Ziona Greenwald

The Tyranny of Small Victories

Many are cheering the government’s latest announcement that tourists will finally be allowed back into Israel. At long last, families can be reunited, grandparents can see their grandchildren, special occasions and holidays can be celebrated together. Diaspora Jews and believing Christians will once again return to the Promised Land, breathing life into the myriad sectors of the Israeli economy which had shriveled from lack of access to their core market…

Oh, wait – never mind.

If not cancelled before it even begins due to the latest “variant of concern,” the new plan applies only to the small subset of foreigners who are thrice-vaxxed or newly recovered.  Additionally, tour groups can operate in pods as tightly controlled as a state-sponsored visit to North Korea.  Children are out, as are unvaxxed adults (no matter whether they had two shots, one, or none), those who recovered more than six months ago and have declined (based on overwhelming medical science) to take a jab, and those who were never, to their knowledge, infected with the virus.  No number of tests or quarantines will cut it.  The door remains firmly shut.

On another unconscionable front, Israeli schoolchildren who, for the periods over the last two years when schools have officially been open, have been subjected to a revolving door of punishing bidudim, now have a get-out-of-jail card.

Is the senseless quarantining of healthy children finally cancelled once and for all? Kids can finally be restored their mental health, socialize with their peers, and engage in after-school activities without worrying about being thrown into isolation?

Perish the thought. Instead, in certain “colors” of municipalities, those exposed to a classmate who happens to test positive can continue to go to school, provided they submit themselves to daily testing (a week of rapid antigen tests sandwiched by two PCR tests) and run straight home to quarantine every afternoon after school.  But hey, it’s progress, so all hail the powers-that-be.

Globally, in places where on-again, off-again lockdowns are still in the playbook, like in the dystopian nightmare Down Under, citizens cheer each time their freedoms are partially – conditionally – restored to them. Melbournians just celebrated their exit from the most recent (sixth, I think, but one loses count) military-enforced lockdown.  Masks are still required even outdoors, every human activity is limited and monitored, but hey, some freedom is better than none, so go ahead and rejoice.

Throughout the once-free world, including, if one defines the term generously, Israel, totalitarian governance is now not only tolerated but actually embraced by a majority of the masses. Like a mouse scampering after a piece of cheese being constantly shifted just out of reach, they slog on with their heads down, scarfing up whatever crumbs break off along the way.

As a result, carefully measured governmental gestures of emancipation elicit fawning gratitude from the people – while at the same time accomplishing their purpose: masking the continued exercise of illegitimate control.

A positive attitude, giving thanks for what we do have, counting our blessings:  That’s a wonderful way to live… before G-d. To our Creator, we must express gratitude for every day, every breath, every small miracle. With flesh-and-blood leaders who are meant to serve us but have abused their authority and grown intoxicated by the exercise, we must not be so easily bought.

They do not deserve our thanks for every token easement, every basic human right provisionally restored under some convoluted scheme.  Such a response only lowers the bar and enables further encroachment on our lives and liberty under cover of a crisis which they can continue to redefine as long as it suits them – and as long as we acquiesce.

About the Author
Ziona Greenwald, J.D., a contributing editor for The Jewish Press, is a writer and editor and the author of two children's books, Kalman's Big Questions and Tzippi Inside/Out. She lives with her family in Jerusalem.
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