Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Which danger is greater, to die from COVID-19 or from mental distress?

When one reads: “Health professor: Corona hysteria doing more damage than epidemic,” one needs to pause for a moment. Not for too long but just enough to see what is going on here.

Most professors have an upper-middle-class background, grow up feeling privileged enough to have an opinion about everyone and everything often not inhibited by any lack of knowledge. They also tend to theorize while totally ignoring facts. That may not be the case here, but, while ‘professor’ for most people means ‘smart and knowledgeable,’ for me it means ‘check if s/he knows what s/he’s talking about or is it just arrogant bluff?’

The upset professor is presented as a ‘former director of Israel’s health ministry and member of Knesset.’ The news outlet also calls him a ‘health expert’ and identifies him as ‘Prof. Yoram Lass of Tel Aviv University.’

Let’s google that.

At 75, I don’t think that Professor Lass is still teaching. He also doesn’t seem specialized in epidemiology or social medicine. But he is a politician so he knows how to reach the media. And he was a Member of Knesset for the Labor Party, so, IMHO, by default, he’ll find fault with Netanyahu.

But let’s investigate, point by point, his concerns not on authority but on merit. Is there something to what he is saying? Let’s first look at his arguments. His outcry is covered by two media who never check what their subjects say as they have no knowledge, especially of medical issues.

Now, maybe he is exaggerating to make a point? I don’t think so. I think that he misses the whole point completely. As is easy to follow:

1. If you don’t stop the spread of the COVID-19, 70% of the population will get infected of whom 3.5%-7.5% will die. On top of that, many others will die from the health system collapsing and from suicides.

In Israel, that would mean: over 200,000 death from COVID-19 alone.

2. The flue kills 0.1% of the population and it’s spread cannot be stopped because it’s so contagious. That’s why flu vaccination is so important.

In Israel, that means: over 9,000 death from the flu.

The two figures are not even close. COVID-19 would kill 25 times as many people. Stopping the virus is crucial. Prof. Lass’s solution — I call it the Iranian approach — would get 200,000+ people die needlessly to get us all immune. It’s like: We won’t stop anyone from drowning. If enough people sink, there will be such a pile of corpses that the water becomes shallow.

The professor is right that the “monstrous hysteria over the coronavirus pandemic is doing more damage to the country than the virus itself.” But that is only true if the virus is stopped. If it’s let loose, the virus causes much more damage! You can understand that. Why doesn’t he?

3. The swine-flu pandemic of 2009 may have killed up to 203,000 people worldwide. But if COVID-19 is not stopped, it would kill 70% times 5% times 7.8 billion is 273 million people –1345 times the number if swine-flue deaths, five times the number of deaths from WW II. Not only that.

The flu is so contagious, you can’t stop it even not by shutting down the country. So, to say that in 2009 we did nothing doesn’t compare.

He’s right. That’s not 60% of the human race (4.7 billion). But COVID-19 is the closest thing we have ever seen to the Black Plague for sure.

4. Car and army accidents cost hundreds respectively dozens of dear lives. This too is not compatible with COVID-19. They are unpreventable deaths, apparently, and they do not compare to 220,000 deaths, Heaven forbid.

The professor is right that there is no need for ‘hysteria’ (sorry for the use of such a sexist term) and that that is hurtful. But one can order and obey lockdown and other isolating methods without anyone being frightened, scared to death. That he should have promoted. Calmly, like Netanyahu at his daily press conferences. Professor, who’ s actually ‘hysterical’ here?!

5. His claim that any 1% increase in the unemployment rate leads to a 0.4 percent increase in population mortality. That is far less than having 2-5% die from corona! And, if you don’t stop the coronavirus completely, you can be sure that what follows is a recession followed by a depression.

6. Send healthy people who are not in high-risk groups to work. Really? But younger people are not immune. And even if they survive, 20% would need hospitalization for 2-6 weeks! And might have to be brought back from the brink of death. Any job with such a risk is immoral.

7. He claims that the mass hysteria was driving the politicians and public to expect the worst-case scenarios to happen. He doesn’t understand that one needs to hope for the best but prepare for the worst? We now see how in the US, tens of thousands die because Trump hoped for the best. The professor might be alive because we have Netanyahu and not Trump.

8. Netanyahu was politically done and then came the coronavirus and he became our savior. Thank G^d for that! Just be a good sport.

He suggests that Netanyahu is locking everyone up to stay free (out of jail) himself. Common! He’s now also our Freudian psychiatrist?

9. “It’s impossible to stop a virus by government decree.” Do I need to show how ridiculous that statement is? Obvious, no?

