Daily Briefing: Wednesday’s News Of the Week In Review (May 20,2020)

Olive trees Israel (Source:Wikipedia)


U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan that includes extension of Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, and the Jordan Valley is a “historic opportunity,” – said newly appointed Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.  He added the U.S. plan would be advanced “responsibly, with full coordination with the United States and maintaining all of the State of Israel’s peace agreements and strategic interests.  We have a duty to ensure we distance our citizens from the risk of war and pursue peace.” (JNS, May 18, 2020)

Israel has to “move on annexation now because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the elections and Biden might win. We have a window of opportunity now and we need to use it,” — Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer told his boss, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Fearing a Biden victory in the presidential elections, Dermer is lobbying the Trump administration for a green light to go ahead with the annexation of parts of the West Bank.  (Algemeiner, May 18, 2020)

“I am talking about public opinion. Today, the public is informed. There is a deluge [of opinions] against the Palestinian cause. It is no longer just public support for normalization and building ties with Israel. [Our] public has turned against the Palestinians in general. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have lost. The Palestinians have not contributed anything. We can say that they are emotional people whose behavior is governed by their feelings…. If you came to Saudi Arabia and conducted a survey – even among middle school and high school students – they will tell you that not only are they indifferent to the Palestinian cause, but the people in Saudi Arabia no longer care about Arabs as a whole,” – said Saudi writer Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain said in an interview on BBC Arabic TV. (MEMRI,May 10, 2020)

“Given the reliability and performance of these [COVID – 19 antibody] tests, it appears to be politics, not science, that is behind the claim that the presence of specific antibodies in those who’ve recovered from Covid-19 doesn’t indicate protective immunity. This is baffling. If it’s true, how does anyone recover from a severe infection? If these antibodies aren’t protective, then global efforts to develop a vaccine are pointless. Vaccines try to arm T and B cells so they fight quickly when exposed to the virus. If antibodies detected in a person who has recovered don’t confer immunity, then neither would antibodies developed in response to a vaccine. The far more likely scenario, which is true of other coronaviruses, is that antibodies do offer protection for a significant duration so that a successful vaccine could be developed,” – writes Dr. Butte is an associate professor and chief of pediatric allergy, immunology, and rheumatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. (WSJ, May 19, 2020)

“The case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn is rapidly moving from the dubious to the preposterous. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan is being widely applauded for resisting the dismissal of a case that the Department of Justice insists cannot be ethically maintained. Faced with no dispute between the parties, Sullivan decided to create a contested case by inviting in third parties to create conflict and now is suggesting that he may substitute his own criminal charge rather than let Flynn walk free. In the past, I have publicly praised Sullivan. However, this is fast becoming a case of gross judicial overreach as the court appears to assume both judicial and executive powers. Sullivan can disagree with the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, but he cannot substitute his own judgment for it,” – writes columnist and legal expert Jonathan Turley. Mr. Turley responded to Judge Sullivan’s appointment of retired Judge John Gleeson to argue against dismissal, without prejudice, of the Michael Flynn case by US Attorney General William Barr, in the absence of a dispute between the parties. Rather than protect the defense against prosecutorial overreach, as is the judiciary’s mandate, he is effectively outsourcing the argument to introduce a dispute. (USA Today, May 19, 2020)

                                           SHORT TAKES
ISRAEL’S NEW UNITY GOVERNMENT SWORN IN, ENDING POLITICAL CRISIS (Jerusalem) — Israel’s new government was sworn in on Sunday, bringing an end to more than a year of political stalemate and preventing a fourth round of elections. According to the terms of the coalition deal reached, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to serve as premier for 18 months. Blue and White head Benny Gantz will serve as vice premier during that time, after which he will take over as prime minister for the next 18 months, while Netanyahu becomes vice-premier. (JNS, May 17, 2020)

ANALYSIS: US DEMANDS ISRAEL TAKE ITS SIDE IN NEW ‘COLD WAR’ WITH CHINA (Washington) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exited lockdown and flew to Israel to warn Jerusalem against extending its economic cooperation with China. The warning was particularly meant to address a desalination plant, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The unusual visit was meant to signal to Israel that the war is already here and it will soon have to pick a side. A new cold war between the U.S. and China is in the cards and like in the original cold war with Russia it will be impossible for Israel, which is unquestionably a U.S. ally, to be in the unaligned camp. (WIN, May  19, 2020)

REPORT: AIRSTRIKES IN EASTERN SYRIA KILL SEVEN IRAN-BACKED FIGHTERS (Syria) — Unidentified warplanes struck a base in eastern Syria killing seven Iran-backed militiamen.  The airstrikes targeted a base near the town of Al-Bukamal close to the border with Iraq. The strikes came days after shipments arrived at the base from Iraq. Syrian activist Omar Abu Laila said Israel had probably carried out the attack but did provide any evidence. (JNS, May 18, 2020)

