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Ha'aretz
Time: Sun, 03.29.2020 08:32 AM Local file generated: Sun, 03.29.2020 07:14 AM
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Coronavirus will make Israel pay for neglecting its minorities

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 09:09:17 +03:00

Israel's faulty treatment of its ultra-Orthodox population has already emerged as one of its most serious failures in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. For weeks now, many have been preoccupied with criticizing the very fact that a problem is being pointed out, as if doing so constituted an œanti-Semitic assault on a certain sector. In the meantime, the community has been left to fall ill in ever-growing numbers.

Who have they protected with these claims? No one.

Internal Health Ministry data is clear: There has been a sharp increase in the number of people in the ultra-Orthodox community infected with the virus. Hundreds more have contracted the virus in a three-day period, at a much higher rate than the national average.


 Coronavirus will make Israel pay for neglecting its minorities


Coronavirus in Israel: Over 3,800 cases diagnosed; Eight more test positive in West Bank

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 09:04:15 +03:00

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

-  3,865 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with the vast majority of cases mild and 89 recoveries. Twelve patients have died and 66 are in serious condition. One Israeli tourist died in Italy. 

-  In the West Bank, 95 cases have been diagnosed so far. One woman in her 60s died. The Palestinian prime minister ordered a lockdown as of Sunday night. In Gaza, nine cases were diagnosed, the first two after returning from Pakistan, while seven came down with the virus after coming in contact with them. 


 Coronavirus in Israel: Over 3,800 cases diagnosed; Eight more test positive in West Bank


Netanyahu, Gantz say progress made in unity talks, aim to agree on terms Sunday

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 08:52:46 +03:00

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz issued a joint statement Sunday announcing they made meaningful progress toward a unity government.

The two leaders met in the Prime Minister's Residence on Saturday night and are expected to meet again on Sunday. 

Gantz blindsided many of his voters and parliamentary allies last week when he nominated himself and was elected for the role of Knesset speaker. The maneuver, supported by Netanyahu's right-wing bloc, caused the splitting of Gantz's Kahol Lavan party, with its Yesh Atid component vowing to remain in the opposition.


 Netanyahu, Gantz say progress made in unity talks, aim to agree on terms Sunday


Sharp spike in coronavirus cases found in Israeli ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 08:41:27 +03:00

Hundreds of new cases of the coronavirus appeared in ultra-Orthodox enclaves in Israel over a short period of time, internal Health Ministry figures obtained by Haaretz show.

According to the figures, hundreds of new cases appeared in a three-day period last week, and the numbers are growing much faster than the national average, mainly in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem.

These official Health Ministry figures, which are kept confidential, are given to the Interior Ministry which passes them on to the local authorities every morning.


 Sharp spike in coronavirus cases found in Israeli ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods


Coronavirus in Israel: Suspected patients get wrong test results due to typing error

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 07:31:06 +03:00

This article is no longer being updated. For all the latest updates, click here

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

-  3,619 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with the vast majority of cases mild and 89 recoveries. Twelve patients have died and 54 are in serious condition. One Israeli tourist died in Italy. 


 Coronavirus in Israel: Suspected patients get wrong test results due to typing error


Haaretz cartoon

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 01:36:27 +03:00

 Haaretz cartoon


Gantz made the right and brave choice, the lesser evil

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 01:29:48 +03:00

This week, what is apparently the most reasonable government for Israel will be formed, within the boundaries of the possible. Of the two possibilities before him a continuation of the deadlock and another election, or joining a Netanyahu government MK Benny Gantz made the right and the brave choice, the lesser evil.

The dream government of Jews and Arabs, or just a center-left government, was not possible. Continued clashes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would lead to no better a place. The removal of a few right-wing ministers from their key posts, and the appointment of a few more reasonable center-right ministers, is the most that can be expected now. Any other alternative would be worse.

Set aside the noisy criticism about betrayal, surrender and the end of the world if the end of the world is coming, it's because of the coronavirus, not the coalition. The coronavirus needs a functioning government now, not political intrigues, fiery speeches or protests in black. Their time will come.


 Gantz made the right and brave choice, the lesser evil


A devious elimination

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 01:23:56 +03:00

One thing has been troubling me since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's TV interviews last Saturday, when he shared with the public the agreement that seemed to be developing between Likud and Kahol Lavan Netanyahu would remain in his position for a year and a half and then Benny Ganz would replace him for the same amount of time: Why were they talking about three years all of a sudden? When did three become the new four?

Perhaps the mystery has been solved. I, too, followed with concern the reports of the hijacking by Yuli Edelstein, in which he held his 121 fellow Knesset members hostage and agreed to release them only in return for œunity.

In the midst of my agitation over Edelstein's awakening, a family member called, stunned by how Netanyahu the magician had broken the record heights of Machiavellianism. œDid you see what he did to Edelstein? he shouted into my ear. œHe's a genius. What an elimination! And even before I could slip in a question, he explained: œBibi threw Edelstein out of the race for the presidency. Burned him.


 A devious elimination


Not the High Court's place

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 01:16:15 +03:00

The High Court of Justice's aid in ousting Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will bring the Netanyahu haters temporary gains, such as a speaker of their choosing, but it won't bring about the ouster of the one they truly despise. If their real concern were the country's future, as they profess, particularly at this time of emergency, they would be ready to join a government of national salvation. This is what the situation calls for.

The question of who is the Knesset speaker, or even the prime minister, can wait. The Kahol Lavan/Joint List/Lieberman/Peretz camp and especially the High Court ought to be reminded that the Basic Law: The Knesset states that the election of the speaker shall take place œat a date no later than when the Knesset is convened for the purpose of establishing a government. Basic reading comprehension clearly shows that justice is with Edelstein and not with the œJust Not Bibi chorus. Not everything that makes more noise and is formulated more crudely (like a High Court ruling) is also more fair.

Here again, the High Court, which often completely ignores the Knesset, staked out a position to an even greater degree. All of a sudden, and contrary to its past rulings, now the majority opinion is what matters.


 Not the High Court's place


Former Major League Baseball All-Star Ian Kinser joins Team Israel

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 01:11:06 +03:00

Four-time Major League Baseball All-Star Ian Kinsler has been added to the roster of the Israeli National Baseball Team after his application for Israeli citizenship was approved earlier this month.

Kinsler becomes the most decorated player on the Team Israel roster that will compete for a medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which have been postponed until next year. 

Kinsler, 37, retired from the major leagues at the end of last season after playing 14 seasons with five different teams. He played in three World Series and won the championship in 2018 with the Boston Red Sox.


 Former Major League Baseball All-Star Ian Kinser joins Team Israel


The danger of an economic collapse in Israel

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 00:50:27 +03:00

New restrictions are being imposed on Israel's population almost daily. At week's end more drastic measures were announced, restricting people to their homes except for essential outings. Experience in other countries shows that it takes seven to 10 days, and perhaps as much as two weeks for social distancing to impact the spread of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again called urgent meetings to impose greater restrictions perhaps as far-reaching as total quarantine. He has done so although he has not been given data that can confirm the need for these stricter steps. Leaks about a quarantine come out every few hours, and Israelis remain confused.

The decision on new restrictions should come only after decision makers have received reliable data about the extent of testing and the number of infected people. Israel responded rightly at the beginning of the crisis when it closed its borders, asked the public to maintain social distancing and demanded that those who had come into contact with a confirmed patient go into isolation. Schools and kindergartens were subsequently closed and outings from home were greatly restricted.

The price of full quarantine is enormous. The GDP would plunge by 9 percent if it continued for five weeks, and by 18 percent if it persisted for 12 weeks. It would mean economic damage of 140250 billion shekels ($39.370.1 billion), hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs and joining the ranks of the poor, and a real danger to Israel's economic stability. Israel's financial collapse would be a disaster, whose cost in terms of human life would be no less severe than the price the epidemic is now exacting, and an even greater cost in terms of quality of life.


 The danger of an economic collapse in Israel


Palestinians fear workers in Israel, settlements spreading COVID-19 in West Bank

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 00:12:54 +03:00

The Palestinian Authority has warned it will be short of equipment to handle the coronavirus pandemic in the West Bank if the spread of the illness is not curbed.

Palestinian and Israeli medical sources told Haaretz that West Bank hospitals have 205 ventilating machines at their disposal to serve a population of 2.5 million people, and that as of Friday they had done corona tests on only 5,562 people due to a shortage of diagnostic kits.

Eighty-eight confirmed cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in the West Bank through Saturday afternoon, one of whom, a woman, has died, while 18 other people have recuperated.


 Palestinians fear workers in Israel, settlements spreading COVID-19 in West Bank


Gantz to push law allowing Netanyahu to serve in government despite trial

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 23:39:46 +03:00

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz will promote legislation next week to allow Netanyahu to serve in government despite his indictment in three corruption cases, even after he relinquishes the post of prime minister in 18 months.

The two are currently meeting, along with Gantz's party member Gabi Ashkenazi, to discuss the terms of an agreement on a unity government.

The move is at the center of coalition negotiations for a rotating unity government in which Netanyahu will first serve as premier and will then become deputy.


 Gantz to push law allowing Netanyahu to serve in government despite trial


Gantz-Netanyahu gov't may be stable, but will struggle to keep election promises

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 23:15:22 +03:00

The coalition now brewing between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz may lead to a stable government, but it will have a hard time realizing the election promises its leaders doled out over the past year. It won't be able to unilaterally annex the West Bank or narrow the power of the justice system, but neither will it be able to prevent a criminal defendant from forming a government or pursue a secular agenda.

The government is expected in the near future to focus on managing the coronavirus crisis and restarting the economy when it's over. Thus, Netanyahu and Gantz's first mission will be passing the state budget for the first time since March 2018. Such a budget will probably include draconian decrees and dramatic cutbacks, but it is likely to enjoy broad support given the state of emergency.

