News Nosh 3.15.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday March 15, 2020
 
Quote of the day:
"Your step...is a courageous act and has a chance to begin a process of repair and healing. You can break the glass ceiling that hinders Arab society from being a tremendous growth engine in all walks of life. It is likely that you will suddenly find that the glass ceiling that prevents Israel from rising as a state, as a society, as a democracy - will also be shattered, at last."
--Author and Israel's moral compass, David Grossman wrote in Yedioth about Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz's call for the mostly Arab 'Joint List' to be part of the emergency unity government that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for. Netanyahu rejected the inclusion of the Joint List.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • To defeat the virus; The battle against corona: “New routine in Israel” (Hebrew)
  • Wanted: A director // Yossi Yehoshua writes that the IDF Chief of Staff should be appointed to direct the multi-ministry battle against corona (Hebrew)
  • To gain time // Sarit Rosenblum writes that time is key against corona
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Country in shutdown
  • Charging to the supermarkets
  • Family isolation
  • Getting closer to an emergency government
  • The battle over the corona crisis is more important than politics // Yaakov Berdugo


Top News Summary - Mostly Corona:
The latest moves by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to slow down the spread of corona in Israel led the Hebrew papers, pushing aside even the fact that today (Sunday) the parties each meet with President Reuven Rivlin to tell him who they recommend be given the chance to form a government. Update below.

Just before the number of people in Israel known to be infected with corona reached 200, Netanyahu announced Saturday night that all places of entertainment, gyms, and daycare centers would be shut down as of Sunday morning until at least the end of Passover, in five weeks. Gatherings of over 10 people were banned and people must keep a distance of two meters from others. [NOTE:  Netanyahu did not say that synagogues and mosques must be shut down despite the fact that many of those who were infected within the country were infected at synagogues. In his speech, he only said without explaining that he would be meeting with rabbis. - OH]

Ahead of his speach and following rumors of a total shutdown, Israelis had charged at supermarkets and pharmacies, but Netanyahu said they would always remain open, as well as gas stations. He called on anyone who doesn't require to leave the house to stay indoors. On Thursday, when 109 people were infected, Netanyahu shut down schools and universities. Israel will also postpone the upcoming draft of soldiers, leave non-essential soldiers at home and told other soldiers to be prepared to stay on base for an extended period of time. Training for reserve soldiers of land forces was postponed.

But the other bit of news, which did not make waves in Yedioth or Israel Hayom, was the fact that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt approved the use of digital surveillance to track people who came in contact with known coronavirus patients.Such methods had only been used against Palestinians. Ynet wrote that capabilities could include real-time tracking of infected persons’ mobile phones to spot quarantine breaches and backtracking through meta-data to figure out where they had been and who they had contacted. Maariv reported on the harsh criticism against such methods, calling monitoring civilians an “undemocratic act.” MK Nitzan Horowitz appealed to the High Court to prevent the use of technological means and databases to check who came in contact with the Corona carriers.

Corona Quickees:
  • Israeli Research Center to Announce It Developed Coronavirus Vaccine, Sources Say - Scientists at the Biological Research Institute are making significant breakthroughs in understanding coronavirus, the sources say, but a long process of pre-clinical and clinical trials is to follow. (Haaretz+)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Refusal to Approve Tests Leads to Dumping Samples - 'We take samples which we end up throwing out because we’re not allowed to send them to a lab,' doctors tell Haaretz. (Haaretz+)
  • Despite Coronavirus Crisis, 24 Americans Set to Move to Israel on Thursday - Group, first to make aliyah since Covid-19 pandemic hit Israel last month, will have to go into self-quarantine for 14 days. (Haaretz+)
  • In Arab Israeli town, 100 returnees from overseas flout quarantine - Some of them went to the El Clásico soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona earlier this month where two others Israelis who were later found to have coronavirus also attended. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Everything You Need to Know About the New Guidelines for Tourists and Israeli Citizens - Are tourists able to visit Israel? What about the quarantine requirements for Israeli citizens and residents returning from overseas trips? The Health Ministry’s head of international relations answers the key questions. (Haaretz+)
