Cherryl Smith

Corona-19 and Anti-Israel Ideology

Israeli doctors and nurses, like medical professionals worldwide, are working round the clock in extremely difficult conditions. The country is almost completely locked down.

Yet those who subscribe to a relentless anti-Israel ideology find ways to use the current crisis to distort and denigrate real life in Israel and to obscure Israel’s humanitarian contributions. At its most extreme, it is an ideology in which Israel is always at fault.

The state-run news services of both Iran and Turkey simply blame Zionists for the outbreak of Corona-19.

Dozens of posts blaming Jews and Israel for the Corona virus are showing up on social media. The Anti-Defamation League has been tracking this commentary. Some twitter comments have been especially grotesque.

At California State University, Stanislaus, a political science professor claimed Israel would have “different medical treatments for Jews and non-Jews” and would “put non-Jews in prisons.” This slander outraged many people who responded that the professor clearly knows nothing about Israel, its national heath system, and the huge number of Arab-Israeli doctors and nurses. He fired back calling the responders “Zionist hoodlums” and writing, “looks like I activated the Israel lobby.”

The University of Maryland branch of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) found itself facing a campus-hosted event called “Corona and Countering the Occupation.” As the SSI noted, the “event doesn’t have any logic to it and is hijacking an international epidemic.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Israeli scientists are testing possible vaccines and working to develop cures. Israel sent protective equipment and hundreds of thousands of masks to China. Quarantined patients around the world have been able to ask questions of Israeli doctors who are volunteering to give their support using technology based in Tel Aviv. An Israeli company is donating millions of doses of a drug that scientists say may halt the virus and that US health officials are fast-tracking for public use.

And in exact reversal of anti-Israel dogma, the Jewish state is working closely with the Palestinian Authority. Israel has been delivering medical gear and testing equipment to the PA and providing special joint trainings for Israeli and Palestinian medical personnel.

In spite of very recent rocket attacks on civilians in Israel, the Israelis have given hundreds of test kits to Hamas-run Gaza. In fact, a big part of Israel’s emergency measures are “focused on the Palestinians.” According to Col. Sharon Biton who heads the government activities in the West Bank:

“Our efforts against this virus stem not merely from a legal duty, but from a humanitarian and moral one, with an understanding that this pathogen does not care about national borders.”

Such efforts are not forthcoming from any other Middle Eastern country.

With his decades of experience as a journalist in both Israel and the Palestinian areas, Khaled Abu Toameh assesses the situation clearly:

Egypt, for its part, long ago abandoned the Palestinians by essentially sealing its border with the Gaza Strip. The Lebanese, Egyptians and most Arabs perceive the Palestinians as Israel’s problem. When the current virus crisis has passed, it is to be hoped that the Palestinians will remember that one country alone came to their rescue: Israel.”

About the Author
Cherryl Smith's new book is FRAMING ISRAEL, A Personal Tour of Media and Campus Rhetoric. She is professor emerita of rhetoric and composition at California State University, Sacramento. She has lived in Tel Aviv since 2016.
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