For Gantz, the main compromise is his agreement to sit in Netanyahu's government while the prime minister is still charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, contrary to his promise. Gantz declared in his maiden speech as Knesset speaker, œWe shall not compromise on principles for which over a million citizens voted, but he didn't go into detail.


 Gantz-Netanyahu gov't may be stable, but will struggle to keep election promises


N.Y.C. mayor: Synagogues that don't comply with coronavirus rules may be shut down permanently

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 19:56:02 +03:00

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned city synagogues Friday that if they continue to hold services and violate lockdown rules, they may be shut down permanently.

œI want to say to all those who are preparing the potential of religious services this weekend: If you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services, de Blasio told a virtual press conference livestreamed on Friday. 

"I don't say that with any joy. It's the last thing I want to do, because I understand how important people's faiths are to them, and we need our faith in this time of crisis, but we do not need gatherings that will endanger people," he said. "No faith tradition endorses anything that endangers a member of that faith."


 N.Y.C. mayor: Synagogues that don't comply with coronavirus rules may be shut down permanently


Disrupted by coronavirus: We had to fly home with a newborn in the middle of a pandemic

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 15:04:18 +03:00

Shira Natan Sasson, 3; Liron Natan, 49; Miron Sasson, 44; and Uri Natan Sasson,1 month old; live in Tel Aviv, arriving from Portland, Oregon

Hi, can I ask where you're coming back from with that tiny baby?

Liron: From Portland, where Uri was born exactly one month ago today. Shira was also born there, three years ago.


 Disrupted by coronavirus: We had to fly home with a newborn in the middle of a pandemic


'Like a zombie movie': My nightmare trip home across Italy amid the coronavirus pandemic

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 14:55:05 +03:00

Like every toxic relationship, the one you are having with the coronavirus grew in stages, from the occasional to the very intimate. One month ago, the virus was just an interesting piece of distant news you used in conversation every now and then, to look like the informed journalist you supposedly are. Then, over recent weeks, as the virus spread through your own country like wildfire and panic gripped the entire world, it took over your life, trapping you in a process in which each stage seemed unbearable and yet you missed it once time passed and you entered a new, more oppressive one.

Just a few days ago you were partying on Purim, drinking arak and wearing a mask over your eyes, and now you are frantically running around Jerusalem, buying hand sanitizer and going from shop to shop in search of a surgical mask, something that all of a sudden has become a fundamental need. The Israeli authorities are telling tourists to leave, even as flights are being canceled one after the other, borders are being closed, and even here in Israel a total general lockdown is imminent.

It's time to go home, you realize, even if your home is in Italy, and the only flight you can find is to France, while your parents live in Puglia, in the south of the country, which means you will have to travel more than 1,200 kilometers, through the center of a global pandemic.


 'Like a zombie movie': My nightmare trip home across Italy amid the coronavirus pandemic


Microsoft to sell stake in Israeli facial recognition startup

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 11:21:15 +03:00

Microsoft said it plans to sell its shares in the Israeli facial recognition company AnyVision, after former United States Attorney General Eric Holder had launched an investigation into the company, NBC News reported on Friday.

Microsoft's M12 corporate venture fund participated in a $74 million series A investment round that AnyVision announced in June 2019.

Later that year, Microsoft hired Holder to investigate whether the use of facial recognition technology developed by the Israeli startup complies with its ethics principles.


 Microsoft to sell stake in Israeli facial recognition startup


In coronavirus-stricken Middle East, cherished traditions come to an abrupt halt

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 11:20:41 +03:00

Under the sign œTake out only and a tall bottle of antiseptic by his side, Mazin Hashim, 54, rearranged the coals heating a water pipe outside his famed cafe in Baghdad.

He put up the placard to satisfy recent government restrictions on movement and gatherings that are aimed at slowing the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Once inside, however, thick white plumes of fragrant smoke choked the air as over a dozen young men whiled away the hours in defiance of the directives.

As the pandemic continues to spread, governments across the Middle East are clamping down on the region's cherished traditions: No more massive weddings and celebrations. Restrictions on sales of qat, a mild plant narcotic chewed in groups in Yemen. No more evenings spent mostly by men in traditional coffee shops across the region. And most importantly, no more smoking of the beloved shisha, or water pipe, in public places.


 In coronavirus-stricken Middle East, cherished traditions come to an abrupt halt


Syria, UAE leaders discuss coronavirus, a thaw in relations

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 10:52:45 +03:00

Syria's president and one of the United Arab Emirates' most powerful leaders spoke on the phone on Friday signalling a major thaw in Damascus' troubled relations with Arab countries, which had mostly boycotted President Bashar Assad and backed his opposition.

The official Emirati news agency said Assad and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak and reviewed preventive measures to fight it.

Sheikh Mohammed, believed to be the Emirates' day-to-day ruler, said Syria and the UAE need to œplace the humanitarian solidarity over political issues during this common challenge ˜we are all facing', according to the report. The crown prince of the oil-rich Abu Dhabi affirmed that Syria œwill not be left alone during these delicate and critical circumstances.


 Syria, UAE leaders discuss coronavirus, a thaw in relations


What it's like to be hospitalized with COVID-19, according to 6 Israelis

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 10:52:34 +03:00

Patient No. 125

Dr. Lee Ram, 30, physician in the emergency room at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer; hospitalized in its coronavirus ward

I was diagnosed Thursday evening, March 12, in a very unpleasant way. The Health Ministry epidemiological investigator called and asked me where I'd been the Friday before. I said, Just a minute, so I'm positive? No one called to say, I'm sorry, Lee, but you have the coronavirus. They just started interrogating me. Immediately afterward, the ambulance called and they said, We'll be there in a quarter of an hour. I said, Hang on, no one told me anything; they just asked questions. It was very chaotic.


 What it's like to be hospitalized with COVID-19, according to 6 Israelis


Gantz has awarded Netanyahu immunity, and there's no going back

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 23:49:48 +03:00

One casualty of the coronavirus crisis in Israel is political. On Thursday, the alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu's rule died. It's hard to see when a new alternative will arise. It was probably the last.

Countless words have been written about Netanyahu's amazing survival skills. Somehow his resilience stands up to every threat, including Benny Gantz's Hosen L'Yisrael party, whose name means Resilience for Israel. That party within a party has joined Netanyahu with astonishing naivety.

The nation prays for unity, so the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. Everyone clearly knows who's the wolf and who's the lamb. And if the wooly partner thinks Netanyahu has become a vegetarian, he'll very soon discover Bibi's sharp teeth.


 Gantz has awarded Netanyahu immunity, and there's no going back


Israeli army strikes Hamas post after rocket launched from Gaza, reports say

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 22:54:08 +03:00

A rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, the Israeli army said on Friday after sirens blared in the southern city of Sderot and several border communities.

No casualties or property damage was reported, with the rocket apparently falling in an open area near Sha'ar Hanegev in southern Israel.

Palestinian media outlets later reported that the Israeli army struck a Hamas outpost in the Strip in response.


 Israeli army strikes Hamas post after rocket launched from Gaza, reports say


Gantz criticizes Kahol Lavan partners: 'They preferred fourth election to compromise'

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 21:17:40 +03:00

Benny Gantz criticized his former Kahol Lavan partners Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya'alon on Friday after they accused him of disbanding the alliance in favor of a unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a Facebook post, Gantz wrote: "We have reached an intersection where some of my friends thought that elections were preferable to trying to reach compromises. I will not be the one that didn't try to prevent the continued violation of the rule of law for another year at least, I will not be the one that didn't try to prevent a fourth election, and I will not be the one who refuses to get in under the gurney during a national emergency."

Gantz continued by explaining that he "suggested every way" Kahol Lavan could stick together and "explore all possible alternatives." He added that he tried convincing his party members that he take on the role of Knesset speaker only temporarily, or alternatively nominate MK Meir Cohen, a member of Lapid's Yesh Atid faction, for the position and have him step down in case a reasonable agreement was reached with Netanyahu for unity. 


 Gantz criticizes Kahol Lavan partners: 'They preferred fourth election to compromise'


We closely examined Netanyahu's coronavirus briefings. Here's what they reveal

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 18:58:48 +03:00

Benjamin Netanayhu was well prepared the last time Israel went into lockdown, in January 1991. As deputy foreign minister during the Gulf War, he was tasked with presenting Israel's case to the world, as Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles were falling on the country. He already knew all the foreign journalists based here well and adroitly made the circuit between the television studios, promising that Israel would soon respond devastatingly (it didn't) and trying to draw the world's attention to the Palestinians dancing on their roofs as the Scuds hit Tel Aviv.

He even made sure to obtain a special gas mask. Unlike the standard one distributed to Israelis with the filter covering the mouth and making them almost inaudible, Netanyahu's filter attached to the mask from the side.

One night, the sirens went off while he was in mid-interview with CNN, and he persuaded the team filming the interview to continue with their masks on œThis is the darndest way to do an interview, he joked. You could hear his broad smile from behind the mask.


 We closely examined Netanyahu's coronavirus briefings. Here's what they reveal


Israeli Labor party leader mulls joining Netanyahu government

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 18:12:24 +03:00

Labor Chairman Amir Peretz signaled his willingness to join a unity government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz on Friday, should coalition talks include far-reaching social reforms.

Speaking in an interview on an Israeli TV talk show, Peretz said his decision would rest on whether Gantz and Netanyahu would "continue making the weakest in society pay the highest price. I will demand there be real social plans. If that is there, I'll be glad to make my contribution.

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage as Israel deals with the coronavirus crisis in a time of political uncertainty


 Israeli Labor party leader mulls joining Netanyahu government


Remembering Holocaust survivors and Jewish community leaders claimed by the coronavirus

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 17:11:12 +03:00

An immigrant to pre-state Israel who arrived on the œExodus; a woman who had made her way to the country with a group of more than 800 Polish Jewish refugee children via Iran; and a Jew who had found refuge during World War II in Budapest under the aegis of the Swedish crown: Among the tens of thousands that the coronavirus has killed, it has exacted its toll among Jews in Israel and abroad.

