News Digest — 7/14/20

Will The High Holidays Be Marred By Corona Lockdown?

Will Israelis celebrate this year’s High Holidays in a nuclear-family format only, with cities on total lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus?  Israel Hayom has learned that the Health Ministry is leaning toward a reinstatement of the closure policy it instituted for Passover this year for the High Holidays, which begin on the evening of Friday, September 18.

Senior health officials told the Israeli daily that no final decision has been made, and policy for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot would be determined based on how the virus spreads in Israel and numbers of new confirmed cases in the next few weeks.  However, the officials said, “The prevailing assessment right now is that there will be no alternative other than to issue orders to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the nuclear family alone.”

The officials said that assessment was based on analysis of information about how coronavirus was spreading throughout Israel and the rest of the world, “as well as on information and warnings from other nations and the World Health Organization regarding the next few months.” 

Another factor in the possible decision to lock the country down for the High Holidays is recent data showing that a large percentage of corona patients contracted the virus at home or family events.

Healthcare officials observed that family holiday celebrations can include as many as dozens of relatives, some of whom are elderly and considered at high risk should they contact coronavirus.

Another option for the High Holidays is that the government will limit its involvement to PR outreach and explanations about the need to celebrate with immediate family only in order to prevent the spread of the virus, but will not officially restrict travel, as it did for Passover and Independence Day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying all along, “The restrictions are not because of any desire to make things worse, but a desire to save people.  It’s like a side effect of medication.  We need to be ready to accept the corona routine for some time.”



Israeli Watchdog Reveals 28 Hezbollah Missile Sites In Beirut Civic Centers

At least 28 missile sites connected to Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist organization have been located in civilian areas across Beirut, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday (13th), citing a report from the Alma Research and Education Center.

The report reveals that the sites are used for the production, storage, and launches of medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, such as the Iranian Fateh-110 and its Syrian equivalent, the M600.

“The world must understand and know that these launch sites are located in the very heart of residential and urban areas,” the head of the research department at the Alma Center, Tal Beeri, told JPost.  “Hezbollah uses the population of Beirut as human shields, and does not hesitate to place its launch sites near public buildings, educational establishments, factories and more.”

Hezbollah is said to have around 600 Fateh-100 and M600 missiles with a range of up to 185 miles, the report said, adding that, “the sites in question are already available and operational.”

Senior Israeli security officials have been warning for years against Hezbollah’s precise missile production apparatus backed by Iranian funds and manpower, even labeling Lebanon as “one large missile factory.”



Jews Are Indigenous To Israel – Prof. Ilan Troen Interviewed by Rossella Tercatin

→ Comments on social media last week that Jews are not indigenous to the Land of Israel seek to undermine the legitimacy of Israel as the Jewish homeland, Ilan Troen, emeritus professor of Modern History at Ben Gurion University and of Israel studies at Brandeis University, told the Jerusalem Post.

→ “For a long time there was very little doubt on whether the Jews were indigenous here,” Troen said.

→ He pointed out that the difference between the European conquest of their lands and the Jewish return to Israel has been conspicuous.  “Europeans entered into territories that they never belonged to and implanted Europe there, as proven by names such as New England.”

→ “When Jews returned here, they did not give any European names to the places and they spoke Hebrew.  There is no other example of people rejuvenating a language they spoke thousands of years ago.”

→ “What is fascinating is that Palestinian Arabs began calling themselves indigenous after 1967 and the fall of Nasser and Pan-Arabism.  Palestinians needed to demonstrate that they were here before the Jews and they did so by inventing that they are descendants of the Jebusites, which would mean that they were here before Joshua conquered the Holy Land as described in the Bible.”

→ “For Muslims to find a connection with a ‘pagan past’ is highly unusual, an act of political imagination, clearly a decision for rhetorical purposes.”

Professor Ilan Troen is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.



Surgeons Save Bedouin Boy From Brain-Eating Parasite

Surgeons at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba have successfully completed a rare operation to remove a parasitic cyst from the brain of a six-year-old boy that had caused paralysis to the left side of the child’s body.

