WEDNESDAY’S NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW (March 18,2020)

The coronavirus is now recognized as the etiologic agent of the 2003 SARS outbreak. Additional specimens are being tested to learn more about this coronavirus, and its etiologic link with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Source:Wikipedia)

Table of Contents:

I’m a Veteran Expert in Stopping epidemics. Here’s Why Jewish institutions Should Cancel Everything.:  Gary Slutkin, JTA, Mar. 13, 2020 — I am an infectious disease epidemiologist who worked at the World Health Organization on epidemics in over 25 countries around the world.France Says Ibuprofen May Aggravate Coronavirus. Experts Say More Evidence Is Needed Rob Picheta, CNN, Mar. 17, 2020 — France’s health ministry has suggested that popular anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen could worsen the effects of the coronavirus, raising questions over which over-the-counter drugs people should be taking to treat the symptoms of the disease.

                                       WEEKLY QUOTES

 ‘We’re at war, we can beat this virus,”Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Nation.  He said that hat other nations were adopting Israel’s policies of preventing the spread of the coronavirus and that Israel would be able to overcome the new challenge, and that Israel has led the coronavirus response around the world. (Arutz Sheva, Mar. 14, 2020)

“I will do everything in my ability so that we successfully overcome this test, We’re only at the start of the battle,” – Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said in a dramatic press conference that followed by only 24 hours one he had given on Monday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced three more steps to fight the spread of the coronavirus in Israel. (WIN, Mar. 17, 2020)

Gantz & Co., you have milked the coronavirus to the end. It can no longer withstand the load you put on its shoulders. You accuse Netanyahu of pushing off his trial even though the judge is the one who made the decision, and you’re aware that the [Supreme Court] has the capacity to override that decision. But you ignored that. You blame Bibi for exacerbating the means [of fighting the virus] for political reasons. You [conveniently] left out that there is a total curfew imposed in Italy and Spain. There are countries that have imposed much more serious bans to deal with the COVID-19. You postpone the establishment of a national emergency government and prefer to profit from the support of the Joint List whose members are terrorist supporters. … Gantz, Lapid, Ashkenazi and Boogie, this is the time to say goodbye to [your] anti-Bibi feelings, and start thinking rationally [as state representatives]. … Wake up, the burden is heavy, time is running out and the coronavirus is pressing close. Together we will overcome it,” — wrote Deputy Defense Minister and former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter in an open letter. (Arutz Sheva, Mar. 15, 2020)

“When you’re dealing with something like a denial-of-service attack on HHS during a pandemic, that’s a very grave action for another country to take. So, if it is another country doing this, I’m sure the ramifications will be severe. … Our primary role right now is to investigate … the FBI is very active trying to determine who is responsible for these things,” — US Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press.  He was referring to the cyberattack against the Health and Human Services Department’s website on Sunday or behind the false coronavirus rumors swirling in recent days. (Washington Examiner, Mar. 18, 2020)

If you look at the big picture, this was remarkable by the President of the United States. This is a nonpartisan, this is an important thing to note and to applaud, from an American standpoint, from a human standpoint. [Trump] is being the kind of leader that people need, at least in tone, today and yesterday, in tone, in times of crises and uncertainty,”  — said CNN anchor Dana Bash.  She applauded President Donald Trump on his handling of the China-originated novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  (Daily Wire, Mar. 17, 2020)

“The situation here is that really we’re all ill, we are all having dry cough. We have a fever. There is no test kit for coronavirus or any test kits available. All we can do is try to reach the clinic by pushing and shoving. And once there, the guards tell us there is no doctor or that the doctor is not coming, return to your ward or we will use force. If by chance, we happen to find a doctor, all they do is to aim their digital thermometer at us, without even approaching us,” – said Meqdad, a 42-year-old prisoner who has been held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for two years. As coronavirus runs rampant through Iran’s overstuffed and dilapidated prisons, the embattled regime this week announced that it had freed some 85,000 inmates in a desperate quest to get a grip on the spiraling situation. (Fox News, Mar. 17, 2020)

If I get coronavirus I’ll probably be fine, but I could give it to my dad, who would give it to Carl Reiner, who would give it to Dick Van Dyke and a whole generation of comedians would be wiped out. So stay home!” – said Max Brooks, son of comedian Mel Brooks.  (Jewish Press, Mar. 17, 2020)

  SHORT TAKES
 
BENNY GANTZ WILL GET THE FIRST CHANCE TO FORM A NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT (Jerusalem) – Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met Sunday with the heads of all the parties that won seats in Israel’s parliament in its last election earlier this month. At the end of the consultations, which were broadcast nationally, 61 lawmakers recommended Gantz form the new government, while 58 lawmakers recommended the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Later, Gantz and Netanyahu met with Rivlin about the possibility of forming a joint emergency government to deal with the coronavirus crisis. (JTA, Mar. 15, 2020)

