At first, the new coronavirus was found on surfaces alive even for days, so we were all urged to wash our hands frequently. With the progress of time and research, it became doubtful if these surface virus particles were infectious at all. In contrast, water droplets from infected longs cab linger in the air and clearly infect. Wearing masks and social distancing, and avoiding crowds became the standard.
How come, with all this acquired knowledge, we still have a raging epidemic? Without blaming anyone personally, we have numerous factors:
1. Despair. A remnant of 2,000 years of persecution, many Jews have deep-seated despair. Often overdone by baseless optimism (otherwise we wouldn’t be here) but when push comes to shove, many people just give up way too early. The social isolation has led many to pandemic tiredness. Being sick of it. Together with skin hunger, the wish to feel touch again.
2. Naive. The blind optimism from the first point can also make trouble. Israelis tend to go by ‘It will all be OK.’ That is a fine battle cry when facing a desperate situation or a nice lullaby for disturbing times. But this faith better comes after evaluating our options–not instead of. Before crossing a street, we figure out what is the safest way. We don’t go happy go lucky.
3. Rebellion. No one tells me what to do. This nonsense in the US is called ‘constitutional freedom’ but in Israel, it’s more the issue of separation between state and religion, or more precisely, between me and religion. No [a]uthority will run my life any longer. Rampant among the secular.
4. Anti-Zionism. Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis who feel that the government doesn’t speak for them and that they certainly are not going to listen to what the State demands. Anti-state nationalism. Only in Israel.
5. Anti-Science. We have them too. People who never properly learned the exact sciences. Many of them: ultra-Orthodox Jews who don’t learn this, and poor teaching to Israeli Arabs (no money for schools), girls (sexist teachers), Mizrachic Jews (racist teachers) going by faith, and Ashkenazic flower-power Jews. The vacuum is quickly filled by quacks and conspiracy theories. They may believe in G^d but not in the doctors He sent them.
6. Sloppy. Israeli culture is one of improvising, the big picture. Precision and accuracy are largely absent here. In such an ad-hoc society, being precise is even a handicap, an inadequacy. But it’s hard to keep a virus at bay if every preventative rule and measurement is ‘about’ done.
7. We the People. The government can only order so much. You can only close places of worship, shopping malls, sports arenas, workplaces, etc. if the public is enough in agreement. We can also call this: We only get the government that we deserve. Very frustrating for medical professionals who see that sound medical prevention is not implemented fully enough.