News From Israel (Demo)

“News from Israel” presents a compilation of news stories from major Israeli and other publications. To see the source and to read the full story behind a headline, click the hyperlink in the corresponding news item.

No. 120, March 19, 2020

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Inside Israel
Culture and Lifestyle
Science and Technology

Inside Israel
Netanyahu era may be over. In a decision that rocks Israel’s political landscape, Avigdor Liberman of the Israel Beiteinu party recommended Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for the premiership in a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin. Lieberman’s support, together with an earlier endorsement from the Arab List gives Blue and White a majority of 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset, triggering automatic approval from Rivlin. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition have only 58 Knesset seats.

Coronavirus in Israel.

  • Over the previous week the number of coronavirus cases in Israel increased dramatically, from about 50 to 250 as of Sunday, March 15. At least 167 patients are hospitalized, 2 in critical condition.
  • All shopping centers, restaurants, cafes and entertainment facilities are shut for at least five weeks. Exceptions include supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations. Gatherings of more than 10 people are forbidden. The number of people allowed to work from offices is restricted to ensure that workers keep the minimum 6 ft. distance between them.
  • Israeli schools and universities are closed until after Passover holiday.
  • Non-Israeli nationals are barred from entering the country unless they can demonstrate an ability to self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • The Finance Ministry said it was opening an NIS 4 billion ($1.1 billion) credit line for banks to lend money to small and medium-sized businesses facing a cash crisis.

Bank of Israel sees virus crisis over by July. The Bank of Israel has cut its economic growth forecast for the Israeli economy this year to 2% because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but sees growth rebounding to 3.9% in 2021, and compensating for the damage in 2020. The updated scenario assumes that there will not be a mass outbreak of coronavirus in Israel, and that the whole crisis will be over by the end of June.

Stoning attack: Jewish boy, 14, hospitalized in serious condition with fractured skull. A Jewish boy, 14, is in serious condition in a hospital after being struck in the head by a block thrown by an Arab near the village of Hawara in Samaria (West Bank).

PowerPoint briefing on the U.S. Peace Plan. Senior White House advisor Jared Kushner briefed a bipartisan group from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the U.S. Middle East peace plan. You can see this presentation here.

US House blocks anti-BDS bill. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), would have expanded the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 to include prohibiting U.S. support for foreign boycotts of Israel from groups including the European Union and the U.N. Human Rights Council. Lawmakers defeated consideration of the bill by a tally of 219-194, with almost all Democrats voting against the bill, and all Republicans for it.

Poll: Most Palestinians still seek to rule all of historical Palestine, including Israel. 66% of West Bank Palestinians and 56% of Gazans say the top Palestinian priority in the coming five years should be regaining all of historical Palestine for the Palestinians, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, according to a Palestinian public opinion poll. Achieving a two-state solution was supported by 14% of West Bankers and 31% of Gazans. Hezbollah earned positive reviews from 35% of West Bankers and 59% of Gazans.

Culture and Lifestyle
A song in four languages will represent Israel at Eurovision. The song has lyrics in Amharic, as well as Arabic, English and Hebrew. The singer, Alene, is of Ethiopian descent and so that made the song “Feker Libi” particularly fitting for her. The title is Amharic for “My beloved” or “The love of my life.” Watch the performance here.

A picture from the past: Watch the Tel Aviv Purim Parade with Mayor Meir Dizengoff on his Mare Mehira. Dizengoff is associated in our memories of Israel’s early years with the Adloyada parade – the name coming from the mitzvah of Purim to become so inebriated “ad lo yada” – until one cannot distinguish between Cursed be Haman and Blessed be Mordechai. Watch here.

Israelis celebrate life, despite coronavirus restrictions. The people of Israel are finding creative ways to thrive and survive, while adhering to the restrictions in place to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

Science and Technology
Israeli robot assistant deployed In Asia to help minimize coronavirus spread. An Israeli-made AI-powered robot assistant is being used in hundreds of hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, and corporate buildings in Asia to help minimize human-to-human contact as millions of people take precautions due to the novel coronavirus outbreak worldwide.

Israelis invent first pill to treat diabetes without insulin shots. People who suffer from diabetes frequently require insulin shots, causing pain, inconvenience, and visible scars that do not heal. To address this pressing healthcare issue, a company based in Israel developed the first oral insulin capsule, called ORMD-0801. The oral insulin capsule passed second stage testing for efficacy and safety, paving the way to diabetes treatments without shots.

High-tech contact lenses correct color blindness. Tel Aviv University researchers have developed customizable contact lenses that can correct deuteranomaly, a form of red-green colorblindness. Ultra-thin optical devices were incorporated into off-the-shelf contact lenses.