Some survived the Holocaust, living into their 90s. Jewish victims also include prominent figures in a number of European Jewish communities. 

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage of the coronavirus crisis


 Remembering Holocaust survivors and Jewish community leaders claimed by the coronavirus


Stuck in a New York virus epicenter, I wonder when, if, I'll see my children in Israel again

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 16:48:51 +03:00

In his timeless words of the 12th century, Yehuda HaLevi wrote, "My heart is in the East, and the rest of me is at the edge of the West." In these days of the coronavirus no words have more precisely described my feelings and yearning.

And I sit here in my house in New Rochelle, New York, now infamous for being the epicenter of the New York outbreak of this modern-day plague. 

My synagogue stands locked, with members of the national guard out front; the city declared a containment zone, with my computer and smart phone my link to the world. 


 Stuck in a New York virus epicenter, I wonder when, if, I'll see my children in Israel again


As list of coronavirus failures grows, Netanyahu returns to his element: fear

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 16:19:07 +03:00

Humans are adaptive beings. If someone had told us a month ago that this weekend we would be obsessively examining graphs that document the mortality rate in countries around the world, planning an exercise walk within 100 meters from our home, or donning gloves and face masks (which are apparently useless) every time we enter the supermarket, we would have laughed.

The images of the damage done by the coronavirus in China have been broadcast on screens since January, but few Israelis possess a sufficiently developed imagination to have entertained the thought that the dystopian scenario was about to strike here, too, and with such intensity. The fact that freedom of movement is being curtailed more every evening is gradually getting people here to accept the situation, like the frog in the pot of water that is slowly brought to a boil.

For more than a decade, op-eds in this newspaper have been warning about the demise of democracy in Israel. This week, democracy was curbed severely and frighteningly. However, a great many viewers of the various television channels which in some cases deferred the report on the events in the High Court of Justice and the Knesset to the latter part of the newscasts were too preoccupied with health and livelihood concerns to pay much attention. Instead, we gaped at passive-aggressive professors of medicine scolding us for not keeping a distance.


 As list of coronavirus failures grows, Netanyahu returns to his element: fear


Coronavirus quarantine reading list: 15 best apocalyptic books to read now

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 16:12:09 +03:00

So what will be in the end? In the space between paralyzing fear and boundless imagination, many wonderful books predict the demise of mankind as we know it, the loneliness of the last person in the universe, or the lessons that will be learned by the survivors as they try to set up a better world for the few who remain. In the midst of ruins and corpses, as humans seek an explanation for a great, random and fateful mystery, it seems that every culture is in need of an apocalyptic story centered around a pandemic, especially now, with the eruption of the coronavirus.

Paris, January 1990, a sudden cold snap. Out of a taxi that stops near Place Vendome emerges a passenger who came from the warm volcanic island of Lanzarote, off the coast of Morocco. He is due to receive a literary award, yet another in an ever-lengthening list. He wears thick eyeglasses; his eyesight is fading and when he gets out of the taxi and into the chilly air, his glasses suddenly fog up. This frightens him.

œWhat would be if everyone were like this? he asks himself in the split second it takes him to pull himself together. Thus was born œBlindness, the 1995 novel by José Saramago.


 Coronavirus quarantine reading list: 15 best apocalyptic books to read now


Lin-Manuel Miranda breaks up Twitter debate among quarantined Israeli journalists ” in Hebrew

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 15:34:05 +03:00

When a group of Israeli journalists passing time in quarantine got into it on Twitter over which Lin-Manuel Miranda score was best, someone broke it up, œIn The Heights style, with a call-out to the ˜hood to keep things real.

œHey, hey, hey, what's going on here, said Š Lin-Manuel Miranda. In Hebrew.

It began Wednesday when Elad Simchayoff, a TV reporter, mused, œMood: This morning, chatting with Guri Alfi and Galit Hugi , they asked me to choose any song in the world I would like to hear broadcast, and I picked the title song from Moana. œMoana is a 2016 Disney animated feature that Miranda helped score.


 Lin-Manuel Miranda breaks up Twitter debate among quarantined Israeli journalists ” in Hebrew


How the coronavirus pandemic resurrected the nation-state

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 14:56:22 +03:00

When the coronavirus disappears, it will leave behind a different world. Not just because social, economic and medical uncertainty has entered our lives and is here to stay, but also because the current pandemic invites us to reexamine the political, economic and social assumptions by which we live.

The first, and most surprising, lesson is that although the coronavirus is a global phenomenon, it reinforces the notion of national sovereignty. The virus does not recognize national boundaries, but the struggle against it reflects a distinct national state of mind. One by one, nation-states are putting their citizens first.

Faced with the prospect of numerous victims at home, countries around the world decided to close their borders, physically separating their citizens from those of other states. The medical logic of such an act is flimsy: An Italian from Milan is probably geographically, economically, culturally and personally closer to a Swiss from Lausanne than to a compatriot from Sicily.


 How the coronavirus pandemic resurrected the nation-state


Can two brains act as one? New research illuminates the biggest mystery of human relations

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 13:39:44 +03:00

Like a snowflake, every intimate relationship is unique. Nevertheless, is there something that is present in each something through which love can be defined? The philosopher Robert Nozick maintained that there is in fact a common factor: In all loving relationships, the well-being and the mood of the two people involved are always intertwined.

If someone we love feels sad, we shall unavoidably grow sad; if something good happens to the other person, something good happens to us, too. This happens of its own volition; we don't need to reflect on our beloved's sorrow in order to feel sorrow ourselves. Love means that there are no longer two completely separate individuals, each experiencing and feeling separate things; rather, a new entity is created œwe, the product of that network of connections, with which each loved one identifies and merges as an extension of his or her own being.

Heartwarming as it may be, the idea of the loving union has come in for trenchant criticism. Two streams can merge, and so can two chemical materials, argued philosopher Irving Singer like Nozick, another Brooklyn Jew but not two human beings! At most, someone who is naive and sentimental can imagine that they are becoming one with their partner, and thereby distort the reality of their bond.


 Can two brains act as one? New research illuminates the biggest mystery of human relations


In Iran, false belief a poison fights coronavirus kills hundreds

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 12:52:44 +03:00

Standing over the still body of an intubated 5-year-old boy wearing nothing but a plastic diaper, an Iranian health care worker in a hazmat suit and mask begged the public for just one thing: Stop drinking industrial alcohol over fears about the new coronavirus.

The boy, now blind after his parents gave him toxic methanol in the mistaken belief it protects against the virus, is just one of hundreds of victims of an epidemic inside the pandemic now gripping Iran.

Iranian media reports nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 1,000 sickened so far by ingesting methanol across the Islamic Republic, where drinking alcohol is banned and where those who do rely on bootleggers. It comes as fake remedies spread across social media in Iran, where people remain deeply suspicious of the government after it downplayed the crisis for days before it overwhelmed the country.


 In Iran, false belief a poison fights coronavirus kills hundreds


U.S. coronavirus cases now most in world, U.S. capital sees more infections

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 12:42:18 +03:00

The United States' caseload of coronavirus infections surged to the most in the world and its capital reported more infections, as Italy shut most of its industry and masses of Indian day laborers received food rations after a lockdown put them out of work.

Increases in the number of cases have been expected as testing becomes more available. The U.S. passed China with more than 85,000 cases, and Italy also exceeded 80,000, the three countries together accounting for almost half of the world's infections from the new virus.

Most of China's patients have recovered, while places where the virus arrived later are now dealing with overwhelmed hospitals and supply shortages and are rushing to convert public spaces for treating the sick.


 U.S. coronavirus cases now most in world, U.S. capital sees more infections


U.S. imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions despite coronavirus

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 11:58:37 +03:00

The United States blacklisted five Iran- and Iraq-based companies and 15 individuals on Thursday for supporting terrorist groups, its third round of sanctions on Iranian targets in the last two weeks even as Tehran battles the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department accused those targeted of supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm and of transferring lethal aid to Iran-backed militias in Iraq such as Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, all of which Washington deems foreign terrorist organizations.

The Pentagon blamed Kataib Hezbollah for a March 11 rocket attack that killed one British and two U.S. personnel in Iraq.


 U.S. imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions despite coronavirus


Coronavirus could kill 81,000 in U.S., subside in June, says Washington University analysis

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 11:45:25 +03:00

The coronavirus pandemic could kill more than 81,000 people in the United States in the next four months and may not subside until June, according to a data analysis done by University of Washington School of Medicine.

The number of hospitalized patients is expected to peak nationally by the second week of April, though the peak may come later in some states. Some people could continue to die of the virus as late as July, although deaths should be below epidemic levels of 10 per day by June at the latest, according to the analysis.

The analysis, using data from governments, hospitals and other sources, predicts that the number of U.S. deaths could vary widely, ranging from as low as around 38,000 to as high as around 162,000.


 Coronavirus could kill 81,000 in U.S., subside in June, says Washington University analysis


How Pakistan became a coronavirus super-spreader to the entire Muslim world

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 11:29:28 +03:00

On Sunday, the Gaza strip reported its first two cases of coronavirus. The two Palestinian men had recently returned from Pakistan.

They were among the 250,000 people that gathered in Lahore two weeks ago, to participate in the Tableeghi Ijtema an Islamic event organized by the local Tableeghi Jamaat  . 

An offshoot of the South Asian Deobandi Islamic movement, the Tableeghi Jamaat has spent the past century preaching Islam in the region, and now has a  presence in over 80 countries. The Raiwind area in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province and home to 11 million inhabitants, hosts the annual Tableeghi Ijtema, which includes hundreds of thousands of participants from around the world.


