Co-Existence in the Time of Covid

Its unfortunate and indeed disturbing that so many of our community have been influenced and, in many cases, seduced by Donald Trump these past three years and more.

One explanation being that they are only measuring Trump by his “support” for Israel and know very little of the damage that he has caused within the U.S. and further afield. Damage more so highlighted by the Covid19 pandemic and his management of the crisis.

The US infection rate is by far the highest in the world as is that death toll. Other than a mere handful of countries most countries leadership have come under criticism resulting from the virus management and an easy target for those not in power. However, Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis has been laid bare for months from his denial of what science has advised to medication that he recommends which borders on the absurd.

But it’s not only the pandemic that has exposed such shortfalls in the leadership style of this self-centered egoist. No administration before him has had the staff turnover that we have seen these past years. Also, the manner in which personnel has changed which is a mirror of his reality TV show – “you’re fired”. Not only is it demeaning to people who supported him with loyalty and dedication but certainly demeaning him with such undignified public behavior.

Aside for the awful domestic turmoil and hatred he has caused, what is worrying is that so many of our community both here and abroad see him as the savior of Israel, the silver bullet that will change everything and that he has Israel’s back. There is of course the exception in the US itself where so many Jews oppose him and not only due to their long-standing affiliation to the Democratic party but seeing through his bigoted methods.

Jews outside of the US bask in the glory of his moving the embassy to Jerusalem, a somewhat easy task given the others before him had managed to get the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital passed through congress. This was probably the easiest of his many promised to fulfill. But one can give him credit for helping this happen.

While he is claiming all the credit for the recent UAE and now the Bahrain deal, where he might have played a small part, its common knowledge that there was a very favorable breeze blowing in from the dessert and communication with a number of Arab states have been on the go for some time. This is also payback by Netanyahu for the “warm” friendship that Trump has extended, boosting his standing here and in Israel. Let’s not forget Trump’s “deal of the century” Something so ill-conceived that it would never have been acceptable to most in the Arab world and ended up looking like the Bantustan map of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

There are also a number of issues that our community ignores or turns a blind eye to. Whilst I lobby very actively (and fiercely) against the fake news and exaggerated narrative emanating from the Palestinian camp and their supporters and only one side of their account is ever presented there are also two side to our (Israeli) story. The occupation, the brutality of some of our soldiers, the detention of children, as well as detention without trial, and one can expand on this ugly side of our beloved country. While some think is justified – but shouldn’t he know better. Shouldn’t we do better and shouldn’t we react better especially us Jews.

Our critics brand us as a Nazi state and in some respect, they have reason to do so. But on the other side of the coin how should Israel react to terrorism, rockets and mortars, car ramming, incendiary balloons setting agricultural field ablaze and kidnappings? Some say “an eye for an eye” but does this resonate with the moral high ground we claim to have. Israel’s moral compass was widely acclaimed in 1967 and 1973 the IDF was revered as the most moral and ethical army in the world. There was that much publicized thesis by a student at Hebrew University who accused Israeli soldiers of being racists as there had never been a case if a soldier ever raping an Arab woman – “dammed if you do and damned if don’t”

Sadly, we have lost that reputation and both the army and civil society requires much sole searching. Whilst we read almost daily about some terrorist attack on an Israeli civilian we read also of gangs of religious bigots attacking innocent Palestinians. Surely, surely we Jews should do better. Surely, we should know better and not sink to the same level of the street terrorist.

Stand up, defend ourselves and fight back yes certainly but do so with a moral guidance under the rules of combat. Living in Tel Aviv, probably the most liberal and encompassing cities in the country, I witness daily how Jews and Arabs do co-exist when each group respects the other and tolerates each-others diversity. Just see how the Tel Aviv Jews flocked to Arab restaurants in and around Jaffa and see also Arabs beginning to frequent some of the city’s famous eateries.

Human rights abuse, the norm in so many Arab and African (and other) countries hardly ever receive the exposure that Israel invites – and her human rights record being somewhat “mild” compared with others – but shouldn’t we do better and know better. Easy to say when Israel has not known a single day in 72 years of peace and not being constantly on guard, however we should do better!

About the Author
Allan is a member of the South African (SA) Israel Media Team - lobby group that challenges negative reporting about Israel. The SA mainstream press is amongst the most hostile and biased press concerning Israel and supports BDS as is the ANC government of that country. He has been a contributor to combatting the false and sometime fabricated reporting on Israel and has had many letters to the editors published.
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