REPORT: ISRAEL LINKED TO CYBERATTACK ON IRANIAN PORT NEAR STRAIT OF HORMUZ (Iran) — Israel appears to be behind a cyberattack earlier this month on computers at Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port that caused massive backups on waterways and roads leading to the facility.  The May 9 disruption of Iranian computers was presumably in retaliation for an earlier attempted cyberattack on rural water distribution systems in Israel. (Algemeiner, May 19, 2020)

ISRAELI STUDY REVEALS WHY SOME COVID-19 PATIENTS DO MUCH WORSE THAN OTHERS (Jerusalem) — Israeli study reveals why some COVID-19 patients do much worse than others.  In the study, published in the journal Cell under the title, “Host-viral infection maps reveal signatures of severe COVID-19 patients.”  Researchers in the lab of professor Ido Amit saw “a dramatic impact of the virus on the immune system of severe patients compared to mild cases,” report the authors, including researchers from the Zheng Lab at Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital in China and from Institut Pasteur in Paris. (JNS, May 18, 2020)

AN ELITE IDF UNIT IS MOBILIZING TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS(Jerusalem) — The IDF’s elite naval commando unit Shayetet 13 has been making nonstop deliveries of oxygen cylinders to civilian care facilities that were struggling to get hold of supplies in recent weeks as hospitals raced to stock up on their own oxygen tanks. Shayetet 13 is known for its daring operations on land, at sea, and in the air. It has taken on a new role during the coronavirus pandemic due to its extensive experience in scuba diving and the ability to compress oxygen gas into cylinders. (BESA, May 19, 2020)

IDF TROOPS THWART TERRORIST ATTACK IN EASTERN JERUSALEM (Jerusalem) — Three Palestinians were wounded during an attempted attack on an Israeli military post in eastern Jerusalem, according to the IDF.  According to the military, troops stationed at an outpost at the “Governor’s House” compound in Abu Dis spotted the three suspects preparing to throw lit firebombs at the post and opened fire, thwarting the attack. No Israeli soldiers were wounded in the incident. (JNS, May 17, 2020)

PALESTINIANS ATTACKING BANKS THAT AREN’T PAYING TERRORISTS (Ramallah) — Earlier this month, some Palestinian banks started closing accounts that were being used to pay terrorists after Palestinian Media Watch started a letter-writing campaign to them saying that they were opening themselves up to lawsuits by participating in what is known as “pay to slay.” Since then, these banks have been threatened and attacked. Gunmen shot at the Cairo Amman Bank branch in Jenin on three separate occasions over the weekend. (Algemeiner, May 19, 2020)

ISRAELI CONVICTED OF MURDERS IN DUMA TERROR ATTACK (Jerusalem) — The Lod District Court convicted Amiram Ben Uliel in the 2015 Jewish terror arson murders of three Palestinians in Duma. The arson attack on the Palestinian Dawabshe family home killed 18-month-old Ali and his parents, Sa’ad and Riham, and destabilized Israeli-Arab relations throughout the region. The court also acquitted Ben Uliel of membership in a terror group. Asher Ohayon, the lead lawyer for Ben Uliel, vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, saying that the court had wrongfully accepted confessions given post-torture. The court said that even though it disqualified confessions Ben Uliel gave when the Shin Bet used enhanced interrogation on him; his confessions given 36-hours later were given freely and compelling. (Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2020)
TEMPLE-ERA DISCOVERY: UNDERGROUND LIVING QUARTERS NEAR WESTERN WALL (Jerusalem) — In honor of Jerusalem Day, celebrating Israel’s reunification of its capital during the 1967 Six-Day war, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation have revealed new and impressive archaeological discoveries uncovered under the lobby of the Western Wall Tunnels. Researchers believe that the complex was used by Jerusalem residents during the Early Roman period, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. The system was sealed beneath the floor of a large structure from the Byzantine period. Archaeologists do not yet understand why such efforts and resources were invested in hewing the subterranean system 2,000 years ago, while life was going on in the homes above-ground. (United With Israel, May 19, 2020)
TIKTOK VIDEO MOCKING HOLOCAUST TATTOOS GETS OVER 600,000 VIEWS (USA) — An anti-Semitic video that jokes about the tattoos given to prisoners at Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust has been viewed over 600,000 times on the social media platform TikTok. The clip is accompanied by a remake of “No Scrubs” by the pop group TLC. A man is shown entering a taxi cab under the subtitle “Jewish guy getting in my taxi,” followed by the driver asking for the passenger’s name. Another subtitle states that the passenger “Rolls up sleeve to check.” The driver then turns to the passenger and lip-syncs the song’s lyric “No, I don’t want your number.” (United With Israel, May 19, 2020)
CHINA NIXES PLAN TO SEND DELEGATION TO ISRAEL TO INVESTIGATE DEATH OF AMBASSADOR (Beijing) — China nixed a plan to send a delegation to investigate the sudden death of its ambassador to Israel over the weekend. Ambassador Du Wei, 57, who arrived in Israel only three months ago, was found dead on Sunday at his residence in the city of Herzliya. According to an Israeli medical examination, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. (Algemeiner, May 18, 2020)

