Thursday, April 02, 2020 

Infected Haredi health minister accused of violating Coronavirus guidelines, endangering political leaders

Well, it looks like ultra-Orthodox politician Yaakov Litzman really stepped in it this time, as it's discovered he violated requirements on the Coronavirus crisis for the sake of his own personal "needs":
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who tested positive for the coronavirus late Wednesday, allegedly broke his own ministry’s guidelines on social distancing by attending group prayer services in the days before he was diagnosed, a TV report said Thursday.

Litzman’s positive test has forced almost all the Israeli politicians, officials, and health chiefs who are leading the country’s struggle against the pandemic, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down, to enter precautionary quarantine.

The same TV station quoted an unnamed senior minister accusing Litzman of having “put all of our lives in danger” by flouting the restrictions. [...]

Witnesses told Channel 12 on Thursday that the health minister, who heads the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, prayed at the home of a fellow member of his Gur Hasidic sect last Saturday — three days after government guidelines went into effect barring services from being held indoors. The witness said that while worshipers sought to practice social distancing, they were all together inside for over an hour and a half.

On Monday, after the guidelines had further intensified, barring any group prayer services from being held, whether inside or outdoors, Litzman was again allegedly spotted praying at a synagogue just outside of his home.

“My father prays every day at the ‘Beit Israel’ synagogue in the Ezrat Torah neighborhood [in Jerusalem] and told me that on Monday he prayed there together with Litzman,” another witness told Channel 12. [...]

“In the days that he attended the services, he could very well have contracted the virus or have been infecting others,” a witness from his neighborhood told Channel 12, speculating that the minister would not have disclosed his presence at the prayer services to the epidemiologists. “Some people do not know they should be in isolation or if they had come in contact with him. They will pass [the virus] on and on until suddenly we have the beginning of a catastrophe in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem.” [...]

The TV network quoted a senior minister who accused Liztman of “knowingly demonstrating contempt” for his own ministry’s guidelines by failing to follow the rules on social distancing.

The unnamed senior minister said Litzman had “put all of our lives in danger.”

“We’re all taking the greatest possible care [to follow the guidelines] in these days. And yet the health minister, of all people, doesn’t recognize the gravity of the situation, and endangers us all, ultimately harming decision-making,” the minister added.

The minister also told Channel 12 that Litzman’s office was refusing to disclose the results of Litzman’s epidemiological investigation. “They’re hiding [it] from us,” the minister reportedly said.

As a consequence of Litzman contracting the disease, Netanyahu and most of Israel’s other top officials in managing the response to the coronavirus crisis have entered quarantine. Among them are Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov; Prof Sigal Sadetzki, head of public health at the ministry; Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, whose spy agency has been instrumental in obtaining medical equipment for Israel; and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who has been coordinating the government’s response to the pandemic.
I was wondering if he'd taken a test to see if he had any problems, and I guess this says it all. This disgraceful man, who already has at least a few serious accusations leveled against him, as noted earlier, is unlikely to have done it because he's senile. Rather, it's because he adheres to a lifestyle that puts religion above safety in almost every way. Based on this, it would be very ill-advised to allow him to continue in a political role. He did some truly reprehensible things before, now he's really gone overboard. That kind of person is dangerous to have in a political position.

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Bnei Brak under quarantine lockdown

The Israeli government's wisely made the decision to impose a closure on all of the Haredi suburb of Bnei Brak, where at least a third of the populace are ill with Coronavirus:
After days of debate about how to handle the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, where the coronavirus has rapidly spread, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov announced Wednesday that access to and from the city will be restricted beginning immediately.

“There has been a very positive shift in the ultra-Orthodox public,” the prime minister said, noting that in recent days the haredi community has recognized the danger that it is in and is working to follow the guidelines set forth by the Health Ministry. “But unfortunately, in some places, the disease has already spread at double the rate of the rest of the country and continues to double.”

