News from May 3 to May 9

Israel re-opens, Israeli political update, and honorable mentions

Hey everyone! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out this newsletter.

Israel begins to re-open after COVID-19 closures:

What happened? After recording its first day with zero deaths since March, Israel has begun easing Coronavirus-related restrictions. Notably, Israeli pre-schools and kindergartens opened yesterday. Though only 60% of eligible students showed up, the fact that students are leaving their homes means that their parents may be able to return to work. Older students are expected to return to school on a rolling basis soon. Israel also began preparing for a resumption of tourism and international travel by easing isolation requirements. Previously, all visitors to Israel had to quarantine for 14 days in state-run Coronavirus “isolation hotels.” Now, though, visitors will be allowed to self-quarantine at their destination. Meanwhile, Israel, Austria, Australia, Denmark, Greece, and the Czech Republic are discussing adopting joint Coronavirus protocols that will allow them to resume trade and tourism. Israel has also re-opened public parks.

How did Israel get COVID-19 under control? Experts have cited Israel’s small size and quick reaction time as some of the main reasons Israel was able to manage the Coronavirus pandemic. It was one of the first countries to close its borders, preventing the spread of the virus. Another reason is that Israel is a young country (its median age is 30!), so it was impacted less since the virus tends to affect older people more. They also mention that Israel is “used to war,” so citizens understand the need to be disciplined during crises. 

Israel’s success in combating Coronavirus has not gone unnoticed. At least three Gulf States–Bahrain, the UAE, and Kuwait (reportedly)–have reached out to Israeli medical professionals, seeking to collaborate on telemedicine technology. Evidently, the pandemic has opened new doors for cooperation in the Middle East. 

Further reading: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-chaos-taints-plans-to-reopen-preschools-as-israel-eases-coronavirus-lockdown-1.8833870 (Haaretz)

Israeli political update:

What happened? The Israeli High Court ruled that Netanyahu could form a government, despite being indicted on three counts. As you may recall, Israel’s version of the Constitution has clear restrictions on serving as a minister while indicted, but it is less clear about serving as Prime Minister while indicted. Ultimately, the judges ruled that they had to defer to the Knesset to choose the Prime Minister. Since ruling otherwise would have effectively overturned the results of the election, the court decided to affirm Netanyahu’s ability to form a government. Now that the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition deal has been green-lighted by the court, the government will be sworn in this week. 

Anything else? Interestingly, Netanyahu’s coalition will not include Yamina, a right-wing nationalist party that had previously been part of his right-religious bloc. The leader of Yamina, Naftali Bennett, is the current defense minister, but he will be replaced by Gantz in the new government. It’s believed that Yamina was offered the education and Jerusalem portfolios, but Bennett declined. Yamina also said that Netanyahu’s new government will be a left-wing government and that they “will prepare for the day after Netanyahu.”

Yamina’s leadership. TOI via Flash90

Further reading: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-high-court-allows-netanyahu-to-form-a-government-despite-indictment/2020/05/07/82dd0dde-901e-11ea-9322-a29e75effc93_story.html (WaPo)

Honorable mentions:

The NYT sparked a debate over some of its wording in an article (“The Israeli Defense Ministry’s research-and-development arm is best known for pioneering cutting-edge ways to kill people and blow things up. Now it is turning to saving lives.”). Some have criticized it for suggesting Israel kills civilians and for obscuring the true intent of the article. Others have defended it by pointing out that a critical function of any military is to kill people. 

You might want to check out Tablet’s article on plant-based Jewish eating in light of the national meat shortage.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said that synagogues might be able to hold High Holiday services in the fall.

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