News Nosh 4.20.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday April 20, 2020
Quotes of the Day:
“I felt like I was making the connection even stronger, that I was a part of the place, of the people, of the tradition."
--Dr. Abed Zahalka, an Arab-Israeli doctor working for years in an ultra-Orthodox hospital in Bnei Brak, said after he carried a Torah scroll wrapped in a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) into the coronavirus ward and gave it to the infected and isolated religious patients there, who, with great joy, immediately began to pray.*

“The road to reconciliation requires people of vision, not petty quibblers who measure every movement toward peace in fractions of millimeters, until the journey turns into one of torture rather than peace.”
—Haaretz commentator Odeh Bisharat suggests Israel think outside the box to reach peace with the Palestinians by releasing all Palestinian prisoners at once.**

Front Page:

Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • In their memory
  • Don’t forget // Eva Lavi
  • A journey of patches // Neta Greenspan-Gold
  • Between a government and the High Court
  • The cry of the small business owners

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Corona and Holocaust Remembrance Day, corona and the complaints of parents about distance teaching and corona and the collapsing of small businesses were today’s top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. Meanwhile, no known progress on the negotiation for a unity government front, but at Tel-Aviv’s Rabin Square a couple thousand people protested against damage to Israel’s democracy.

Israel will be marking Holocaust Remembrance Day online and it will hold the national memorial ceremony without an audience and though restrictions on people are being eased, Holocaust survivors living in Israel will mostly be at home, because of the risk of them being infected with coronavirus. The papers also shared the difficult stories of small business owners, with a falafel stand owner named Yuval Carmi making headlines after a heart-wrenching interview he gave to Channel 13 News, in which, sobbing, he said that he can no longer feed his children. Afterward, dozens of people offered to give him money, but he refused, saying he just wanted to sell his falafel.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Between one thousand and ‘thousands’ of Israelis rallied against what they called the “assault on democracy.”  Former Kahol-Lavan MK Yair Lapid slammed Kahol-Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz, accusing him of deception, while another leading former Kahol-Lavan MK, Moshe Ya'alon, urged Gantz to cut talks with Netanyahu and return to the fold of those who oppose a government with Netanyahu, who faces three indictments for crimes of moral turpitude.

Earlier, Likud negotiators warned Kahol-Lavan that if Gantz, who is Knesset Speaker, tables the legislation aimed at preventing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from serving as premier, it will result in the immediate termination of the coalition talks. At the rally of the black flags, Maj. Gen. Amiram Levine told how he saved Netanyahu’s life when they both served in the Sayeret Matkal commando. Later, in a 103FM radio interview, Levine said, ”Netanyahu has run his course, his adulthood shames his youth.” Levine, who was Netanyahu’s commander in the army, claims that the prime minister is harming himself, not just the state: "Democracy cannot be destroyed in order to save Bibi." (Maariv)

UPDATE: Today Netanyahu and Gantz met at the Prime Minister’s Residence and after two hours, talks blew up and Gantz walked out, apparently because he still would not agree to Netanyahu’s demand to reshuffle the High Court judicial appointments committee, a change which would give Netanyahu more influence on it.