On Wednesday, 723 residents of the town of 195,298 people were infected with coronavirus, and health officials have predicted that if the trend in Bnei Brak continues, as many as 1,500 residents will be sick with coronavirus by next week, among them as many 60 to 80 people in serious condition within the next two months. [...]

At the same time, two new restrictions were rolled out to the general population by the prime minister. First, citizens are being asked to wear masks when walking around in public spaces.

Bar Siman Tov explained that since the World Health Organization declared that the novel coronavirus may be spread as an airborne aerosol, like SARS, he believes that wearing a nose and mouth covering could help stop the disease from spreading. Surgical masks will not be required, he said, but any kind of covering that can be designed at home will work.

Second, any Israeli returning to the country will now be required to go directly into isolation at a coronavirus hotel for 14 days.

“In difficult times, people come home, and Israel is home,” Netanyahu said.
They made a responsible decision. Especially now that it's been discovered the Haredi health minister Yaakov Litzman himself was infected:
CONTROVERSIAL Israeli MK Yaakov Litzman and his wife Chava have tested positive for the coronavirus, his office has announced, saying they were both in a good condition.

The 71-year-old Health Minister is the most senior Israeli official to be diagnosed with the virus.

The pair was being “suitably treated and are in isolation, under observation in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines,” the statement said, adding that all those who had been in contact with them would be informed and sent to quarantine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been informed of the developments, the statement said, but did not say if this would affect the prime minister, who emerged from voluntary quarantine on Wednesday night after one of his aides was found to be carrying the virus.

Meanwhile, the strong possibility that Litzman will be in Israel’s new unity government has triggered a joint appeal against his inclusion by Australia’s peak Jewish bodies.

In a landmark letter to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Jillian Segal, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler and Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council national chairman Mark Leibler voiced their strong objection to Litzman being part of the new government, after allegations he interfered in the process of Malka Leifer’s extradition to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse at Adass Israel School. [...]

Referring to Israeli police recommendations Litzman be charged, the rare joint letter stated, “We are utterly appalled by reports that Mr Litzman may be Health Minister in the new Israeli government, while the accusations against him concerning the ongoing Malka Leifer case remain unresolved.

“Some of Israel’s most passionate supporters within the Jewish community and in the wider community in Australia have publicly expressed their dismay about the delays that have occurred, and other irregular aspects of the case,” it stated.
Let's also remember Litzman was the same "health specialist" who protected a food industry business whose owner violated health and sanitary guidelines, so who knows, this could be divine response to his corrupt practices. The case must be made that a man with such contempt cannot continue to serve, and not because he's already an old geezer, but simply because he's committed offenses that disqualify him from the role.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2020 

Arabic residents of Jaffa riot over police arresting quarantine violator

Here's an example of Islamists in the Jaffa district rioting because a resident refused to follow safety rules for the Coronavirus lockdown:
Arab residents of Jaffa rioted on Wednesday, burning tires and dumpsters because the police were enforcing nationwide quarantine restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

During a patrol of the Ajami neighborhood, police saw two men standing together and asked to see identification to check if they were outside the 100-meter limit from their homes, according to a report by Ynet.

The young man refused the order, and other residents began surrounding the officers to help the man escape. Police called for backup; shortly after, clashes began.

Police officers made four additional arrests.
This is what not all mainstream sources will tell you about. But it's a demonstration of how the Arab residents of Israel aren't abiding by the rules, and are proving easily worse than the Haredis. There'll hopefully be a lockdown of the neighborhood following this.

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Monday, March 30, 2020 

Haredi neighborhoods defying Corona lockdowns must be quarantined for their own sake as much as everyone else's

The government's considering imposing special quarantines on Haredi population centers where residents are acting in defiance of Coronavirus guidelines and lockdowns:
The government is considering placing the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak under quarantine, over its residents' defying of the nationwide curfew orders and the fear that the coronavirus outbreak could spiral out of control in the densely populated locality, where the infection rate is higher than the national average.

Finance Ministry Director Shai Babad told the Knesset on Sunday that "we are having more than a few problems with ultra-Orthodox society in areas like Bnei Brak."

