The Corona Chronicles – Mad As Hell

When I was a child, one of my favourite radio shows was the BBC’s “Just a Minute” – in which participants were given a topic on which they then had to speak for one minute, without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Occasionally, they would also have to conform to special rules. For example, in a given round, a particular word might be banned – such as “is” or “very”.

Of late, I have found myself wondering what would happen if we were to apply this rule to everyday conversation. How would an ordinary chat between two neighbours meeting at the corner grocery sound, if the words “coronavirus”, “COVID-19” and “social distancing” were to be banned? Or, should it prove impossible to avoid completely any mention of these words, could the current pandemic be discussed “without hesitation, repetition or deviation”?

Somehow, I doubt it.

While we are on the subject of the pandemic – I bet I am not the only one to feel total despair at the inability of our “leaders” to actually lead. Decisions seem to be made on the basis of what can be done without offending this or that coalition partner. The Opposition insists on allowing anti-Netanyahu demonstrations to take place, even though this would involve mass gatherings consisting of hundreds, if not thousands, of participants. At the same time, they demand that synagogues and yeshivot (Jewish religious academies) remain closed to prevent the spread of infection, which is particularly high among close-knit ultra-Orthodox communities. The “experts” came up with the idea of quarantining “Red Cities” (in which the number of infected is highest), but that was opposed by the ultra-Orthodox Knesset members, because so many majority Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) towns fell into that category, and so the Government put us all into lockdown over the High Holy Days, so that the Haredim wouldn’t feel discriminated against. That lockdown was widely ignored by the latter, however – some of whose leaders “recommended” that their flock adhere as far as possible to social distancing rules and not hold hands while dancing round the Torah on Simchat Torah, or kiss the Torah scrolls, but refrained from issuing a clear-cut ruling to that effect. After the festivals, we saw on the news and social media just how seriously (not) the rank-and-file took those “recommendations”!

Moreover, now that the High Holy Days and festivals have passed and the government and “Corona Cabinet” are discussing partially opening up the country again, using the “Red Cities” model, the ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset are “negotiating” (ie. resorting to blackmail) for their support for this model in return for allowing the yeshivot to re-open immediately (many of these, of course, being in the “Red Cities”).

Meanwhile, the anti-Netanyahu demonstrators also continue openly to defy the lockdown measures. While they adhered, for the most part, to the sanction against travelling more than 1000 metres from one’s place of residence, they held mass gatherings where the participants did not observe the 2-metre distancing rule and many did not wear masks or wore them on their chins.

In addition, each day brings a new “scoop” about this or that Cabinet Minister, high-ranking army or police officer, or other “social influencer” breaking quarantine restrictions, even to the extent of confirmed COVID-19 carriers taking part in family or other gatherings outside their homes.

It is no wonder then, that ordinary people – those who are facing bankruptcy because they cannot earn a living – are choosing to open their businesses regardless, even at the cost of being heavily fined. They are angry, and who can blame them? Many commentators have attributed this to a loss of hope. During the “First Wave” of the pandemic, people were ready to endure hardship and weeks of lockdown, if only they could see a light at the end of the tunnel. If they knew there was an exit strategy. But instead, every such plan that is announced, is shot down by special interest groups before it has even got off the ground.

It makes me so angry, I could scream. Or perhaps I should adopt Howard Beale’s iconic rant, because I am, indeed, as mad as hell:

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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2 Responses to The Corona Chronicles – Mad As Hell

  1. You can say this about most countries just changing out the names of the groups. People are nuts.

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