10. He blames social media for the hysteria. He misses that when facing death (in the family), most people get terrified. They don’t need to but they do. At least, they understand the risk. The professor seems not to.

The most important fact against the narrative of the professor is that the vast majority of the Israeli public optimistic is. There is no hysteria.


The second source also quotes Associate Professor Chagai Levine. Let’s google him too. An epidemiologist, public health physician and faculty member of the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Seems qualified.

He said: a full lockdown is not best for Israel. Quarantine is one size fits all. This is not an optimal solution.

But, he seems to talk from two sides of his mouth because a week before that, he is reported to have said: I am very, very concerned that we’ll see a broader contagion in the ultra-Orthodox community and to the broader Israeli population.” He also claimed that severe urgent measures are needed to control the spread.

Sorry, I can’t take someone who waddles like that, seriously.

Israel Should Incarcerate Anyone Who Slanders Its Health Directives

They should call upon rebellious Israelis, those Muslims and Jews who are not great at science or anti-Zionistic, young people who feel invincible, and those non-religious who let no-one tell them what to do, to listen to the government unquestioningly. Israel should have a law to incarcerate immediately, anyone who trashes government health stringencies.

At the moment, people who spread fake news about the pandemic are investigated by the police. But when you are a professor, you can say anything you want? That smacks of class justice! (A class of injustice, so.)

People who call for flaunting health safety orders are more dangerous than anarchists with a machinegun in a full football stadium. They should be locked up until trial and receive a decade behind bars at least.

A question that still bothers me, how can someone intelligent say something so stupid and irresponsible?

It doesn’t seem an ‘honest mistake.’ Maybe he spoke from a wish to be recognized, for fame. Humbleness seems quite sparse among university teachers. A lowering of their salaries could help. Or maybe he spoke from hatred for Netanyahu, which is rampant in some circles. Hatred makes people do and say not only terrible but also really stupid things.

We are so blessed with a politician like Netanyahu! A true leader holds course even against a wall of criticism if it’s the right thing to do!

Compare all the politicians from the right and the left who constantly called for war against Chamas in Gaza and Netanyahu holds it off all the time. They can call him a hawk, a coward, stupid, a thief. A true leader!

It’s Over! (Really? Of Course Not!)

And then we have a new number expert in the press. He claims that in two weeks the epidemic is over. Zero more infected. I discussed his ilk before.

Major Gen. (Res) Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel is the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency and the National Council for Research and Development, the head of the Security Studies Program at Tel Aviv University, and a former MK for the Kadima party. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a BSc in Physics and Mathematics from Tel Aviv University. That’s nice. But look at his motive.

This smart guy speaks up because he’s pained by … not the loss of life or the potential loss of life but by the losses in the economy. “We are paying NIS 100 billion a month because of this closure.” He’s also a politician who knows how to work the media. Reader, beware!

First, he reasons that in every country, unrelated to if they use lockdown, social distancing or nothing, the infection rate increases until week four to six, immediately thereafter comes moderation, until during the eighth week it disappears completely. So, in two weeks we can go back to work.

Did you notice his trick? All magicians use tricks. The art is to spot them.

He claims that in every country we see infections go to zero after 6 weeks, so after eight weeks it will be over. If he were truthful, a real scientist hungry for facts, he would say: Let’s see if after eight weeks the infection rate drops to zero because then we can reopen the country again. But, if it doesn’t drop to zero, he miscalculated somewhere, obviously. As he did.

His whole premise is too absurd to contemplate. It doesn’t matter what you do, it stops after eight weeks anyway? Tell that to the Chinese who had to lockdown Wuhan for 10 weeks.

No, he’s not stupid, not evil, not dishonest. That’s what money does. It makes people blind to any other issue, even death.


Sweden’s politicians have decided to embark on the gamble the above three men propose. No lockdown, no ban on social life. Young people will become immune in massive numbers and thus protect all, including the vulnerable.

Yet, Sweden’s health practitioners warn that a full-scale disaster is around the corner.

Time will tell who’s right.

But I don’t think that the country so far rated the safest twice, Israel, should take a risk and throw all our social and economic sacrifices of the past month to the wind and go back to business as normal.

No experimentation with our population!

Again, how lucky we are with a PM who understands that the cheapest policy is to be tough in the beginning because then you can reopen the country the quickest with the least loss of life. The Dutch saying is: When you spend a little, you’ll spend a lot. This means, putting it positively, when you spend more now, you’ll end up spending the least in total.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates 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. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), 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), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers 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. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. 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 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. 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 an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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