Babad made the comment hours after hundreds of residents gathered for the burial of Rabbi Tzvi Shenkar, with thousands reportedly attending a funeral procession just before. Videos show hundreds gathering in close proximity to one another, breaking social-distancing directives.

Several clashes between residents and police attempting to enforce the lockdown have taken place in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in recent weeks

The images sparked criticism of the police, who were accused of not enforcing the directives as vigorously as they do in secular cities.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he "would not stand for it," and demanded the police exercise "determined and equal enforcement of Health Ministry orders throughout Israel, with no exceptions."
Bnei Brak is proving to be the worst hit area after Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, with cases building 8-fold every 3 days. Small apartment households of 10 people crowded togther carries the risks of entire families being infected. Whether it's extremist clans leading the way or just typical ultra-Orthodox ignoramuses, it's utterly offensive and is bound to prolong the difficulties. The Jerusalem Post says the regulations must be enforced equally on all:
Two videos emerged Saturday night that demonstrated the problems of enforcing regulations meant to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. In one, police cars can be seen chasing a solitary young cyclist in a Tel Aviv park; in the other, hundreds of members of the extreme ultra-Orthodox “Jerusalem Faction” were seen crowding together in Bnei Brak for the funeral of Rabbi Tzvi Shinker, head of the Beit David Yeshiva, with no action being taken by police to stop the gathering.

We do not dismiss the risks of even one person violating the regulations by taking a bike ride – one of the dangers being that it encourages others to similarly ignore the steps being imposed to halt the spread of this deadly disease – but we question where valuable police resources are being spent.

Regulations in force Saturday night clearly stipulated that gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted – for prayers, weddings or funerals. If these regulations continue to be flouted, even by a minority, they will likely be made stricter for all.

Coronavirus can infect anyone and be easily passed on, particularly in crowds. Haredi communities – many of which do not have televisions, Internet, and in some cases, even radios – were at first slow to pick up on the news of COVID-19, its exponential growth and what it means. However, now that the pandemic has swept through ultra-Orthodox communities in the Diaspora, particularly in New York and New Jersey, rabbis and community leaders in Israel are certainly aware of the health issues.

The potential spread from the Bnei Brak funeral is frightening. It will sweep first through those communities where members are violating the regulations and precautions but will not stop there. It is precisely events like these that could result in the health system being overwhelmed – making all the steps and sacrifices made so far virtually meaningless.

Figures released last week by the Health Ministry show that almost a quarter of Israelis who have contracted the coronavirus in the country have been infected through contact with another infected individual in a synagogue. Another 5% contracted in yeshivas, 15% of infections were contracted in hotels, 12% in restaurants, 7% in supermarkets, and 7% in other shops. Hotels and restaurants have since closed.

The Jerusalem Faction is a minority, even among anti-Zionist zealots, and its adherents are known for public acts of civil disobedience. This makes policing harder but nonetheless essential. Police patrols in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood last week encountered violent resistance by ultra-Orthodox extremists. Police noted in a statement, however, that the majority of shops, food outlets and other businesses in the neighborhood were observing the social-distancing orders.
If they have to bring about riot squads and impose barricades to the neighborhood entrances, so be it. And if the Haredis want to complain that they're being persecuted by "nazis" as they slur anybody they don't agree with, they can cry us a river. But the police are going to have to stop cowering and start shutting down these gatherings seriously. Here's another commentary on how and why the Haredis didn't take the warnings seriously until now:
Of particular note was that the senior rabbinic leadership of the Ashkenazi, non-hassidic ultra-Orthodox community ruled that schools and yeshivas should remain open and never rescinded that order, although the school term has now ended.

It took till Sunday for the most senior leader of this community, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, to finally issue a clear ruling that the community must obey government orders aimed at stopping the deadly virus.

That Kanievsky made his comments shortly after data was released showing the highest rates of Covid-19 infections in the country are in cities with high ultra-Orthodox populations demonstrates how serious the consequences of this delay might turn out to be.

