News Roundup for April 2, 2020

April 2, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Lawmakers Ask Trump To Suspend Sanctions To Help Iran Fight Coronavirus, Huffington Post
Amind the crisis, U.S. sanctions are reducing Tehran’s access to protective gear for health care workers and equipment like respirators, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned last week.  The congressional letter, shared with HuffPost ahead of its public release, is addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Notable signatories include Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). ‘Allowing this crisis to become more dire in Iran threatens significant harm not only to the people of Iran but also to people in the United States and around the world,’ the letter says.

Netanyahu, much of Israeli top brass in quarantine as health minister gets virus, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some of Israel’s other top officials in managing the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis will enter quarantine after Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, amid concerns that other senior officials could also be forced into isolation.

Seven coronavirus deaths in one day – 6,360 people infected, The Jerusalem Post
Seven more Israelis died of the novel coronavirus in the last day, bringing the country’s total dead to 33.


Mossad, Netanyahu’s secret weapon against the coronavirus, Al-Monitor
They don’t have a limit on their budget, and the order they received was to do everything and anything to guarantee that Israel will be able to cope with the virus under optimal conditions.

‘A Huge Disappointment’: Gantz’s Double Dealing With Netanyahu Sends Israel’s Arab Voters Into Despair, Haaretz
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish Israelis on the center-left – many of whom voted for Kahol Lavan a month ago – were deeply disappointed, even devastated, when party leader Benny Gantz opted last week to join a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. After all, Kahol Lavan had vowed that it would never serve in a cabinet under the Likud leader who faces trial on corruption charges.

Palestinian shot by Israeli army succumbs to wounds, Al Jazeera
Islam Dweikat, 22, was shot by a rubber-coated bullet during protests near Nablus in early March, officials say.

‘How we will feed our children?’ Israel’s asylum seekers are on the brink, The Forward
“There is a big stress about how we will survive,” says Ghere Tekle, an Eritrean asylum seeker who arrived in Israel in 2008 and lives in the HaTikva neighborhood of South Tel Aviv with his wife and three children. “How we will feed our children? How we will pay rent? In one month, the landlord will ask for rent, and when we can’t pay, no one knows what the landlord will say. Will they kick us out?”

Netanyahu urges wearing masks outside; announces stipends for kids, elderly, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening said all Israelis should wear masks when out in public, and promised stipends for Passover for Israeli children and pensioners.

Amid coronavirus fears, Gaza couples downsize, delay weddings, Al Jazeera
With wedding halls closed, many couples in Gaza Strip push back marriage dates or hold smaller ceremonies at home.

Government issues updated restrictions, including ban on outside prayers, Times of Israel
The cabinet on March 30 approved a set of new measures further tightening restrictions on the public amid efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, including a ban on prayer quorums and limits on funerals and Jewish circumcision ceremonies.

After N.Y.C. Outbreak, Fearful British ultra-Orthodox Fight to Stave Off Coronavirus, Haaretz
An anxious silence has settled over the redbrick houses of Stamford Hill. As the death toll mounts from the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s Haredi heartland is slowly coming to terms with a new way of life.

Opinion and Analysis

As calls rise for the US to ease sanctions on Tehran, why is Netanyahu silent?, Times of Israel
Raphael Ahren writes, “No politician in the world has been as outspoken about the need to confront Iran as Netanyahu. But since the novel coronavirus started spreading several weeks ago, the prime minister has not mentioned Iran even once.”

Coronavirus, the ‘Soros Bio-weapon’: How Far Right anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Are Infecting Mainstream Politics, Haaretz
Cécile Guerin writes, “As the coronavirus crisis spreads, white supremacists and far-right ‘influencers’ are repackaging old anti-Semitic tropes linking Jews to disease, profiteering and globalist plots – and mainstream politicians amplify them.”

How COVID-19 saved Netanyahu, Al Jazeera
Akiva Eldar writes, “When coronavirus intervened, and Netanyahu did what he does best. He started fear-mongering, appearing every evening before the cameras, warning of the dire consequences of the pandemic, dredging up the plagues of the Middle Ages and the Spanish flu. And each evening, he ended his performance with a call to Gantz to mobilise for the effort.”

Haredim have finally begun embracing social distancing. Why did it take so long?, Times of Israel
Sam Sokol writes, “With ultra-Orthodox patients dramatically over-represented among those hospitalized with the virus, and ultra-Orthodox cities and neighborhoods found to have the country’s highest infection rates, the outrage has steadily grown. However, the situation is more complicated than it appears on the surface and a deeper look reveals a diverse and complicated community, many of whose members are cut off from sources of information that most secular and moderately religious Israelis take for granted.”

For This Jewish Community in Texas, at Least One Good Thing Has Come Out of the Coronavirus Crisis, Haaretz
Danielle Ziri writes, “Rabbi Matt Cohen of Galveston was fearing the worst before leading his first virtual service in Texas on Friday. Now, though, he thinks it could be a game-changer.”