US aid to Israel mostly – but not totally – safe in coronavirus recession

American economic activity has declined in recent weeks at a rate not seen since the Great Depression.

Former prime minister Levi Eshkol once said that “when the US sneezes, Israel gets pneumonia.” With the US expected to enter a recession because of businesses shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Israel may need to hold back requests for additional military aid, some experts have speculated.

American economic activity has declined in recent weeks at a rate not seen since the Great Depression, and the International Monetary Fund predicted last week that the world is heading for a recession greater than the one in 2008 due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Combine that with a US political climate in which foreign aid and involvement in the affairs of other countries has fallen out of favor, and this could mean Israel will not be able to rely on the US as much as it has in the past.

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Gantz got played

Gantz may have been the chief of staff of the IDF, but in politics, he is a rookie.

As Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s mandate to form a government draws to a close, officially ending at midnight between Monday and Tuesday, it’s hard to escape the sense that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoodwinked him.

Gantz may have been the chief of staff of the IDF, but in politics, he is a rookie. He went through three election cycles – more than many MKs ever get – but has very little experience in the negotiating and wheeling and dealing involved in regular political life, starting with coalition negotiations, followed by the years of trying to get policies approved and laws passed in the years between elections.

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With Netanyahu in quarantine, how does the government work?

The Knesset has a different challenge – it doesn’t allow remote voting. MKs cannot call in their votes or leave a note or have someone vote in their place.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in Israel, more and more members of the government have had to go into self-isolation, whether due to contracting the illness or coming into contact with someone who is infected.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went into quarantine on Thursday after being in contact with Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat also entered isolation for the same reason.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi went into quarantine a day earlier after exposure to an officer infected with coronavirus, though Kochavi tested negative for it.
Diaspora Minister Tzipi Hotovely is in isolation. Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Interior Minister Arye Deri and others were in self-isolation, along with several other MKs. The only non-minister MK in isolation as of Thursday is UTJ’s Ya’acov Tessler.
All this adds up to a logistical nightmare when it comes to keeping the country afloat.

Gantz put Netanyahu’s career on a respirator because of coronavirus

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz have not signed an agreement to form a unity government yet, but Netanyahu already won, because Blue and White has come apart.

English soccer player Gary Lineker once famously said “football is a simple game – 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” More than one political commentator tweeted on Thursday afternoon that Israeli politics is a simple game and, you play for 90 minutes and Bibi always wins.

The political “wizard,” as Netanyahu is often nicknamed, has done it again, and this time he has the coronavirus to thank for putting is political career on a respirator that could keep it alive for years to come, even when the crisis passes.

The High Court v the Knesset: A constitutional crisis years in the making

This week’s constitutional crisis was a long time coming.
Israel has been in political limbo for over a year, with three elections and the rhetoric getting all the more divisive as time went on. The country is being managed by an interim government that cannot break past the framework of the 2018-2019 budget. And then COVID-19 struck, impacting every single Israeli.
But while most of Israel was more worried about avoiding getting infected with coronavirus and staying sane under lockdown, the political squabbles continued.

Ambassador to China talks about life under quarantine in Beijing

As of this week, China has reported that it is ahead of the curve, meaning that it has gotten past the mass contagion stage with no new community transmission of COVID-19.

AMBASSADOR TO China Zvi Heifetz with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.  (photo credit: Courtesy)

AMBASSADOR TO China Zvi Heifetz with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about trying to “flatten the curve” so that the spread of the novel coronavirus does not occur at one major peak, but happens at a lower and longer rate.

As of this week, though, China has reported that it is ahead of the curve, meaning that it has gotten past the mass contagion stage with no new community transmission of COVID-19.

Watching the developments from their outset has been Ambassador to China Zvi Heifetz.

Though some have expressed concern about a lack of transparency from the Chinese government and propaganda messages about the virus’s origin, leading many to distrust the claims of zero new local coronavirus infections, Heifetz is confident that the saga is near its end in that part of the world.

Heifetz posited that, “in today’s global world, with all the social media and smartphones,” it would be impossible to hide it if the coronavirus was still spreading in China.

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Some broken political promises are warranted in the coronavirus crisis

Gantz’s only viable options these days are to break promises he made to his voters. And no matter what he chooses, he could alienate a large swath of them and tear apart his faction.

It will come as a shock to no one that politicians lie. The exceptions to that rule are few and far between.

But not all lies are created equal. There is the outright lie – saying something false when you know the truth. There are lies of omission – intentionally leaving out unflattering details.

And then there are broken promises. When people accuse a politician of lying, they are usually referring to politicians who make some kind of declaration of what they plan to accomplish, and then don’t do it.

This could be a more forgivable kind of lie if the politician in question clearly made an effort to fulfill his or her commitments, but was unsuccessful.

It could also be forgivable if the circumstances changed dramatically, such as, if a pandemic suddenly broke out.

That brings us to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

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