News Roundup for April 7, 2020

April 7, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu, Gantz Agree on West Bank Annexation Proposal as Unity Deal Nears, Haaretz
At a meeeting Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz agreed on the terms regarding how Israel would purse possible annexation of portions of the West Bank by a government led by their two parties. Agreement on the issue appeared to almost completely clear the way for a unity government, but later Monday, Kahol Lavan announced that there was new disagreement regarding the appointment of judges. Gantz and Netanyahu, until recently political rivals who faced off in Israel’s March 2 election, agreed that Netanyahu would be able to bring a proposal for annexing parts of the West Bank to a cabinet vote this summer, but only if the United States backs the move and if it is done in coordination with other international players.

Perez tells Jewish Dems they will ‘be proud of’ DNC platform, Jewish Insider
On a pre-Passover conference call, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez sought to reassure Jewish Democrats concerned over support for Israel within the party ahead of the summer’s convention and determination of the party platform. “We want to make sure that our platform, which is our values statement of our party, is a platform that you can be proud of, a platform that, again, reaffirms our commitment to a two-state solution  — negotiated directly by the parties,” Perez said during the call with Jewish party members on Thursday. Perez added that Matt Nosanchuk, who was recently hired as the DNC’s director of Jewish outreach, will reach out to Jewish Democrats “in the weeks ahead” to get their input.

Jewish National Fund joins campaign to quash Palestine advocacy in the U.S., +972 Mag
Two organizations with close ties to the Israeli government have teamed up on a federal lawsuit targeting the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), one of the leading Palestine advocacy groups in the United States […] Palestinian rights advocates say the lawsuit is the latest example of a strategy pursued by Israel and its allies to bog down Palestine activists in legal battles. A chief goal of this strategy, they say, is to divert the activists’ resources away from their advocacy to end Israel’s human rights abuses, while forcing them to address the stigma of being labeled as allies of terrorists.


Nearly 140 US Jewish leaders urge Gantz, Ashkenazi to block annexation, Times of Israel
Nearly 140 US Jewish leaders unveiled an open letter Monday to Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz and his deputy, MK Gabi Ashkenazi, urging them to “remain steadfast” in their opposition to West Bank annexation under a unity government.

Israel’s Nursing Homes Beg for Help as More Residents Die of Coronavirus, Haaretz
Israel’s nursing homes are seeking government assistance at a time when nursing homes around the world are increasingly finding their residents ravaged by the coronavirus.

NIS 90 billion virus aid package scrapes through Knesset with help of Joint List, Times of Israel
The Knesset early Tuesday passed an amendment that will allow the country to increase its budget and deficit in order to finance a NIS 90 billion ($25 billion) economic rescue package to help the country overcome the coronavirus crisis.

East Jerusalem worries of healthcare collapse over coronavirus, Al Jazeera
Citing Israeli neglect of Palestinians living in the holy city and with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) banned from operating in the area, Palestinians in East Jerusalem say they have been left to fend for themselves.

Cabinet set to green-light nationwide Passover closure and curfew, Times of Israel
The cabinet on Tuesday morning was set to approve a closure and curfew over the Passover holiday to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus, amid uncertainty over when it will take effect and how long it will last.

Palestinians brace for a coronavirus outbreak as workers return, Al Jazeera
Thousands of Palestinian workers are set to return to the West Bank from Israel around the Jewish Passover holiday.

Rollback of virus restrictions envisioned as lengthy, phased process, Times of Israel
Top health experts say that Israel’s climb out of its coronavirus lockdown, tentatively planned to begin after Passover, will be done very gradually and the process will take months at least.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Annexation Ploy Sacrifices Israel’s War on Coronavirus to the Idol of Settlements, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “This is how Netanyahu and the right want to acquire the land of Israel: Not by suffering, as the Talmud instructs, but by subterfuge and chicanery, with the blessings of a wantonly reckless U.S. president and under cover of a terrible disease plaguing humanity. Let’s use this window of opportunity, the right is saying, while the goyim – and possibly Israeli public opinion as well – are otherwise engaged.”

This year is not like all other years. Here’s how to find meaning in Passover anyway., Washington Post
Alyssa Rosenberg writes, “We asked five religious and community leaders to offer suggestions for how to think about Passover this year, and how to find new meaning in the holiday when everything else has been called into question…”

Where’s the Seder?, J Street
Rabbi Paula Marcus writes, “As Passover approaches, we are all looking for new ways to celebrate in the midst of such chaos. Zoom seders, pre-recorded seders, maybe a medical mask or protective glove on the seder plate…we are going to have to be creative. To create order, we will have to think outside the box (of matzah?).”

For Us in the West, the Lockdown Is Meant to Save Lives. In Gaza It Will Kill Many, Haaretz
Neve Gordon writes, “Gaza residents will suffer not just from the natural complications the virus causes, but from the fact that the siege puts them at an extreme disadvantage in all three categories considered vital to battling the coronavirus epidemic: health services, social conditions that determine the level of health, and the ability to keep social distance from one another.”

Coronavirus in Gaza: Trying to avert disaster, DW
What was long feared has now become reality — the COVID-19 pandemic has reached the closed-off Gaza Strip. It’s a race against time to head off the outbreak and stop a catastrophe.

Zoom Seders are far from ideal, says this psychologist. But here’s how to make the best of it, The Forward
Elliot Gottlieb writes, “For me, the biggest question raised by an online Seder is not whether it’s permitted but whether it’s even possible. Technically, of course it is. We can sing and eat and watch each other doing so in real time over the internet. But the Seder’s power lies in the answers it provides to two basic human needs: The need for fellowship and the need for meaning. An online seder can address the first somewhat, but not the second.”

Israel’s Systematically Sidelined, Budget-slashed Foreign Ministry Is Doing Heroic Work on Coronavirus, Haaretz
Daniel Carmon writes, “Despite its diplomats’ relentless dedication, Israel’s foreign ministry was initially designated a ‘non-essential’ government agency for the coronavirus crisis. That skewed way of thinking undermines our national interests.”

Closed houses of worship and lonely seders aren’t a surrender to covid-19, Washington Post
Chaim Steinmetz writes, “In Jewish law, preserving life is the most important imperative. Orthodox Jews adhere to 613 commandments, including ethical injunctions, religious holidays and ritual commandments. Perhaps one of the best known is the Sabbath, in which Orthodox Jews refrain from multiple activities including turning on lights, answering the phone or cooking food. Yet when there is a possible danger to life, all of this is put aside.”

Will Jewish-American Activism on Israel Survive the Coronavirus?, Haaretz
Allison Kaplan Sommer writes, “Pro-Israel and Jewish groups on both sides of the political divide are rushing to connect with supporters online as coronavirus crisis threatens to cut off vital funds, posing what could be the greatest challenge to Jewish peoplehood in our lifetimes.”