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Israel Tightens Coronavirus Restrictions as Number of Casualties Climb
Thursday, 26 March 2020 | What happened: The Israeli cabinet on Tuesday night approved further measures restricting daily life in a bid to combat the coronavirus. The number of infected Israelis has increased to 2030, with 5 deaths, as of Wednesday morning.
Context: The Health Ministry has been highlighting the dire threat to the country if the virus is not contained with officials warning that a million people could be infected, leading to 10,000 deaths by the Passover holiday in mid-April.
Looking ahead: Israel is heading towards the imposition of a full lockdown, although concerns are growing among business leaders and government officials about the economic cost of such measures to contain the outbreak.
Photo Credit: Brenda Groat/bridgesforpeace.com
Pray for God’s protection for the people of Israel. Remind Him of His promises and beseech Him for a stop to the spread of the virus, healing for any that have it and His comfort for the loved ones of those who have died from it. Pray that Israel will truly be a light to the nations during this time of darkness.
He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Israel’s Battle Experience Can Help Defeat Coronavirus
by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin
Wednesday, 25 March 2020 | If Israel were facing a third Lebanon war, an Iranian nuclear incursion or another confrontation in Gaza, we would surely have known how to handle security matters and how to manage the entire crisis thanks to our accumulated experience.
The challenge we are now facing is not by nature an issue of security (although its implications for the country’s security are undeniable), but it could potentially be tackled using the mechanisms Israel has developed in the past to deal with security threats.
This campaign against the coronavirus is the most critical one Israel has conducted since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. And while a virus is not an army, in order to defeat it, it is vital to adopt the methods of previous leaders to manage dangerous and costly campaigns that were often filled with uncertainty.
We must set two clear goals for this campaign. The first is protecting the lives and health of the public. The second is maintaining a functioning economy (including security preparedness, should the need arise to defend ourselves) and resuming economic activity as soon as possible.
There is a certain tension between these two goals, and so every decision must strike the perfect balance between them.
It likely that the wave of fatalities from the virus hasn’t yet reached its peak and could in fact continue for a few months. Researchers are predicting a second, more powerful outbreak in the fall that will go on well into the winter.
Adopting this view, we are in the midst of a spring battle to halt the spread of the virus, followed perhaps by a reprieve in the summer, and a hard, excruciating campaign in the fall and winter.
To win this ongoing battle, we will need more than tactics that just buy us time. We will need an all-encompassing strategy for the whole of next year at the least, together with finding a proper balance between the health, economic, social and perhaps security aspects of the crisis.
Right now, the biggest gap we are facing in our struggle against the virus is in intelligence. The picture of the epidemic we have right now focuses only on known cases of the virus, while the actual number is probably much, much higher.
Managing the crisis using only partial and unverified information will cause extensive damage to the economy, while good intelligence can guarantee focused accurate actions against the epidemic.
The foggy intelligence leaves Israel at a disadvantage. We need reliable data on the members of the population who have beaten the virus—many of them have done so without showing any symptoms whatsoever. It is hard to believe there are only a handful of people in Israel who have actually recovered from coronavirus.
This population, which is most likely immune to being re-infected, could be the key to rekindling Israel’s economy.
Correctly managing the timeline of this campaign is essential. Israel’s concept of security is that of a short war with a clear conclusion and against the virus this cannot be the case.
The public is not updated either on the government’s timeline or on what actions the government will take in the future. But unlike past campaigns fought against external enemies, fighting a virus means all the information, along with the government’s strategy, must be laid out for the public.
Using the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] to help fight the epidemic is the right move, as long as it’s used correctly and focuses on areas where it has a relative advantage.
In the end, not unlike in times of war, the fate of the war lies in the public’s resilience, the trust it has in its government and its adherence to emergency protocols.
As in the past, the public will act responsibly and will cooperate for as long as its trust in Israel’s leadership remains.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin is the director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and served as head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate.
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on March 24, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: IDF/idf.il
Thank the Lord for the serene yet confident attitude projected in Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yadlin’s article. Pray that Israeli leaders will heed his wisdom as they make decisions critical to Israel’s current situation and future wellbeing.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.
Israeli Workforce Suffers as Coronavirus Hits Businesses
by Amir Alon and Gad Lior
Friday, 20 March 2020 | Almost 400,000 people have registered as unemployed in Israel since the start of March as coronavirus restrictions hit businesses hard.