  • PA official: Israel exploiting coronavirus to promote annexation - PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi urges the international community to prevent Israel from using the global pandemic to "annex Palestinian occupied territories." (Israel Hayom)
  • 200 corona tests transferred to Gaza Strip - The unit for Coordinating Government Operations in the Occupied Territories, led by Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukon, (according to Yedioth at the orders of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett) decided to deliver the tests - at the request of the Palestinians, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, which could harm Gaza residents, including those who arrive daily in Israel. The tests were passed through the Erez crossing. "Viruses and illnesses have no borders - and preventing the spread of corona in the Gaza Strip and lesson the breakout in the Judea and Samaria areas (West Bank) is of the highest Israeli interest and out of humanitarian reasons. (Maariv, p. 5 and News1 Hebrew)
  • Hamas shuts crossings, PA suspends mass prayers amid virus fears - Gaza's rulers close border crossings for travel Thursday even though no COVID-19 cases in the Strip have been recorded; leadership in the West Bank that has 38 cases, urges 'people in Palestine to hold their prayers at home.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iran: We cannot deal with the sanction and with corona - Iranian president Rouhani said the US sanctions are harming the fight against the spread of the virus in the country. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to UN Secretary-General: “The criminal sanctions restrict our medical teams." The words were said following the remarks by US Secretary of State Pompeo, who accused Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei for failing to prevent the virus from spreading in his country. (Yedioth Hebrew and Maariv, p. 6)
  • Iran's Death Toll From Coronavirus Reaches 724, Says Health Official - A host of senior officials, politicians, doctors, commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards and clerics have been infected with the virus. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran security forces to empty city streets to fight coronavirus - Iran is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic outside China. (Agenices, Haaretz)
  • Gulf moves to contain coronavirus as top Iran aide tests positive - Persian Gulf countries have been scrambling to contain the outbreak, which has infected thousands of people in nearby Iran. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Bahrain accuses Iran of 'biological aggression' as Gulf nations grapple with virus - Saudi Arabia bans coronavirus patients from Friday prayers. Bahrain announces 77 new infections among citizens who visited Iran. Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar report new cases. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Syria Shuts Schools - Other countries across the Middle East have already taken steps to contain the outbreak. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
After Netanyahu had first called for an emergency unity government on Thursday, Gantz said he was willing if it includes "all parts of the house," which many understood to mean including the Arab leaders from the Joint List. Netanyahu rejected that and referred to the Joint List members as ’terror supporters.’ (See Election Commentary below, this subject was discussed extensively.) On Friday night, Gantz and Netanyahu met to discuss the possibility. Then Saturday night, at the end of his corona update announcement, Netanyahu again called for a unity emergency government with Kahol-Lavan. (Maariv) Haaretz+ first reported that Kahol Lavan party said Saturday it does not rule out a broad unity government with Netanyahu serving first as prime minster in a rotation. This was odd because, in the past, the party had refused a rotation with Netanyahu starting first because of his indictment. But Haaretz+ later reported that Netanyahu later gave the details of the emergency unity government via a Twitter post and Kahol Lavan called the move an 'empty gesture,' as it was not sent to the party and only published on social media. At the same time, Kahol-Lavan was already planning on voting Monday, after the MKs are sworn-in, to replace the Likud-appointed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, in order to so that a law can be passed - without Edelstein preventing it - that would ban anyone who is indicted from being allowed to form a government.

