israeli Sovereignty: Caroline Glick, Tikvah, Mar. 23, 2020 — Two things seem clear from the recent series of elections in Israel: the anti-Zionist Joint Arab List has become a major voting bloc and the Israeli left is ready to accommodate their rise.
Pandemic’s Impact on Israel’s National Security Cannot Be Ignored: Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Mar. 24, 2020 –– The crisis sparked by the coronavirus outbreak is sounding the alarm not only in the Israeli health sector but in the national security realm as well. Consider the corona epidemic as a war that was forced on Israel.