News Roundup for March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020

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J Street in the News

Groundbreaking Congressional Letter Calls to Ensure Us Funds and Equipment Not Used to Demolish and Displace Palestinian Communities in Occupied West Bank, J Street
“J Street welcomes a groundbreaking congressional letter that calls on the Trump administration to strongly oppose the Israeli government’s demolition and displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and to determine whether materiel purchased from or funded by the United States is being used to carry out these demolitions. The letter is particularly important in light of the White House’s signals of support for Israeli government efforts to illegally annex large portions of occupied Palestinian territory.”

After Trump anti-Semitism executive order, uncertainty for Stanford administration, Jewish community, Stanford Daily
“Of concern to many on campus is the potential politicization of anti-Semitism and constraints on free speech. ‘It seems so obvious to me that it had really nothing to do with combating anti-Semitism, but had everything to do with suppressing anti-Israel speech or critiques of Israel on college campuses,’ said Kate Frimet ’22, vice president of J Street U at Stanford.”

Top News and Analysis

Six new coronavirus patients in Israel – number jumps to 304, The Jerusalem Post
The number of Israelis infected by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, rose Tuesday morning by six people to 304, according to the Health Ministry.

Removing safeguards and oversight, cabinet okays mass surveillance to halt virus, Times of Israel
Israel’s caretaker government amended and unanimously approved early on Tuesday a measure allowing security services to deploy advanced digital monitoring tools in an effort track carriers of the coronavirus, removing many of the safeguards and oversights that officials had said would be put into place to address widespread privacy concerns about the initiative.

Palestinian struggle continues with coronavirus, Al Jazeera
With 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in Palestine as of Monday, the Palestinian Authority is struggling to cope with the pandemic with its limited resources and weak healthcare system.


IDF readies hotels to house coronavirus patients with light symptoms, Times of Israel
The head of the military’s Home Front Command on Monday said his unit was preparing to open a Tel Aviv hotel that it converted into a quarantine facility for coronavirus carriers who have only light symptoms.

Crossings Shut, Empty Mosques: Gaza Prepares for the Spread of Coronavirus, Haaretz
A near-hermetic blockade on the Strip means there are no coronavirus cases, although there are severe restrictions and plenty of fear.

Israel tightens restrictions on Palestinian workers, bars them from commuting, Times of Israel
Israel on Tuesday tightened restrictions on Palestinians entering the country for work, as the country largely shuttered its economy in an attempt to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Israel: Shin Bet chief says mass surveillance measure for ‘saving lives’, i24
The Shin Bet’s (Israel Security Agency) chief Nadav Argaman referred Tuesday to the government’s decision to track citizens using advanced digital means amid the coronavirus crisis, saying it’s aimed for one purpose only — “saving lives.”

In surreal scenes, Knesset sworn in 3 members at a time amid virus crisis, Times of Israel
In a surreal ceremony, the 23rd Knesset convened on Monday in the shadow of the COVID-19 outbreak, with its 120 lawmakers inducted in batches of three to avoid the spread of the virus and its leaders giving their usually festive opening remarks to an empty hall.

Opinion and Analysis

The Coronavirus Fight in Israel Is Threatening Individual Rights, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “As it tries to battle the spread of the new coronavirus in the midst of a political crisis, Israel faces a concrete challenge: protecting the fundamental principles of democracy, including the individual rights of its citizens.”

Trump and Netanyahu have handled the coronavirus outbreak in totally different ways. Here’s why., JTA
Ron Kampeas writes, “Netanyahu’s public statements have been clear and packed with detail. Trump’s press conferences have been wild rides, with the president often seeming like he and the government he leads are on different pages.”

Gantz has a historic opportunity, The National
The Editorial Board writes, “By extending an olive branch to Arab citizens and relaunching a stalled peace process, Benny Gantz can make things right,”

A hotbed for fake news’: How Palestinians are fighting coronavirus misinformation, +972
Henriette Chacar writes, “What does the battle against a coronavirus ‘infodemic’ look like in an occupied population that distrusts its ruling authorities?”

Coronavirus ‘Truce’: The Guns Falling Silent Across the Middle East, Haaretz
Yossi Melman writes, “A sudden quiet reverberates around one of the most troubled, violent regions on earth. Israel’s military is mirroring the enforced restraint shown by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas – for now.”