Almost 90% of those new claimants were put on unpaid leave and many fear they may never recover financially.
On Wednesday alone, more than 60,000 people applied for assistance—a rate of 4,700 new applicants an hour.
Among that number is Omer Mor, a 34-year-old nursery school teacher from Tel Aviv. All educational institutions in Israel have been closed for the foreseeable future—and that includes kindergartens.
“I have never asked for unemployment benefit before,” she says. “I don’t even know how much I can expect to receive.”
Economists estimate that by the end of the month up to 700,000 people will be out of work in Israel, requiring around NIS 5 billion (USD $1.3 billion) in assistance every month.
With economic uncertainty and no end to the crisis in sight, many of the newly unemployed have found they are not informed of their rights or what help they can expect to receive from the government.
Sharon Hornstein, editor-in-chief at the Kol Zchut (Every Right) website, which provides information on social and civil rights, said a worker who has been forced into unpaid leave for more than 30 days should be eligible for unemployment benefits and should register on the Employment Agency website by March 26.
Unemployment benefits are given to workers under the age of 67, but older people are sometimes eligible for some income as well, depending on their pensions.
Photo Credit: Sarah Yoder/bridgesforpeace.com
Pray that Israelis who are facing the loss of jobs and income will remember that their true provider is the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel. Pray that He will bring a swift end to this difficult situation, rescuing Israel from economic disaster and restoring Israelis to their jobs.
O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.
Israeli Company Donates Potential COVID-19 Drug to the US
by Janet Aslin
Monday, 23 March 2020 | A ray of hope appeared last week in the global fight against COVID-19 in the form of an anti-malarial tablet. That tablet is called hydroxchloroquine sulfate, a generic drug that is currently being used for the treatment of malaria and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The Times of Israel reported that “according to the study carried out by Prof. Raoult [Institut Hospitalo Universitaire in France] on 24 patients with coronavirus, six days after the start of taking hydroxychloroquine, the virus had disappeared in three-quarters of people treated.” The drug has also produced encouraging results in China.
Based on these findings, Israeli pharmaceutical giant, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, LTD. quickly responded with the offer to donate ten million tablets of hydroxychloroquine to hospitals in the United States. Six million tablets will be shipped by March 31, with the remaining doses to follow within a month.
The company’s website provided this statement by Brendan O’Grady, Executive Vice President, North America Commercial, “We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost. Immediately upon learning of the potential benefit of hyroxychloroquine, Teva began to assess supply and to urgently acquire additional ingredients to make more product while arranging for all of what we had to be distributed immediately.”
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, LTD. was established in Jerusalem in 1901 and has grown from a small business to one with a gigantic international presence. Teva is a global leader that produces over 3,500 generic and specialty medicines taken by over 200 million people.
Although it is a commercial business, traded on both the Tel Aviv and New York stock exchanges, Teva has demonstrated its Jewish roots by offering its entire inventory of this product at no cost and making plans to increase production. This well-known quote has been attributed to Judaism—“Whoever saves a single life, saves the world.” Teva is doing its part.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 23, 2020)
Photo Credit: דוד שי/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Thank the Lord for Teva’s commitment to the value of human life and their generosity in donating this drug to hospitals in America. Pray for its effectiveness against the coronavirus and for Teva’s ability to manufacture more of the lifesaving pills as the global demand increases.
“And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
For Israel’s Elderly, Coronavirus Means More Loneliness
by Amir Alon
Tuesday, 24 March 2020 | The outbreak of the coronavirus has kept the general population largely in their homes, and many of the country’s senior citizens are feeling left behind as they cannot buy provisions or medicine, or even see their family members due to a higher risk of infection.
Yocheved Levi, an 86-year-old Haifa resident, says the loneliness is the most difficult aspect.
“I’m depressed my girls cannot come to visit me,” she says. “I sit in front of the television and radio all day long, making me even more depressed. It makes my head hurt, but what are you going to do, talk to the walls?”
The quarantine has transformed even the most mundane of daily tasks into a challenge, Levy says.
“I don’t go outside, and if I take out the trash I cover my nose and mouth,” she says. “I’m trying to live in the moment and pray for it to all be over.”
Cherna David, an 82-year-old resident of Holon, is also in isolation and also having a hard time buying groceries.
“Unlike the young people I can’t go outside to buy groceries, I need to order a delivery,” she says. “I tried all the chains, but all of them said they cannot deliver the groceries in less than 10 days.”