UPDATE: Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz will get first chance to form a government after a majority of 61 members of Knesset (MKs) recommended him. All the members of the mostly-Arab Joint List party and of MK Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party supported Gantz, despite each saying in the past they would not agree to be connected to a government supported by the other. The Labor-Meretz slate recommended Gantz, too, but its ally in the election, Gesher leader Orly Levi-Abekasis, refused to recommend him due to her opposition to being in a government relying on Arab MKs' support, giving Gantz 61 recommendations, the narrowest majority possible.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment Quickees:
  • SUNDAY: Netanyahu Trial Postponed as Justice Minister Freezes Courts Over Coronavirus Emergency - On Thursday, Interim Justice Minister Amir Ohana, a Netanyahu appointee, expanded his powers to freeze court activity in case of escalation in coronavirus cases in Israel. Netanyahu's trial in three corruption cases was postponed until May 24, a district court announced on Sunday. (Haaretz+, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • MK Ya'alon: "Moving out Netanyahu is a top goal. We have no choice but to be supported by the Joint List“ - Senior [right-wing] Kahol-Lavan MK Moshe Yaalon explained to Army Radio Thursday why he changed his stance on a minority government: "Election results require us to deal with a dilemma: Which election promise do we break?“ About (Kahol-Lavan MKs) Yoaz Handel and Zvi Hauser (who don’t support forming a minority government back by the Joint List: "Any decision that Kahol-Lavan leadership will make will be carried out.” (Maariv)
  • Israelis would like to avoid minority government, poll finds - Some 55% of Israelis do not approve of Blue and White pursuing a narrow government with the support of Arab MKs, while 31% supported the move. A third of the public thinks it's time for a broad national unity government, and 47% believe Benjamin Netanyahu is best suited for the role of prime minister. (Israel Hayom)
  • How This Jerusalem Left-wing Bastion Turned Right in Israel's Last Election - Once the Jerusalem stronghold and symbol of Ashkenazi elite, a plurality of Rehavia voters backed Likud in last election. (Haaretz+)


Other Quick Hits:

  • 'Deal or no deal': Declassified Oslo Accords documents show uncertainty from all sides - Expelling settlers from Hebron, an undivided Jerusalem and a Palestinian state – When Rabin complained to Arafat and Peres admitted a historic mistake. (Haaretz)
  • "Territory exchange concept is not new and it was carried out between different European countries" - Moshe Barur, the Israel Prize-winning geographer and the University Atlas author who served generations of students, celebrates age 100 and opposes the boundaries outlined in the Plan of the Century. (Maariv)
  • A seven-month-old (Bedouin) infant died as a result of a fire in a home in Rahat - Medic teams arriving at the scene had to declare the baby's death. A 60-year-old man was admitted to the hospital in moderate condition. In the past decade, 59 children have been killed in fires, 26% of them from the Bedouin communities. (Maariv)
  • Three from Kufr Kara village were detained on suspicion of stealing weapons from IDF soldiers - Following a covert investigation conducted by the police, which included operating a covert agent impersonating a female soldier, three (Arab-Israeli) young men were suspected of stealing military equipment from several soldiers' homes in the Carmel area. (Maariv)
  • Because of the security check: Bennett's press conference declaration was canceled after the some of the media became furious and left - The press conference that was supposed to be held by the defense minister was canceled after media crews complained about humiliating security checks carried out before entering the site. Reporter Robbie Hammershleg: ""Shameful act that is repeated over and over again.” Bennett was reportedly going to call for the establishment of an emergency government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following calls by Shas chairman Aryeh Deri to make this move following the spread of the Corona virus in Israel. (Maariv)
  • In Debt and Without Dollars, the Lebanese Economy Is Tanking - Lebanese business owners, union leaders, industry groups and traders paint picture of unprecedented economic-financial crisis. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkish, Russian troops to start Syria patrols on Sunday - The cease-fire by Russia and Turkey calls for establishment of a security corridor along Syria's M4 highway, with joint patrols by Russian and Turkish troops. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Syrian war, rumbling into 10th year, still gripped by brutal violence and a refugee crisis - As Russia, Turkey, Iran and even the U.S. continue to do battle in Syria, Assad's grip on power seems certain, but Syria's future is anything but. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Over a Dozen Rockets Hit Iraq Base Housing U.S.-led Coalition Troops, Officials Say - Attack comes after three soldiers, two of them Americans, were killed in a similar incident several days ago. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Opportunity for a historical connection (Shimon Schiffer, Yedioth Hebrew) 1. Whoever expected Netanyahu to draw the obvious conclusion in light of the reality forced upon the countries of the world and us because of the eruption of Corona, was wrong. Netanyahu is as Netanyahu is: At press conferences in which he continues to market himself, while at the same time refusing to accept to the government "supporters of terrorism,” thus missing an historic opportunity to reconcile with Israeli Arabs on issues that do not belong to the right and left or to policy questions. The virus does not stop at any checkpoint, and it requires us to unite: Arabs and Jews. 2. True, it is not possible to sweep away the facts that point to the unification of the Arab parties for decades over their national aspirations and their affinity for Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and Arab countries. In fact, both sides huddle around the narrative - Jewish voters on the dream of conquering the land vs. Arab voters on the return to Palestine, which is manifested in the "right of return" among many Israeli Arabs. But dreams are one thing, and the desire to push the other side out of here is something unacceptable. Ironically, Netanyahu is the one who has led Israeli Arabs to the polls in the last three election campaigns, making them the one capable of breaking the tie between the contenders for the premiership….5. Yesterday morning I received medical treatment (for a non-life-threatening problem) at a medical clinic in Bnei Brak. Most of the nurses and doctors were Israeli Arabs, who come every day to help us from cities and villages in the north and center. They are dedicated, and deserve all the praise. They do not mix politics with their work: they treat everyone. I guess the only thing that interests them is that we all recognize that they are citizens with equal rights that we have. And I will add: Netanyahu, you have the responsibility to thank them, because they are recruited all year round to take care of the same population you already belong to, the elderly…
Bibi and Tibi (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) There is one step that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can take now that could still change the way he will go down in history. There’s probably no chance that he will take it, but nevertheless he could repair a small amount of the damage he has done and leave behind a surprising legacy. After all of his savage incitement against Israeli Arabs, Netanyahu could invite their representatives, the Knesset members of the Joint List, to join the emergency government that will presumably be formed and he could assign them to cabinet positions, in keeping with their skills. It is impossible to overstate the significance of such a move, particularly in light of the unprecedented atmosphere of anti-Arab racism in Israel today.
*Call them in, Gantz (David Grossman, Thursday Yedioth Hebrew) These things are written in the midst of the nightly drama surrounding the establishment of the emergency government. Amid growing anxiety due to the corona epidemic, a bright spot flashes here. Gantz's determination in these moments to include in the government the Joint List. This new determination indicates a way of thinking - and action - that we have not seen in decades towards the Arab sector in Israel. "Arabs in Israel must be judged by what they might do and not by what they did," said David Ben-Gurion in the early 1950s, thus formulating the country's fundamental position toward the Arab minority. Seventy years have passed since then, and the Jewish majority continues to incriminate the minds of the Arab minority, "until their innocence is proven." Seventy years have passed since then. Seventy years are certainly a perversion of justice. Almost 20% of the organism of the State of Israel exists in a state of being suspended. Of only partial realization. This is not a situation created by itself, there are those in Israel who are very interested that this large minority will feel this way: always undesirable and not belonging, always on the verge of expulsion, exile, as a refugee. Precisely from this place came Netanyahu's statement about the Arabs rushing to the polls. This is where the ‘Jewish Nation State Law’ is intended to make Arab citizens even more excluded, even more humiliated. Even more 'on probation'. Hence the birth of the outrageous clause about the future of Israeli Arabs, in Trump's - and Netanyahu’s - ‘Plan of the Century.’ But now, following the recent election campaign, a new situation has arisen: the Arabs refuse to be ousted and to disappear. The absentees returned to being present. Attempts to keep them submissive and passive failed. They are here, ready to make the move, which has been kept from them - and which they themselves have avoided for 72 years - to enter not only the political field but into the entire Israeli experience, in all its dimensions. Even if tonight's move fails to take power, we are still witnessing a new phase: this is a momentous opportunity for Arab Israeli citizens. Now they basically stopping to act like a "protest movement" and nothing more than that, and now they could be equal partners in shaping the reality of their lives and determining their future and destiny. A new and accelerated stage in the process of Israelization of the "sector" may now open, bringing with it many rights, as well as obligations, and civil and political responsibilities that will continually challenge both the Jewish majority and the complex status of Arab citizens of Israel. This is also the great test moment for Benny Gantz. Let's hope he'll withstand the tremendous pressure that will be exerted on him in the coming hours. It's good that you recognize the fateful importance of the state of affairs tonight, Gantz. It is good that you call on Israeli Arabs to come inside, into the Israeli home. Don't stop here: Call them wholeheartedly to be citizens of equal rights and obligations in the Jewish People's National Home. Collaborating with the Emergency Government is a recognition that the existential threat has suddenly become remarkably clear how intertwined their fate and the fate of the Jewish majority are. Your step tonight, as of this midnight hour, is a courageous act and has a chance to begin a process of repair and healing. You can break the glass ceiling that hinders Arab society from being a tremendous growth engine in all walks of life. It is likely that you will suddenly find that the glass ceiling that prevents Israel from rising as a state, as a society, as a democracy - will also be shattered, at last. To you, Gantz, now opens a way to reformulate — in a truly egalitarian, anti-racist, respectful way— the contract between the two parts of the population. You have the power to pour real content into the declarations of collaboration and equality of the Declaration of Independence. The Joint List has people whose opinions make me shudder. The views of many Israelis are also a nightmare for Arabs in Israel. But the continuation of the existing situation, which is all suspicion and hostility, could degrade both parties to radicalization and violent outbursts. Perhaps it is precisely the sharing, the need to compromise and to develop, to create surprising alliances, and even the mere listening from a new place to the story of the other party, his suffering, his justice, will be able to start a new dynamic? Benny Gantz, your position in the night negotiations will mark your path and your vision. While this is only a temporary government here, your decision to treat Israeli Arabs as an integral part of Israel signals that a better future will indeed open to Israel after years of stagnation and fixation, and that you are not the echo of Netanyahu but a completely different leader. The leader that Israel is desperate for.
An attack on Israel's Arabs is an attack on us all (Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, Yedioth/Ynet) While many disagree with members of the Joint List on many subjects, the attempt to denounce them along with one fifth of the country's citizens is unacceptable, unabashed racism that we must all denounce.
Imagine an "enlightened" Jewish-Arab government (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Are we really ready for Israeli policy under a defiantly secular and not-so-Zionist government comprising Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor-Meretz, and the Joint Arab List?
A minority government may put the State of Israel back on track (Ran Edelist, Maariv) Full connection with the Joint List is the most courageous act that the band of generals (leaders of Kahol-Lavan) may ever do.
Sowing Fear Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak, Netanyahu Is in His Element (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The coronavirus pandemic has provided an embarrassment of riches for Netanyahu, who's using the chaos to his best political benefit while Gantz grapples with the sourpusses who are slipping away from Kahol Lavan.
Every Hebrew mother should know: the moral sin of the leaders of Kahol-Lavan (Kalman Libskind, Maariv) In the name of removing Netanyahu, the party of the three chiefs of staff (Kahol-Lavan) was prepared to sit down with a party whose platform was wiping out the Jewish state and whose leaders supported the terrorists.
Opportunity for a historical connection (Shimon Schiffer, Yedioth Hebrew) 1. Whoever expected Netanyahu to draw the obvious conclusion in light of the reality forced upon the countries of the world and us because of the eruption of Corona, was wrong. Netanyahu is as Netanyahu is: At press conferences in which he continues to market himself, while at the same time refusing to accept to the government "supporters of terrorism,” thus missing an historic opportunity to reconcile with Israeli Arabs on issues that do not belong to the right and left or to policy questions. The virus does not stop at any checkpoint, and it requires us to unite: Arabs and Jews. 2. True, it is not possible to sweep away the facts that point to the unification of the Arab parties for decades over their national aspirations and their affinity for Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and Arab countries. In fact, both sides huddle around the narrative - Jewish voters on the dream of conquering the land vs. Arab voters on the return to Palestine, which is manifested in the "right of return" among many Israeli Arabs. But dreams are one thing, and the desire to push the other side out of here is something unacceptable. Ironically, Netanyahu is the one who has led Israeli Arabs to the polls in the last three election campaigns, making them the one capable of breaking the tie between the contenders for the premiership….5. Yesterday morning I received medical treatment (for a non-life-threatening problem) at a medical clinic in Bnei Brak. Most of the nurses and doctors were Israeli Arabs, who come every day to help us from cities and villages in the north and center. They are dedicated, and deserve all the praise. They do not mix politics with their work: they treat everyone. I guess the only thing that interests them is that we all recognize that they are citizens with equal rights that we have. And I will add: Netanyahu, you have the responsibility to thank them, because they are recruited all year round to take care of the same population you already belong to, the elderly…
Time to Put Israel in Mass Therapy (Ofri Ilany, Haaretz+) Why does the country find itself in an obsessive political spiral at this precise time? Psychoanalysis might have an explanation.
Bibi, Tibi and what's in between: Making order in the subject of forming a coalition (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) To understand the position of Kahol-Lavan voters in the current political plunder, one must ask not only who they are against, Prime Minister Netanyahu or the Joint List, but also what they are more against.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Serves Netanyahu’s Political Interests (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) This war appeared like a miracle, and what a wonderful gift it is for Netanyahu – almost as good as a Knesset majority of 61. Because he didn’t initiate it, but he profits from it, as he does from the fear of the terrified herd of Israelis for whom existential anxiety is a religion, and who as usual in wartime, cries out for unity. Isolation in the homes, togetherness in the hearts.
