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Daily Briefing: WEDNESDAYS – NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW (December 30,2020)

MEDIA -OCRITIES OF THE WEEK

“Traditional media, i.e.’mainstream media’ is now irrelevant. The new society is ruled by tribal societies in the digital space. Nation state lines in the sand are meaningless.” – James Scott (Source: Flickr)

Biden Receives COVID-19 Vaccine on Live Television Axios, Dec. 21, 2020
“What they’re saying: Biden said through his mask after receiving his shot, “We owe these folks an awful lot. The scientists and the people who put this together, frontline workers, people who were the ones who actually did the clinical work, it’s just amazing… I think that the administration deserves some credit, getting this off the ground with operation warp speed. I also think that it’s worth saying that this is great hope of doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it’s available to take the vaccine,” he added.

Biden Gets Coronavirus Vaccine As U.S. Inoculation Effort Mounts:  Simon Lewis and Martin Martina, National Post, Dec. 21, 2020

“But Biden also noted that the vaccine would take time to roll out and that people should listen to medical experts and not travel for the upcoming holidays if possible. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would likely get the vaccine next week, Biden’s transition team said. Republican President Donald Trump frequently has played down the severity of the pandemic and overseen a response health experts say was disorganized, cavalier and sometimes ignored the science behind disease transmission. … The outgoing president, making unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud, has focused on trying to overturn his election loss in recent weeks, even as daily COVID-19 deaths soared. His campaign’s latest long-shot effort was a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on Sunday that legal experts said would fail.”

                                      WEEKLY QUOTES

Today Esther cut the electronic handcuff from my arm.  In doing so, she restored my almost complete freedom. The last step to freedom remains our return home, to the country and the people we love.” — Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard landed early Wednesday morning at Ben Gurion Airport, 35 years after he was first arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel.The Pollards arrived in Israel on a direct private flight from Liberty Airport to Ben Gurion Airport. The flight was funded by Billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The Pollards were personally welcomed to Israel by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the airport. (Jewish Press, Dec. 30, 2020)
 
“The UN’s assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal. It’s absurd that in the year 2020, out of a total 23 of UN General Assembly resolutions that criticize countries, 17 of them—more than 70 percent—were focused on one single country: Israel. … Make no mistake: the purpose of the lopsided condemnations is to demonize the Jewish state. Yet these same nations failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution this year on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries.” – UNWATCH Executive Director Hillel Neuer.  Neuer called Monday’s UN General Assembly vote a “farce” that “underscores a simple fact: The UN’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights.” (United With Israel, Dec. 24, 2020
 
“We expect a host of other similar joint ventures in virtually every sector going forward. As more trade is conducted and more investment is executed, the relationship will only grow. More business means more people-to-people connection, more understanding and ultimately, more shared interests. A vision has been set by the leaders of these countries. It is now to up to all of us in government and the private sector to make it a successful reality. …And whether it’s health care, agriculture, conversation or technology, the UAE and Israel or going to be at the forefront of this work in our region. When people get to know one another, conflict is reduced, … and peace becomes reality. We cannot take this moment for granted. Opportunity is knocking, and we must open the door.” — United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba was a featured guest at the Iranian American Jewish Federation’s 2020 virtual gala.  (United With Israel, Dec. 9, 2020)
 
“The criminal assassination of General Soleimani was not only an American crime, but I believe that Israel and Saudi Arabia were culprits in this crime as well, even if their role was just to provoke Washington to commit it. … Trump is currently an angry maniac and we must deal with the remainder of Trump’s term with caution and attention,” because “President Donald Trump could launch a military attack during the remaining days of his term.” — Hezbollah’s secretary-general Seyed Hassan Nasrallah told the Al Mayadeen TV network. (Jewish Press, Dec. 27, 2020)
 

SHORT TAKES

NETANYAHU ASKING COURT TO DISMISS ALL 3 CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS AGAINST HIM (Jerusalem) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Jerusalem District Court to dismiss the indictments against him in all three cases in which he is being charged because the investigations against him had begun before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit gave his permission to open an investigation, in violation of Basic Law: Government. (Jewish Press, Dec. 27, 2020)

HAARETZ: AG MANDELBLIT ASSEMBLED SECRET FORUM OF JURISTS TO HELP DECIDE NETANYAHU’S PROSECUTION(Jerusalem) — Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit convened a forum of senior jurists he kept outside the official discussions in his office regarding the cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The AG held secret discussions with this group, informing the Justice Ministry or the State Attorney’s Office, according to a report by Haaretz. The series of meetings took place in 2019 and began shortly before the AG announced his intention to prosecute Netanyahu following a hearing with the PM. (Jewish Press, Dec. 29, 2020)