But why did it taken so long for the the community to take the epidemic and its dangers seriously?

One of the primary reasons is that the ultra-Orthodox community sees its rabbis as its true leaders and not the secular authorities or politicians.

“The ultra-Orthodox community does not see the state as representing its interests, you live with the state, it’s like your apartment building management council, but it doesn’t tell you what to do,” says Professor Yedidya Stern, vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute and an expert on ultra-Orthodox society.

When talking about issues critical to religious life like Torah study in schools and yeshivas, as well as prayer, “the ultra-Orthodox always see their senior rabbi as the prime minister,” he added. [...]

But it is not only the ultra-Orthodox leadership that lacks knowledge and appreciation of scientific fact, it is the general public itself.

Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin, a frequent commentator on ultra-Orthodox society, notes that the community is in general “suspicious of scientific authority” and believes its rabbis are better guides.

Scientific disciplines are taught at almost no ultra-Orthodox elementary schools and not at all in high-schools, and there is a general lack of appreciation for scientific knowledge.
You know what this bears similarities to? Leftists in the US and UK, where you now have LGBT activists pushing the belief that "gender is a social construct", and not a biological/scientific one, along with the ludicrous notion that "homosexuality is genetic", which has been indoctrinated longer and is just as damaging. Don't be shocked if the leftist crowd in the States and the Blighty consider Haredi extremists who espouse anti-science views a crowd to appreciate in their books.
When government authorities are warning of an epidemic that has not yet struck in full and advising measures based on scientific understanding designed to ward off the future consequences of such an epidemic be taken, it was to be expected that the ultra-Orthodox community would dismiss this advice, says Slifkin.

But there are also other societal factors at play as well. One serious problem, raised by both Stern and Slifkin, is that ultra-Orthodox society is much less exposed to news media than the general public.

While many non ultra-Orthodox have a steady stream of push notifications, tweets, Facebook posts, and WhatsApp videos inundating their smart phones, the majority of the ultra-Orthodox community is not exposed to such a torrent of information.

This creates a far lesser sense of urgency amongst the community, since they do not see the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic in China, Italy, Spain and wherever else the disease has struck.

And there is also the very real problem of how exactly the community can go into physical lockdown like the rest of the country.

Ultra-Orthodox families are typically very large, their apartments are far smaller than their needs, and they do not have gardens and often not even balconies. [...]

It is this confluence of circumstances that led the ultra-Orthodox leadership and public to downplay and ignore the threat of the Covid-19 epidemic, even as the government was enforcing ever more drastic measures on the general public.

The results could yet be disastrous for the ultra-Orthodox sector in terms of the cost to human life and economically.

And if the ultra-Orthodox community suffers badly as a result, trust in its rabbinic leadership could be significantly damaged and may lead to far-reaching changes in the sector further down the line.
Well if this convinces more to leave the lifestyle, that'll be a blessing, mainly for them. Being informed is a Torah-advocated importance, and refusal to accept it says quite a bit about the insular Haredi communities with their discipline towards flesh-and-blood humans rather than towards God. Meanwhile, this report also notes how the Haredi communities detest efforts by authorities to keep things safe, and that the Arabic sector is also problematic for the same reasons:
Israeli police have used a drone, helicopter and stun grenades in recent days to prevent people gathering in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem in defiance of Health Ministry measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

On Monday, police, some in riot gear and surgical masks, encountered occasional resistance and verbal abuse while enforcing the measures in a part of the city whose residents have long chafed against the state.

"Nazis!" shouted a group of boys
, as police pulled men off the narrow streets of Mea Shearim.

As well as broadcasting the message "Stay Home" from the helicopter and drone, police have issued offenders with fines.

Israeli officials describe the ultra-Orthodox as especially prone to contagion because their districts tend to be poor and congested, and in normal times they are accustomed to holding thrice-daily prayers with often large congregations.

Some of their rabbis have also cast doubt on the degree of coronavirus risk

Many ultra-Orthodox reject the authority of the Israeli state, whose Jewish majority is mostly secular.

