The latest news in my quest to go to Israel to be with my friends is that the Ben Gurion Airport has been closed for two weeks due to the omicron variant of the COVID virus. This demands some commentary about COVID, and that within the context of a more general idea that I think needs to be increasingly brought to the attention of Israeli society: that God is not unreasonable. Let’s start with the specific, former statement about shedding some light on what is happening with COVID.
We have been dealing with COVID for almost two years now. The disease made its entrance during the 2020 election year of the United States President, and its presence has been utterly politicized from the very beginning. From day one there have been those who have preached fervently that COVID is a phenomenon of the same gravity of an Ebola outbreak or even some kind of zombie apocalypse. At the same time, legions of citizens the world over insist that it is nothing but a flu, or that it doesn’t even exist. Conspiracy theories have abounded, among them that the entire thing is a Jewish attempt to ruin the world. No matter what anyone says to these people, they cannot be dissuaded from their convictions, and their convictions seem to be driven by a firm understanding that the general public reaction to COVID is so easy to identify as absolutely irrational.
To begin with, news stories abound about how easy statistical data is to manipulate. Further, reactions to the disease seem so obviously to follow along the lines of big business. For instance, let’s take the phenomenon of the vaccines. From the beginning of COVID’s appearance, a variety of cures and treatments have made their appearance. Hydrochloroquine, Remdesivir, Regeneron, Ivermectin, Zinc, Vitamin D and other vitamin treatments have been some of the main ones that come to my mind. Certainly not all of them are efficacious. But what strikes me is that practically every week I would read a new article about some Israeli scientist who came up with some sort of treatment for COVID, only to hear nothing further about it. Again, not all of these are going to be effective. But what struck me is that a great amount of effort seemed to be going into developing treatments for COVID, none of which seemed to gain any public traction, government support, or lasting media attention other than to discredit them. But then finally, Pfizer has announced that it has a pill that greatly reduces COVID severity and effectively eliminates its danger as a public crisis, if there ever was a danger significant enough to be called a crisis to begin with. Big Pharma is now involved. So even if the COVID issue is being dominated by politics and money, we should see the tide turned. But we don’t.
Next, we have the issue of vaccines. We have seen Big Pharma rush experimental vaccines to market, even seeming to use Israel as the world’s canary in a coal mine, a national guinea pig, to test these experimental vaccines big time. They seemed efficacious for a time, but their effectiveness was shown to wane quickly. Paranoia has begun to develop surrounding them, with stories about large number of athletes having heart problems abounding, and the interminable presentations of data about additional deaths of unknown causes circulating through the COVID skeptical media presenting the suspicions that vaccines could be the culprit. Again, statistics and data can be manipulated.
Additionally, we have the trends of the virus itself. Originally COVID seemed to be a disease much less lethal than cholera outbreaks and natural occurrences of anthrax, but more dangerous than the flu. Yet it was presented as more dangerous for older, vulnerable populations with comorbid preexisting conditions. Still, these populations are large enough in our highly-populated world to fill hospitals to the brink and cause public panic. Panic is always eager to be fueled by media anxious to garner readership from a panicked public. And along with this, the skeptics have been quick to point out flaws in data collection surrounding the issues of comorbidity.
Then came the delta variant. This form of the disease seemed to chew through the vaccines, causing new waves of COVID in nations with very high vaccination rates. It was also presented as less lethal than the original strains. And now we have this omicron variant. Also presented as less dangerous than original strains. One might even conclude that the original strain of the virus that causes COVID was some sort of unusually lethal form, as nothing that has followed has been presented to be something exceptionally dangerous.
In the face of these developments, Norway and some other countries have declared COVID seasonal respiratory infection and ended all COVID restrictions. The American public remains sharply divided along political lines. Red, conservative states have done away with masks and made vaccine mandates illegal, while blue, liberal states have been among the first locales in the world to push vaccination for young children. For all this, nobody can provide a clear picture of whether the red states are suffering more from COVID than the blue ones. The Norwegians have not gone extinct.
Likewise, Europe seems to be ground zero for COVID tyranny, locking down the unvaccinated and developing vaccine passports. Israel’s Green Pass was one of the first of its kind. These draconian measures seem to be pushed by countries with high vaccination rates who at the same time continue to suffer ongoing waves of COVID.
Returning to the subject of lethality, the media seems to no longer be interested in reporting issues of comorbidity or even death rates at all. Everything I see is based solely on case counts. There are rising cases, so something must be done. Yet we have known for a long time about the huge number of asymptomatic virus carriers. The veracity of COVID tests themselves continue to be challenged by the conspiracy theorists and COVID skeptics.
The governments taking drastic action against COVID can’t seem to come up with anything that works to stop the media cycle of reporting on cases and continuing waves. The answer seems to be more booster shots from the vaccines that Big Pharma is offering. Police ticket people for not wearing masks.
No one has ever demonstrated masks having a beneficial effect on a broad population. Studies about masks are artificial, working with limited populations complying with specific instructions. But we know that SARS-CoV is a fluid-borne virus that transmits via water droplets so small that they essentially include water vapor from exhalation. It’s a water-borne virus that transmits like an airborne virus. It has been shown to linger in the air for hours. So, any time someone takes their mask off to have a sip of a drink, they have put the virus in the air for hours. Some countries insist on using expensive, high-technology masks that seal perfectly on the face, but most don’t. And even these masks are removed when a person takes a bite to eat. As a result, no broad mask-wearing policy has been shown to have any effect on any particular COVID wave.
So we have a disease whose danger has always been questioned and has been shown to get less lethal over time being answered by masks, experimental vaccines, and Green Passes, all the while people are locked in their homes, people are unable to travel, there are riots and protests in Europe, and all the while case counts go through the roof, we cry about fourth and fifth waves of the COVID “crisis,” and nobody bothers to report about deaths. We only read anecdotal stories about how someone who wasn’t vaccinated died from COVID on the one hand while we hear that the current waves are the fault of the unvaccinated on the other hand, and still there are explanations about how breakthrough cases are causing highly vaccinated nations to succumb to COVID.
It seems we have a mess on our hands. Government policies are being driven by media trends. Leaders are kowtowing to scientists who do not consider the forest, but only the trees. They are responding to public fear, just wanting to get reelected by a public that is being driven to hysteria, to the effect that they are enacting tyranny. Tyranny that doesn’t work. COVID is obviously endemic, but government efforts are focused on containment of spread, with quarantines and travel bans seen to be the answer. They are answers that have done nothing to dissuade the media trends, however, and the cycle continues forever.
And now, the latest measure, because there is a strain of an endemic respiratory infection in Africa, the Ben Gurion airport is being closed, and the airlines and the tourist industry are again being crippled. Seekers of God in all nations cannot come to the Holy Land. Jews and Israelis cannot come home. Jews and Israelis cannot travel abroad to be the light of the world as they have been commanded to be by the Torah.
I mentioned in my opening that there is a broader issue here. Whether I am right or wrong about this or that detail in my COVID narrative above, and whether this or that point of my case can be critiqued in detail, it’s quite obvious that something irrational is happening here. But God is not irrational. People of spiritual conviction who claim that matters of spirituality do not need to comport with reason are people ignorant of the spiritual tradition. Don’t believe them. I am here to tell you that despite what you may have heard, and despite what personal conclusions you may have drawn, the things of God are reasonable. And the people of God are reasonable. If you run into people claiming affiliation with God who are not reasonable, you have not run into good examples of these people. Now that idea warrants an article of its own. But I am here to tell you that this is in fact the case.
Discussions of religion in Israel have devolved into who can get married, who can get drafted, and who can turn a light on during the Sabbath. I tell you these things are distractions from the fundamental purpose of the Torah. The Torah is here to tell you what justice, mercy, compassion, tolerance, and equality are. And it is here to tell you that these things are connected to the God who created us all and loves us infinitely. It does so within the context of the world of three thousand years ago, and details related to this have also turned into the mother of all distractions from its central message. Stories of war, mention of polygamy, these things are piped in secular society as offensive, while we go home and watch superheroes obliterate entire races of space aliens on TV and cheer them on. Laws about how to treat a slave with dignity and honor are ignored because the word for slave is merely mentioned. Yet we go out and buy our food from people who are paid less than they need to survive, which itself is merely slavery that just isn’t called slavery. All of these distractions take center stage while the Torah’s message that we are to love our brother, due honor to the foreigner, treat all people with dignity, be fair an uncorrupted in our business dealings and legal rulings, and to cherish the lowly alongside the rich and powerful, is fundamentally ignored by politicians and the populace alike.
This is all very unreasonable. God has gotten lost in the wash. The people of God are floundering in panic. Locked away, unable to travel, forced to take injections to go shopping. What can I say to Israel? I can say that Solomon prayed to God for wisdom, and God gave it to him. God can deliver us from this nightmare that we are creating for ourselves. He can inspire us to be reasonable and circumspect and just. But we have to go to God in order for this to happen.
Everything above this line was originally submitted to the Times of Israel as an editorial blog. I had previously published two such editorials with them and was (and still am) looking forward to continuing to publish with TOI and other media sources outside of my own website. This article, however, was rejected for publication under the auspices of containing dangerous and false information detrimental to public health.
I think this event makes quite clear that there is a trend in media that cannot tolerate anything contradictory to the COVID narrative that is currently turning Israel and many European nations into police states. It also shows clearly that the marriage of the concept of reason to the Torah, and the presentation of God as reasonable and opposed to fear-driven, mindless public trends that lead his chosen nation to act against his principles, is something that will be opposed by the darkness that currently grips the Israeli public.