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Israel sends best wishes to Trump amid regional taunts

Israeli officials were among the first to wish United States President Donald Trump and wife a swift recovery as soon as news broke that both had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Like millions of Israelis, Sara and I are thinking of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump and wish our friends a full and speedy recovery,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on his official Twitter account.

Large billboards bearing images and messages calling for God’s blessing of the presidential couple appeared almost immediately on streets of Tel Aviv.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also sent well wishes on Twitter, writing, “On behalf of the Israeli people, our thoughts and wishes are with President Trump and the First Lady for a refuah shlema, a swift and full recovery.”

Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein also issued regards in a statement reading, “I wish a speedy recovery to President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump from COVID-19.”

Knesset Member Sharren Haskel, of the Prime Minister’s Likud party, also sent best wishes, expressing hope that “the only negative thing he will see in the future are the results of his COVID-19 tests.”

During the “Birkat HaCohenim” priestly blessing performed each Sukkot at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall recited a special prayer for the U.S. President’s “recovery and success.” “May He who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon send healing to Donald John, son of Fred, for that we are praying for him. May the Holy Blessed One overflow with compassion for him, restore him, cure him, strengthen him, enliven him and will send him full recovery from heaven, to his entire body among the other patients of Israel, a recovery of the soul and of the body. Amen,” Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch prayed.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who attended the festive ceremony, stressed the importance of prayer during these terrible times. “If there’s one thing you can’t do too much of right now is to pray, to pray for the health of the entire world,” he said, before adding that he would use “the privilege to pray at this holy place to pray for people that I know very well who are inflicted with corona, and people who I don’t know at all who are inflicted by corona – and I wish all of them a complete and speedy recovery.”

White House and medical officials report that President Trump is feeling well and that they are optimistic over his recovery from the potentially fatal illness.

Other world leaders to have expressed wishes of good will include Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to a Kremlin statement, Putin addressed Trump saying, “I am sure that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus.”  Many among the Russian public reportedly wished Trump well while others responded with derisive comments or jokes on social media. Several used the occasion to spotlight an antidote in Russia – the first country to license its vaccine for public use, and alongside China has been deploying the shots before full efficacy trials are complete. “Let’s treat him with the Russian vaccine and medication,” wrote Alex Korolyov on the social media platform VK. “Then he will be our Trump.”

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized in intensive care last spring after becoming infected himself, tweeted, “My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady. Hope they both have a speedy recovery from coronavirus.”

Germany‘s government spokesman Steffen Siebert tweeted on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel, “I send all my best wishes to Donald and Melania Trump. I hope that you will get over the #corona infection and will soon be completely healthy again.”

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also took to Twitter, wishing “a speedy recovery to U.S. President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19. I sincerely hope that they will overcome the quarantine period without problems and regain their health as soon as possible.”

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi posted his own message on Facebook, expressing “My sincere wishes for a speedy recovery to US President Donald Trump and the First Lady, and for them to progress beyond this stage quickly in order to return to full health and wellness and to continue to lead with the valuable efforts of the United States on combating this virus worldwide, for the benefit of all humanity. May God protect our people, and all peoples of the world.”

Others who issued their hopes for the Trumps speedy recovery included Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and European Council President Charles Michel.

There was mixed reaction in Iran, which just enacted its own tight lockdown to stem a recent surge of COVID-19. Schools, libraries, mosques, museums, theaters, gyms, cafes, hair salons and other public institutions in the capital were closed for a week this past Saturday after the head of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce Alireza Zali called for the shutdown to help contain the epidemic. During an interview on state television, Zali warned there would be a three- to five-fold increase in cases if the virus continues to spread at the current rate with a 1.5% – 3% fatality rate. 26,957 Iranians have died of the disease so far.

Headlines at newsstands in the Iranian capital showed Trump wearing a face mask en route to being hospitalized at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Although there has been no official Iranian state reaction to the development, some newspapers in the Islamic Republic published caricatures of Trump.

Tehran residents voiced mixed reactions to Trump’s diagnosis while speaking to Reuters. “Everyone will have their own view on this, but overall I think they (Iranians) will be happy to have heard this news,” said Mr. Bahari. Amir Jianee said, “Trump has taken some very tough steps against Iran and the situation (in Iran) is very bad, right now. But if you look at this situation as a human being – then the opinion is 50-50: some will be happy to hear the news and others not. Probably, most of society in Iran is happy but if you look at it in a sensible way, it’s upsetting.” A woman who preferred not being named said, “some people will be making fun of this news in the same way that they deal with other (bad) news, like the Rial (Iranian currency) rate against the U.S. dollar and the state of the country’s economy. They’ll treat this in the same way by making jokes and laughing at it.”

Iranian political analyst Dr. Gholamzadeh was non-combative, simply saying that Trump became “sick just like many other people, millions of people across the world” because of his failure to follow health protocols.

In Iran’s patron state Syria, artist Asmar painted a colorful mural in Idlib of the U.S. leader arm-wrestling the coronavirus. “Our hope is that the world will be well, we hope this pandemic will disappear from all corners of the earth, and for peace and health to spread around the world,” he said, before adding, “We hope that Trump will get better, and for his conscience to also awaken – so he can put an end to the crimes of (Syrian President) Bashar Al-Assad.”