Israel's 21 percent Arab minority are another sensitive community, where officials say testing for the virus has been lagging.

"There are three 'Corona Countries' - the ultra-Orthodox sector, the Arab sector and the rest of the State of Israel," Defense Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters on Sunday.
This is certainly just as troubling, and if the Arabic sector also refuses to take proper health steps, they too are bound to prolong the problems we're facing now. This article says a few hotels are starting to set up quarantine housings for those infected:
Three hotels and yeshiva buildings were preparing Monday to open as special quarantine centers for the ultra-Orthodox community, as the government and religious authorities stepped up the fight against the spread of the coronavirus in densely populated Haredi areas.

Ultra-Orthodox patients make up around half the COVID-19 patients being treated in various major hospitals around the country, according to unofficial figures cited by the two leading Israeli news channels on Sunday evening.

The reports came amid officials’ growing impatience with the ultra-Orthodox community, some of whose members have appeared to flout government orders restricting public gatherings, movement and activities — imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, which has so far infected upward of 4,000 Israelis.

Two hotels were being prepared to start housing ultra-Orthodox patients on Tuesday, with two more such hotels set to open at a later date, Channel 12 reported Monday morning.

The hotels will cater to that community’s needs, including food with strict kosher supervision and gender segregation.
Gee, I wonder why the latter is such a big deal when health itself is what truly matters? If they're smart, they'll worry about their physical health, not insulting religious beliefs, and they'd do well not to put their "customs" above their personal health.

In the end, let's hope the Haredi community clears the streets for a time and stops enabling the virus spread.

Update: as noted in this article, Haredi extremists have attacked medical officials as well.

Update 2: reportedly, the government's making an effort to remove the ill from closely confined living quarters in Bnei Brak.

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Liberman's now irrelevant

A writer at Israel Hayom says Avigdor Liberman may have reached the end of his political career:
The Yisrael Beytenu party and its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, suffered a major blow on Thursday, when the Blue and White faction split: Benny Gantz led his party, Israel Resilience, into a unity government with the Likud and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid and Telem's Moshe Ya'alon decided to sit in the opposition.

This development, which was stunning on the one hand and very predictable on the other, meant Lieberman has gone from political kingmaker to being utterly irrelevant in the span of just a few months. [...]

Likud MK Dr. Shlomo Karai told Israel Hayom, "The chief inciter, the person responsible for dragging Israel into three election campaigns in one year, has been left with no bargaining chips and may very well be left outside the government.

"He collaborated with the Joint Arab List's terror sympathizers and he has been left battered and bruised, pathetic and irrelevant," he continued, hedging that "soon, Lieberman will disappear from politics altogether.

"Lieberman, who sowed hate and schism in Israeli society, is now reaping the fruits of said hatred and will be relegated to the back benches of the opposition."
Well let's hope so. He did a terrible disfavor to the country, and he'd best come to terms with how his behavior is now leaving him on the outside looking in. That he would even go so far as to aid the Joint Arab List was another serious mistake he made. He'd do well to retire from politics, as he's only proven he was never fit for the job.

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MSM ignores Islamic threats to commit bioterrorism with Coronavirus, only considers white supremacists worth coverage

The Federalist found the mainstream press proving they're not concerned about the spread of Coronavirus, as they've given Islamic extremists a free pass:
On March 16, nearly a week prior to the ABC News story, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on a New York-based Muslim Brotherhood member, Bahgat Saber, who urged any Egyptian with coronavirus to deliberately spread the disease to Egyptian military, police, and political figures. Saber also stated he would personally spread it to the Egyptian Consulate in New York, if he were to be infected.

In contrast to the ABC news report about white supremacists, which relies on leaked quotes from a single law enforcement alert, MEMRI provides video evidence of Saber making his remarks. Yet they were not covered in the mainstream media, while only a handful of few conservative and Jewish outlets mentioned the story. The website Algemeiner very responsibly covered both stories, however, noting, “Neo-Nazi and Islamist extremists have found another common cause” in spreading the virus.
Well this continues to tell us all we need to know about the mainstream press' responsibility at a time of a health crisis. Chances are they couldn't care less about the disaster it's led to now. That's why they can't be relied upon.

