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

Seven current COVID-19 risk factors in Israel

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.

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, lehavdil 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, LGBTQIA, 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 quite 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 500th 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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