Every expert is now talking about an expected second wave of the coronavirus as most of us ease slowly out of the current crisis.
Unlike the ocean tides, there is no certainty that this will actually occur and if it does how serious it is likely to be. Indications are that this virus having embedded itself will mutate and like the seasonal influenza epidemics come back to haunt us on a regular basis as we head into successive winter seasons. That being the case, therefore, the race is now underway to produce some sort of a vaccine as well as developing more effective methods of treating patients who will be stricken with this latest plague.
The first wave demonstrated how woefully unprepared many countries were as hospitals and medical staff were inundated and vital protective gear was in desperately short supply. At the same time tardy action to quarantine, isolate and restrict travel and social interaction contributed to massive spread which soon resulted in multiplying fatalities. Although Sweden is held up as a shining example of keeping the economy going and allowing life to continue unfettered by restrictions it now transpires that the mortality rate there among older Swedes is very high. Societies like Israel would never allow the elderly to be sacrificed so casually even though it might mean less unemployment and social disruption. Meanwhile in those nations where national leadership has been pathetically weak and dysfunctional policies have been the order of the day the virus has galloped away causing a swathe through large communities.
In Israel as well as the UK, USA, parts of Europe and elsewhere Charedi Jews have died and been infected out of all proportions to their number in the general society. There are various explanations for this ranging from close communal interaction, crowded housing conditions, lack of access to warnings and updates (via internet and smart technology) and also, unfortunately, a far too slow reaction by religious leaders. In addition, a hard core who revel in defying any sort of instruction from secular authorities, whether they be political or medical, continued to congregate in large groups, totally oblivious to the dangers to themselves and others.
Hopefully, now that the devastation and human tragedies caused can be clearly, seen when the second wave strikes the lessons of this round will have been learnt and adequate precautions taken. Next time there cannot be any lame excuses because we now know what to expect.
Coronavirus aside this is an opportune time to discuss other waves which have in particular affected Jews in the past and which current prophets of doom are warning will hit us in the near future. There are numerous occasions in our recent past when self-appointed experts, so called friends and former politicians have issued chilling predictions of devastating political tsunamis if we carried out certain actions.
I have selected some of these events which in my opinion demonstrate just how wrong, muddle headed and plain dangerous these wave predictions were and how fortunate it was that at the time we had the chutzpah to ignore the false admonitions.
- Don’t confront the Mosley black shirts in pre-war Britain.
- Don’t upset the German Nazi regime by protesting too loudly.
- Don’t fight back – the favourite advice of appeasers.
- Don’t declare Jewish independence in 1948.
- Don’t declare Jerusalem the Capital.
- Don’t stay on the Golan.
- Don’t pre-empt the 1967 genocidal plans of Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
- Don’t reclaim Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
- Don’t upset the UN by exposing the lies of the PA, PLO etc.
- Don’t upset the EU by asserting our right to protect our citizens.
- Don’t agree to shifting embassies to Jerusalem.
- Don’t upset Abbas and instead maintain the fiction that he is a peace partner.
- Don’t build homes for Jews.
- Don’t bomb the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear reactors.
This list is by no means exhaustive but it does hopefully give an inkling of the sort of “advices” we have been subjected to over the years. Who were and are the people admonishing us and why is it relevant at this particular point in time?
A common thread which runs through all these “warnings” is the fear of devastating repercussions following their implementation. Pre-war fear of waves of antisemitism if we refused to keep a low profile and fought back and predictions of a wave of international disapproval if we dared to assert our independence or protect ourselves were all designed to intimidate. That is exactly the same tactic employed currently as we hopefully prepare to reclaim sovereignty in parts of our country which until 1967 was held hostage to illegal Jordanian occupation. Neither David Ben Gurion nor Menachem Begin was swayed by doomsday forecasts from doing what was right at the time. If we had listened to all these purveyors of disaster and refused to act in our own best interests it is highly likely we would not be around today to tell the tale. As it is we are still suffering from the consequences of those politicians who handed over the keys of the Temple Mount to Arab leaders which is why Jews are forbidden to pray there and the PA denies we have any connection to the holiest site of Judaism. Likewise, those who sold us a tainted bill of goods in the form of Oslo which rescued Arafat and his gang from exile and inaugurated intifadas of murder and terror remind us that appeasing the international community is always detrimental to our health and safety.
Nobel Peace Prizes and televised ceremonies at the White House are a poor substitute for standing up for our rights.
Criticizing the policies of Israeli Governments is, of course, a legitimate occupation and is indulged in most vociferously within Israel itself. The problem, however, is that frequently and particularly these days the lines between ideological debates and outright prejudices are being crossed with increasing fervour. Foreign-funded groups now join forces with all manner of local and overseas extremist elements in order to delegitimize, warn, threaten, sanction and spread disinformation.
The bottom line which is peddled is that if we persist in asserting our rights there will be waves of anger. Thus angering Abbas and terror groups or angering the EU and the UN will cause the sky to fall on our heads.
This has always been the message we received from Jew-haters of previous generations and receive from Israel haters today. If we would have listened to them we wouldn’t have survived two thousand years of exile and we certainly would not have lived to see the resurrection of our national home in our lifetime.
Bear this in mind as we navigate stormy waters in the days, weeks and years ahead.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.