 How Pakistan became a coronavirus super-spreader to the entire Muslim world


Coronavirus in Israel: Shin Bet says they have identified over 500 patients

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 10:10:01 +03:00

Update: Over 3,000 confirmed cases as death toll rises to ten

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

-  3,035 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with the vast majority of cases mild and 79 recoveries. Ten patients have died and 49 are in serious condition.


 Coronavirus in Israel: Shin Bet says they have identified over 500 patients


Israeli officials warn of full lockdown if coronavirus infection rate doesn't slow

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 09:40:37 +03:00

Israeli authorities will consider imposing a full lockdown on the country's citizens if the rate of coronavirus infection continues to rise over the next 48 hours, officials familiar with debates in the special Knesset committee dealing with the epidemic told Haaretz on Thursday. The number of patients in serious condition will also be considered in making the decision.

National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat has issued instructions to complete preparations for the lockdown, so it can be enacted at a moment's notice.

The rate at which the number of new patients increases over the next two days will show whether the policy of gradually restricting Israelis' movements since the holiday of Purim in early March had the desired effect - or whether regulations should be made even stricter, the officials said. 


 Israeli officials warn of full lockdown if coronavirus infection rate doesn't slow


As armies reassess risk, coronavirus is making peace in the Middle East

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 08:42:55 +03:00

What politics in Iraq couldn't do, the coronavirus has. After the Iraqi parliament decided to demand that the U.S. withdraw its forces from Iraq and the Americans rejected that demand, this week the Pentagon decided to scale down the number of U.S. troops in the country to reduce the risk of contagion. The announcement from the command of the U.S. Forces in Iraq says a number of American bases in the country will be closed, instructional forces will be trimmed and all exercises with the Iraqi military will cease.

The U.S. Forces command stated that while the U.S. continued to be committed to defending Iraq from ISIS attacks, œWe shall do so using smaller forces and a smaller number of bases. A similar announcement was issued earlier by the coalition forces operating in Afghanistan regarding the decision not to send any new troops to that arena after 21 soldiers were found to have symptoms of infection with the virus, and that 1,500 soldiers and civilian contractors who arrived in Afghanistan this month were placed in quarantine after showing similar symptoms. Practically speaking, this means that soldiers serving in Afghanistan will not be able to return home in the near term and their stay in Afghanistan could be extended by two months at least.

The problem is that Afghanistan has no laboratories that can identify the disease, so all samples are being flown to the military laboratories in Germany, while the people tested are required to remain in isolation until the test result is received, and the beds in the isolation facilities are quickly filling up. In the accord signed in February with the Taliban, the United States pledged to reduce its troop count in the country to 8,600 and maintain that level for 135 days, starting on March 9. Despite the administration's announcement that it still intends to uphold the conditions of the accord, it's unclear now how that can be achieved while many troops cannot be brought home, possibly for months.


 As armies reassess risk, coronavirus is making peace in the Middle East


Coronavirus is replacing war as the Middle East's chief misery

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 08:33:10 +03:00

Economists often use what's called a misery index to measure how the average citizen is doing economically. Usually it's calculated based on the rates of unemployment and inflation.

In today's Middle East the two more relevant variables for a misery index are petroleum prices and coronavirus cases.

Oddly, that index would show that things are not so bad right. The first number is truly a misery: The price of oil is a dismally low $26 per OPEC barrel as of early Thursday. But the second number is cause for relative relief. Not counting two outliers Israel (a developed economy) and Iran (an acknowledged disaster area that got hit early and hard) the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is a surprisingly modest 4,460 for the region, or just 39.5 per million people.


 Coronavirus is replacing war as the Middle East's chief misery


With coronavirus emergency rules still ill-defined, police moves to enforcement

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 08:22:09 +03:00

Despite Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan's assurances that, as new emergency regulations to curb the spread of the coronavirus came into effect, police œenforcement would be easy going and tolerant, dozens were already handed out tickets on Thursday, mainly around Jerusalem.

Iman Naabis, 25, was fined 500 shekels ($140) at 10 A.M. on Thursday after being found with 2 passengers in his vehicle. The regulations allow for only one passenger besides the driver. œI, my brother and cousin were on the way to work in construction, as we do every day. A policeman stopped us and asked why there were three people in the car. I told him I didn't know it was forbidden, and asked him to give me a warning, but he didn't care. He said the rules were published online and he gave me a ticket.

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage of the coronavirus crisis


 With coronavirus emergency rules still ill-defined, police moves to enforcement


Israel's welfare aid during crisis is among lowest in the West, report shows

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 06:05:43 +03:00

An Israeli National Insurance Institute survey finds that the country will be providing less aid than most developed nations to citizens whose businesses and employment have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The study, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, shows government expenditure for public welfare tends to run 20.1% of GDP in most OECD countries. In Israel the investment is one of the lowest at 16%, putting it among the bottom 10 countries. France (31.2 percent), Belgium (28.9 percent), Finland (28.7 percent) and Italy (27.9 percent) top the list. Among the countries trailing Israel are Turkey (12.5 percent) and Mexico (7.5 percent).

According to Israel's NII France will fully compensate the lost wages of anyone forced to cut back hours due to the pandemic. Belgium is waiving seniority requirements for unemployment benefits, and residents of regions in Italy paralyzed by the virus will receive a monthly stipend of 500 euros.


 Israel's welfare aid during crisis is among lowest in the West, report shows


U.S. has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, overtaking China and Italy

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 05:29:21 +03:00

The number of U.S. coronavirus infections climbed above 82,000 on Thursday, surpassing the national tallies of China and Italy, as New York, New Orleans and other hot spots faced a surge in hospitalizations and looming shortages of supplies, staff and sick beds.

With medical facilities running low on ventilators and protective masks and hampered by limited diagnostic testing capacity, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, rose beyond 1,200.

"Any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the healthcare system," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference. He described the state's projected shortfall in ventilators machines that support the respiration of people have cannot breathe on their own as "astronomical."


 U.S. has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, overtaking China and Italy


Gantz, exhausted, has given in to Netanyahu's relentless campaigning

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 04:35:07 +03:00

Benny Gantz is tired. This isn't what he signed up for when he first launched his campaign and political career 14 months and three elections ago. This was time spent in unending electioneering but, more than anything, what sapped his energy was the relentless smear campaign orchestrated by Benjamin Netanyahu.

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage as Israel deals with the coronavirus crisis in a time of political uncertainty

He was accused of being a mentally unstable pervert who filmed himself masturbating and then had his phone hacked by the Iranians. He was slammed for traitorous tendencies for being prepared to cooperate in government with the œterror-supporting members of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties. Each media appearance was dissected for stuttering and mistakes, and edited versions pumped online.


 Gantz, exhausted, has given in to Netanyahu's relentless campaigning


Haaretz cartoon

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 04:31:07 +03:00

 Haaretz cartoon


Letters to the Editor: Don't put Israeli democracy in self-imposed quarantine

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 03:53:47 +03:00

False, outrageous on Italy's treatment of aged

In response to œIn Italy's Coronavirus Crisis, the Elderly are Left to Die. Will Trump let America follow? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz.com, March 18).

First of all, the title of the article, besides being at least outrageous, states something which is simply not true. Elderly patients in Italy are receiving medical treatment just like any other citizen. Our health system, which is known to be among the most advanced in the world, doesn't make any distinction according to age, and the current emergency is in no way an exception to this approach.


 Letters to the Editor: Don't put Israeli democracy in self-imposed quarantine


Gantz abandoned the camp

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 03:40:56 +03:00

Until Thursday, most Israelis believed that Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz ran for prime minister in order to replace Benjamin Netanyahu. On Thursday it became clear that Gantz is Likud's candidate for the position of speaker of the Knesset and afterward to be appointed foreign minister. Instead of Netanyahu's successor, Gantz emerged as the successor of Yuli Edelstein and of Yisrael Katz.

It's hard to think of a more humiliating scenario for a party that began as an alternative to the corrupt and corrupting regime of Netanyahu and for its leader, a former military chief of staff, who was the first person in more than a decade to successfully challenge Netanyahu's rule.

After President Reuven Rivlin asked him to form the government in the wake of the March 2 election, Gantz chose to degrade himself and to crawl into Netanyahu's government.


 Gantz abandoned the camp


Israeli army decries ˜terrorist incident' after settlers throw firebombs at troops

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 03:20:10 +03:00

Three firebombs were hurled Thursday night at a Border Police vehicle at the exit of the Yitzhar settlement, a police statement said, in an incident that security forces attributed to local Israeli extremists and dubbed an "act of terrorism." 

One of the firebombs hit the vehicle, causing light damage, police said. There were no casualties. IDF and Border Police forces mobilized to search the scene for the perpetrators. 

Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi slammed perpetrators calling the event a major terrorist incident. "Throwing firebombs at security forces fulfilling their mission to protect Israeli citizens was a terrorist act of utmost severity, which undermines the very foundations of the state," he said. "We will continue to take action with all means from imposition of order to the law against this criminality that has turned into terror," he concluded.


 Israeli army decries ˜terrorist incident' after settlers throw firebombs at troops


Gantz ends up as ˜Erdogan's' deputy

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 23:46:40 +02:00

After a political crisis that lasted a year and a half and led to three election rounds, the result is clear-cut and unequivocal: Benjamin Netanyahu won big time. The œgreat victory of which he boasted prematurely after April's election arrived today.

No cliché would be exaggerated: The wizard defeated his rivals with a resounding knockout. He will be elected prime minister again with a large majority of Knesset members, despite not having won the general election and despite three indictments that were filed against him, which will likely be thrown away soon.

In a national emergency situation, in which thousands may suffocate without ventilators and people are not allowed to leave their homes, you don't put the prime minister on trial to hear testimonies about his interference in editing Walla a few years ago. Certainly not with a broader, more stable coalition behind him than in any of Netanyahu's governments.