IN MIDST OF CORONVIRUS CRISIS, ISRAELI KNESSET SWORN IN BEFORE NEARLY-EMPTY CHAMBER (Jerusalem) — As the coronavirus crisis intensified, the new Israeli Knesset was sworn in before a nearly empty chamber. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave a short speech and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top rival Benny Gantz — who has been tasked with trying to form the next government — swore allegiance and were then asked to leave in order to allow MKs to enter and be sworn in separately in groups of 10 to minimize the chances of infection. (Algemeiner, Mar. 16, 2020)

AMID CORONAVIRUS CRISIS, ISRAEL’S NETANYAHU ORDERS SCHOOLS CLOSED, CALLS FOR UNITY GOVERNMENT (Jerusalem) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered most schools in the country closed as a precaution against coronavirus, and called for the formation of an emergency national unity government. He also called for an emergency national unity government. “It will be an emergency government for a limited time, and together we will fight to save the lives of tens of thousands of citizens,” Netanyahu said. (Algemeiner, Mar. 12, 2020)

WITH MOST FLIGHTS CANCELED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS, A CHARTERED AIRLIFT IS BRINGING US TEENS HOME FROM ISRAEL (Jerusalem) — The entire student body of URJ Heller High in Israel, a high school affiliated with the Reform movement, will return to the United States on a chartered flight, along with dozens of students from other Israeli programs for American teens. Rabbi Loren Sykes, URJ Heller High principal, told JTA that the flight, which is scheduled to leave on Monday night, came together in less than 24 hours. (JTA, Mar. 15, 2020)

427 ISRAELIS WITH CORONAVIRUS, CANNOT LEAVE HOMES UNLESS ‘NECESSARY’ (Jerusalem) — The government rolled out a new set of restrictions on the Israeli population Tuesday, after which the number of coronavirus patients increased to 427 on Wednesday morning. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised there would be a dramatic increase in the number of sick people detected, tests taken and hospital equipment available to serve the infected. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2020)

AS CORONAVIRUS INTENSIFIES, ISRAEL PREPARING TO MOBILIZE IDF TO FIGHT THE DISEASE (Jerusalem) – To contain the spread of the virus, the Jewish state has already shut down air travel, schools, restaurants, and places of entertainment, as well as quarantining thousands of people. Israeli news website N12 reported that the next step will be to grant far-reaching powers to the army, though these powers will remain limited, at least in the near future, stopping short of martial law. The government is reportedly considering the move because it now believes the crisis will not pass quickly and Israel must prepare for a more long-term response to the threat. (Algemeiner, Mar. 15, 2020)

ISRAEL MULLS QUARANTINE FOR TRAVELERS FROM NY, CALIFORNIA AND WASHINGTON (Jerusalem) — The Health Ministry is considering adding the American states of Washington, New York and California to the list of places requiring their visitors now in Israel to do 14 days of home-quarantine. In an interview with Channel 12, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said the ministry was making decisions regarding the United States not as one country but on a state-by-state basis. (Jerusalem Post, Mar. 8, 2020)

100 PEOPLE TEST POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS IN HASIDIC BROOKLYN NEIGHBORHOOD (Bklyn) — At least 100 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus in Borough Park, a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn. As of Tuesday, there are 814 total coronavirus cases in New York City, according to its Department of Health. (JTA, Mar. 17, 2020)

JEWISH TEEN CREATES WEBSITE TO TRACK CORONAVIRUS UPDATES, VISITED BY MILLIONS (Seattle) —  A website created by a Jewish high school student that tracks updates of the COVID-19 pandemic has already been visited by 20 million people since it launched in late December. Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior who lives near Seattle, told TODAY Parents about his website, ncov2019.live, “I thought it would be cool if there was a website that could pull in all the information from all kinds of (sources). I mainly wanted to create something that would show the data as accurately as possible because there has been a lot of misinformation.” (Algemeiner, Mar. 12, 2020)

IRAN’S CORONAVIRUS STRATEGY FAVORED ECONOMY OVER PUBLIC HEALTH, LEAVING BOTH EXPOSED (Tehran) –– When the coronavirus hit Iran in February, it presented its leaders with a choice: Close the country down to contain the outbreak and risk the wrath of a population already fed up with economic hardship, or try to keep the economy ticking over and risk the outbreak spiraling out of control. Tehran chose the latter. Three weeks after announcing its first case, Iran has the third-most confirmed cases of any country, after China and Italy, nearly 14,000, with at least 724 deaths as of Sunday. Travelers have spread the illness across towns and cities, and across its borders to over a dozen countries. Government efforts to protect an economy battered by U.S. sanctions have failed to cushion the blow. Iran this week asked the International Monetary Fund for a $5 billion loan to help it combat the outbreak, the first time in six decades that Iran has asked for IMF assistance.  (WSJ, Mar. 16, 2020)