But the logistical difficulties aren’t the worst part, says Cherna, the loneliness is.
“I’ve been at home for two weeks now,” she says. “I used to go to a seniors club to play and work out a little, but now I’ve been told I cannot go outside at all.
“I’m trying to get through this without causing problems for my children. There are days when I’m basically clawing at the walls, but I don’t want to die from coronavirus.”
Esther Fedder Greene is a blind 80-year-old widow also in quarantine in Holon.
“It’s hard but I have grown accustomed to the loneliness. Everyone needs company and help; without social services providing home help once a week I couldn’t get by, but what are you going to do?”
Editor’s Note: Bridges for Peace is committed to continue caring for the most vulnerable people in Israel’s society during this time of crisis. Many of the 22,000 people we help feed every month are poverty-stricken Holocaust survivors who depend on our food parcels for sustenance.
The Holocaust survivors on our program are not able to go to the supermarket to fill their cupboards for the uncertain times ahead. Even if they could, they don’t have the money to bulk-buy food for the whole month under normal circumstances, much less during times like these. Can you imagine the desperation of facing the looming uncertainty, knowing you don’t even have the basic necessities? That is why it is so important that we continue our food deliveries, even handing out double portions where needed.
We just received a call for help from the social workers we work with. More elderly people around the city are in desperate need of assistance to stock up on groceries as we face a looming lockdown. Can you imagine the sense of helplessness, fear and despair of being unable to get what you will need to survive? Will you please help us help them?
We want to make sure that all those who look to us—Christians who love and support Israel—have enough to sustain them in the days ahead. Please give generously to our Greatest Israel Need to help us do that.
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on March 23, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Jenna Solomon/bridgesforpeace.com
Pray that God’s hand of protection and a sense of His presence will encourage these dear ones who have endured so much pain in their lives. Beseech the Lord that Christians will give generously to help Bridges for Peace as we reach out to these lonely and often destitute Israelis with badly needed food and supplies as well as the knowledge that they are not alone. May the recognition that Christians around the world continue to care about them bring them joy during this difficult time.
“For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,” says the LORD, “because they called you an outcast saying: ‘This is Zion; no one seeks her.’”
UN Report Ranks Israel 14th Happiest Country in the World
by Ilse Strauss
Tuesday, 24 March 2020 | Eight years ago, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly launched a survey to gauge the global happiness levels of its member states. The findings obtained from each of the UN’s member states were noted, processed and released as the first international report on global happiness in 2012. Known officially as the World Happiness Report, the document became a tool that allows heads of states to measure where their citizens fall on the global happiness scale.
The 2020 report was published last week, scoring 153 countries from the happiest to the least happy. The first 13 slots went to the usual happiness superpowers: Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands—nations known for snow, the northern lights, neutrality, maple syrup and tulips. The 14th spot on the list went to Israel, a tiny nation embroiled in endless conflict and controversy, surrounded by hostile neighbors plotting its destruction.
The ten happiest countries this year are Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria and Luxembourg. Although the Jewish state did not make the top ten—and slipped a spot from last year’s 13th place—the people of the Promised Land are happier than the Americans, the Germans, the French and more than 140 other nations. Israel also took the top spot as the most joyful state in the Middle East, with its neighbors Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt coming in at 111th, 119th and 138th place respectively. The bottom ten spots on the list went to Lesotho, India, Malawi, Yemen, Botswana, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Afghanistan.
Each year, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network uses a variety of polling organizations, official figures and research methods to rank countries by how happy their citizens see themselves as, based on factors like income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom and generosity. The results are published as the World Happiness Report on UN World Happiness Day on March 20th.
This year’s report was published as the world battles the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and results are thus based on happiness levels prior to the virus hitting. The report editors did address the global crisis, saying that although there is no way to predict its effect on happiness, calamities in the past have “led sometimes to surprising increases in happiness in the wake of what might otherwise seem to be unmitigated disasters.”
The editors did, however, speculate as to a possible explanation for the curious case of happiness following such a disaster. “The most frequent explanation seems to be that people are pleasantly surprised by the willingness of their neighbors and their institutions to work in harness to help each other. This delivers a heightened sense of belonging, and pride in what they have been able to achieve by way of mitigation. These gains are sometimes great enough to compensate for the material losses.”
For the first time this year, the report also measured the happiest towns in the world, with Tel Aviv making the top ten at number 8.