 Gantz ends up as ˜Erdogan's' deputy


We can fight pandemics like the coronavirus by protecting nature

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 23:34:15 +02:00

When the time comes to address the causes of the coronavirus outbreak and what lessons to draw to prevent future pandemics, there will be no avoiding acknowledgement of the ecological disruption mankind is doing to the world. This disruption significantly magnifies the potential of the spread of pathogens like viruses, bacteria and parasites.

In recent years, several international bodies have recognized the urgent need to address the causal connection between the destruction of nature and the spread of disease. A study published at the start of the last decade found that about two-thirds of infectious diseases that erupted in the previous decades originated in animals, some domesticated by man, some hunted or collected from nature.

Four years ago, the UN Environmental Protection Agency published a report on emerging issues of environmental concern. A special section was devoted to diseases transmitted through human-to-animal contact. "Never before have so many animals been kept by so many people, and never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals ... to affect people, the report said.


 We can fight pandemics like the coronavirus by protecting nature


Thanks to coronavirus, it seems 60 isn't the new 40

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 23:34:10 +02:00

One of the more fascinating, brutal tidings that Mr. Covid brought along is the apparently inevitable conclusion that humanity is on the brink of a œconsciousness revolution that will undermine the way we, 60 years old and upward, will henceforth view age.

I feel cheated. The botox-injected, narcissistic obsession of our pre-corona era for a maximum life expectancy was a Sisyphean struggle by all of us to cheat death and stay young for ever. We have borrowed flesh from our thigh to renew our cheek, harnessing ourselves to the perverted commercialization like post-postmodern slaves trapped in the empty New Age ethos.

This pseudo-passion has now been replaced by existential anxiety. Along comes Mr. Covid and he wants to whip us on the other cheek as well, the one that hasn't yet undergone surgery.


 Thanks to coronavirus, it seems 60 isn't the new 40


Benny Gantz never wanted to lead, and that makes all the difference

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 23:34:06 +02:00

Benny Gantz is a tragic figure. It might be a bit odd to say this about the quintessential sabra general, who according to colleagues in the army œalways went up the escalator instead of exerting himself in an exhausting climb up the mountain, but the truth is that the moment he hung up his uniform and became addicted to the expectations upon him, his life became a nightmare. In the past year and a half, Gantz found himself in a situation that isn't suited to him and he just got deeper and deeper into trouble while absorbing unprecedented filth from Netanyahu's propaganda. Now, when the whole world is in chaos, his time has come.

Gantz, whom the center-left camp tried almost by force to dress in Yitzhak Rabin's bloodstained uniform, never wanted to be No. 1. When he began to look into options in politics, he invited all kinds of operators and other political foxes in for consultations. He told them, among other things, his thoughts about wanting to be minister of education.

œThe moment he began to talk, I realized that he didn't want it and wasn't suited to it, said one of the more senior figures who was called in. A senior player in the leftist camp, a sure and vociferous opponent of Netanyahu, once told me that with Gantz's lack of energy, it was already better to sit with Netanyahu. This is the man, and anyone who expected anything different from him has mainly himself or herself to blame for having chosen not to face reality.


 Benny Gantz never wanted to lead, and that makes all the difference


The Shin Bet will do whatever Netanyahu says

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 23:33:51 +02:00

You wouldn't believe how quickly our Shin Bet could turn into the Stasi. The speed at which this happens is on a par with the speed at which a democracy turns into a dictatorship. Not all at once. More like the way you lick an ice cream cone. Around the edges at first and then you gradually reach the main part.

First you take care of television plant the right people, those who will praise the appointment of collaborators to be state comptroller and police chief, and blame the coronavirus for shutting down the courts and the Knesset. Meanwhile, quietly, on the side, you go about collecting material on rivals who will soon become enemies.

People tell me: You should be ashamed! Stasi? You're comparing our excellent fellows to the Stasi? You really think they'll wiretap you? And follow you? I hope not, but it's certainly possible. The Shin Bet is not yet like the Stasi but it could become like it. Give it some emergency regulations, lift all oversight, give it instructions and it will carry out orders. Within 24 hours, it will be the Stasi.


 The Shin Bet will do whatever Netanyahu says


The Gulf has become the land of very few economic opportunities

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 23:14:39 +02:00

Since the end of January, 16,000 flights have been cancelled in the Middle East, according to International Air Transport Association figures, 75% more than the same period last year. This is but one indication of the losses suffered by the aviation industry in the region.

Saudi Arabia, which lost 15.7 million passengers and about $3.1 billion, is the hardest hit, followed by the United Arab Emirates, which lost $2.8 billion in flight cancellations.

Every state has its own way to deal with the collapse. UAE governments are helping their airlines with loans, postponing their debts and canceling taxes. In poor countries like Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan however, many airlines are likely to close down, with some are not expected to resume operations after the pandemic passes.


 The Gulf has become the land of very few economic opportunities


Coronavirus puts New Jersey's Orthodox community in an unwelcome spotlight

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 23:11:27 +02:00

NEW YORK As Orthodox Jews in New York have taken dramatic measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, their counterparts in New Jersey are also getting used to life in quarantine. 

œYou go out to pick up something that you need and the streets that are usually full of traffic are empty, Eli Steinberg, a resident of Lakewood in Ocean County, New Jersey told Haaretz by phone on Thursday. œPeople are not out at all.

Over the past two weeks, daily life in Lakewood has gradually shut down. Schools, synagogues and other institutions have closed and kosher groceries have limited purchases to curbside pickup and home delivery.


 Coronavirus puts New Jersey's Orthodox community in an unwelcome spotlight


El Al halts all passenger flights amid coronavirus restrictions

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 22:25:31 +02:00

El Al announced on Thursday it will temporarily suspend all passenger flights to and from Israel due to the coronavirus, following an œassessment of the current and future situation."

The decision was made for a number of reasons, including "our concern for the health of our passengers and flight crew, and the sharp drop in demand for flights, the company said in its announcement.

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage of the coronavirus crisis


 El Al halts all passenger flights amid coronavirus restrictions


Social distancing in Ramallah, I worry about our elderly mothers in N.Y.C. and Gaza

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 21:41:39 +02:00

I'm an Israeli lawyer, Jewish, married to a Palestinian resident of Ramallah. After years of wandering throughout the world, we returned to the West Bank with our two children, 5-year-old Forat and 2-year-old Adam. We are trying to lead ordinary lives in an extraordinary and unforgiving reality, one that I will share with you here. (click to read all previous posts). I have changed the names of people in the blog, including my own. "Umm Forat" means "Mother of Forat" in Arabic.

***

On March 23, the first day of the curfew in the West Bank, I went for a morning run on the western edge of Ramallah. The Palestinian Authority had banned people from leaving home, except for essential work or to buy food or medicine. I hoped that running was allowed. Or that the police cars patrolling the main streets wouldn't see me.


 Social distancing in Ramallah, I worry about our elderly mothers in N.Y.C. and Gaza


Israel has just 1,437 ventilators in reserve for coronavirus patients, lawmakers told

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 21:09:18 +02:00

Israel currently has only 1,437 ventilators in reserve, according to a report issued Thursday by the Knesset Research and Information Center. The study was commissioned by the special Knesset committee that oversees the government's handing of the coronavirus pandemic, headed by MK Ofer Shelah (Kahol Lavan).

The Health Ministry told the Knesset that Israel has 2,173 of the breathing machines that are critical for treating patients with COVID-19. Of these, 708 are in use and 28 are unusable.

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov told the committee Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces could provide 800-900 more ventilators and private medical providers system another 70. He said 2,864 spare ventilators should be available, without specifying where they would all come from.


 Israel has just 1,437 ventilators in reserve for coronavirus patients, lawmakers told


Meet the man hunting down the gear Israel needs to fight the coronavirus

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 21:00:25 +02:00

An unprecedented event occurred in Israel two weeks ago: For the first time ever, Bank Leumi's international trade unit was open on Shabbat, after getting special dispensation from the Bank of Israel. It was done to enable an Israeli firm to purchase medical equipment from an unnamed country just before it suspended any further exports of the equipment.

œThe bank told us later that this was such an unusual move they were worried about what might happen, since the relevant systems had never been activated on a Saturday, says Avi Buskila, CEO of Sarel.

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage of the coronavirus crisis


 Meet the man hunting down the gear Israel needs to fight the coronavirus


Gantz voted in as Knesset speaker, paving way for 'emergency' unity government with Netanyahu

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 20:53:16 +02:00

Benny Gantz was voted in as Knesset speaker on Thursday, paving the way for an "emergency" unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as Israel's government works to mitigate the coronavirus crisis.

Over the past year, Gantz has repeatedly vowed never to join a Netanyahu-led government, citing the premier's corruption cases.

Gantz's Kahol Lavan party has split moments ahead of the vote, after the party leader nominated himself for the position of Knesset speaker, in a bid to keep the possibility of a unity government with Netanyahu's Likud party.


 Gantz voted in as Knesset speaker, paving way for 'emergency' unity government with Netanyahu


Prehistoric New Guineans discovered farming independently

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 20:49:25 +02:00

That eureka moment can happen more than once, and about 7,000 years ago in the highlands of New Guinea, the inhabitants began to transition from a precarious lifestyle of hunting and gathering to the slightly less precarious lifestyle of hunting, gathering and farming. They did so independently, without learning these special skills of sowing and reaping from anybody else, archaeologists conclude based on excavation of a site called Waim.

By around 5,000 to 4,000 years ago the New Guinea highlanders had mastered wetland agriculture, the archaeologists write this week in Science Advances. That was over a thousand years before the peoples around them.

The Ice Age passes


 Prehistoric New Guineans discovered farming independently


Netanyahu ally's term presiding over a weak Knesset ends on a jarring note

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 20:31:09 +02:00

The decision by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to violate a High Court of Justice order and hold a vote on his replacement, which was summarily held on Thursday and put Benny Gantz in his vacant seat, serves an awkward end to his faltering tenure.

