News Digest — 4/20/20

Observing Holocaust Remembrance Day In The Shadow Of Coronavirus

Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Monday evening (20th), is usually observed in Israel with somber ceremonies and emotional public gatherings, often featuring a Holocaust survivor speaking to a crowd about his or her experiences.  But this year, events will be virtual due to the coronavirus, as survivors battle loneliness, isolation and the threat of illness.

Today, 185,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel.  Seventy-seven percent of them are over the age of 80, with an average age of 83.9, putting them in the highest-risk group for the people who become infected with the coronavirus.  Eight-hundred Holocaust survivors in Israel are over 100 years old.

Virtual events are set to happen in place of public ceremonies, like the “Memory in the Living Room Project,” where people can join an online meeting and hear a survivor tell his or her story.  Zoom meetings will be organized by the municipalities of Jerusalem, Haifa and Ashdod, hosting discussions about the Holocaust and its impact.

However many Holocaust survivors who would have attended public ceremonies lack home computers and the technical skills needed to participate in virtual events.

As part of this year’s modified Holocaust Remembrance Day, the cities of Netanya and Hadera are launching an initiative with the Aviv Association for Holocaust survivors.  The new “Remembering the Victims: Embracing the Survivors from the Balconies” event will happen at 10 a.m., Tuesday (21st).

The program asks that Israelis go out onto their balconies, and after a siren and minute of silence, sing Israel’s national anthem ‘Ha Tikvah’ together, in a sign of solidarity with Holocaust survivors.

Israel’s first coronavirus fatality was 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Aryeh Even.  He was a resident of the Nofim Towers assisted living facility in Jerusalem where the coronavirus claimed the lives of at least four elderly people.  Many Holocaust survivors in Israel live in assisted living facilities, which have proven to be hotspots for deadly outbreaks both in the Jewish state and worldwide.

Meanwhile on Monday (20th) the confirmed infections of coronavirus in Israel rose to 13,254.  The death toll climbed to 173.



Global Jewish Population Hits 14.7 Million – But Remains Far Below Pre-Holocaust Peak

The worldwide Jewish population hit 14.7 million by the end of 2018, according to a new report released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

According to the report, which was released ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the total Jewish population worldwide remains well below its pre-Holocaust peak.  While the size of the Jewish population was similar to 1925, with about 14.8 million Jews living around the world at the time, by the eve of World War II in 1939, the population had grown to over 16.6 million.

Of the 16.6 million worldwide on the eve of World War II, 449,000, or roughly 3% of the total population, lived in the British Mandate for Palestine, which would later become the State of Israel.

In 1948, on the eve of the establishment of the State, the number of Jews worldwide was 11.5 million, of whom 650,000 were in Israel (6%).

By the end of 2018, the worldwide Jewish population had risen to 14.7 million, with 45.6%, living in the State of Israel.  

The second largest Jewish population in the world is in the U.S, with 5.7 million, followed by France, with about 450,000, Canada with 392,000, the UK with 292,000, Argentina with 180,000, Russia with 165,000, Germany with 118,000, and Australia with 116,000.

Of the 6.7 million Jews living in the State of Israel as of the end of 2018, 5.2 million were born in Israel, while 1.5 million were foreign born.



PA And Hamas “Coronawash” Their Own Corruption – Sander Gerber

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority’s official spokesperson claimed Israel is “striving for the coronavirus’ spread in Palestine.”  As usual, Palestinian leaders intend to blame it all on the Jews. Israel’s enemies never miss an opportunity to criticize the Jewish state, even if it means using a global public health emergency to “coronawash” the failures of Palestinian leadership.

The Palestinians have received more development and humanitarian assistance over the last 30 years than any other group in history.  Yet they completely lack the organization and infrastructure needed to combat this pandemic. The PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza have both squandered billions of dollars of aid that was meant to build a public health system, spending the money instead on corruption, incitement and terrorism.

Shortages of medical supplies are not the result of any action or inaction taken by Israel.  Medical supplies pass through Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt every day, while the West Bank has virtually no restrictions on medical imports from Israel or Jordan.

The real story is that in the West Bank, the PA steals foreign aid for its own enrichment.  In Gaza, Hamas uses it to build rockets and terror tunnels. Both groups steal the people’s money, rather than make investments in healthcare, and the Palestinian people end up paying the price.

The writer is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.



Israel’s Relations With Jordan Will Survive Israeli Sovereignty In The Jordan Valley – Nadav Shragal

→ There is a wide discrepancy between how Jordan openly conducts itself in regards to Israel – using critical, sometimes inciting, rhetoric aimed at pacifying its Palestinian majority – and how the kingdom acts behind the scenes.  Jordan enjoys economic, military, and intelligence cooperation with Israel that is often critical to its interests.

→ Jordan also holds special status on the Temple Mount, and has in effect become Israel’s silent partner in managing affairs there.  The Al-Aqsa Mosque holds a status of almost existential importance for Jordan, given its place in the narrative and consciousness of the Hashemite dynasty and many of the kingdom’s residents.  Jordan will think twice before putting that at risk.

→ Israel’s relations with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have served Jordan well over the years, given its dependence on foreign aid.  In 2018, the U.S. signed a deal to provide Jordan with $6.5 billion in military and economic aid over five years.

→ Jordan has over the years come to accept Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem; the construction of Jewish neighborhoods there; the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem; and U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements.  While these developments may not be to its liking, Jordan will also survive the annexation of the Jordan Valley and Israel’s settlements in Judea and Samaria.

→ The last thing Jordan wants is to find itself shoring up a complicated border with a Palestinian state in the West Bank that would pose a threat to the sense of belonging of the kingdom’s Palestinian population as well as a challenge to its government.  The Jordanians prefer that the IDF remain a buffer between them and the Palestinians in the West Bank.



References To Israel Purged From New Bible Translation

A new Danish translation of the Christian Bible has purged the New Testament of references of the word “Israel” from the new edition.

According to a report by 24NYT, the new “Bible 2020” released by the Danish Bible Society has removed every reference to “Israel,” save one, purging the name in more than 60 places.

With one exception, every instance of the word “Israel,” whether in reference to the Land of Israel or the people of Israel, was replaced with either the word “Jews” – in instances where the people of Israel was referenced – or “the land of the Jews.”  In some cases the term “Israel” was removed with no alternative term substituted, the report noted.

The translators involved in preparing the new edition said the references to Israel were removed in order to distinguish the historic Land of Israel with the modern-day State of Israel.

However, references to other ancient nations or geographic areas which share the same name with modern states – such as Egypt – were not purged from the Bible 2020.