IRANIAN MAN FACES US CHARGES IN WEAPONS PART SCHEME (Washington) — The U.S. Justice Department announced that an Iranian man will face federal charges in connection with an alleged scheme to obtain military parts that could be used in nuclear and other weapons systems. The law enforcement agency said Merdad Ansari was extradited from the U.S. state of Georgia to San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas to face the charges.  (VOA News, Mar. 17, 2020)

ADL PUBLISHES NEW ANTISEMITISM GUIDE FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS, CANDIDATES (Washington) –– The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has published a new guide to understanding antisemitism that will be distributed to members of the US Congress and all candidates for national office. Antisemitism Uncovered: A Guide to Old Myths in a New Era provides a history of antisemitism as well as survey of global antisemitism in the world today. (Algemeiner, Mar. 12, 2020)

SENATORS CALL FOR U.S.-ISRAEL OPERATIONS-TECHNOLOGY WORKING GROUP (Washington) — Two prominent members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are leading a bipartisan effort to establish a U.S.-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group (OTWG) that would coordinate and catalyze combined military research and development (R&D) efforts. As Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Gary Peters (D-MI) argue in a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, such a working group could help ensure that U.S. “warfighters never encounter a more technologically advanced foe.” The senators envision the working group as a “permanent and dedicated forum” for the United States and Israel to “share intelligence-informed military capabilities requirements in a systematic manner.” (FDD, Mar. 3, 2020)

BIDEN TAKES MORE BIG STATES, AND SANDERS REFUSES TO QUIT (Washington) — After polls closed in Arizona, Illinois, and Florida, roughly half of the delegates up for grabs this cycle were allocated. And the Vermont senator’s ability to amass the 1,991 delegates needed for the right to challenge President Trump in the general election looks practically impossible unless the trajectory of the race turns 180 degrees. Though the mathematics are against Sanders, his flagging bid continued to experience success in metrics other than its delegate count as he struggled to grow his base. He received more than 1.3 million donations this month, for a total of 10 million since he announced his candidacy last February, he raised $2 million since Sunday, and his last three digital events drummed up 5.3 million views. He also staffed up in states hosting contests later in the calendar, such as New York and Pennsylvania, where Biden has strong ties. (Washington Examiner, Mar. 17, 2020)

ARGENTINE SOCCER PLAYER TERMINATED BY TEAM, COULD FACE JAIL TERM OVER ANTISEMITIC GESTURES (Buenos Aires) – The 30-year-old Arnaldo “Pitu” González — a midfield soccer player with second-tier side Nueva Chicago — made the gestures to the fans of rival team Atlanta, which has historic connections to the Jewish community, after being ejected from the pitch following a violent altercation with the referee. On Friday, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced that González would be suspended for 10 matches as punishment for the provocation, in which he simulated the act of circumcision by pointing to his genitals and mockingly imitated the act of placing a kippah on his head. (Algemeiner, Mar. 16, 2020)

AMAZON BANS MEIN KAMPF, REMOVES HITLER’S AUTHOR PAGE (Washington) — Amazon, the world’s largest online marketplace, is banning the sales of most editions of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf. Second-hand sellers of Hitler’s notorious polemic against Jews received emails from Amazon informing them that their listings violate the site’s policies, The Guardian reported. It’s unclear if second-hand sellers will be penalized retroactively for offering the book. (WIN, Mar. 17, 2020)

DEAD SEA SCROLLS FRAGMENTS AT DC MUSEUM ARE FAKE, ITS OFFICIALS SAY (Washington) — The 16 Dead Seas Scroll fragments housed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., are forgeries, museum officials said.  A team of researchers led by an art fraud investigator issued a 200-page report saying that while the fragments may be made of ancient leather, the ink was from modern times and altered to look like the real Dead Sea Scrolls. Most of the 100,000 real Dead Sea Scroll fragments lie in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the report does not question their authenticity. (JTA, Mar. 13, 2020)

  FOR FURTHER REFERENCE
Israel Lawmakers Propose Multiple Bills Designed to Oust Netanyahu Dov Lipman, JNS, Mar. 17, 2020 The COVID-19 pandemic cast a pall over the swearing in of Israel’s 23rd Knesset on Monday, with the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers being sworn in three at a time to avoid spreading the disease, while Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein delivered speeches to a nearly empty hall.Enforcing Compliance with COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions: Psychological Aspects of a National Security Threat:  Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Mar. 18, 2020 As the world faces the emerging (for some) and continuing (for others) threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many commentators and national leaders around the world are beginning to recognize it as a genuine national security threat.

Watch:  Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press Michael R. Pompeo, US Dept. of State, Mar. 17, 2020 — Good afternoon, everyone.  As you all know, the Trump administration continues to put an enormous amount of energy into combating the Wuhan virus and protecting the American people.  We’re highly engaged here at the State Department on that critical mission.  I’ll talk about that a bit and happy to take some questions as well about what we’re doing here at the State Department.