During the seven years Edelstein served as speaker, the Knesset became the weakest of the three branches of government: Decisions about legislation migrated from the plenum to the table of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation; ministers and civil servants brushed off summonses to appear before Knesset committees, and the Knesset debates, particularly on Tuesdays when the ministers are absent, became superficial.

Lacking the ability to properly oversee the executive branch, lawmakers focused on submitting thousands of bills, most of which never went anywhere. Edelstein, who on Tuesday protested the judicial branch's intervention in Knesset affairs, had a hard time blocking the blatant intervention of the executive branch in what went on in the Knesset. It seemed as if the greatest failure of his term was the trampling on the right of Knesset members to vote their conscience in the plenum on almost any law tabled because of the coalition discipline imposed by the cabinet on the Knesset.


 Netanyahu ally's term presiding over a weak Knesset ends on a jarring note


Israeli doctors warn Shin Bet surveillance actually hindering efforts to combat coronavirus

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 20:04:01 +02:00

The Israel Association of Public Health Physicians voiced objection on Thursday to efforts by the Shin Bet security service to monitor the movements of Israeli citizens to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The security service has apparently been carrying out the operation without the benefit of professional medical advice and is not beneficial at the current stage when the virus is widespread and most Israelis are largely confined to their homes, the group claimed.

In a letter to Knesset Intelligence and Secret Service Subcommittee chairman Gabi Ashkenazi, the organization expressed concern over the Shin Bet's surveillance of members of the public through the use of technology such as cellphone localization to determine who came in contact with carriers of the virus so they can be notified to go into quarantine. The lack of involvement of an expert in public health epidemiology leaves the Shin Bet's approach open to œthe substantial possibility of various errors due to the absence of professional judgment, the medical organization stated.


 Israeli doctors warn Shin Bet surveillance actually hindering efforts to combat coronavirus


An ode to Jerusalem's unlikely coronavirus victim: a literary café and its proprietor

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 18:54:18 +02:00

There is only one institution in Jerusalem that is the manifestation of a single person's soul: Tmol Shilshom, the literary café in Nahalat Shiva. All the cultural venues that we cherish the Jerusalem Theatre, the Khan Theatre, the Symphony Hall, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, the Hebrew University, the Science Museum and the Israel Museum are public institutions and, we pray, will survive the present crisis and thrive again, supported by seekers of knowledge and beauty.

Tmol Shilshom is different. It was the brainchild of David Ehrlich, who together with Dan Goldberg, his devoted business partner kept it afloat for nearly three decades. Even as we grieve David's sudden death on Sunday, we struggle to imagine how the place will survive without him.

Many authors frequented Tmol Shilshom, and many others were featured in the literary events that took place there: book launches, poetry readings, roundtables, dramatic performances. But two Hebrew writers were prominent figures in this space: S.Y. Agnon, who had died 24 years before the café was established but whose most significant novel furnished its name (œTmol Shilshom means œOnly Yesterday in English); and poet Yehuda Amichai, who inaugurated the venue in 1994 and graced it with his presence throughout the last years of his life.


 An ode to Jerusalem's unlikely coronavirus victim: a literary cafĂ© and its proprietor


Gantz in, his political partners out: This is what Netanyahu's new government would look like

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 18:46:37 +02:00

Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi appear to be heading into a unity government, which will enable Benjamin Netanyahu to lead his fifth term as prime minister for the next year and a half.

Under the apparent agreement between Kahol Lavan and Likud, Ashkenazi will be defense minister, while Gantz's role remains unclear. Kahol Lavan will break up, with Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya'alon taking their seats in the opposition.

Last week Gantz was undecided on whether to enter a Netanyahu-led government, and at a certain point even leaned toward supporting an emergency government from the outside. Ultimately he's heading inside.


 Gantz in, his political partners out: This is what Netanyahu's new government would look like


Despite the harm it's caused, the coronavirus disaster presents a silver lining for tourism

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 18:37:36 +02:00

In one of Aesop's fables, an old man is carrying a heavy load. Out of desperation he asks that someone, anyone, take the burden off his shoulders. In answer to his call, the Angel of Death appears at his side a moment later and offers his help. The moral is simple: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

One can't help but be reminded of this tale when witnessing the giant, totally unbelievable somersault performed by the world's most popular tourism destinations during the past few weeks. It's hard to believe that just two months ago, dozens of popular European locales were complaining that the deluge of visitors was killing them. Rents were soaring, huge numbers of flights were polluting city skylines and tourism was beginning to morph into a serious problem. There was a feeling among the locals that tourists were suffocating them and disrupting their lives.

Now and in a way no one could have imagined their wish has been granted in full. Indeed, it happened and continues to happen big-time, and at a staggering pace. Yet even so, there are voices emerging that are saying: The coronavirus epidemic is a disaster, but it perhaps something good will come of it.


 Despite the harm it's caused, the coronavirus disaster presents a silver lining for tourism


How Israel's remotest communities are staying coronavirus-free

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 18:31:12 +02:00

The residents of Ein Yahav, an agricultural community in the southern Arava desert, consider it a badge of honor: No place in Israel is as removed from urban civilization as theirs. The nearest city to their north is Be'er Sheva, a 90-minute drive away, while the nearest to their south is Eilat, also 90 minutes away.

Being this remote has definite advantages at times like these. To date, over 2,600 Israelis have tested positive for the coronavirus. Not a single one of them is from Ein Yahav or, for that matter, any of the other half dozen or so moshavim (collective agricultural settlements) in the central Arava region.

And the residents want to make sure it stays that way. In the age of COVID-19, that means the equivalent of putting a œNot Welcome sign up on their main gates.


 How Israel's remotest communities are staying coronavirus-free


'A terrible new weapon of war': The Spanish flu had its own share of conspiracy theories

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 18:01:18 +02:00

The report that appeared in June 1918 in Hatsfira, the leading Hebrew-language paper in the former Russian empire, was frightening. Under the headline œThe disease returns, the journalist and writer Yosef Haftman chronicled the spread of the Spanish flu pandemic.

To read his report 102 years on, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, is an unpleasant experience for those who believe that history repeats itself.

œAll the public and government buildings in the capital are shut, Haftman wrote, most likely from Madrid. œThe trams have ceased to operate. The factories and industries have closed down. The schools are locked, and the students, who were just now preparing anxiously for their examinations, were sent home. More than 100,000 people lie ill in bed, and among them are also the king and his ministers, who are first in the kingdom, for they too have been struck by this strange and wondrous disease, which suddenly swooped down on the country of Spain.


 'A terrible new weapon of war': The Spanish flu had its own share of conspiracy theories


Gaza medics switching focus from border protests to combat coronavirus

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:53:06 +02:00

Scarcely two years ago Gaza's border with Israel was a deadly front line, with black smoke swirling around thousands of Palestinian protesters as they faced off against Israeli troops firing live ammunition.

The border fence is much quieter now in the run-up to the two-year anniversary on March 30 of The Great March of Return  protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors fled or were forced to flee during the country's creation in 1948.

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage of the coronavirus crisis


 Gaza medics switching focus from border protests to combat coronavirus


Does Netanyahu really believe in democracy? Global freedom experts aren't sure

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:33:47 +02:00

With the release of V-Dem's democracy report last Friday, all the three big democracy rating indexes have published their yearly reports for 2020 (their data covers 2019). It is bleak reading and that does not count the likely even more negative fallout for the world's democracies that may emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession that will surely follow. 

The three reports unanimously paint a picture of intensifying autocratization around the world - from Brazil to India to the U.S. to Europe - with Hungary now being the first non-democratic Member State of the EU. 

According to V-Dem's latest report, the majority or the world's states are no longer democracies and only 46 percent of the world's population are now living in electoral and liberal democracies. Freedom House's flagship publication, the "Freedom in the World Report for 2020," found that 2019 was the 14th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.


 Does Netanyahu really believe in democracy? Global freedom experts aren't sure


Jewish progressive groups beseech Gantz to include Arab lawmakers in government bid

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:17:46 +02:00

Leaders of progressive Jewish organizations around the world have urged Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz to form a government that includes the Arab-led Joint List.

In a letter sent to the prime ministerial hopeful on Wednesday, leaders of nearly 20 left-wing Zionist organizations wrote that if he chose this path, œwe will be there every step of the way to support you. 

œWe have been appalled by the attempted exclusion from the political sphere of the Joint List, which, in the main, is supported by Arab citizens of Israel, and has every right to play a proportional and legitimate role in the national democratic process, they wrote. œIt is time for a government that puts aside the vicious attacks against minority groups in Israel and instead embraces an ethic of inclusion, dialogue and respect for all citizens and parties.


 Jewish progressive groups beseech Gantz to include Arab lawmakers in government bid


Daylight saving time in Israel goes into effect overnight Thursday

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:11:35 +02:00

Israel started daylight saving time Thursday night, with clocks moving forward one hour from 2 A.M. to 3 A.M.

This comes after Interior Minister Arye Dery's suggested that daylight savings should be postponed until May 1 in an attempt to reduce people going outside, a move that was not adopted. Daylight saving time will be in place until October 25.

Dery planned to have the government approve the delay under emergency regulations, thereby bypassing the Knesset. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit also gave their support for the delay. 


 Daylight saving time in Israel goes into effect overnight Thursday


U.S.-led forces depart second Iraqi military base near Mosul in drawdown

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 16:51:55 +02:00

The U.S.-led coalition on Thursday started pulling out of a second base in Iraq, in line with a planned drawdown of troops, hours after two rockets hit inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

The attack in the Iraqi capital, the seat of government and home to the American Embassy, was the first following a brief lull in violence from earlier this month. Iraqi officials also said the U.S. renewed a sanctions waiver enabling Iraq to import crucial gas and electricity from Iran, but with a shorter deadline.

The pullout from the Qayara airfield in northern Iraq is in line with plans to withdraw from bases across Iraq and consolidate coalition forces in Baghdad and at Ain al-Asad Air Base in the country's western desert. The plan has been in the works since late last year, a senior coalition military official said last week, and accelerated when Iraqi forces proved they were capable of facing the threat from the Islamic State with limited coalition assistance.


 U.S.-led forces depart second Iraqi military base near Mosul in drawdown


Pangolins, a food in the east, could be the missing link in the coronavirus epidemic

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 16:44:13 +02:00

It turns out that the only mammal infested with coronaviruses other than the bat, and sadly now humans too, is the pangolin, a new paper in Nature reported Thursday.

In the west, pangolins are considered to be adorable. In the east, pangolins are considered to be dinner.

Experts testing 18 Malayan pangolins that were smuggled into China found coronaviruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the human planet's present misery, in five of the small mammals, writes the team, including Yi Guan of the University of Hong Kong and Yan-Ling Hu of Guangxi Medical University, in Nature.


 Pangolins, a food in the east, could be the missing link in the coronavirus epidemic


Israel preparing to use unapproved medication to treat coronavirus

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 14:53:00 +02:00

The Health Ministry has instructed medical staff in hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations to prepare for the possible use of medications to combat the coronavirus that have not yet been approved as treatments against the disease.

The ministry's medical directorate has instructed hospital directors and medical division heads in HMOs to stock up on medicines that are still in the research stage.

The Health Ministry said that because of the nature of the illness, which was unknown until just a few months ago, no treatment is now recognized and approved to fight the coronavirus.


 Israel preparing to use unapproved medication to treat coronavirus


Coronavirus delivers tough blow to Lebanon's dying economy

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 14:35:04 +02:00

Through 15 years of civil war and various bouts of violence since, Lebanon's Barbar eatery never closed its doors, serving up sandwiches to customers even if it meant doing so from behind sandbags.

The coronavirus pandemic, however, has managed to do what various wars could not: Close bars, restaurants and entertainment spots across the tiny Mediterranean country. It's an economic gut punch at a time when Lebanon is already mired in the worst financial crisis in its history.

While residents of many other countries are counting on a government bailout, that's not an option in the country teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.


 Coronavirus delivers tough blow to Lebanon's dying economy


Jews make up five percent of U.K. coronavirus deaths, report says

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 14:12:01 +02:00

Nearly 5 per cent of all coronavirus-related deaths in the United Kingdom are of Jewish people, who make up just 0.3 per cent of the country's population, The Jewish News of London reported.

According to the paper's report Thursday, at least 22 Jewish families have lost loved ones to the disease, which has killed 465 people in the United Kingdom. The UK has about 66 million residents and 250,000 Jews.

Jewish community leaders in Antwerp, Belgium, last week predicted a significantly higher infection rate of 85 per cent in their congregation than the 50-70 per cent rate that scientists expect to find in the general population. The leaders cited the large social circles and interaction of the Jewish community.


 Jews make up five percent of U.K. coronavirus deaths, report says


Israel is the only democracy using its security services to track coronavirus victims

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 14:11:28 +02:00

The countries that have acted quickly to stop the spread of the coronavirus have drawn on their finest technological capabilities to track the movement of their citizens. Israel was one of the first countries in the West to adopt this approach, but the lack of an up-to-date law on protecting the privacy of individuals in the digital era has raised serious doubts among privacy and legal experts and among large segments of the public after the Israeli government issued emergency orders granting the Shin Bet security service the authority to track its citizens.

To address the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued emergency regulations last week allowing digital monitoring of coronavirus patients' cellphones, using means that were not disclosed. He also sought to empower the police to help in enforcing isolation orders. Now the Shin Bet security service is using the technology at its disposal to track the routes that patients have taken outside their homes and to determine whom they have gotten close to.

On Thursday, it was also revealed that the service was also tracking details of all calls made by coronavirus patients. This was disclosed  during a special session of the Knesset subcommittee in charge of overseeing intelligence and clandestine services, the first public discussion of the controversial regulations. No reason was given for the necessity of the practice, which will only be disclosed in private by the Shin Bet.


 Israel is the only democracy using its security services to track coronavirus victims


Beware second waves of COVID-19 if lockdowns eased early, study concludes

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 13:27:00 +02:00

Extending school and work closures at the coronavirus' ground zero in China may delay a second wave of infections, researchers said on Thursday, urging the rest of the world to take note.

With containment measures largely successful and the epidemic's epicentre now in Europe, China has loosened a two-month lockdown in the city of Wuhan where the new coronavirus is thought to have jumped from wildlife to people late last year.

Read more: Trump says he intends to reopen U.S. in weeks, not months


 Beware second waves of COVID-19 if lockdowns eased early, study concludes


The coronavirus endgame strategy: How we exit the lockdown stage

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 13:06:13 +02:00

Israel was one of the first countries to respond well to the coronavirus. Every step adopted by the Health Ministry was considered scandalous at the time, and within a week or two became the standard in well-managed countries.

The cessation of flights to China, placing those returning from a lengthening list of countries into quarantine, œclosing the skies, including to those returning from the United States, an epidemiological investigation surrounding every patient, limiting contacts, social distancing and finally home quarantine for everyone. All of these steps, except for the last one, were adopted in Israel long before they were in European countries. With these decisive actions, we have received the greatest possible gift in this predicament: time.

According to estimates, Israel has gained 14 days compared to European countries and the United States. If anyone thinks this is a short period of time, you should be aware that in œepidemic time, this means Israel has 10-15 times fewer patients than we would expect to see now.


 The coronavirus endgame strategy: How we exit the lockdown stage


High Court appoints temporary Knesset speaker to elect replacement on Thursday

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 13:03:55 +02:00

The High Court ruled Thursday overnight that chairman of the Labor Party Amir Peretz will be appointed as the interim Knesset Speaker and will lead the plenary to elect a permanent speaker on Thursday, to replace the newly resigned Yuli Edelstein.

The justices ruled that Peretz would have "a limited and defined authority," to convene the plenary session Thursday to elect a permanent Knesset speaker. Peretz will not be able to exercise other powers of the Speaker except those instructed by the High Court.

Following the High Court's decision, Avi Nissenkorn, a member of Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party who chairs the Knesset's Arrangements Committee, gathered the panel to to approve the vote, which would then take place at 4:00 P.M. 


 High Court appoints temporary Knesset speaker to elect replacement on Thursday


Israeli health minister's cure for COVID-19? The Messiah

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 13:03:13 +02:00

œWe are praying and hoping that the Messiah will arrive before Passover, the time of our redemption. I am sure that the Messiah will come and bring us out as brought us out of Egypt. Soon we will go out in freedom and the Messiah will come and redeem us from all the troubles of the world.

This remark was made by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman last week, after Yaniv Kalif of the Hebrew-language news website Hamal asked him whether Israelis will be forced to remain under lockdown until the holiday, which begins April 8. Litzman's ignorant answer was not met with uproar.

Is it reasonable for a religious man, a member of the Gur Hasidic community, one of the most conservative Jewish communities in the world, to head the Health Ministry as it faces the biggest crisis Israel has ever known?


 Israeli health minister's cure for COVID-19? The Messiah


Iraqi military says 2 rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 13:00:21 +02:00

Iraq's military on Thursday said at least two rockets hit inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government and home to the American Embassy, in the first attack following a brief lull in violence from earlier this month.

Iraqi officials also said the U.S. renewed a sanctions waiver enabling Iraq to import crucial Iranian gas and electricity, but with a shorter deadline.

The two projectiles struck near the Baghdad Operations Command, which coordinates Iraq's police and military forces, the military statement said. The command center is a few hundred meters (yards) away from the U.S. Embassy, which is a regular target of rocket attacks.


 Iraqi military says 2 rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone


Netflix's 'Unorthodox' sensitively charts a woman's escape from a Hasidic sect

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 12:09:23 +02:00

When Deborah Feldman's memoir œUnorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots was published in 2012, the author was swiftly denounced by the community she had just walked away from.

œOne Hasidic editorial compared me to Joseph Goebbels and warned that I could be a catalyst for another Holocaust. I have been called the next great anti-Semite, and numerous suggestions have been made that I date Mel Gibson, Feldman later wrote in the epilogue to her book, which recounts her years in the Satmar sect in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

There are two reasons to believe Netflix's new four-part adaptation of her memoir will not provoke anything like the same heated, nay laughable, response:


 Netflix's 'Unorthodox' sensitively charts a woman's escape from a Hasidic sect


Iran bans intercity travel as coronavirus deaths climb to 2,234

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 11:53:34 +02:00

Iran has started an intercity travel ban, an Iranian official said in a televised news conference on Thursday, a day after Iran's government spokesman warned the country might face a surge of cases in the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran reported 157 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV on Thursday, taking the death toll to 2,234 in the Islamic Republic with 29,406 infected people.

"The number of new infected cases was 2,389 in the past 24 hours," Jahanpur said, calling on Iranians to stay at home.


 Iran bans intercity travel as coronavirus deaths climb to 2,234


U.S. coronavirus deaths top 1,000 with more than 200 recorded in a day

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 11:49:25 +02:00

New York authorities mobilized to head off a public health disaster Wednesday, with the city's emergence as the nation's biggest coronavirus hot spot a warning flare ” and perhaps a cautionary tale ” for the rest of the country as U.S. deaths from the pandemic topped 1,000 with over 200 deaths recorded in one day.

A makeshift morgue was set up outside Bellevue Hospital, and the city's police, their ranks dwindling as more fall ill, were told to patrol nearly empty streets to enforce social distancing.

Public health officials hunted down beds and medical equipment and put out a call for more doctors and nurses for fear the number of sick will explode in a matter of weeks, overwhelming hospitals as has happened in Italy and Spain. Spanish lawmakers agreed to extending by two weeks a state of emergency that has allowed the government to maintain a national lockdown.


