Rex Murphy: A COVID-19 Wake-Up Call: Canada Must Stop this Self-Destruction: Rex Murphy, National Post, Apr. 3, 2020
______________________________________________________Israel’s Frustrated President Threatens New Elections – in a Bid to Avoid Them
Haviv Rettig Gur
Times of Israel, Apr. 13, 2020President Reuven Rivlin is running out of patience.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s 28-day mandate from the president to form the next government expires on Monday at midnight. On Saturday night, he wrote the president asking for a 14-day extension. Rivlin’s response — or at least the statement the President’s Office released to the press Sunday describing his response — threw the political system into a spin.
The president informed Gantz “that in the present circumstances it will not be possible to extend the period for forming the government,” the statement explained. “The president made the decision after also speaking with Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not confirm [Gantz’s claim] that the two were close to signing an agreement that would lead to a unity government.”
The initial headlines were emphatic: Rivlin denies Gantz an extension. With talks between Likud and Blue and White stuck after Likud broke off negotiations last Monday, Gantz’s long flirtation with the prime minister’s chair appeared to have come to a decisive end.Likud supporters celebrated enthusiastically on social media. Some of Gantz’s former supporters in Yesh Atid were also not above a bit of schadenfreude. Then the political system seemed to collectively read the rest of the statement: “And if the two don’t sign an agreement by tomorrow [Monday] at midnight, and the numbers of recommendations [for each candidate] don’t change, the mandate will revert to the Knesset, and the 21-day period will begin in which the members of Knesset must finalize a majority of recommendations for an agreed-upon candidate. That agreed-upon candidate will have 14 days to assemble a government.”
In other words, if neither Netanyahu nor Gantz obtained a Knesset majority or formed a unity government by the end of Monday, Rivlin would skip over Netanyahu and go straight to the 21-day final lap in which any Knesset member who can assemble a majority can become PM. By law, those 21 days must end in either a government or the dissolution of the Knesset and new elections.
It was an astonishing move for Rivlin. It seemed that after three inconclusive election cycles and endless claims by the two leading candidates that they were committed to a unity government — especially recently amid the economic and social whirlwind of the virus crisis — the president had had enough.
In effect, he informed the 23rd Knesset to either unite within 22 days — finally forming the country’s first full-fledged government in 18 months — or head to a fourth election in the shadow of the coronavirus crisis. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK– Ed.]
Coronavirus Tests Alliance between Netanyahu and Ultra-Orthodox
Al-Monitor, Apr. 8, 2020
At the beginning of the week, when news reports and social media were devoted 24/7 to the rising number of coronavirus cases in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities, especially in the country’s largest ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak, the ultra-Orthodox leadership began signaling its anger at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The leaders were annoyed and suspicious of his silence over what they interpreted as collective incitement against their communities for allegedly spreading the disease. With Bnei Brak placed under virtual lockdown, control of the town handed over to the army and journalists reporting from its streets as though from a war zone, ultra-Orthodox leaders felt their people were being blamed for Netanyahu’s flawed handling of the crisis. Rather than focusing on the shortage of test kits, protective equipment and respirators, the public had turned the ultra-Orthodox into a punching bag and a target of unrestrained venom.
Ultra-Orthodox journalists active on social media pointed the finger of blame at Netanyahu, arguing that he was cleverly allowing secular Israelis to lash out at them in order to divert attention from his own shortcomings. “The government is preparing to drop the blame for the chaotic management of the [coronavirus] crisis onto the heads of the ultra-Orthodox public. Netanyahu has rushed to impose a full closure only on the ultra-Orthodox towns, without equitable treatment of all citizens, and to turn the ultra-Orthodox into scapegoats in the media. Netanyahu, don’t even try, it won’t wash,” Yossi Elituv, the editor of the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hamishpaha, tweeted on April 5. Elituv is also a political commentator and is considered a senior figure within ultra-Orthodox and secular media.
When similar comments by other ultra-Orthodox journalists gained traction, they engaged the attention of ultra-Orthodox politicians who had already found themselves on the defensive since the outbreak of the epidemic, given its rapid spread among their constituents. Given the negative climate against their communities, ultra-Orthodox politicians were also forced to come to the defense of Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, their senior political leader, who is being blamed for his failed handling of the crisis and for going easy on his voters by allowing them to continue congregating in synagogues, exacerbating the contagion. The attacks on Litzman, who subsequently contracted the disease himself and was placed in isolation, included calls for his dismissal, which were also perceived by the ultra-Orthodox as encouraging open season on their communities. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
How China Deceived the WHO
Atlantic, Apr. 12, 2020
Back in January, when the pandemic now consuming the world was still gathering force, a Berkeley research scientist named Xiao Qiang was monitoring China’s official statements about a new coronavirus then spreading through Wuhan and noticed something disturbing. Statements made by the World Health Organization, the international body that advises the world on handling health crises, often echoed China’s messages. “Particularly at the beginning, it was shocking when I again and again saw WHO’s [director-general], when he spoke to the press … almost directly quoting what I read on the Chinese government’s statements,” he told me.