The Jewish state’s high rankings on official happiness lists have long since been a cause of speculation. In every conventional and hedonistic sense, the happiness odds appear to be stacked quite decidedly against those who call the Promised Land home.
On the security side of things, Israel is the only democracy wedged into one of the world’s most volatile regions. Its neighbors are at best inhospitable; at worst, violently opposed to its existence and making the Jewish state’s destruction their aim. Israel’s citizens are in the crosshairs of every terror group in the neighborhood, and the country has fought at least one major war every decade since its rebirth.
Moreover, the Jewish people are heirs to a legacy and history so tragic that it calls for three official annual days of mourning every year. On top of that, nearly 70 years after the establishment of the modern State of Israel, it remains one of the only countries in the world whose right to exist is called into question, its borders disputed, its exports embargoed and its efforts to defend itself vilified.
Over the years, speculation has been rife as to the wellspring of happiness for the people of the Promised Land. Many have argued cohesion, a sense of family and belonging, while others have pointed to the country’s thriving economy and status as a high-tech superpower. Yet perhaps the source of Israel’s happiness comes from something ingrained in the hearts and minds of Jewish people throughout generations. “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Ps. 146:5), the psalmist declared thousands of years ago. Perhaps Israel has always known the secret of joy unlimited.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 24, 2020)
Photo Credit: Hannah Taylor/bridgesforpeace.com
Praise the Lord that Israel has again been recognized as one of the happiest places on earth. Thank Him for the many blessings He continually bestows on His nation and plead with Him that all Israelis will recognize and acknowledge His covenant faithfulness and love as He shelters them in the palm of His hand.
Sing, O Heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.
Has the Coronavirus Infected Israelophobes?
by Dan Diker
Thursday, 26 March 2020 | The COVID-19 virus has already claimed thousands of lives across the globe. Unsurprisingly, it has also fanned anti-Semitism. Today, as the long and bloody history of Jew-hatred has shown, anti-Semites, Israelophobes and BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] crusaders have wasted little time exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to spread corona conspiracies against the Jewish state.
Anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists are operating in a vacuum. Readily accessible facts on the ground undermine their claims. The metastasizing spread of the COVID-19 virus in Israel has brought Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, to increase medical and humanitarian cooperation to fight the pandemic. [Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held consultations with Israeli Arab physicians. He has dispatched urgent medical testing equipment to the Palestinian Authority [PA].
Netanyahu noted, “It (coronavirus) does not distinguish between Jews, Arabs, Circassians, Bedouins and Christians. It does not distinguish between religions and sectors.” Since March 19, the Israeli government has sent hundreds of coronavirus testing kits to the PA and Gaza as well as 2,000 protective suits, 20 tons of disinfectants, and 100 liters [26 gallons] of sanitizing gel. Israeli doctors and specialists have also been dispatched to the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] city of Jericho to train Palestinian medical teams to save lives in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
PA officials Ahmed Deek and Hussein al Sheikh, responsible for cooperation between the PA and Israel, praised Israel’s assistance, particularly the Israeli government’s honoring of the PA’s request to provide accommodations in Israel for 45,000 Palestinian worker-commuters from the West Bank to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. According to Al Monitor, quoting the PA’s al Sheikh, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin phoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas to thank him for the high level of cooperation and coordination.
Israeli measures to protect Israeli Arab citizens and residents, including the Israeli Health Ministry’s detailed instructions in Arabic, did not prevent BDS South Africa’s leadership from delivering its regular diet of mendacious and conspiratorial accusations against Israel, as part of its 2020 annual “Israel Apartheid Week.” On March 19, Mohammed Desai, BDS South Africa’s founder and chief evangelist, charged Israel with refusing to issue vital life-saving instructions in Arabic to Arabic speaking citizens and residents of the Jewish state. However, Desai’s false accusation was exposed on the spot by the TV debate’s other guest, Israeli Arab Yoseph Haddad, who called out a shocked Desai as a “liar” on South African national television.
Desai’s fabrication was echoed by Ronnie Kasrils, an outspoken Jewish South African BDS activist, a professed communist member of the African National Congress, and a leading adversary of the Jewish state. Kasrils declared to the South African Daily Maverick, “Israel…only delivers its coronavirus advice in Hebrew, ignoring the Arab mother tongue of 20% of Palestinians living within the Zionist state.”