DRUZE MK CALLS ON LIKUD TO SECURE A SPOT FOR POLLARD ON ITS ELECTION SLATE (Jerusalem) — MK Ayoob Kara (Likud) who returned to the Knesset only a week ago following the resignation of MK Sharren Haskel, he congratulated Jonathan Pollard on his return to Israel after 35 years in an American prison and suggested adding him to the Likud slate for the Knesset. MK Kara said: “Jonathan Pollard, welcome to the Land of Israel. The people of Israel thank you very much for your concern and your endeavors for the security and existence of the State of Israel.” (Jewish Press, Dec. 30, 2020)

DESPITE CORONAVIRUS, MORE THAN 20,000 OLIM FROM 70 COUNTRIES MOVED TO ISRAEL IN 2020 (Jerusalem) — Despite a year ravaged by the global COVID-19 pandemic, according to Jewish Agency data in coordination with Nefesh B’Nefesh; about 1,500 from Latin America; around 280 from South Africa; and nearly 90 from Australia and New Zealand. The total number of olim from Ethiopia in 2020 is expected to be 1,200, of which 650 arrived in December as part of Operation Zur Israel and another 300 olim who will land on the last day of the year. (Jewish Press, Dec. 28, 2020)
 
TEL AVIV RESEARCH: 99.9% OF COVID-19 VIRUS DEAD IN 30 SECONDS WITH UV LEDS (Tel Aviv) — Researchers from Tel Aviv University have proven that the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, can be killed efficiently, quickly and cheaply using ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs) at specific frequencies. She said that the UV-LED bulbs require less than half a minute to destroy more than 99.9% of the coronaviruses. The study is the first of its kind in the world.(Jerusalem Post, Dec. 26, 2020)

STUDY: FEWER HAREDIM, MORE COLLEGE GRADUATES FACTOR IN LOWER CORONA SPREAD (Jerusalem) — A new Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research study by Prof. Ayal Kimhi examined the differences in municipal infection rates between the 1st and 2nd Covid-19 waves in Israel by statistically controlling for the levels of various municipal socioeconomic characteristics. Prof. Kimhi said in a statement: “While the spread of the virus during the first wave resulted mainly from objective factors such as population density, its proliferation during the second wave was due primarily to behavioral differences in the population. Adults and more educated persons apparently took better care of themselves during the second wave than during the first wave, while segments of the Haredi population remained oblivious to the the laws and regulations.” (Jewish Press, Dec. 28, 2020)

PSR SURVEY: TWO-THIRDS OF PA ARABS DEMAND CHAIRMAN ABBAS’S RESIGNATION (Ramallah) — According to a survey published Dec. 27 by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which was conducted in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Ramallah between December 8 and 11, two-thirds of PA Arab respondents demand the resignation of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. They are split over the resumption of coordination with Israel, with a majority saying Israel came out the winner and fearing the resumption would push even further the Arab normalization deals with Israel. (Jewish Press, Dec. 28, 2020)
 
ARGENTINE JEWS REACT WITH FURY AS KEY SUSPECT IN 1994 AMIA BOMBING ATROCITY IS ACQUITED (Buenos Aires) — In a shock decision, an Argentine federal court acquitted Carlos Telleldin charged with supplying the truck that was used in the deadly terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish center on July 18, 1994, in which 85 people were murdered and more than 300 wounded. AMIA and the DAIA — the umbrella body representing Argentine Jews — condemned the decision for “consecrating, in a shameful manner, the path of impunity.” (Algemeiner, Dec. 23, 2020)
 
GERMANY SYNAGOGUE ATTACK: FAR-RIGHT GUNMAN SENTENCED TO LIFE (Naumburg) — A German court sentenced a man to life in prison for killing two people in a shooting attack near a synagogue in eastern Germany on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur last year. The Naumburg Higher Regional Court found the man, referred to by authorities only as Stephan B, guilty of murder, attempted murder and incitement, a court spokesman said. Stephan B, who livestreamed the shooting in the city of Halle on the internet, had confessed to the crime and to a far-right, anti-Semitic motivation. (Aljazeera, Dec. 21, 2020)

ANTI-ISRAEL CONGRESSWOMAN RASHIDA TLAIB: IFNOTNOW HAS MY BACK (Washington) — Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) has been enlisted by the virulently anti-Israel “Jewish” group IfNotNow to help with their fundraising campaign. On Monday, Tlaib sent out an email on behalf of IfNotNow soliciting donations of $18 to $180 or more, under the header: “IfNotNow has my back.” (Jewish Press, Dec. 29, 2020)
 
