# 368 – Politics and Corona by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 368 – Politics and Corona

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409
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Politics and Corona

(Response to P. in Australia)

Interestingly, the peace accord with UAR has received very little publicity in Australia. Neither from the far right papers or the right wing papers or middle of the road verging right papers. This is extraordinary as the very few articles I read seemed to credit Donald Trump with the whole arrangement.

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Now I can understand that any “success” of Trump would be ignored on the left, but I’d have thought that the Murdoch press would have given it headlines???

No doubt Bibi is taking credit, and if deserved so he should, but I rely on you to provide some accurate insights?

P

 

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Hi P –

Oh yes, Bibi is taking as much credit as he can for these diplomatic moves. For right now, this country is in a confused mess: mishandling of the corona crisis, corruption (the cloud of the indictments over Bibi’s head), politics before all else. He desperately needs this positive distraction.

 

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The news about UAR is excellent, but of course, easy to shed darkness on the news. Nothing is that straightforward in the M. East. Similar agreements with other states could be just down the road: Oman, Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi, Sudan, even Qatar (that criminal state). ‘Thx to Trump’, Kosovo and Serbia opening up ties with Israel, Kosovo being another ‘Muslim’ country. Both say they will have embassies in Jerusalem. (So far, Guatamala is the only country outside USA that has done so). Malawi says it will open up office in Jerusalem.

 

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It’s not exactly world-crumbling news. But for the Palestinians, it’s disaster. If they don’t jump on the bandwagon soon, they’ll be left even further behind.

And whether we care for them or not, we don’t need to. We are doing OK without them. Yes, there’s the persistent rockets and petrol bombs being launched at southern Israel from Gaza, and the population in those areas is greatly affected – in addition to virus/shmirus. But we Jews (Israelis) are used to carrying weight on our shoulders.

 

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‘Politics’ is really becoming a dirty word here. The ugly in-fighting over the years has been bad enough. But now, just when we need leadership, co-operation, national unity, we have ugly pettiness. Prof. Ronni Gamzu was selected to be our ‘Corona Czar’, but he is not being allowed to do his job; constant political interference.

 

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I’m going to repeat again my admiration for Gov. Cuomo of NY. Just watched his last press conference on Aug. 24. He so appears to have the virus ‘under control’ that the daily appearances are no longer required. There is no question that his admin. has handled the crisis almost perfectly – by trying so hard to avoid politicisation – if there is such a word. NY may be a Dem. state, but 37% voted Rep. at the last election.

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Say what you will – and Republicans still appear to detest the man – but NY is surviving this crisis with flying colours – especially when compared to most other states. Yes, oh yes, mistakes were made in the beginning – openly admitted – which admin has handled Corona correctly? But it really was the Fed. Gov.’s job to monitor and identify world crises, not the individual states. ‘China Virus’ became a byword, but the virus that killed so many thousands should really have been called the Euro Virus, or perhaps Sino-Euro.

 

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One glaring example of Israel’s admin incompetence – and the inability to learn from others – is the still the lack of testing facilities at Ben Gurion airport. NY has had such facilities at Kennedy and La Guardia for some time.

Our local newspaper store is run by a religious Irishman who lives in Bnei Brak, the ultra-religious neighbourhood of Tel Aviv, just 2-3 km. down the road. (We’re friends; we get on really well, but..). They will enter lockdown any day now. He will not be able to come and open the shop.

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He came out with ‘It’s anti-Semitism’ yesterday, referring to the mass demonstrations that continue every day in parts of the country, including outside the PM’s residence in Jerusalem. Why should they be allowed to congregate, and the religious communities not? I wanted to respond, but held back. It’s arguable how legal and correct the protests are and how much they contribute to society, but it can be seen that most are wearing masks. The religious congregating for prayer, study and weddings – mostly without masks – is stupid. And if the religious think the protesters are wrong, why copy them? 2 wrongs never made a right.

 

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Now Netanyahu is delaying the decision to lock down the ‘red cities’, undoubtedly because of the pressure from the religious parties in his government. They get financial support for their education, for their big families, for their livelihood, paid for from our taxes. They can be wonderful people, but religion and politics must be kept apart. David Ben-Gurion’s glaring mistake, 72 years ago. Some politicians, especially Yair Lapid and Avigdor Lieberman, have made it one of their priorities to separate the two.

 

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The virus is also spreading like wildfire in the Arab communities. Their way of living has not helped, but there is no question that the ’second-class citizen’ treatment is partly to blame. (There are Jewish communities also being neglected, but their culture has helped keep Corona down). We must work harder to integrate the Israeli Arabs into society. There are so many obvious benefits from doing so, with the urgency of the virus coming now to the fore.

 

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I want to emphasise at this point the danger of generalisation. In the case of the Arabs, there are many who have integrated wonderfully into Israeli society. The more the mix, the merrier. But they DO have a different culture, both from us, and from their Arab neighbours. It takes generations…

Concerning ‘the religious Jews’, another misleading phrase. There are so many levels of religiosity. Books have been written on the variety of levels of beliefs and behaviours, even amongst this very small Jewish community.

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(Many do not accept the existence of the State of Israel, refuse to pay taxes, participate in national service etc., for they are still awaiting the Messiah). For many of the ultra-religious, God will look after them in this crisis. And if they happen to spread the virus to ‘less-believers’, so be it.

So yes, the news that we are building more friendships in the World is fantastic, but right now, we have other things on our minds…

Stephen

September 8, 2020

 

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