Kasrils and Desai’s anti-Semitic slander of the Jewish state, while easily refuted by a Google search, signals an uptick in global conspiracy theories against Jews and the Jewish state. Natan Sharansky, former deputy prime minister and Jewish Agency chairman who suffered years of Soviet anti-Semitic propaganda (and solitary confinement), called the current conspiracy theories against Israel “nothing new,” recalling centuries of mendacious conspiratorial propaganda.
Historically, Jews have been blamed and massacred during global pandemics, from poisoning well water during the bubonic plague in 1348, to infecting the air in Freiberg, Germany, half a century later. In 1942, Polish-language Nazi propaganda accused Jews of spreading typhus. The 1953 Soviet “Doctors’ plot” resulted in the arrest of hundreds of Russian Jews. Historian Walter Lacquer noted that “similar charges were made in the 1980s and 1990s in radical Arab nationalist and Muslim fundamentalist propaganda that accused the Jews of spreading AIDS and other infectious diseases.”
The coronavirus pandemic is no exception. Social networks have multiplied Jewish conspiracy theories such as “Jews are making money off the virus” from the vaccine, by exploiting market volatility, or through loans, branding Jews as the “happy merchant.”
What is different today is that anti-Jewish coronavirus conspiracies have targeted the Jewish state. However, according to some US groups, including the ADL [Anti-Defamation League], some of these anti-Israel assaults constitute “political criticism” of Israeli policies and therefore may not fall under the definition of anti-Semitism. However, the ADL’s own revelations have not supported its disclaimer. It revealed Twitter and Facebook posts depicting a Palestinian woman’s forced exposure to the coronavirus while an Israeli soldier points a gun in her direction.
On March 22, Code Pink’s Ariel Gold tweeted: “International Law: Israel is culpable for every coronavirus death in Gaza.” On March 23, she added, “Israel and the US are culpable for every coronavirus death in Gaza: the Siege must be lifted.” David Duke tweeted a statement that pondered if President Trump had been infected by the coronavirus, and whether Israel and the “Global Zionist elite” were behind it.
The Nation of Islam’s Research Group, a division of the Black Muslim organization headed by the proudly anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan, tweeted a message indicating that Israel may have developed COVID-19 as a weapon “in response to news that an Israeli research institution will announce a coronavirus vaccine.” A Turkish television station that serves as a mouthpiece for President Erdoğan issued a similar message, saying, “Jews, Zionists have organized and engineered the novel coronavirus as a biological weapon just like bird flu” to “seize countries and neuter the world’s population.” Iranian regime leaders similarly accused Israel of spreading the virus as a “Zionist biological terrorist attack.”
The spike in Israelophobic rhetorical assaults against the Jewish state has even sent shock waves across leading Jewish anti-Zionist groups, such as If Not Now [INN]. INN responded to the recent spate of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories by tweeting on March 22:
“This is outrageous. While Jews around the world are struggling like everyone else to cope with the #coronavirus, we are also being bombarded by this anti-Semitic filth. Where are our interfaith allies? We’re here for you. And we need you here for us.”
Coronavirus conspiracy theories by BDS and other groups are the latest indications that little has changed in the centuries of anti-Semitic invective against Jews, and today against the Jewish state. It’s an act of self-deception to suggest, as some Jewish groups have, that this diet of propaganda and conspiracy sometimes constitutes political criticism of Israel’s policies. As Sharansky noted in the recent publication Israelophobia and the West: “History has come full circle. And just like in the good old days of Stalin, when they spoke of Zionists they meant Jews, and when they spoke against Jews they meant Israel.”
The difference today compared to centuries past is that the State of Israel can defend itself against both physical and rhetorical assaults. It possesses the human and technological capabilities to defeat conspiracies and propaganda, as Israeli Yoseph Haddad did on South Africa’s NewZRoom Africa Television. The question is whether the Iranian regime and other self-declared enemies of the Jewish state will accept Israel’s vaccine against the coronavirus when Israeli scientists complete their current intensive research and development of a cure and vaccine that could save millions of lives.
Source: (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs originally published this article on March 24, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Life in General/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Thank the Lord for Israel’s willingness to help Palestinian physicians and health workers in their fight against the coronavirus. Pray that the message of Israel’s assistance, including medical training for Palestinian doctors, will be heard around the world, silencing those who would use this global health disaster as a means to spread anti-Semitic propaganda. Also beseech the Lord that any treatment or vaccine that Israel develops will be promptly accepted and implemented worldwide.
Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; he devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speak justice. But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand.
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