REPORT: MAJORITY OF HOUSE DEMOCRATS ENDORSE RETURN TO IRAN DEAL (Washington) –– 150 House Democrats signed a letter endorsing President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for Iran (JCPOA)/ Relative moderates Brad Sherman of California and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia supported the effort, as did liberals Barbara Lee of California and Joaquin Castro of Texas. Sherman voted for a congressional resolution of disapproval of the deal in 2015.  Two-thirds of representatives and two-thirds of senators would have to support a resolution of disapproval in order to prevent re-entry into the Iran Deal, since a President Biden would be likely to veto the resolution. The large number of signatories to the letter means that any members who oppose re-entry would be unable to override a presidential veto. (Daily Caller, Dec. 24, 2020)

A JUDGE RULES THAT A BLACK DEFENDANT SHOULDN’T HAVE TO STAND TRIAL IN A COURTROOM DECORATED WITH PORTRAITS OF MOSTLY WHITE JUDGES (Fairfax, Va) — Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge David Bernhard wrote in an opinion this week that having people of color stand trial in courtrooms where the images on display are overwhelmingly of White judges could signal that the justice system is biased against them. Though some people may see the portraits as a way to honor past judges for their service, Bernhard wrote, others may interpret them as another sign the judicial system is not designed to truly deliver justice — whether that’s the intended message or not. His opinion centers on the case of Terrance Shipp, Jr., who is accused of evading police and assault on a law enforcement officer, among other counts.  Shipp is set to appear before a jury on January 4, 2021. (CNN, Dec. 24, 2020)
 
ROCKETS FIRED AT U.S. EMBASSY LAND INSIDE BAGHDAD’S GREEN ZONE, DAMAGING COMPOUND (Baghdad) — At least eight Katyusha rockets landed in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone in an attack targeting the U.S. Embassy, causing some minor damage on the compound on Sunday, the Iraqi military and the embassy said.  The Iraqi military said an “outlaw group” fired eight rockets. Most of the missiles hit a residential complex and a security checkpoint inside the zone. (Reuters, Dec. 20, 2020)
 
RUSSIA SAYS REINFORCING SYRIAN AREA WHERE TURKEY-BACKED FIGHTERS HAVE CLASHED WITH KURDISH FORCES(Tripoli) — Russia said it had sent more military police to an area in northern Syria where fighters backed by Turkey have clashed with Kurdish forces near a strategic highway patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops. The deployment comes ahead of talks in Russia between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu. They are expected to focus in part on Syria, where Turkey backs rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia supports Assad’s forces. (Yahoo, Dec. 28, 2020)
 
IRAN’S LINKS TO INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME AND NARCO-TERRORISM (Tehran) — British and American news outlets reported that Turkish police recently arrested at least 13 members of an international crime organization on charges of collaborating with Iran’s intelligence services. (JNS, Dec. 27, 2020)

ROCKETS FIRED AT U.S. EMBASSY LAND INSIDE BAGHDAD’S GREEN ZONE, DAMAGING COMPOUND (Baghdad) –– At least eight Katyusha rockets landed in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone in an attack targeting the U.S. Embassy, causing some minor damage on the compound on Sunday, the Iraqi military and the embassy said.  The Iraqi military said an “outlaw group” fired eight rockets. Most of the missiles hit a residential complex and a security checkpoint inside the zone, damaging buildings and cars and wounding one Iraqi soldier, a military statement said. Sirens blared from the embassy compound inside the zone, which houses government buildings and foreign missions. (Reuters, Dec. 20, 2020)

CHINA JAILS CITIZEN WHO REPORTED ON VIRUS (Shanghai) — A court in China jailed a citizen journalist for four years over her reports from Wuhan, making her the first reporter imprisoned for covering the coronavirus pandemic. Zhang Zhan, 37, who filed a series of uncensored reports in the early stages of the outbreak, appeared in court in Shanghai in a wheelchair because of her poor health. Zhang was found guilty of picking quarrels and provoking trouble after a brief hearing.  (National Post, Dec. 29, 2020)
 

FOR FURTHER REFERENCE
Post Pandemic Culture Shock:  Manfred Gerstenfeld, – BESA CenterPerspectives Paper No. 1,853, Dec. 21, 2020 — In past decades, citizens of Western societies lived their lives and mapped out their futures more or less in line with the expectation of a slowly changing progression from past to future. Individuals might have experienced events that radically changed their lives for the worse—for instance, a serious illness. But such events mainly influenced personal environments. They had hardly any impact on society at large.
 
Poll: Half Of Iranians Unhappy With Rouhani’s Performance As President:  Neta Bar, Israel Hayom, Dec. 29, 2020 — Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the Iranian people’s top pick for the role of the country’s president, a new poll by the Iran Wire news site has found.
 
Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall: Israeli Model Named Fairest Of Them All Ziva Mograbi-Kobni, Israel Hayom, Dec. 28, 2020 — Israel model Yael Shelbia has been awarded the top spot on the magazine TC Candler’s list of the most beautiful women in the world for 2020. The list ranked actress and “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot No. 22.

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