Why is this night different from all other nights?
There’s plenty to discuss on this most unusual Pessach (Passover) – viruses and isolation; blood libels; conspiracy theories; Israeli and American politics; Gaza and hypocrisy.
About those 10 plagues?
Could COVID-19 be the eleventh plague?
My wife and I realised that this year will be the first Pessach Seder† night in more than three decades that we haven’t celebrated with family, although not always the same family – not even always on the same continent.
We are in isolation, a status enforced by law in Israel. Our children; grandchildren; in-laws; nieces; nephews; their spouses and their children are all somewhere else for the festival – forbidden even to visit.
Given our ages and medical condition that is a situation that may continue indefinitely.
The COVID-19 (Corona) pandemic has produced many bat-shit crazy conspiracy theories. None have any real evidence. They range from the dietary choices of the Chinese through accidental or deliberate release from germ warfare laboratories to God’s (Allah if that is the flavour you choose) punishment to 5G ( fifth generation of wireless communications technologies supporting cellular data networks).
Even the Simpsons and novelist Dean Koontz manage to take bows as pop culture Nostradamuses.
Still, no matter which theory the intellectually ‘dense’ chose somehow they manage to fit the Jews ‘poisoning the wells’ into the mix. Though frankly accusing George Soros of being Jewish, other than by accident of DNA, is almost as bizarre as accusing him of operating a weapons lab for profit in Wuhan, China.
The myth of Gaza as the most densely populated.
The myth of Gaza as the mostly densely populated place in the world or even one of the most densely populated has surfaced again, despite being debunked over and over, not least by 5MFI, here, here and here. One wonders if there is an agenda at play here (A variation on Malthus, Palestinian violence can be excused because they are crammed together like rats), or simply incredibly lazy journalism.
The Gazan agenda, however is quite clear, Israel is morally responsible for Hamas choosing to invest in tunnels, weapons and corruption rather than hospitals and ventilators for COVID-19 patients. Therefore UNRWA needs to be refinanced.
It’s not clear how much the Gazans currently want Israeli help. Some apparently believe that Allah will ensure that believing Muslims will not be infected. However the accusations that Israel is stopping needed drugs and medical equipment from reaching Gaza is a straight out lie. Sometimes the claims come from the Palestinians while they are quietly accepting Israeli help.
It does, however, lead to more questions about the narcissistic grandstanding combined with tourism‡ of Israel’s critics.
- Such as why should Gaza’s epidemic problems get so much more media attention than dozens of other places in the world, many of which have are more densely populated and have even less in the way of drugs and medical equipment?
- Israel is short of equipment. Why shouldn’t it be responsible for any other than its own citizens and residents?
- Has any other state (except apparently China, itself largely responsible for infecting the world) helped their friends and allies, let alone declared enemies? The European Union has refused to honour commitments to member states, Italy and Spain. America has forbidden the export of masks to Canada.
- Why does Egypt , which also has a border with Gaza, no responsibility?
- Which country, if any, was properly prepared for the crisis?
A final word about Israeli and American politics.
There is another disease afflicting the world. It is called Trump Derangement Syndrome, closely related to Netanyahu Derangement Syndrome. Political (insert the name of the politician you despise) Derangement Syndromes occur when opponents place everything that happens that they disagree with on the shoulders of that person while refusing to acknowledge anything they may agree with could be credited to him or her. (Remember Margaret Thatcher)?
Donald Trump won’t be able to look back on the handling of this crisis as a high point of his career while Bibi might say it has been, ignoring the performance of his Health Minister, currently infected with COVID-19 after breaching his own departmental guidelines!
However neither is responsible for the outbreak nor has done much worse than other leaders. Pretending otherwise only detracts from real solutions.
CHAG SAMEACH for PESSACH
† The Seder night is the most commonly celebrated of Jewish rituals. It is a ritual (including food, for what Jewish festival doesn’t, one way or another) performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in the Book of Exodus (Shemot) in The Hebrew Bible.
‡ That wonderful phrase was stolen directly from Dexter van Zile
Cartoons by Jewish Press Cartoons- Asher Schwartz @Ashercomics