Peta Jones Pellach
Teacher and activist in Jerusalem

The Clever Country

Israel is the Start-up Nation. We have more Nobel Prize winners per head of population than any other country. We are leaders in irrigation, in nano-technology, in electric cars, in cancer research… the list goes on and on.

We are so clever.

We now have another “first” to add to our list of achievements – first in the spread of Covid 19. It is because we are such a brilliant nation.

We are much more clever than our political leaders, who are trying to outsmart us with their politics, so we will outsmart them.

We know that the main way of tracing us and telling us to go into quarantine is through tracing our smart-phones – (of course, much of the technology is Israeli) – so we learn when to leave our phones at home.

We use Waze – another brilliant Israeli invention. It tells us where the police are. So if we want to travel further than the permitted distance, we can avoid police blockades.

We know that participating in demonstrations is our right, and cannot be legislated against in regular law-making, so if we want to go out during a lock-down, we can go to a demonstration. The politicians have tried to stop us with special legislation but we are much too clever to be stopped.

When the government says to stay within a kilometre of our homes, we know we can still bring thousands into the streets. After all, with the density in our cities, just coming out of our homes creates crowds. Brilliantly, we worked out that we can do even better – we can rent homes in the vicinity we want to be and circumvent the intention of the law that way.

We are so clever. If the government says that we can have 20 people outside, we declare our sukkah to be outside space. Anyway, most of our wisdom has come from Torah and we are far smarter if we put study of Torah ahead of obeying the civil law.

We know that police will have a hard time actually breaking up prayers, so we can issue the challenge. Anyway, if they fine us, we will not pay. Who will enforce the fines? And the worst that can happen is they can send us to quarantine hotels – it turns out that for some of us, it is a holiday at the expense of the government.

There is no stopping the brilliance of Israelis.

We have worked out that if our face-masks are on our chins, we can quickly raise them if police approach us. We also know that if we are eating or drinking or smoking, we cannot be asked to wear masks, so it is convenient to have our poison in our hands.

We know that bus-drivers cannot keep track of the numbers of passengers in their buses so we can still board, even if the permitted number has been reached.

We know that no-one can really know if we are going to a permitted work-place. We are allowed to buy food, so if we are challenged, we can always say we are going to a supermarket. We know that our own friends are safe; we can visit them in their homes. What would the government or medical experts know about our own situation?

There is no limit to the brilliance and inventiveness of Israelis.

No wonder we are first in spreading Covid 19!

Kol hakavod! (Well done!)

About the Author
A fifth generation Australian, Peta made Aliyah in 2010. She is Senior Fellow of the Kiverstein Institute, Director of Educational Activities for the Elijah Interfaith Institute, secretary of the Jerusalem Rainbow Group for Jewish-Christian Encounter and Dialogue, a co-founder of Praying Together in Jerusalem and a teacher of Torah and Jewish History. She has visited places as exotic as Indonesia and Iceland to participate in and teach inter-religious dialogue. She also broadcasts weekly on SBS radio (Australia) with the latest news from Israel. Her other passions are Scrabble and Israeli folk-dancing.