Corona Quick Hits:
  • Israel's coronavirus fatalities up to 173, with 13,654 confirmed cases - As of Sunday evening, there are 150 people currently described as in a serious condition 114 of them on ventilators requiring respiratory assistance; 3,872 people have recovered from the virus thus far. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Coronavirus: In First, More Recoveries Than New Cases - The number of people on ventilators is dropping too, as number of tests rise, and experts estimate the peak is behind us. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Police: We Cannot Enforce Restrictions on Movement Under New, Relaxed Rules - Police says it cannot enforce restrictions except for permitted shopping, exercise, prayers and other previously permitted activities, like transferring children from one parent to the other are still banned. (Haaretz+)
  • Corona during Ramadan - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will hold a discussion today to decide on the steps needed during the Ramadan period that begins this weekend. The debate will examine the imposition of a closure or curfew during fasting hours and the Eid al-Fitr holiday, closing business and increasing police forces in the Arab sector. Minister of Public Security Gilad Arden yesterday visited the villages of Deir al-Assad and An'a, which recorded a significant spread of corona virus, saying: "The month of Ramadan could cause an increase in the spread of corona. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Hamas says will hold responsible for virus outbreak in Gaza, demands medical supply - A Hamas senior official warned on Sunday that his militant group would hold Israel responsible with it fails to provide the Gaza Strip with medical supply. "The medical means at our disposal to battle coronavirus are insufficient and we must increase the stocks we have," said Hamas senior Khalil al-Hayya. (Ynet)
  • Former Israeli Generals Take Command of Coronavirus Hot Spots, and the Army Isn't Happy - Three cities have appointed former senior IDF officers to manage the coronavirus crisis, but senior defense officials tell Haaretz that the harm outweighs the benefit because they are not coordinating their efforts with the army, they are contradicting the Home Front Command’s approach and they are misrepresenting the situation to the mayors, which undermines the mayors’ authority and jeopardizes their handling of the situation going forward.  (Haaretz+)
  • Alabama mayor deleted a tweet thanking Yair Netanyahu for masks donation - Sandy Stimpson who heads the town of Mobile in Alabama thanks Yair Netanyahu - in a now deleted tweet - for his 'generous donation' of 1,000 sought-after N95 surgical masks. PM's son says it was sent by the organization he worked for and that that he had nothing to do with the donation that was made on his behalf as a pro-Israel PR campaign. An earlier tweet by Stimpson praising Yair for the masks was not deleted. (JPost and Ynet and Photos and VIDEO)
  • *Inside the ultra-Orthodox Hospital at the Center of Israel's Coronavirus Pandemic - In Bnei Brak's Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, an Arab doctor delivered a Torah to ultra-Orthodox coronavirus patients, while babies continue to be delivered safely in the maternity ward. (Haaretz+)
  • Magen David Adom: number of coronavirus deaths may be higher than official toll - Top medic says cause of death of civilians who have passed away at home or in assisted living centers not always known, Israel's testing capacity limited by virology labs' inability to process answers fast enough. (Ynet)
  • Justice Ministry Calls to Allow Parents to Visit Children Living in State Institutions - The Social Services Ministry has been asked by the Justice Ministry to change its policy to safeguard the emotional welfare of disabled and autistic children. (Haaretz+)
  • Coronavirus Through the Eyes of Holocaust Survivors - For some hidden children of the Holocaust, being isolated at home is a throwback to wartime traumas, while others see no similarities: ‘Nobody is chasing us. Nobody is tormenting us ... there’s really no comparison.’ (Haaretz+)
  • IN PHOTOS: A window of heroism - They lived through the greatest horror of all when the Nazi machine tried to destroy them. Now, 75 years after the end of that war, they find themselves in their homes on Holocaust Remembrance Day, isolated from another enemy of another kind. But even now, in the face of loneliness and longing for the family, they say: "We survived then, and we will survive today." Special project: Holocaust survivors photographed in the window - in the shadow of the Corona epidemic. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • IN PHOTOS: The Black Plague: Coronavirus Takes Over Israel's Billboards - With advertising coming to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of the billboards across Israel have turned into empty black displays. Now a personal art project suddenly became a news item. (Haaretz+)
  • Trump and Turkey's Erdogan Agree on Cooperation Against Coronavirus - Turkey now has most coronavirus cases outside Europe and U.S. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia: The leadership has fled to an isolated island due to a corona outbreak at the royal palace - Not just in Israel. The leaders of Arab countries also don’t really set an example for the people when it comes to dealing with corona. After 150 members of the Saudi royal family got ill with corona, King Salman fled to a Red Sea island with his aides. Crown Heir Mohammed bin Salman followed him to the desert city, where he boasted about conversations he had with Trump advisers about ways to fight the plague, and with Moscow about selling oil to Russia. (Yedioth Hebrew)


