Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Coronavirus fears? Come to Israel (if it lets you in)!

So far, we’re doing very well. Zero known infected inside Israel.

Reasons? First of all, Israel is surrounded by enemy states. True, Egypt and Jordan signed a peace treaty with us. But their populations, in general, hate us. Most of them have never met a Jew in their life. Which has never stopped most people from hating Jews. To the contrary. If they’d get to know us, they’d have a chance to change their mind. Although, I must say that not too much love and respect is coming from Arabs having daily contact with Israeli Jews. Jew-hatred can be fought (Germany proves) but without fighting it, it tends to flourish.

The most popular truism from the famous and most loved and missed Dutch soccer player Johan Cruijff was: “Every disadvantage has its advantage.” While many Israelis feel kind-of locked up in our State, an advantage is that there is not much trans-border travel except by plane. So, while our neighboring impoverished autocracies are in great danger to become a coronavirus haven, democratic Israel got none so far.

Second, Cruijff is known for: “Every advantage has its disadvantage” too. He was the master of the paradox. Israel’s tourism industry is prominent. We just had a North Korean congregation of the Shincheonji, Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, tour our country by more than 1,500 members, some of whom, turned out, were carrying the virus. Israel expelled them quickly and ordered a couple of hundred Israelis to self-quarantine for two weeks but no infection has been reported. That, I don’t hesitate to call a miracle.

We’re also a small country with many international contacts. So, we hold off, for the time being, on high school students visiting Poland (concentration camps) or Japan (Judo tournament). It’s a pity be we’ll get over it. Better safe than sorry.

Third, Jews (and most Israelis are Jews) are statistically likely to carry something that I’d call the paranoia/naivety complex. Jews easily mistrust the trustworthy but, being tired of being ‘negative’ can also flip to trust even the most dangerous. So, when word came out of China of a highly contagious virus that kills a small percentage of those infected, Israel’s brightest believed it and put their heads together to deal with whatever would transpire quickly. Unlike the World Health Organization (WHO) that seems quite slow in catching the gravity of the situation.

Fourth, many Jews believe that we are clever. That can help when faced with a problem. Not only started many Israelis try to find medication and vaccines against the virus and use robots to prevent infection. We also thought well about the financial side. The WHO was slow to call for travel bans because of the economic impact. Israel understood that letting the virus in would be much more costly (closing whole cities, schools, workplaces) than even halting all tourism for a few months and obligating people possibly infected stay home and help them and their employers with any financial distress. Israelis might be in less economic distress if we’d buy more local produce. While China and many other countries likely will face major financial crises.

Fifth, it’s hard for most Jews to not panic. Our survival has been in jeopardy for millennia. Now that we’re finally relatively safe, old panic and despair surface easily. This is a disadvantage. But it’s not so bad actually. This could come from giving everyone a possibility to call to get reliable information. This is also important now dictatorships have been found to spread conspiracy theories based on nothing, to sow panic in democratic nations. Our PM now shows how to stay calm and safe. He refuses to shake hands. He’s right. Rub elbows or embrace but why let the virus network from hand to hand? Not that the chance of getting it on your skin right now is likely, but let’s practice while the risk is still low.

Sixth, old nonsense stays around. A highly educated nut now claims that ultra-Orthodox Jews are spreading this virus — those dirty Jews. No one believes him. (Jew-hatred sounds alike from whom-ever it comes.) Jews are not so naive that we would believe what dictatorships say.

Seventh, we just might be lucky. If this virus is as seasonal as its sister influenza, it might taper off before it gets a foothold here, G^d willing.

Israel has never been safer. Though, we must admit that this virus is not as deadly as popular myth has it. Watching out when crossing the street and buckling up in traffic will save more lives than all viruses, rockets, and knife-wielding terrorists together endanger. (The latter two also because of our excellent police force, soldiers, and military knowhow.)

Be safe, be here. (And wash your hands before touching your face.)

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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