Pandemics of the Past and Now the Present

It has been proven that pandemic diseases had their beginnings with the beginning of civilization when men began moving into cities.

Archaeologists have examined the skeletal bones of Egyptian mummies as well as remains from biblical times and have discovered instances when death was caused by a pandemic.

Professors of archaeology in England, United States and Australia have joined together to compile a history of pandemics.

Charlotte Roberts, Professor of Archaeology at Durham University, Gabriel Wrobel, Associate Professor of Archaeology at Michigan State University and Michael Westaway, Australian Research Council at the University of Queensland, are examining the great pandemics of long ago years and centuries.

Among them are the Spanish flu of 1918 which took 51 million deaths worldwide, the Black Death of Bubonic plague in 1342-1363 took millions of deaths across the European continent, and the Justinian plague of 541-542.

Studying causes of the deaths revealed by archaeological examination of remains, they are pursuing a study of the recent Coronavirus plague in hope of finding a common denominator.

The plagues generally occurred in large cities where inhabitants mingled (without masks or quarantine).

As deadly and frightening as a plague must be to all of us, I insist, as I have written in previous articles, that there is a greater plague among us here in Israel.

It is the plague of sinat chinam, willful hatred. Never before in our history as an independent nation have I seen and heard so much rancor among us, mainly among our political leaders.

No prime minister in our history has been such a racist and bigot as is our current prime minister. Many Christians, to deny their hatred of Jews, used to say “my best friend is a Jew”. Netanyahu cannot say “my best friend is an Arab or a Druze”. A hatred not of the Druze but much more of the Muslim Arabs.

If you are not a member of his Likud party or a religious Zionist who does not agree with him, or an Arab member of the Joint List in our Knesset, or a broadcaster or journalist who defames him on radio, television and the press (under the laws of freedom of speech and freedom of the press), he is joined by a foul-mouthed 29 year old son in verbally abusing in bitter (sometimes filthy) language all those who he perceives to be against him or to want him ousted out of government.

Twenty percent of our population are non-Jewish citizens… Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians who mainly feel the bite of the prime minister’s hateful and racist words for which he has no shame.

Even the Nation-State Bill, which he pushed the Knesset members to support, reduced the non-Jewish communities almost, if not already, to the hateful ranks of being second-class citizens in the country in which they were born.

His action, declaring Israel as the State of the Jews, made it horribly clear that Israel was not the State of our minorities. They feel a deep pain which has not been resolved. It has boiled down to the motto “Israel is the State of ALL its citizens” to the racist “Israel is the State for all JEWISH citizens”.

For more than one hundred years, during the beginning of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Language Law was clear and fair. The three recognized official languages of Palestine and then the State of Israel were Hebrew, Arabic and English.

But under Netanyahu’s racist law, Arabic was removed from its one hundred years as one of three legally recognized languages. Separating Arabs from Druze, the latter being loyal and devoted citizens of Israel who serve bravely in our military forces and in our defense, I feel the depth of their pain when their language was removed from being among the legally recognized tongues.

This shameful act was the handiwork of Binyamin Netanyahu. If he lived in America he could have been a supporter of the wicked and vile Ku Klux Klan willing, without hesitation, to hanging a black man with a heavy rope. Not as a participant himself but as a smiling on-looker.

In Israel we do not hang people to destroy their lives. We do it by the power of the tongue. And there is no doubt of many vile tongues in our government.

This is the reason that I staunchly condemn the racism and hatred in our country. It is a plague like the pandemic which destroys values and lives.

At present there is no vaccine against novel coronavirus. But there is a treatment to cleanse mouths of hateful speech.

It is called Mouth-wash !

(dedicated to Avi Nofech, a reader and writer of the TIMES OF ISRAEL, a professor of mathematics, and a Jew who believes in justice & righteousness for all)

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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