Other Quickees:
  • 14 million: World Jewry matches 1925 numbers - Ahead of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, population of Jews around the world is still far short of pre-WWII numbers; Israeli Jews make up some 45% of that number with 6.7 million. (Ynet)
  • Israel's Holocaust survivors community is 189,500 strong - Holocaust Remembrance Day will be marked in state ceremonies devoid of an audience over coronavirus restrictions. (Israel Hayom)
  • Human Figure Detected on 14,000-year-old Burial Slab in Israel - The Natufians were the first to bury their dead in cemeteries, albeit in shallow graves, and mysterious slabs were placed in and above some graves. One found in Raqefet Cave bore an enigmatic engraving that may hint at elaborate ritual. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran Unveils Combat Capable Drones With Israel in Range - Drones are a key element in Iran's border surveillance, especially the Gulf waters around the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world's oil supply flows. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iran Revolutionary Guards Warn of Decisive Response to Any 'Mistake' by U.S. in Gulf - On Wednesday, vessels from the Revolutionary Guards navy came close to U.S. ships in the Gulf, an action American officials described as 'dangerous and provocative.' (Agencies, Haaretz)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu Has Decided Who Will Take the Blame for the Coronavirus Crisis (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Netanyahu's usual scapegoats have made it difficult to pin the coronavirus fallout on them, and he's unlikely to jeopardize his ultra-Orthodox support – so he's chosen someone else to take the fall this time.
The future of Blue & White is not necessarily black (Yuval Diskin, Yedioth/Ynet) While party the and its leader effectively betrayed all those who supported them by allying with Netanyahu, they could still save face attempting to unite the blocs against the man who dragged us into three elections out of fear.
Prepare for Netanyahu's Bribery Trial (Haaretz Editorial) Israel's courts must resume full operation immediately, even if this isn’t in keeping with the interests of the accused from Balfour Street.
Where is the stateliness? Rivlin acted like the neighborhood bully when he refused to give Netanyahu the mandate to form a government (Haim Misgav. Maariv) I long for the presidents who followed Weizmann, precisely these days as the president of the state marches toward districts he should not be in, exceeding his position.
 Netanyahu Has Good Reason to Fear Democracy Defending Itself (Nurit Elstein, Haaretz+) Mr. Prime Minister…Let’s speak frankly. You haven’t really been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Staying in office is the only thing that you’ve been busy with. You should therefore realize that no legal model will provide you with complete protection or, as long as Israel is a democracy, grant legitimacy to a matter that’s fundamentally crooked. Ensuring that you can remain prime minister despite the indictments would require you to extinguish democracy entirely….The violence, lies and tactics that you have used to obtain a single benefit – escaping justice by staying in power – have turned you into a very dangerous person for the country. An unrestrained thirst for power and your willingness to use your authority for an inappropriate personal purpose to escape justice are a dangerous recipe for Israel’s existence as a democracy. They put you in the shoes of other leaders who have dragged their countries to the threshold of dictatorship…That, Mr. Netanyahu, is the reason that the High Court of Justice must stop you…

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Israelis Have Left the Coronavirus Lockdown Behind, and There Is No Going Back (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) They leave two groups at risk of complications from the coronavirus in the lurch – those 67 and over and those with underlying conditions.
The Mossad Is Flaunting Too Much During the Coronavirus Crisis (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) Contrary to the flattering reports about the Mossad’s cloak-and-dagger operations to acquire medical equipment, most of it was purchased officially in Europe and China, where the organization has no particular advantage.
Why Do So Few Israelis With Coronavirus Symptoms Go Into Quarantine in Time? (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz+) The Health Ministry’s cumbersome testing system takes far too long to deliver results..
**It's Time to Release Palestinian Prisoners (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sent billions into isolation – and which in Israel and the Palestinian Authority was even imposed early on – the situation is forcing both sides to think differently. The Israeli army, instead of becoming even stronger, is assuming civilian tasks, like supporting citizens in Bnei Brak, Jerusalem and the (Arab-Israeli) Galilee village of Deir al-Asad. And in the besieged PA, the security services have become the ones offering humanitarian assistance. Slowly but surely we are beginning to realize that the world has changed. On one hand, humanity is facing a frightening pandemic, and there is fear that a wave of illness may flood us in the fall – and on the other, there is demand for fundamental change that will bring about a different social order, one whose main component is a reinforcement of the public health system. But above all there is the need to ensure, first and foremost, the health and welfare of our next-door neighbor. Because if our very distant neighbor (China, in our case) has infected the entire world, how much more must we be concerned about the health of the two neighbors in our region, who live next door to each other. It was actually the Hamas leadership that took the lead here. Its members understood the new situation, broke the accepted frameworks and proposed a prisoner exchange. They understood that in changing times there is a need for different tools. Today, if we want to think outside the box, the most effective step is a release of all the Palestinian prisoners. Without stages and without bargaining. The road to reconciliation requires people of vision, not petty quibblers who measure every movement toward peace in fractions of millimeters, until the journey turns into one of torture rather than peace. Imagine thousands of Palestinian prisoners returning to their homes. Wouldn’t that bring hope that something good will come of the coronavirus? And this time it would be good for both sides. The path to it lies outside the box.
Thomas Friedman's political fantasy (Jerold S. Auerbach, Israel Hayom) How could a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who served as Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief between 1984-88 and a columnist ever since, endorse Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for anything but a kindergarten class on Israel and the Middle East?
Hezbollah Uses Coronavirus to Gain Political Capital (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) ‘We’d rather die of coronavirus than hunger,’ protesters say as the Lebanese pound plummets and they return to the streets.
Jews in Germany Don't Need Special Treatment Any More (David Ranan, Haaretz+)  Germany’s relationship with Jews and with Israel is understandably shaped by the Holocaust. But this has caused it to be ritualized, abnormal – and, sometimes, actively harmful.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.