The most notorious example came in the form of a single tweet from the WHO account on January 14: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus.” That same day, the Wuhan Health Commission’s public bulletin declared, “We have not found proof for human-to-human transmission.” But by that point even the Chinese government was offering caveats not included in the WHO tweet. “The possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be excluded,” the bulletin said, “but the risk of sustained transmission is low.”
This, we now know, was catastrophically untrue, and in the months since, the global pandemic has put much of the world under an unprecedented lockdown and killed more than 100,000 people.
The U.S. was also slow to recognize the seriousness of this new coronavirus, which caught the entire country unprepared. President Donald Trump has blamed the catastrophe on any number of different actors, most recently, singling out the WHO. “They missed the call,” Trump said about the body at a briefing this week. “They could have called it months earlier.”
Trump may well be looking to deflect blame for his own missed calls, but inherent structural problems at the WHO do make the organization vulnerable to misinformation and political influence, especially at a moment when China has invested considerable resources cultivating influence in international organizations whose value the Trump administration has questioned. (Trump just in March announced he would nominate someone to fill the U.S. seat on the WHO’s Executive Board, which has been vacant since 2018.)
Even in January, when Chinese authorities were downplaying the extent of the virus, doctors at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan reportedly observed human-to-human transmission, not least by contracting the disease themselves. In the most famous example, Dr. Li Wenliang was censured for “spreading rumors” after trying to alert other doctors of the new respiratory ailment; he later died of the virus himself at age 33. China now claims him as a martyr. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Rex Murphy: A COVID-19 Wake-Up Call: Canada Must Stop this Self-Destruction
National Post, Apr. 3, 2020
It has always been true that a country is most secure when its functioning is least contingent on external sources. To the degree that it is possible, to provide for itself all which is necessary for that functioning, is an undebatable proposition.
It’s as old as the fine axiom of “stand on your own two feet.” Others’ limbs will not support you when it most matters. But here in Canada we have displaced that idea, shackled those industries central to the country’s capacity to own itself. And we have neglected and even disparaged the most central enterprises, diminished the respect for enterprise itself, leaving us open and vulnerable to factors over which we have no influence.
Canada has almost all it needs. But the country, or more properly its government, has disconnected from priority concerns to become preoccupied with issues over which it has no real influence. Drop the nonsense preoccupations that distract or supersede from our real interests, for example, that seat on the UN’s useless security council, and drop specifically this idle idea that we can change the planet’s climate in 2100.
As said, we are providentially supplied with massive natural resources. Yet, we have hamstrung the most fundamental of our industries, put it under the most specious of restraints, collapsed a central sector, one absolutely vital to a modern economy. The energy industry has been made a pariah, and mining next to energy, absent both of which the world cannot function. The fact that the bountiful resources of a whole province are landlocked is and has been a true national scandal. It defies reason itself.
The stability of our economy should not be shackled to the noxious policies of Russia and Saudi Arabia, nor should the thousands of workers in the energy and mining sectors be cast aside for the delusive and worrisome ambitions of international and national pressure groups organized around global warming. Our economy, post-COVID-19, will need to run on every cylinder, and after years of undermining these central industries, we will painfully taste the harvest of this lunatic obsession.
It is also repellent — though I will save this for a future column — that global warming zealots are aligning the pandemic with their obsessional cause, suggesting outright that the shutdown of the world’s economies, (“degrowth” is now a catchword in their bulletins) should be seen as a model for fighting, as they term it, dreaded climate change. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
Israel’s Netanyahu, Gantz Say Near Unity Deal to End Political Deadlock: Reuters, Apr. 13, 2020 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz were nearing a deal on Tuesday to form a national emergency government to battle the coronavirus crisis and end the country’s unprecedented political deadlock.
Labor to Merge with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party: Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 6, 2020 — Labor will soon merge its faction and then the party itself with Blue and White, Labor leader Amir Peretz revealed at a meeting of the Knesset Arrangements Committee on Monday, in a move that could result in the former ruling party whose forerunner Mapai founded the state no longer continuing to exist.
Hamas Admits: Gaza Doctors Trained by Israel to Deal with Coronavirus: Baruch Yedid, United With Israel, Apr. 13, 2020 — The Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has admitted that dozens of doctors from the Strip have been trained in recent weeks by Israeli doctors to deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
The Corona Crisis: Systemic Recommendations for Social Policy: Meir Elran, Carmit Padan, and Shahar Ayal, INSS, Apr. 13, 2020 –– The essence of the proposed policy is the gradual construction of a differential “emergency routine,” which balances public health concerns with the need for rapid economic bouncing back.
The Codevilla Tapes: David Samuels, Tablet, Oct. 24, 2020 –– No one runs America. That’s the terror and the beauty of American life in a nutshell; the answer to the secret of how 300 million people from many different places can live together between two oceans, sharing a future-oriented outlook that methodically obliterates any ties to the past.
Because of Passover, the next Daily Briefing will be circulated Friday, April 17th, 2020. The CIJR wishes all our friends and supporters a happy and healthy Passover.