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The Times of Israel (TOI) | Blogs | Clemens Heni | July 8, 2020

Does Benjamin Netanyahu and the current Israeli government succeed in isolating Israel and destroying the Jewish state from within, something neither Iran, nor Hamas, the PA, ISIS, Hezbollah, suicide attacks of all kinds during the Second Intifada, the anti-Hamas war of 2014, the BDS movement, liberal and other anti-Zionists and many other wars or events from outside accomplished? Or does he want to destroy Israeli democracy by putting his own political survival over the democratic rule of law, as Yedidia Z. Stern urges us to consider?

Corona spreads faster than the flu, has a short but relatively high peak, but most importantly, a very fast decline also. There is no exponential curve of the virus, to be sure, as John A. Ioannidis, our leading American-Greek epidemiologist from California has pointed out. Most recently he has said: “we experienced the lockdown in California, ok, we did it. But please never do it again. Another lockdown would be the end of California”. The average age at death of all Corona deaths in Europe, Israel and the US is over 80 years. Contrary to Influenza, Corona does spare the young generation.

This makes every single comparison to the horrible Spanish flu of 1918 unscholarly and grotesque in nature. In 1918 some 50 million people died worldwide (average age at death: 28). In 2020 some 500.000 people died of Corona so far (averag age at death: 80+). In Germany alone some 900.000 people die every year, some 2500 a day. That has never ever been a reason for a lockdown (consider that military language, lockdown, social distancing, tracking, mask, avoid contacts etc.)

The peak of infections of SARS-CoV-2 in Germany was on March 19, 2020 – days before the unprecedented lockdown. That alone is proof that the lockdown did not at all flatten the curve. Corona itself flattened, as we can see such a high and very fast peak in almost all countries (the US is not a country, rather a continent, so the virus spreads not simultaneously in all states).

The current Corona mass panic epidemic is on the edge of destroying the tiny and isolated country, Israel – at least when it comes to accessing or leaving Israel. Ben-Gurion Airport just cried gevalt – stop this maniac lockdown:

The CEO of Israel’s main airport warned Friday that the country was “days away from reaching the point of no return” for its aviation industry, after long months of an almost complete lack of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shmuel Zakay said in a Facebook post that after so much time without activity, many professionals, from pilots to ground crews, had had their operational competency eroded. “Bringing them back to efficient and safe flights will take months,” he said.

While acknowledging that the coronavirus is “a dangerous and lethal pandemic,” Zakay said it was imperative to learn to live with its presence and manage its risks, as it did not seem to be going away anytime soon. He accused the government of “stagnation” in its response to the disease, calling its handling of the crisis “the opposite of leadership”.

Corona is a new virus, not as lethal as the seasonal flu in a bad year. In the 2017/18 season, Germany alone had some 25,000 deaths from Influenza. In 2020 Germany has some 9000 deaths from (or WITH) Corona (Covid-19).

Israel made the same mistake as Germany, France, Italy, the US and almost all countries on earth: they started to orchestrate the most dangerous simultaneous mass panic probably ever in the history of mankind. It was clear from the outset, when Covid-19 was found in China that it is not very lethal, as almost all people below the age of 70 or 80 were spared. What we knew from the outset: we know not much about that virus. Based on almost no data it was foolish to destroy all our social lives, our culture, our economy, our trust in the political system. At least the tiny number of people who use their own brain feel it that way.

Even now, in July 2020, after half a year of what the WHO soon called a “pandemic”, the politicians react in extreme panic.

Scholarly research has shown that Covid-19 is almost no threat to all people under 45, as Professor John A. Ioannidis, the leading scholar in epidemiology and public health worldwide, has shown. For people under 65 the virus is as dangerous as a daily drive to work.

German Professor Klaus Püschel from Hamburg has soon started to perform an autopsy on the people who died with or due to Corona.

Püschel emphasizes that all deaths of the first 100 he autopsied had one or more preconditions. That were his results already in April 2020. Besides the fact that he is a leading scholar and practicing doctor at the University hospital in Hamburg, his results are not taken seriously by the public or by politics.