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Sunday, March 29, 2020 

The supreme court versus the Knesset

The Jerusalem Post has an article about all the trouble the Israeli supreme court's caused over the years that needs desperately to be changed:
Edelstein’s accusation that the High Court of Justice is "harming the principle of majority rule, which is one of the bases of democracy," and has struck "a mortal blow to the Knesset as an independent branch" of government, echoes criticisms that have been heard for years from his colleagues on the Right.

The seed was planted way back in the mid-1980s when the High Court of Justice began to expand its concept of who has standing and what cases are justiciable. People without a direct interest in a case could petition the court on the grounds that they are of public interest.

At the same time, the court developed a new standard in its judgments on government decisions: reasonability. If the court thinks a government decision is "extremely unreasonable," it becomes illegal – regardless of whether the written law addresses the situation or not.

Then came the 1992 "constitutional revolution," when the Knesset under a Likud-led coalition passed human rights laws Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation. Supreme Court president Aharon Barak declared that basic laws have constitutional ascendancy, though Israel has never had a constitution.

All of this added up to Israel having a highly activist judiciary.

For most of those years, judges were largely self-selecting; politicians were on judicial selection committees, but there were not enough of them to have a decisive influence until fairly recently. Activist judges often selected other activist judges, and those with more conservative views on how the judiciary should behave were in the minority.
Read the whole item, and understand why something needs to be done about a leftist-dominated judiciary.

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Saturday, March 28, 2020 

Haredi communities in Israel lead in Coronavirus cases

The Jerusalem Post says the ultra-Orthodox communities have demonstrated what insularity can lead to in a time of health crisis:
The cities of Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, with their many haredi (ultra-Orthodox) residents, lead the nation in numbers of coronavirus patients with 267 and 352 respectively, Channel 12 reported on Friday.

It is thought that a small minority among the community finds it difficult to adjust to the new Health Ministry regulations as they forbid mass prayer, large weddings and studying in big groups – all of which are vital to the haredi way of life.

The largely secular city of Tel Aviv, that has more than double the number of residents than Bnei Brak, is tied for second with 267 patients. This despite social media posts alleging that the residents of the first Hebrew city are lax in their social distancing and can’t give up their daily jogs and drinking coffee at the beach.

On Hebrew social media, a great deal of anger was expressed at some Tel Avivians for allegedly for not caring about the well being of the elderly, who are much more vulnerable to coronavirus, and insensitivity to the great number of people who are facing unemployment now due to the COVID-19 impact on the world economy.
There's a valid issue you could make about Tel Aviv's simpler residents (though it sure is strange the paper refers to them as the first Hebrew city, despite Hebron or Jerusalem qualifying for that position), but the case of Haredis not complying with health regulations is a definite cause for concern, and could lead to the Corona crisis keeping on if they don't cut out their ignorance. This is what happens when you have whole clans and enclaves living without any genuine information available, not even through simple newspapers aimed at their community. Here's some more:
The ultra-Orthodox community in Israel is seeing steep infection rates and a sharp rise in diagnoses of coronavirus in recent days, according to local leaders, health ministry data and Hebrew media reports.

Health Ministry reports have shown the two cities with the highest infection numbers are currently Jerusalem (352) and the largely ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak (267), followed by Tel Aviv (211).

According to a report in Haaretz Friday, a significant portion of the Jerusalem patients are also from the Haredi community.
This appears to be the more correct sum for Tel Aviv, which the Post apparently got wrong.
Officials have attributed the high infection rates in the region to a lack of adherence to Health Ministry guidelines (there have been many reports of large gatherings taking place in those communities for weddings, prayer services and other events in spite of announced restrictions), the crowdedness of many ultra-Orthodox communities and a lack of access by many to media and communication means.

On several occasions clashes have been reported between members of the communities and police forces attempting to enforce lockdown and distancing orders.

Similar scenes have been reported in the United States.
A good way to send a message is to shut off electricity and water flow to Haredi synagogues and yeshivas in communities violating procedures, to render them otherwise inoperable.
Bnei Brak Mayor Avraham Rubinstein, himself currently quarantined for fear of exposure, urged residents Friday to “wake up!” He said the city was seeing the highest infection rate in the country, with “the forecast far more frightening.” Rubinstein called on the public to “stop with the wise-guy minyans [quorum of 10 Jewish adults required for prayer] of more than 10, keep your distances, and stop the crowding and congestion at supermarkets. Just stay at home and be careful, this is dangerous.”

According to Haaretz, internal Health Ministry data has shown the rate of infection in Bnei Brak has been several times higher than the average in the country, with the number of patients increasing eightfold every three days (compared to a twofold national average). In Jerusalem the cases have quadrupled in the same period.

Several local leaders in ultra-Orthodox communities complained to the paper that very little information on infections was filtering down to their people in comparison to the general population. Haaretz noted that some half of the Haredi population has only highly limited kosher cellphones which are incapable of receiving quarantine notices from the Health Ministry.

“Everything here is being conducted by word of mouth rumors,” one official in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Illit told the paper. “Someone hears the neighbor was infected and things are passed on. There’s no monitoring or oversight.”

According to Channel 12 news, as infection numbers have soared (from some 400 patients 10 days ago to 3,035 as of Saturday), more and more ultra-Orthodox communities have come to recognize the truth of the threat, and adherence to social distancing measures has grown.

Religious leaders have increasingly taken steps to encourage their communities to isolate from others, heavily curbing prayer services and allowing the use of phones on Shabbat for virus warnings. On Thursday several Sephardic Orthodox rabbis even declared that families could conduct next month’s Passover seder over videoconference.
Well it's great if some leaders are acting responsible now. But, this is still absolutely horrific when they fail, and all the fault of insular cultists who've abused the psyches of their subjects, all but cutting them off from the wider world out of the slapdash notion general information would literally make them want to leave the flock, or more precisely, are keeping them ignorant because they believe their culture is beyond question. In this brief clip, it says:
Channel 12 quotes an unnamed doctor sounding the alarm about infection rates in the Haredi city of Bnei Brak.

“What’s happening in Bnei Brak is like Italy. Almost every ultra-Orthodox person who comes in for a check is found to be infected with coronavirus. There are families with 100% infection. The Health Ministry should be going door-to-door and taking people who are sick out of their homes. If not, in a few weeks from now, they’ll be flooding in [to the hospitals] in huge numbers,” the doctor is quoted as saying.
Again, it's my firm belief that's why the whole lifestyle should be condemned, if it encourages such insularity and ignorance. What's really obscene is how those Haredi communities who cultivate such behavior provide ammunition that takes away attention from Islamofascism. And if Muslim communities end up acting more responsible, then of course, Haredi communities end up making Judaism look bad instead, as they provide antisemites - including Islamophiles - with weapons.

Update: look who's defending insular Haredi clans who've failed to act responsibly:
Former Peace Now secretary-general and Meretz MK Mossi Raz called on secular Israelis to refrain from blaming Haredi Jews for the outbreak. "My secular brothers, do not libel the Ultra-Orthodox," he said. "Maybe some of the Haredi localities have a higher percentage of carriers...[but] it is caused first and foremost by poverty and high population density."

Raz added that "even if the Haredi community has a minority that disobeys (justified!) government instructions, please do not attack the entire community for the acts of this minority. This is a time for solidarity."
IMO, there's something wrong when a radical leftist who was in charge of such a repellent anti-Israel group as Peace Now takes the role of defending ultra-Orthodox screwballs after they caused all the trouble they're going to cause. Especially if he hasn't changed an iota.

Update 2: the Jewish Press reports that negligence among Haredis in the USA has also led to tragedies.

