My last column, about Israel’s perils of September, brought forth several comments about similarities elsewhere.
No surprise, except for a friend’s note about the correspondence between disease and populism, often distorted with wild claims as to who was really responsible, and about cures for the illness.
Most prominent is Donald Trump, with his support for the police despite numerous cases of their racism, as well as his allegations of leftists, anarchists and other sources of imagined or exaggerated evils.
His is a complex figure. He’s widely opposed, and Joe Biden appears to be leading in the polls. Yet Orthodox Jews as well as Evangelicals support him, reflecting several moves in support of Israel. Other Jews are prominent in opposition to him.
Recently he’s engineered an Israeli normalization with Serbia and Kosovo, which’ll be the first Muslim country to have its Embassy in Jerusalem.
Trump has used his powers to affect the post office and its delivery of mail ballots, likely to be decisive in this Caronavirus-influenced election. He’s also pooh poohed efforts to enforce the wearing of masks. He’s promoted unsubstantiated cures for Coronavirys, despite the dangers involved. And it’s widely speculated that he’ll refuse to accept an election defeat– with great wonders of what will come as a result.
More recently he’s been damned for calling soldiers killed in wars as loosers or suckers.
And his push for a vaccine before Election Day has led several drug companies to pledge not to release anything before substantial tests of its safety and effectiveness
He’s attacked anti-racism training by security forces, calling it anti-American.
Despite contrary warnings from election officials, he’s urged people to vote twice– once by mail and once in person.
The disease has proven to be strong and elusive. Countries have moved between lows and again to highs in infections. People tire of the controls, and put a premium on their economic and personal freedom above adhering to rules from health officials about wearing masks, distancing, and staying out of crowded places.
There’s also support for the right wing politics of Donald Trump and others elsewhere.
Nate Silver recognizes Biden’s lead in the polls, but he also sees indications that keep him from calling the presidential contest a Biden victory.
It’s likely to be a problematic winter. We’ve heard experts who predict that there won’t be a vaccine for some time. With schools and universities opening there are already signs of expanded infections.
Several countries have experienced repeated upticks in the number of new cases, Germany is prominent in having right wing demonstrations, and an increased fear of anti-Semitism. There are also sharp increases of infections in France and Spain, after earlier drops.
The United States is leading the world in total cases and deaths. Several countries have exceeded the US in the number of recent cases in relation to population, including Israel, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain. China, where it all began, is not among the national leaders, in either total cases or in relation to population. Thanks, perhaps, to its success in regimenting a population during the outbreak.
Israel’s daily count of new cases has spiked beyond 3,000. It got to first place in the world on recent infections per total population. And surpassed 1,000 deaths.
Where are we heading?
We’re waiting for a vaccine, but there are some experts who see the disease as evolving beyond what a shot can prevent. It’s worldwide, and serious. Especially for populations that are suspicious of government, and continue to congregate despite the urgings. Israel’s own problems are partly religious, with the ultra-Orthodox prominent in infections, and having politicians who support demands for visits to Uman and prayers in the synagogue. Ukraine has had more infections than Israel, and both countries would suffer if Rosh Hashanah visits to Uman were permitted.
Current commotion focuses on one of the leading ultra-Orthodox Rabbis, beyond ancient, who urged Yeshiva students to avoid being tested for the virus, in order to keep at their studies.
This has brought forth a scathing set of comments from the Coronavirus Czar, as well as reports of a spike in cases among Yeshiva students since the beginning of their school year a few weeks ago. The Czar is also criticizing the Arab population, for continuing to hold weddings with a thousand guests of more, in close contact within closed halls.
Bibi and his supporters have scorned the protesters, calling them all leftists and anarchists. They criticize the police for protecting the protesters, who they see as festering infections like those of weddings and other religious gatherings.Thus Bibi joins Trump and right wing Europeans, who threaten the stability of democracies rent by disease, economic problems, and heightened animosity between those currently in charge and those trying to topple them.
Our Coronavirus Czar has identified a number of locales that are hot spots, and should be treated accordingly. With closures of shops except for those providing food and medicine, keeping most residents within 500 meters of home, and limited travel to other places.
Yet some local leaders object, and say they will not cooperate with the closures. Such comments from the ultra-Orthodox led the Prime Minister to reduce the nature of the closures significantly, and apparently promising that the government would not close synagogues on the Holy Days.
Yet there’s still talk of a national lockdown to cover the Holy Days.
Lots of confusion and distrust of government. Changes of decisions at last minute, under political pressure. Avigdor Lieberman has urged people to ignore the government, and to rely on their own common sense. Then lots of politicians speaking against him, yet still without clear policy as to what should be done.
September will be difficult, given the religious holidays. And then the winter, with flu joining Coronavirus as problems for us all.
Republished from San Diego Jewish World