ETIHAD COMPLETES FIRST COMMERCIAL FLIGHT BETWEEN UAE AND ISRAEL (UAE) — Etihad Airways flew the first known direct commercial flight between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel. UAE, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the Arabian Peninsula, has no formal diplomatic ties to Israel, but the two nations have enjoyed covert, back-channel relations for years. (WIN, May 19, 2020)

OLIVE TREES PLANTED IN ISRAEL HONOR THE MEMORY OF SHOOTING VICTIM LORI KAYE (Kfar Silver) — A total of 25 olive trees were planted at a ceremony in southern Israel to honor the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, who was shot and killed by a lone teenage gunman on April 27, 2019, during Shabbat-morning services on the last day of Passover at Chabad of Poway in Southern California. Three others were injured in the attack. The ceremony took place at Kfar Silver Youth Village, part of the World ORT Kadima Mada school network, where local children helped plant the trees. (JNS, May 19, 2020)

PALESTINIANS IN NABLUS BURN EFFIGY OF POMPEO (Nablus) — Palestinians in the city of Nablus in the West Bank burned an effigy of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week in protest of his visit to Israel and against the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan. Footage of the incident was posted by the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.  (JNS, May 17, 2020)

ISRAELIS DUBBED “THIEVES AND MURDERERS” AT VIRTUAL TORONTO AL-QUDS EVENT (Toronto) — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic blocked the Toronto al-Quds Day Committee from conducting its customary occupation of downtown Toronto but did not prevent it from spreading hate on the internet. Ironically, though al-Quds Day is supposedly held for the benefit of the Palestinians, not a single one of the 12 speakers at Sunday’s event was Palestinian. Paul Larudee, an Iranian-American activist addressing attendees online proclaimed, “Let us make Zionist citizens of so-called Israel unwelcome anywhere in the world,” adding, “We must treat them as we would treat any thieves and murderers.” His remarks were welcomed by virtual rally host Farman Ali, who described them as “great words.” B’nai Brith Canada is in the process of filing a complaint with Toronto Police over this act of hatred against Israelis based on their nationality. (Bnai Brith Canada, May 18, 2020)

TIME TO ABANDON ‘UTOPIAN’ DREAM OF GERMAN SOCIETY FREE OF ANTISEMITISM, JEWISH LEADER ADMITS (Frankfurt) — Speaking at an event in Frankfurt, Josef Schuster — president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany — said that recent protests against coronavirus restrictions, many of which have featured antisemitic tropes, had persuaded him to abandon the “utopian” notion that Germany society could shake off the pervasive influence of antisemitic beliefs. (Algemeiner, May 19, 2020)

TALIBAN CLAIM DEADLY ATTACK ON COURT IN AFGHANISTAN’S PAKTIA (Kabul) — A truck packed with explosives blew up near a military court in the eastern Afghan city of Gardez, killing at least five people in an attack claimed by the Taliban armed group. The explosion comes two days after at least 56 people were killed in attacks elsewhere in the country, including women and newborn babies, dealing a setback to peace plans in the war-ravaged nation. (AlJazeera, May 14, 2020)

TRUMP TELLS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TO SHAPE UP OR PERMANENTLY LOSE FUNDING (Washington) — President Donald Trump sent a letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), threatening to permanently suspend funding to the organization unless it demonstrates substantial improvements. On April 14, the U.S. suspended contributions to the WHO after the Trump administration deemed the organization’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak a failure. A U.S. investigation into the WHO confirmed an alarming connection between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the WHO. The top concern cited in the letter to Ghebreyesus was the WHO’s inability to independently investigate the spread of the virus in Wuhan, instead of parroting reports from the Chinese government. (Federalist, May 19, 2020)

                                     FURTHER READING:

WATCH:  Elite IDF Soldiers Threatened at Hebrew University in Jerusalem:  Avi Abelow, Israel Unwired, May 19, 2020 — The IDF has a special educational program for an elite intelligence unit at Hebrew University, one of Israel’s top Universities. The far-left Arab-communist student party at the University Hebrew made a horrific video that threatens the presence of IDF soldiers on campus.

WATCH: Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Thought to be Blank Reveal Hidden Text WIN, May 20, 2020

The Chinese Challenge to the U.S.-Israel Relationship:  Douglas J. Feith, WSJ, May 15, 2020 — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and warned that further Israeli economic linkage with China will hurt relations with the U.S. Coming from an administration far warmer toward Israel than any in the past, that message packs a punch