National emergency government is a must (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) We should all pray that this time, unity negotiation will be taken seriously by everyone involved. A national emergency government formed by the two major parties is no longer just an option – it's the only option.
Jewish and Panicked by Coronavirus? Come With Your Guilty Conscience to Israel (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Come to a country familiar with overcoming extreme scenarios. Use your right to citizenship to call out Netanyahu’s crass attempts to downgrade Arab citizens' rights.
The last three election campaigns have caused a marked increase in hatred (Prof. Avi Degani, Maariv) Which party is most hated (Joint List - 74%), how many think that the number of parties needs to be reduced (56%), and what led to the empowerment of the Joint List? There is no doubt that Kahol-Lavan’s last-minute courting after the Joint List lifted the morale and pride of the Arab population. In examining reasons people voted for the Likud, when no possible answers were presented to the respondents, about 50% - 55% referred to Benjamin Netanyahu's virtues. The second half of the value was motivated by a deterministic pattern, much like voters from ultra-Orthodox or religious parties. A typical response of these voters is "In our family traditionally we always vote Likud.” So in a way, the Likud is a kind of religion. Results from the emotional-political research study of the Geo-Cartography Institute.
Politics in the Shadow of Corona (Haaretz Editorial) Under the shadow of the spread of the coronavirus and political uncertainty, the Knesset is to be sworn in on Monday. Meanwhile, Kahol Lavan and Likud are discussing the possibility, proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of establishing a broad national emergency government. Nevertheless, Kahol Lavan still hopes to obtain the support of 61 MKs to recommend to the president on Sunday that Kahol Lavan chairman MK Benny Gantz form the new government. And on Friday, Kahol Lavan asked Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein to hold a vote on Monday to elect a new speaker from their party. The decision by Kahol Lavan’s leaders to adhere to their initiative to replace Edelstein of Likud with Meir Cohen of Kahol Lavan, despite talks with Likud, is an important one. The criticism voiced by Likud officials that Kahol Lavan is dealing in “petty politics,” while Netanyahu is trying to save Israel and the rest of the world, is in itself petty politics.
An Emergency for Israeli Democracy: Coronavirus Crisis Cannot Chip Away at Checks and Balances (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) The epidemic comes at a time when caretaker prime minister Netanyahu, who is indicted for corruption and fighting for his political and personal future, has too much authority and too much at stake.
When a politician changes his skin, the sky does not fall (Anna Barsky, Maariv) Politics is not the house of learning morality. Orly Levi-Abeksis is not the problem, neither is Yoaz Handel and Zvi Hauser - but, rather, those who used them. And also: in the shadow of the Corona, a unity government has turned into a relevant expression…Were I Benny Gantz, I would not aspire to be prime minister precisely during the days of an epidemic. Entering a new business is difficult and complicated anyway - and in a time of total panic, uncertainty and negative forecasts for the economy and the market - such an act seems closest to political suicide.
Israeli Politics in the Time of the Coronavirus: A Moment of Moral Clarity or Cynical Politics (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) It took a global pandemic for Gantz to break Israel’s biggest political taboo – but will Netanyahu’s trap work?

Other Commentary/Analysis:
As Israel Prepares for Coronavirus in the Palestinian Territories, Gaza Raises Dilemmas (Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz+) Hamas is already enforcing the medical isolation for 1,400 Gazans suspected of having contracted the virus, but Israel is yet to decide how to move forward in the event of an outbreak in the Strip.
One cannot be jealous of the person who will have to make the decision whether to impose a closure on the Palestinian Authority’s territory (Jackie Khougy, Maariv) In Israel, approximately 150,000 Palestinian laborers are employed, and they hold up the construction industry - and the Palestinian economy. A closure will jeopardize both, making the decision difficult and complicated.
Yossi Beilin, There’s No Such Thing as a Jewish State (Avraham Burg, Haaretz+) Yossi Beilin is almost everything to me – teacher and partner, beloved friend and challenging opponent. His last article in Israel Hayom outlines the core of the argument between us – the watershed between the broad Zionist camp and what is yet to be the new Israeli left. He blasts Joint List leader Ayman Odeh’s position that a Jewish majority is a racist term, stating that “if a Jewish majority is a racist term, then a Jewish state is also a racist term, and Zionism is racism as well.” Is that what this rational, pragmatic man thinks? I don’t know what Odeh thinks, but I, as one of tens of thousands of people who voted for the Joint List, say to Beilin explicitly – yes. What for you is a rhetorical question for me is a painful, penetrating reply – Zionism in Israel today means only one thing: racism! Zionism was the scaffolding that enabled the Jewish nation’s transition from a scattered Diaspora structure to a sovereign centralist structure. In May 1948, it was crowned with great success for the Jews and with a horrific tragedy for the Palestinians, and by so doing finished its job. The state structure was set up, Israeliness was on its way. But someone forgot to remove the scaffolding and since then, Zionism within Israel has been used only for distinctions, exclusion and discrimination: Eli Yishai and Miri Regev against the foreign workers, Avigdor Lieberman against the ultra-Orthodox, Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz against the Arabs. What are you doing in that unworthy group?
How Coronavirus Is Making Israelis and Palestinians Equal (Umm Forat, Haaretz+) 'Israel is obviously behind this,' Osama said, speaking of the West Bank going under closure. 'And maybe it’s for the best.' Post #9.
What happened to the Israeli Left? (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) We don't know how the political Gordian knot will be cut, but it is clear that Blue and White's eagerness to form a coalition dependent on Arab MKs does not inspire confidence in its leaders.
'It's Not a Black Swan, It's a Mammoth': Coronavirus Dictates New Reality for Israeli Army (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) One senior officer says implications of coronavirus crisis could be more profound than 9/11.
Wanted for Israel: crisis manager (Yossi Yehoshua, Yedioth Hebrew) There is a need for a persona to lead the battle. For example, (former chief of staff) Gadi Eisenkot.  The peculiar incident that happened yesterday at noon illustrates the whole story: Ministry of Health Director General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, perhaps the figure most identified with the Corona crisis, issued an unusual statement in the middle of the Sabbath. He made clear - and asked -  the public to act responsibly.  For someone watching from the side, it seems that Bar-Siman-Tov is the "national calmer” and he does his job properly. But is it the role of the Ministry of Health to deal with the issue of supermarkets in an emergency? The answer is, of course, negative, and this incident mainly shows what an empty space exists in the State of Israel in managing a national crisis. An event of this magnitude, which is not military, requires an overall vision, understanding, experience and authority vis-à-vis all the various ministries - and ultimately also with the Ministry of Defense and the army, with emphasis on the Home Front Command…The weak point of the State of Israel is national security and it is appropriate to act quickly and rectify the issue. The most obvious solution is to call the flag to former Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott, who does not currently hold a position. He is available, worthy, professional and authoritative.
Coronavirus Presents Israel With Novel Threat to National Security (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Israel is better equipped than most countries to deal with military threat on civilian population. But the coronavirus could reset the priorities.
Qatar's friendship is good for Israel (Michal Yaari, Yedioth/Ynet) Mideast politics are a-changin' as old enemies are being challenged to review their relations with the Jewish state and choosing strategic interests and pragmatism over religion and ideology.
Coronavirus Under Control? Egypt’s Latest Giant Problem Awaits (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The country hasn’t yet closed its borders, schools, or universities, and if workers in the Gulf are sent back home, the ailing labor and housing markets will suffer further.
Iran in the shadow of the coronavirus (Raz Zimmt, Yedioth/Ynet) While the Islamic Republic is hardly the most stable of countries, the conduct of the Iranian government over COVID-19, coupled with thousands of people already having been infected, serves to destabilize the country further.
As Coronavirus Strikes, Iran Forced to Rethink Its Proxy Wars (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Strategically, the coronavirus provides Israel with some good news ■ Where Netanyahu demonstrates leadership, Trump exemplifies ignorance.
 
Interviews:
'For the Bulgarians, There’s No Difference Between a Jew and an Israeli'
Last week at the Tel Aviv airport: What it's like to teach non-Jews attending a Jewish school in Bulgaria, and what's the point of taking part in a dog show?. (Interviewed by Noa Epstein in Haaretz+)

 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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