Prior to the operation, the mother of six-year-old Qusay al-Hamidi, a member of the Negev Bedouin community, noticed that her son was dragging his left leg and suffering headaches, particularly in the morning. The worried parents took Qusay to the pediatric emergency center at Soroka, where doctors noted signs of weakness on the left side of the boy’s body, which was indicative of growing pressure inside his skull.

Doctors conducted an emergency CT scan, which showed a large cyst developing in his brain, resulting in significant pressure, caused by the Echinococcus parasite.

The diagnosis was confirmed with an MRI scan, and Qusay was transferred to surgery for removal of the parasitic cyst in its entirety.

Dr. Israel Melamed, head of the Neurosurgery Department at Soroka, said, that the operation required “A very high level of skill because if the cyst was punctured and its contents spilled, it could cause a severe allergic reaction and spread the parasite’s eggs throughout the brain and around it.  Melamed explained that the parasite eggs that caused Qusay’s cyst could be found in the excrement of dogs, foxes, wolves, goats, cattle, and sometimes humans wind up consuming the eggs at some point along the food chain.  When the eggs hatch, he said the parasite usually reaches the liver, but is sometimes carried elsewhere by the bloodstream and can reach the brain.

Deputy head of neurosurgery at Soroka Dr. Yuval Sufaro, who was also part of the team that saved Qusay, said that the child’s cyst was unusually large, measuring 2.75 inches.

Following the operation, Qysay was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit, where his condition improved dramatically.  When he was discharged, he was feeling well and walking normally.

Qusay’s mother, Amani, said, “I have no words with which to thank the staff.  From the moment we arrived at the emergency ward, there was a precise diagnosis and my son was rushed into surgery.  They simply saved his life.”



Missouri Enacts Anti-BDS Law, Joining 31 Other States

Missouri governor Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill into law on Monday (13th) to prohibit the state contracting with companies that boycott Israel.  As such it has become the 32nd state to enact an anti-BDS measure.

The state’s House of Representatives passed the measure, 95-40, in May.  The Senate passed it, 28-1, on April 30.

The Anti-Discrimination Against Israel Act prohibits Missouri and its political sub-divisions from entering into contracts worth more than $100,000 with companies with 10 or more employees that engage in BDS.

Moreover, it exercises the state’s freedom to choose firms for contracts.  It does not penalize or infringe on any individual’s right to free expression or penalize companies that choose not to do business with Israel for legitimate economic reasons.

Meanwhile, Missourians can now be certain that their tax dollars will not be used to further the anti-Semitic movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.



Building The Bible’s ‘Visual Genome,” An Image At A Time

In an attempt to build a worldwide community of Bible lovers and connect them to Israel’s past and present, a group of volunteers from the Daily Bible Image Project have thought up an initiative to build the Bible’s “visual genome,” by uploading images that go along with Bible verses.

The team has reviewed the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible to find verses that can be visually represented.  Verses were divided into four groups: places, customs, objects and events.

Work is currently underway to locate the over 1,100 places mentioned by name and have them photographed professionally.

Content collected for every biblical theme for the selected verses is being digitally packaged into a “Visual Bible Capsule” that consists of a Bible verse and biblical description of its place, along with images of the subject, and some brief contemporary context.

A few of these capsules are already online and can be accessed at no cost at  Subscribers can currently receive the daily images by email, and in the future by text message or through a mobile app, when those services launch.

The Daily Bible Image Project is the brainchild of the Council for the Promotion of Israel’s Heritage Values volunteer association, which works on projects that seek to preserve the history of the Land of Israel and make it accessible to the public in innovative ways, with an emphasis on digital presentation.

According to David Sala, who chairs the Council for the Promotion of Israel’s Heritage Values, the group estimates it will take them five to six more years of work to complete the visual genome project.

“But knowing the importance of this mission encourages us to continue working on this unique Biblical experience!” Sela said.