Earlier this week, we were warned that a new, hybrid variant of the COVID-19 virus has arrived in Israel, a combination of the Omicron and Delta variants, currently nicknamed Deltacron. That’s in addition to the BA2 variant I mentioned in my previous post. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, yesterday they also announced the discovery of two cases of people infected with a combination of Omicron and BA2!
Overall, the number of new cases daily, which had dropped to about 5000 the week before last, has climbed back to over 6000 and today, reached 6,738 according to the Ministry of Health dashboard. The transmission rate, which had dropped to 0.67 a few weeks ago, is creeping up again. This Sunday, it stood at 0.87 and today, it has already reached 0.92. And, of course, that’s not taking into account people who might have light common cold-like symptoms and not even bother to be tested.
In spite of all this, I took my courage in both hands earlier this week and attended a lecture in my Bible study course. I hope I’m not going to regret it.
The weather is really weird. It’s very, very cold for mid-March – and earlier in the week, it even snowed in parts of the country. It didn’t settle in Jerusalem, as it was mingled with rain. But we are still being warned to leave a tap dripping overnight, so as to prevent the water from freezing in the pipes. Today, the sun is shining, but we are looking at more rain for most of next week, starting Monday – which, let’s not forget, is supposed to be the first day of Spring!!! The wintry weather also affected the Purim celebrations, with many municipalities bringing the parties and fancy dress parades forward to Monday, as the weather was supposed to be better than that expected later in the week.
The Big Topic, which is taking up most of the news broadcasts, is, of course, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. As I mentioned in my last post, I have mixed feelings about the Ukraine. In fact, I have mixed feelings about this oh, so unnecessary war!
We are living inside history, as it were, and we often don’t know it’s happening till it’s happened. And when we are “inside” an event, we often don’t remember how it all began. I do remember thinking, why did we even need NATO, after the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact broke up? Then, again – one could say that what is happening to the Ukraine emphasises the importance of NATO, because if the Ukraine had already been a NATO member, with a nuclear defence, it’s highly unlikely Putin would have dared to invade her. But on the other hand, if Ukraine had not made moves to join NATO, Putin might not have “got the wind up” and would have had no reason to invade his neighbour.
Another question I have to ask – naive as it may sound – is this. Why do nations always fear that if things are going well for another country, it must be at someone’s expense? Hasn’t anyone ever heard of a Win-Win situation.
I am sure of one thing, however. What is happening in Europe is proof that Israel can never rely on another country for her defence – not even the United States. And we must never give up our nuclear deterrent (the one we don’t admit to having). Ukraine did that – in return for guarantees from the US and the UK.
Another thing I am sure of and that is, when it comes to taking in Ukrainian refugees, Israel must and should give priority, first and foremost, to Jews and others (such as the non-Halachically Jewish children and grandchildren of Jews) who are entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. Next in line should be those with family members in Israel, even if they, themselves, are not entitled under the Law of Return. And only afterwards, those who have no connection to Israel. And no-one has the moral right to tell us “Jews know what it means to be a refugee, so they, of all people, should welcome the Ukrainian refugees”. The world turned its back on the Jews in the 1930s. They can make up for it now by welcoming all the non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees they tell us we should be welcoming.
Israel is a small country, with a much smaller population than the European countries bordering the Ukraine. We cannot afford to take in large numbers of non-Jews who will shift the demographic balance and possibly, in the future, outnumber the Jewish population and have the power to revoke the Law of Return. Israel – the only Jewish state in the world – was founded to be a refuge for Jews. Ukrainian Jewish refugees are no less refugees for being Jewish!
On the subject of refugees – while I was ruminating on the rights and wrongs of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and telling myself “on the one hand – on the other hand”, I was reminded of Tevye the Milkman in Fiddler on the Roof, who debates his course of action whenever confronted with a dilemma, using exactly those words. The musical ends with the Jews of Anatevka, a small shtetl in the Ukraine, being expelled from their homes, after a pogrom (of which there were many, in the Ukraine).
As you know, I like to end my posts with some music. Here, then, is the finale of the musical, as Tevye and the other Jews of Anatevka are forced to turn their backs on the town, on their homes, on everything they ever knew and take the road as refugees., facing an uncertain future.
The difference now is that they have a country of their own waiting for them.