Israeli Defense Minister Recommends Scoring Individuals Based on Likelihood of Having CoronaVirus, Blockading Palestinian, Ultra Orthodox to Protect Israeli Jews
NOTE: I have compiled here the most comprehensive coverage of Israel’s response to the Coronavirus epidemic in terms of cyber-tools being used and their impact on human rights. A full list of my related posts is here. Please read and disseminate on social media platforms.
Israel’s interim defense minister, Naftali Bennett, has released a ministry plan for fighting Covid-19. Among its recommendations is one that offers yet another alarming violation of individual rights. The technology he’s promoting would develop a scorecard for every citizen and rate their likelihood of having or transmitting Coronavirus on a 1-10 scale. Bennett claims that the surge in the number of victims and hospitalizations has rendered it impossible to do proper investigation of the chain of transmission in order to detect who was in proximity to the victim and isolate them as well. He urges the adoption of a cyber tool created by the IDF which would pour all relevant data compiled by the ministry of health and Shabak (its massive database is called “The Tool“) into a database. The computer model would then assign a 1-10 score to each individual profiled. The score would indicate in real-time, moment-by-moment, the likelihood that s/he was infected. Those on the highest end of the spectrum would be “invited” for testing.
This, of course, is one of the cruxes of the process. What does an “invitation” mean? Is it mandatory? Advisory? What will the State do if the individual ignores or rejects the invitation? How will anyone measure the efficacy of this method? What would indicate success or failure? For example, if you compel 200,000 citizens to take a Coronavirus test and only 10 have the illness, is that benefit worth the burden placed on the rest of those caught up in the dragnet? Will force be used to compel compliance? Arrest? Fines? Forced quarantine? Lest you think these are academic questions–given Israel’s history of dismissal of such concerns in forming security and social policy, they are extremely relevant.
Unsurprisingly, Bennett recommends that the defense ministry develop this new technology in concert with the “civilian sector” so that it may be rolled out for use in the general population. Which company is prepared to partner with the IDF? If you guessed NSO Group, you win the company’s new cyberwar board game, “Pegasus!” Of course, a company which has flagrantly violated human rights around the world with its dirty-ops technology would want “in” on this new, highly lucrative product.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, NSO already has a database model it is testing in a dozen countries designed to input massive amounts of information to do something similar: to detect who is infected in a civilian population based on an artificial intelligence prediction model. This presumably is either a prototype that could add the new IDF program to its capability. Or the new product may already have this capability built into it.
There are a few ‘minor’ roadblocks to implementing the new IDF cyber tool. It would have to be approved by the relevant legal authorities. Due consideration would have to be given to implementing privacy protections. But given that this is a potentially lucrative security export product, that shouldn’t be a problem. Israel is never one to let legal niceties or petty issues like the right to privacy stand in the way of exporting human rights abuse around the world. The ease with which NSO exports Pegasus to repressive regimes is a case in point.
On a related subject, as an indication of the profound racism infecting Israel’s approach to the pandemic, Bennett has urged that a total lockdown be implemented on both Haredi and Palestinian communities in Israel. He even has the chutzpah to claim there are three Covid-19 “states” within Israel: secular Jews, Haredim and Palestinians. Because, he claims, the illness is raging out of control in two of these communities, they must be shut down in order to protect the “third state.” Congratulations are in order to the defense minister: he’s managed not only to espouse Arabophobia, but anti-Semitism in singling these populations for closure.
It is true that the Haredim have rather flagrantly violated quarantine provisions in performing religious prayer and rituals like weddings and funerals. But the reason for this is that the government has permitted the Haredim to live segregated from the rest of society. It has not compelled their educational system to integrate secular subjects and knowledge into school curriculum. Nor forced them to serve in the army or join the job market. It has permitted a group living within the State which rejects it wholly. It has not attempted to integrate Haredim into the wider society. And in this particular case, the authorities have not done enough to educate the Haredi spiritual leadership about how to protect their flock from this plague.
Thus the responsibility for the outbreak in the ultra-Orthodox community is not only an internal issue, but one of the failures of the secular government, including Bennett himself as a senior minister. Instead of blaming the victims for their own illness, he should be offering aid, comfort and public health education. Stigmatizing vulnerable populations as he has done is precisely the wrong approach during such a crisis.
As for Bennett’s racist attitude toward Israeli Palestinians, they too have not been integrated sufficiently into Israeli society. But not, as with the Haredim, of their own choosing. They, in fact, have been deliberately excluded from major sectors of the economy, education and health system. Of course, the epidemic will be raging in their towns: they are the poorest, the most likely to have little or no medical facilities or treatment available. They are the least likely to be socially connected to the wider country, and so less aware of protective social measures to take to protect themselves. Instead of addressing these fundamental failures of Israeli society, Bennett again blames the victim in a callous display of racism.
8 thoughts on “Israeli Defense Minister Recommends Scoring Individuals Based on Likelihood of Having CoronaVirus, Blockading Palestinian, Ultra Orthodox to Protect Israeli Jews – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
Given that’s it’s Naftali Bennett proposing this, shouldn’t there be something in there about just shooting the subjects if they’re Palestinian?
After all, if memory serves, there’s nothing wrong with doing that.
Do you know anything about epidemiology? statistical sampling? the importance of testing? If anything, Bennet is the only one in the government with a clear plan of action regarding covid-19.
@ DH: I’m sure I know as much about these subjects as you, if not more. Nor does AI prediction have anything to do with them. As for Bennett: he’s no expert on them either.
But one thing I am sure of, The Tool and this scoring method of identifying Israelis based on an artificial construct will kill Israeli democracy even more than it’s already been killed by 20 years of Likudism and Bibism.
“But not, as with the Haredim, of their own choosing” – do you know anything about Haredim? Whose choosing is it if not their own? Who forces them into poverty by studying Torah instead of go out to earn.
Seems like blackwashing Israel is your favorite sport and you will do it without regard to the subject. The government begged the Haredim leaders to instruct their communities to stay in but they chose to ignore it. Even now, what they care about is Mikvah for the women.
Your crocodile tears over privacy when it come on the expense of human life is disturbing. If these measures remain after the epidemic passes you have every right to complaint but meanwhile, your willingness to not use effective measures to save life is extremely disturbing.
@ carmel yativ: Oh woe is poor Israel to be afflicted with Haredim such as these. Enough with the crocodile tears. We have hundreds of thousands of Haredim living in this country. Though they maintain similar types of separation from society as they do in Israel, those living here seem to be able to earn a living and participate in society in far more integrated fashion than in Israel. Not to mention that while there have been some isolated instances here of Haredim ignoring quarantine, by and large the community is adhering to secular government directives. THere are no mass funerals, prayer services are broken up by police, etc.
If that is not happening in Israel it is not just the fault of the Haredim themselves. It is the fault of the government which has failed them, failed to integrate them into society, allowed them to run roughshod over secular government authority. You have only yourselves to blame for this.
You may not engage in outrageous unfounded insults here. Do this again and you will be banned.
Only a Judeo-fascist who has no value for democracy could associate the demand for respecting individual rights with “crocodile tears.” I am deeply offended by this cavalier attitude toward basic values of democratic society. As for valuing human life–individual liberty and privacy are at the heart of respect for human life. WHile Bennett’s algorithm has nothing to do with human life and there is no evidence that it would save a single life.
Do not post again in this thread.
i haven’t a racist bone in my body, but if benett can get the haredim split, heck i wont have to worry about going to the wall without being spat on or mugged by beggars selling “prayers” on the wall. needed a laff. being locked up is no fun,
you keep repeating yourself, Israel is corrupt thru and thru both mind and soul. not a single politician is able to formulate a proper phrase without having partSS of it being faulty in one way or another.
few israelis are able to fathom the extent that they are in jail without knowing it or their consent.
where do the NSO et al geniuses get their experience and expertise and ideas from, obviously, from the Shabak et al wardens OF THE TRUTH.
Benett is just a puppet out of his depth in any place beyond pizzahut, and he is spewing idiocies just to be on the front page . Israel isn’t worth a dime since bibi succeeded in breaking israeli politics and politicianSSSSSSS.
so whatever is done and said is ONLY and SOLELY for the race to the bottom line keep the israeli brains busy with toys while the rich get richer and the crooks stay as leaders.
the worst trolls have become our leaders, what do you expect
“We have hundreds of thousands of Haredim living in this country. Though they maintain similar types of separation from society as they do in Israel, those living here seem to be able to earn a living and participate in society in far more integrated fashion than in Israel. Not to mention that while there have been some isolated instances here of Haredim ignoring quarantine, by and large the community is adhering to secular government directives. There are no mass funerals, prayer services are broken up by police, etc.
If that is not happening in Israel it is not just the fault of the Haredim themselves. It is the fault of the government which has failed them, failed to integrate them into society, allowed them to run roughshod over secular government authority. You have only yourselves to blame for this.”
I would argue “yes and no” to the Heredim fitting into the United States – they stay among themselves, but if you were a reader of the sadly-defunct “Failed Messiah” blog of Scott (Shmarya) Rosenblum, you know there was a load of crazy schemes going on within the Lubavitch-Chabad sector of Ultra-Orthodoxy, things that if I listed them, I would be accused of antisemitism by the Israeli denizens of these threads. Since Rosenblum was forced (!) to sell his site, other ex-Orthodox or anonymous Orthodox members are running blogs like Lost Messiah (https://lostmessiahdotcom.wordpress.com), Chefraud-Depravitch (another wordpress site), and preserve-ramapo.com – there’s more drama then you get in a season of potboiler ABC-TV shows like “How to Get Away With Murder” on each of these sites. All that mentioned – none of it bears any weight on the greater American society because of how huge the United States is compared to Israel, plus the benefits of being a secular state with a multicultural society.
@ strelnikov2: It’s Shmaryahu Rosenberg, not Rosenblum. And I have been in contact with both him and Lost Messiah. Though I find Rosenberg impossible to deal with, the author of Los Messiah is a genuinely lovely person. She herself comes out of the Haredi community. So it’s hard to make sweeping judgments about all of Haredi Judaism. But certainly there are noxious elements both personally and systemically in ultra Orthodoxy. I’ve written about some of these escapades here.
It is true that Kiryas Joel and communities like it pose great problems to surrounding non-Jewish communities. They resist integration tooth and claw. But there is much more pushback here against some of their worst practices when they impact the outside world. And there is support for those who leave these communities, as hard as that may be. I don’t think any of that happens in Israel.
And as you say, I think the negative impact in Israel is greater than here since our secular multicultural society is so much more robust than Israel’s.