Chain migration, ghettoes and COVID-19

First, a little about my interest in migration, ‘chains’ and in a major cause of the current pandemic, ‘ghettoes’.

I was the first of my large South African family to decide, in 1953, to migrate to Australia. I came after completing my training. Sixty years later, almost 100 of my family have arrived.

We settled in suburbs with shuls and Jewish day schools. Mostly professionals or in commerce, we chose to live in the more affluent suburbs. By no stretch of the imagination could they be called ‘ghettoes’.

Migration is usually a chain. Once the first arrivals spread the word about the ‘goldene medina’, others follow – not simply to the country, but to the suburbs where the first arrivals have settled. A common mammaloshen encourages this trend, so that parts of a city become known, for example, as Chinese, Italian or Arabic areas.

Christian denomination, especially where the early arrivals have established places of worship, plays a role. The more different the new arrivals are from the local citizenry, the more they will tend to live in church-convenient suburbs.

Nowhere is this more noticeable than amongst Jews and Muslims.

Is it any coincidence that the highest rate of Covid-19 infection in England is amongst ultra-orthodox Jews, closely followed by orthodox Muslims? Certain ultra-orthodox ‘ghettoes’ in New York and Jerusalem are experiencing the same tragedy.

It’s not just religion. The centre of the European outbreak was Milan, host to thousands of Chinese workers from Wuhan, living in ghetto equivalents. With a number of daily flights between the two cities, northern Italy suffered catastrophically from the virus.

Regrettably, political correctness hushes up facts. Of course, as Bret Stephens has written, “Excuses for hating Jews are surely one of the world’s inexhaustible resources”, and so the western and Islamic extremists blame us for the pandemic.

But that inevitable response to whatever goes wrong in the world should not blind us to the scientific fact that a vast number of our ultra-orthodox co-religionists are a menace to the health of their fellow-citizens, and, with air travel, to people elsewhere.

About the Author
Retired medical practitioner, Dr Peter Chester Arnold OAM, fled 1960s apartheid South Africa for Australia. He has since graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and has been a professional editor for more than 30 years on politics, sociology, medicine, history and Holocaust studies.