 U.S. coronavirus deaths top 1,000 with more than 200 recorded in a day


Coronavirus crisis: New Orleans worsens as New York sees glimmer of progress

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 11:30:35 +02:00

New York state, leading the nation in coronavirus infections and deaths, is showing tentative signs of curbing the spread of the disease, the governor said on Wednesday, even as fatalities in New York City jumped while the health crisis deepened in hard-hit New Orleans and elsewhere.

The rate of hospitalizations in New York has slowed in recent days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, with numbers he called "almost too good to be true." He also hailed the enlistment of 40,000 retired nurses, physicians and other medical professionals signing up for a "surge health care force," but warned much remains to be done.

In an ominous sign he and other governors are preparing for the worst, the states of New York, North Carolina and Hawaii requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency send special mortuary teams that can be deployed for mass casualties, FEMA said on Wednesday.


 Coronavirus crisis: New Orleans worsens as New York sees glimmer of progress


Netanyahu presents doomsday coronavirus scenario, but his ministries don't operate by it

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 10:18:48 +02:00

After more than a week of deliberations, the new regulations that took effect on Wednesday evening have moved Israel into an almost complete closure. Almost at the same time, there were pictures of policemen urging residents to leave parks in Tel Aviv, London and Delhi. Israel, which is also in the throes of an unprecedented constitutional crisis in which the prime minister is undermining the High Court of Justice while trying to paralyze the Knesset, is now lining up with many countries around the world, taking harsh preventive steps in an attempt to stanch the coronavirus outbreak.

In the Italian scenario, which is mentioned in every discussion held in Israel, the spread of the virus led to the flooding of intensive care units with high numbers of elderly patients who are more vulnerable to the virus, which in turn led to the collapse of hospitals in Italy's northern region.

However, the numbers in Israel are radically different so far. The number of people tested and identified as sick has exceeded 2,000, but the number of seriously ill people stands at 37, with five fatalities. The incidence of mortality and serious illness is still relatively low, allowing a reasonable management of the disease by hospitals.


 Netanyahu presents doomsday coronavirus scenario, but his ministries don't operate by it


Israel coronavirus death toll rises to five, as residents limited to 100 meters from home

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 09:25:23 +02:00

This article is no longer being updated. For all the latest updates, click here

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

-  2,495 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with the vast majority of cases mild and 64 recoveries. Five patients have died and 41 are in serious condition.


 Israel coronavirus death toll rises to five, as residents limited to 100 meters from home


Set on succeeding Netanyahu, Knesset speaker adopts PM's destructive doctrine

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 06:39:52 +02:00

Israelis who were stuck in their homes Wednesday watched in the morning and in the hours afterward as a de facto criminal made a speech from the seat of the Knesset speaker. That's the chair that seats the person with the second most important state position, the deputy state president.

The short resignation speech given by the head of the country's legislature was horrifying: There is no law or judge in Israel. Everyone does as they please.

With a series of miserable decisions that peaked Wednesday, Yuli Edelstein turned from a respected, statesmanlike political figure into one of the symbols of the constitutional and democratic abyss that Israel is sliding toward at a worrying pace. He may think he's a greater democrat than the High Court of Justice, but when historians examine the œprocesses of which Yair Golan so presciently warned, the time when the Knesset speaker scornfully spat in the face of the judiciary will be remembered as one of the milestones of the apocalypse.


 Set on succeeding Netanyahu, Knesset speaker adopts PM's destructive doctrine


Former FBI agent Levinson believed to have died in Iran custody, family says

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 03:00:07 +02:00

The family of Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent who disappeared in March 2007 after traveling to an island controlled by Iran, said on Wednesday it now believes Levinson died in Iranian custody, based on information from U.S. officials.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had not been told that Levinson was dead, but things did not look good and a lot of people thought Levinson had died.

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said in a statement later: "While the investigation is ongoing, we believe that Bob Levinson may have passed away some time ago."


 Former FBI agent Levinson believed to have died in Iran custody, family says


Haaretz cartoon

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 02:48:24 +02:00

 Haaretz cartoon


Defense Ministry undermining Health Ministry in coronavirus battle, sources say

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 02:42:20 +02:00

The Health Ministry and Defense Ministry are engaged in a nasty fight over authority in handling the coronavirus crisis. The conflict, which was hinted at in a recent State Comptroller's Report, has been going on for more than a week.

œThe ministries need to draft a plan to limit the gaps that arose in an exercise, the report stated, referring to a 2018 exercise in dealing with a pandemic. œThis includes the need for settling the issue of authority over bodies, the lack of medications and vaccines, and how to distribute them, said the report, issued earlier this week.

This conflict has played out in strange ways. Last week the Home Front Command's research institute surveyed 655 people, asking them questions such as to what extent they felt themselves to be in an emergency atmosphere, to what extent the coronavirus pandemic had influenced their routine, and how they felt.


 Defense Ministry undermining Health Ministry in coronavirus battle, sources say


Israel predicts up to 40,000 coronavirus patients may die. What if there's a way to avoid this?

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 02:34:26 +02:00

In a scenario that the Health Ministry presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, 25,000 people may die in Israel due to the current coronavirus outbreak. The scenario's optimistic prediction is for 10,000 people to die. Thus, the decision was made to further clamp down on Israeli society.

This scenario was drafted by Dr. Michael Assaf and Prof. Yinon Ashkenazy of the Hebrew University's Racah Institute of Physics. Assaf specializes in statistical physics and particle interactions. This is what brought him to study the lifetime of illnesses and from there, to draft coronavirus progressions for the Health Ministry.

Assaf's forecast is of course frightening. He predicts that the current situation, with the current limitations on movement and commerce, will result in a peak of more than 10,000 seriously ill coronavirus patients who need respirators on a given day. Since Israel doesn't have enough respirators, many of these people will die, and the outbreak will claim more than 20,000 victims. Under this scenario, the outbreak will peak in two months.


 Israel predicts up to 40,000 coronavirus patients may die. What if there's a way to avoid this?


40% can't pay their Tel Aviv rent as unemployment grows amid coronavirus, survey shows

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 02:19:23 +02:00

Nearly four out of 10 tenants in Tel Aviv won't be able to make their next rent payment, and another three out of 10 say they won't be able to pay within a few months, a new survey shows.

The coronavirus crisis has hit Israel's labor market hard, with unemployment now hitting 20%, up from an all-time historic low of 3.4% in February.

Some 2 million Israelis rent their homes. In Tel Aviv, the percentage is unusually high and includes 46% of all residents.


 40% can't pay their Tel Aviv rent as unemployment grows amid coronavirus, survey shows


The end of Knesset Speaker Edelstein

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 02:06:22 +02:00

By resigning as Knesset speaker and adjourning the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein succeeded in delaying the election of a permanent speaker, probably until the beginning of next week. This contravenes the High Court of Justice ruling that obligated him to permit a debate on the election of a new speaker by Wednesday evening. Although Knesset regulations stipulate that the resignations goes into effect only 48 hours after the resignation letter is submitted, Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon made it clear that, œif there's no order that enables us to hold this event and the Knesset speaker persists in his refusal to hold a vote, we do not have the tools with which to conduct it.

Avi Nissenkorn, the chairman of the new Knesset Arrangements Committee, had already announced that Amir Peretz, as the longest serving Knesset member, would be the Knesset's interim speaker from Friday at 11 A.M. until the vote for a new speaker, unless the High Court rules that Edelstein was in contempt or court and orders the vote to take place earlier.

Edelstein's response to Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, who was hearing a petition by the Hozeh Hadash (œNew Contract) organization to order Edelstein to convene the Knesset under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, is a stellar example of cynicism. œI'm not interested in scorning the court, he said. œRespect the order of my conscience. My replacement can do what you want in 48 hours. How much cynicism it must take to ignore a court ruling, steal democracy from the majority and take the name of œconscience in vain. To buy another 48 hours for his boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, Edelstein agreed to sell himself out.


 The end of Knesset Speaker Edelstein


Will ICU bed inventories suffice to keep all coronavirus patients in Israel alive?

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 00:33:25 +02:00

Intensive care units are in race against time: œIf forecasts come to pass the level of care will be much less than we normally provide

While the number of severe cases of COVID-19 keeps climbing, hospital intensive care personnel are in a race against time, in an attempt to prepare as much as possible for extreme-case scenarios, which until recently seemed imaginary. Even as more moderate-case scenarios begin to unfold, these units will have to take in complicated patients in serious condition, many of them with background illnesses, and many may require respiratory support. The numbers will be much higher than the quantity of units capable of handling these cases under normal conditions or during localized emergency situations.

Public and media attention are focused on the number of respirators, which does constitute the most critical and significant bottleneck, but the infrastructure for handling such patients in large numbers requires additional skilled personnel, additional medical monitoring equipment, more beds, and other components.


 Will ICU bed inventories suffice to keep all coronavirus patients in Israel alive?


Pentagon orders halt overseas movement for U.S. military over coronavirus

Wed, 25 Mar 2020 23:52:06 +02:00

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has issued a stop movement order to the U.S. military halting travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus through the ranks, the Pentagon chief told Reuters on Wednesday.

The measure is by far the Defense Department's most sweeping to date and will affect forces around the world.

Esper said in an interview that the order applied to all U.S. troops, civilian personnel and families, but noted that there would be some exceptions.


 Pentagon orders halt overseas movement for U.S. military over coronavirus






US  US NO






Peace demonstrations in the US October 26-28 2007
29.10 - 2007

tn_10-275.jpg

Large number of US citizens demonstrated against the war in Iraq (and the possible war in Iran) during this October weekend. Massive turnout in Boston and San Fransisco, and also in Chicago, LA and DC people took to the streets.
The message was: NO more war in Iraq! NO to a war with Iran!