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Friday, March 27, 2020 

China covered up early warnings about Coronavirus effects

Macleans spoke about the Chinese government's apparent concealment of the early warnings about the Coronavirus outbreak, even going so far as to suppress those who tried to issue warnings:
Responsibility is exactly what the Chinese Communist Party government has been avoiding since the initial outbreak in Wuhan. Most notably, Dr. Li Wenliang raised concerns about the virus in December and was in turn detained by Chinese authorities and forced to sign a confession of making “false comments” and disturbing “the social order.” The virus would eventually take his life in February.

While Bernie Sanders might be forgiven for naively blurting out that “now is the time to be working with China,” the Chinese government has offered little evidence to suggest that closer cooperation would lead to a solution. Conversely, Beijing’s mishandling and negligence has directly enabled the spread of this pandemic.

China’s primary motivation throughout has been to avoid any responsibility or accountability by deflecting blame and suppressing criticism since day one. So effective has the Chinese campaign been that even foreign governments (including here in Canada) have remained largely silent about China’s role. The instinct of any totalitarian state like China is to cover up anything that might require them to take responsibility.

During the initial coronavirus outbreak, authorities in Wuhan stated that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.” Yet, as first noted in a January study in The Lancet, more than a third of patients had no connections to the Wuhan food market, and people started to become ill weeks before the government would admit.

But the obfuscation goes deeper. Instead of informing its own people and the world, about the threat early on, the Chinese government contributed directly to the global pandemic we face today through politically motivated manipulation and active disinformation. By lying about the virus’s initial spread, including by not acknowledging human-to-human transmission when it was quite clearly happening, and by prioritizing political stability over human health, China’s actions directly led to the massive spread of the virus.
If there's anything this large scale outbreak can teach us, it's how dishonesty from political sources like these can lead to serious disasters, and now, we're all paying a heavy price from what that failure to be responsible has led to.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020 

Fortunate news: Gantz agrees to join unity government will Netanyahu, while Lapid and Yaalon split up from Blue & White

Here's some relieving news after what initially happened 2 weeks ago: it looks like Benny Gantz has agreed to form a unity government of sorts with Benjamin Netanyahu, and not only that, it appears Yair Lapid and Moshe Yaalon are breaking up their joint list called Blue & White, not willing to join the same government as Gantz now is:
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz is set to partner Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a unity government, serving initially as foreign minister but then taking over from Netanyahu as prime minister in September 2021, according to a reported deal taking shape amid immense political drama in Israel on Thursday afternoon.

Gantz’s decision to join forces with Netanyahu immediately led to the collapse of Blue and White, with the party’s No. 2 Yair Lapid rejecting the move and apparently heading into opposition with others from his Yesh Atid component of Blue and White. “Gantz chose Netanyahu over Lapid,” Channel 12 reported succinctly.

Yesh Atid and Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem faction both filed a formal request to break away from Blue and White late on Thursday afternoon, leaving only Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party to join forces with Netanyahu’s Likud. Lapid had reportedly told Gantz he preferred that Israel go to fourth elections rather than see Blue and White partner Netanyahu in power.

The coalition is reportedly likely to constitute 78-79 MKs — Likud, Gantz’s Israel Resilience, Labor, Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism — according to Channel 12. That would leave Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Ya’alon’s Telem, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, Meretz and the mainly Arab Joint List in opposition. However, various other fluctuations are deemed possible, with Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser from Telem, for instance, said to be weighing joining the coalition.

The unity deal was taking shape as the Knesset met to vote for a new speaker, following Likud speaker Yuli Edelstein’s resignation on Wednesday.
If this is so, it's good news. In fact, it indicates the now disrespectful Avigdor Liberman will be left out in the opposition, as he deserves for all the trouble he caused. Considering the crisis the whole globe is now facing with the Coronavirus outbreak, that's why it's crucial there be a government formed now to officially deal with it, and hopefully get the country back on track as soon as possible.

So hopefully, next week there'll be a coalition formed, and then we can concern ourselves with all the most vital issues for the rest of the year.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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