On the other hand, authoritarianism spreads around the world. This includes the most shocking tendencies. The Israeli internal security service Shin Bet is now tracking ordinary citizens for Corona – as if a person who was in touch with that virus is a threat like terrorist organizations Hamas or Islamic Jihad. 38 decent MPs of the Knesset voted against the law, passed July 1, 2020.

Israel has some 300 deaths from Corona – or people diagnosed with Corona, that does never ever mean they all of them or even the majority died because of Corona, most people will have other very severe diseases, as Professor Püschel has shown for Germany and the city of Hamburg (1,7 mio. inhabitants). Israel will have far more deaths thanks to the draconian measure of the lockdown. Never had Israel so many jobless people. As we know from social science, some one percent of jobless people will kill themselves. That will translate into a huge number of deaths compared to Corona.

Domestic violence is on the rise, women are threatened by their husbands, as are children by their parents during quarantine.

The cynicism of our age goes like follows: if you kill yourself because of the devastating social, economic or psychological situation, that is bad for you – but it is very good for our state that you did not die of Covid-19.

The lockdown was the worst decision by all our governments and for Israel it might be devastating, because without Ben-Gurion Airport Israel will be completely isolated.

The Corona crisis shows the unbelievable lack of self-confidence of almost all people and the will to be ruled by authoritarian regimes. Sweden is an exception from that rule, although they failed to secure their nursing homes and hospitals just like New York City failed to do so – and I am not arguing for isolating old people, they must have the freedom to decide whether to go for a tea-time or not.

Only dictatorships use nursing homes or private homes with elderly people living there like prison inmates. But protection of nursing homes and hospitals, including the nursing staff, is essential. The shocking situation in many hospitals in Italy or Spain, but also the US has been known for many years.

The unbelievable fear of a virus infected almost the entire world. This is a philosophical crossroad: will we understand that we can never have and never had a safe life for everybody at all time or do we think like authoritarian or even totalitarian regimes, that we can save lives, regardless what it costs? What, if the next season the flu will kill the typical 1000 people in Israel, and some maniac people urge the state for a 2-month lockdown to prevent this? Who will then tell these people that dying from flu, even if the number is two or three times higher than the victims of Corona, is part of our societies and of life itself, that there never was and never will be full protection?

John A. Ioannidis said in an interview on June 27, 2020:

Dr. Ioannidis: I feel extremely sad that my predictions were verified. “Major consequences on the economy, society and mental health” have already occurred. I hope they are reversible, and this depends to a large extent on whether we can avoid prolonging the draconian lockdowns and manage to deal with COVID-19 in a smart, precision-risk targeted approach, rather than blindly shutting down everything. Similarly, we have already started to see the consequences of “financial crisis, unrest, and civil strife.” I hope it is not followed by “war and meltdown of the social fabric.”

Globally, the lockdown measures have increased the number of people at risk of starvation to 1.1 billion, and they are putting at risk millions of lives, with the potential resurgence of tuberculosis, childhood diseases like measles where vaccination programs are disrupted, and malaria. I hope that policymakers look at the big picture of all the potential problems and not only on the very important, but relatively thin slice of evidence that is COVID-19.

The fact that a second opinion was not even asked for, indicates the complete failure of our press and of our supposedly democratic system, respectively.

Wearing masks suggests that every single person might be my killer and I am considered a possible killer as well. This assumption destroys human societies. It is a lie, too. Corona is not a killer virus, not at all. It is dangerous for a very specific group of people we need to protect without isolationg them. Period. The collateral damage of wearing masks and of lockdowns will be far bigger than Covid-19.

To recover from the devastating economic disaster intentionally made by our leaders will take decades. Many small businesses or big business will close forever. That holds in particular for independent theatres, clubs, restaurants, social centers, but also for small shops of all kind.

To recover from this mass panic, though – is far from happening. We have seen the soul of our fellow citizens. And their souls are nothing but a black hole. The same holds for their brains.

About the Author
Dr Clemens Heni is director of The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA)