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by Rhonda Spivak, June 11, 2020

American Israeli Journalist Caroline Glick, who spoke live via zoom on June 7, as part of the Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Distinguished Lecture series,  outlined how  Covid-19 has impacted Israel and the Middle East, sharing many interesting insights.


Glick who moved to Israel form Chicago in 1991 and is a regular contributor to Israel Hayom and the author of two books on Israel,  began by noting that Israel's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been "stunning" in its success. The first way it impacted Israel is that it "massively increased" Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity. His "leadership, caution, and wisdom in steering  Israel through the crisis" had the effect of splitting up the Blue &White Party," such that Benny Gantz faction agreed to join a Netanyahu led government.


"It was clear that if there would be fourth elections, Netanyahu and the right would have won," said Glick , who in 1997 and 1998 served as Assistant Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


The second result of the pandemic, according to Glick, who lives in  Efrat in Gush Etzion with her family, is that Israel has had  "a huge spike in interest in aliya." Glick noted that the  Jewish Agency in the next five years expects 250,000 Jews to make aliya, with a 40% increase in aliya from English speaking countries , and a 70% rise in aliya applications from France. When asked about this in the question period, Glick explained that many Jews in France and Britain, for example, have died of the virus, whereas relatively few have died in Israel due to its successful handling of the virus. She noted that in France 2000 Jews have died of the virus whereas in Israel under 300 have died. The second reason for an increase in aliya is antisemitism, which Glick  pointed out is on the rise everywhere. She indicated that in South Africa Jews are saying it is time to go, and there has been an increase in Australian Jews wanting to make aliya. There has also been an increase in new immigrants from the United states, who can't afford the price of Jewish day school in the U.S. She pointed to the recent"near pogrom" in Los Angeles where five synagogues were damaged. 


The 3rd impact the coronavirus has had is that it has "highlighted Israel's prowess" in bio-technology and high-tech," Glick, who is the adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington D.C.,  stated. She pointed out that Israel has been able to produce personal protective gear and ventilators, and was able "to develop an integrated response" to absorb new information about treatments for covid-19. Glick noted that Israel's death rate due to the virus is one of  the lowest in the world and  the recovery rate is one of the highest in the world. Israel is also on the "leading edge" in the area of research relating to antibodies for the virus. 


Glick, who directs the Israeli Security Project at the David Horowitz Freedom Center said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 's visit to Israel recently could have been due to the fact that the United States is very concerned about industrial co-operation between China and Israel (China was to have built the largest desalination plant in Israel but that was cancelled  due to U.S. objections). But Glick opined that Pompeo's visit was due to the fact that the U.S "is keen" to develop treatments with Israel for the coronavirus and a vaccine with Israel.


Israel's high tech prowess is of diplomatic benefit since, as Glick pointed out, it's difficult to isolate a country that you need. "Israel is a very attractive partner."


Turning her attention to the European Union, Glick said that the European Union was not able to provide assistance to its member countries in crisis during this pandemic. "We have been watching the deterioration of the European union as a coherent political union," Glick stated. Glick indicated that this is good for Israel as Israel has better relations one on one with European countries as opposed to with Brussels. "Brussels has hostility to Israel" and its "easy default position" has been "anti-Israel." This can be seen in the EU's labeling campaign against goods and people from Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.


Glick then turned her gaze to the Arab  world, "which hasn't really suffered from covid-19, yet the drop in oil prices has plummeted Saudi Arabia's economic growth. 


There is increased interest among the Sunni Arab States in working with Israel against Iran, and in working with Israel economically. "The prospect of war between Israel and Sunni Arab states is at an all time low," Glick opined.    


According to Glick, Iran has suffered from covid-19 and it looks like  it is suffering from a second wave of  the virus. Iran is saying that the coronavirus has shrunk their economy by 15%. "I'm sure it's more," Glick stated.  Israel will need to be dealing with Iran's nuclear installations. One way is through regime change, which Glick said the U.S. is working on through economic sanctions. The second option is "through Israeli military strikes" against Iran's nuclear installations.  "We may see both [options] ," Glick indicated. In the question period, Glick re-iterated that "We may see military strikes by Israel against Iranian nuclear sites."


Turning to Israel's relations with the Palestinians, Glick noted that "[Mahmoud]Abbas is old and sick and has no clear heir." She added, "We'll see lots of uncertainty when he passes." The Palestinian economy is "in dire straights." Glick favours Israel applying its sovereignty to the Jordan valley and  Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. "This will create certainty," she stated, and she indicated she hopes that Israel will take this important step. Once this is done then Israeli military rule will be replaced by Israeli civil law for the 500,000 Israelis living in these areas. In the question period,Glick noted that it is correct to say that Israel is applying it's sovereignty to these areas, not annexing them.  She noted that the U.S. State Department under Mike Pompeo has rejected a legal opinion that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria were illegal. "There's nothing illegal per se about any of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria," Glick said.


In the question period, Glick was asked to give her thoughts if Joe Biden were to win the upcoming American elections this November. Glick responded if Biden wins it will have a "horrible" impact on U.S. relations with Israel. Glick said that although Biden has said he won't move the U.S. Embassy back to Tel-Aviv, he has hired most of Bernie Sander's advisors to be his advisors.


When asked about Prime Minister Netanyahu's criminal prosecutions, Glick stated that "we need legal reform," since "we have the most active Supreme Court in the world" and  Israel also has "activist prosecutors." She added that Netanyahu "is not likely to get  a fair trial",  and it's "a polluted prosecution." She said the prosecution of Netanyahu will be "a very negative event."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.