News Digest — 7/8/20

More Serious Cases, More Ventilated As Virus Surges In Israel

The number of serious coronavirus cases and the number of patients on ventilators both have risen in Israel, as the country imposes new restrictions Wednesday (8th) as part of efforts to bring its second wave of the pandemic under control.

On Wednesday morning (8th), the Health Ministry said 107 were in serious condition from COVID-19, up from 83 by midnight Tuesday (7th), while the number of people on ventilators rose from 34 to 36.

According to new ministry data, there were 14,104 active cases of the disease in Israel on Wednesday morning (8th), up from 13,653 on Tuesday night (7th).

The COVID-19 national death toll climbed to 343.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry was expected to tighten the criteria to qualify for coronavirus testing after a massive uptick in cases has led to soaring numbers of people requesting tests.

Intercity buses will only be allowed to carry 30 passengers, urban buses will be able to hold 32 people and articulated buses (with two joined segments) can take up to 50 passengers.  All buses must ride with air conditioning on and windows open – service must end at 10 p.m.

The ultra Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit is beginning a week-long shut down Wednesday (8th) after the community witnessed a spike in cases, with 179 new diagnoses in a week.

Other Israeli hot spots for the virus include Kiryat Malachi, Bnei Brak, Modi’in, Ra’anana, Kuseife, Kfar Qara, Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and Tel Aviv.



Some 250,000 Olim Likely To Arrive In Israel Because Of The Pandemic

The ongoing global pandemic is likely to lead to a wave of Jewish immigrants to Israel that would amount to hundreds of thousands of new olim, the Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Isaac Herzog said on Monday (6th).

Speaking at a Knesset hearing, Herzog said that over the past seven decades, the agency has helped bring some four million Jews from over 45 countries and that in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, “We expect a particularly large wave that would amount to some 250,000 olim over the course of the next three to five years.”

Herzog said that most of the olim will likely be younger than in previous waves.  “This is a historic challenge and we must harness this opportunity,” he said.  “The government must rise to the occasion and prepare a national program to integrate the olim in this wave,” he continued.

According to Herzog, Jewish Agency officials have been flooded with calls of prospective olim, with a rise of some 50% in queries from English-speaking countries and another 50% rise from French-speaking countries.



Jordan Demands Israel Stop Work At Western Wall

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry this week condemned  Israel’s continued work at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, which it referred to as the “Western Wall of the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

In an official document, Jordan Foreign Ministry spokesman Daifallah al-Fayez claimed that the Jordanian Waqf has exclusive authority over the Western Wall under international law.

The document further said that all renovation and maintenance work on the Temple Mount is the sole purview of the Waqf, and called on the Israeli government to halt all work at the Western Wall.

Tom Nisani, the head of the Arab Desk at the Im Tirtzu organization, responded that “this is an official document of the Jordanian government and appears to have been published as an attempt to pressure the US over the expected declaration of sovereignty.  This document provides an understanding of Jordanian policy in Jerusalem as well as its various activities.”

“It is time for the State of Israel to put an end to this ‘demon dance’ around its eternal capital.  ‘Whoever controls the Temple Mount controls the entire land of Israel,’ Uri Zvi Greenberg said.  He spoke truly when he said those words.  The time has come, 72 years after independence, that the Temple Mount and the entire Old City of Jerusalem be under full Israeli sovereignty while granting full freedom to all religions without restrictions,” Nisani said.



Mankai: Israel Develops Next Superfood, Naming It After Biblical Manna

The world’s next superfood may be growing exclusively in the greenhouses of Israel’s Kibbutz Be’eri, Channel 12 News reported Monday (6th).

First discovered in the water of the rice fields of the Far East, the tiny green plant is officially called Lemnaceae, or duckweed.  Its commercial name, however, is Mankai.

It sounds appropriately Asian, but if you listen closely, you’ll hear two Hebrew words hidden inside: Man (manna in English), the miraculous food that the Jewish people ate in the desert for 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt, and “Kai,” or “alive,” as the guttural “ch” sound is usually pronounced by non-Hebrew speakers.

Mankai is worth growing because it is amazingly rich in protein which contains all the essential amino acids, similar to eggs, that can be easily absorbed by the body.  It also contains iron, minerals and even vitamin B12, which is unusual to find in a plant.  And because it is tasteless and odorless, it can be added to almost any food to enrich the health of its consumers, from pizza to sandwiches to burgers.

It is the smallest vegetable in the world, said Ron Salpeter, CEO of Hinoman, the first company in the world to grow the duckweed commercially.

“There are millions upon millions of tiny green dots growing hydroponically under the Israeli company’s greenhouse roofs,” he said.  ”And the amazing thing is that each dot is a separate plant.”

Mankai grows in the streams of Israel’s north as well as the Far East, but Hinoman has a secret formula that enables it to be grown all year round under controlled conditions, untouched by human hands.

Along with other academic researchers around the world, groups from Ben Gurion University of the Negev have begun investigating the plant’s healthful properties.  Last year ISRAEL21C reported that the Israeli team found that it lowers blood sugar levels very efficiently, which would make it a boon for diabetes sufferers.  The team published its findings in an article last year in Diabetes Care, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association.

“We have seen it make significant, measurable changes, such as lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and clearing the liver,” Salpeter said.

Forbes Magazine has rated Hinoman as one of the 50 best ground-breaking companies in the world in the field of food technology and agriculture, said Israeli news reports.



Canada MP Running For PM Pledges To Move Embassy To Jerusalem 

Canadian MP Erin O’Toole made a pledge that if he were to become the next prime minister of the Great White North that he intends to move the Canadian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

He noted that doing so is in line with proper Canadian values, adding that he will stand up for Canada’s allies – specifically Israel.

“I’m a proud conservative and firmly believe in a principled approach to foreign policy – one that builds on our values and interests as a country,” O’Toole said in a video posted to his official Facebook page.  “This approach has made me a resolute and strong friend of Israel.”

He continued by noting that during former conservative prime minister of Canada Stephen Harper’s tenure in office, Canada was known to be a staunch supporter of the Jewish state and “trustworthy friend” of Israel.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, and the modern presence there just cements this,” said O’Toole.  “The Knesset, the Supreme Court and Foreign Ministry are all in west Jerusalem.  I also believe we need more presence on the ground there, and I want to explore more exchanges and collaboration with Israel to partner, much like we do with other close allies.”

“As prime minister, I will follow through on our policy and move our embassy.  Unlike Trudeau [current PM), who changes his mind, and views Canada as a neutral country, I won’t waver when it comes to our allies and our values – I will defend our decisions and restore our international reputation,” O’Toole continued.

“We will restore a proud and strong Canada on the world stage – one that stands with our friends and allies around the world, including our great friend Israel,” he concluded.



Canada Students Chant ‘Jews Are Our Dogs’ At Anti-Israel Protest

Hundreds of people participated in a demonstration against Israel and Israeli annexation in Mississauga, Ontario on Saturday (4th).

The demonstration was initiated by pro-Palestinian students in the Toronto area.

During the demonstration, protesters chanted “Palestine is our country and the Jews are our dogs.”

The demonstration also featured calls for violence and the destruction of the State of Israel, including “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” “We will sacrifice our soul and blood for Palestine,” and “Martyrs by the millions will march to Jerusalem.”

The Toronto office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies issued a condemnation of the anti-Semitic language used at the rally, calling on Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie to act against the hate speech directed at Jews.