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Rationalizing in the time of corona

On rare occasions, thank goodness, I become depressed due to the coronavirus lockdown, I think of those in Israel and around the world that are (far) less fortunate than myself.

Although I don’t recall, I am told that I was in my younger days referred to as “lucky”, maybe in some ways, the luck has stayed with me.

I live in a wonderful apartment, in q quiet area of Kfar Saba, well away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and consequently stay safe, stay healthy. There is sufficient food, loo paper (former UK chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks asked in a recent article why anyone would need to stockpile 600 rolls of toilet paper). I have books to read, TV/Netflix to watch, Internet to surf and maybe most importantly the company of a truly wonderful lady. Yes, I am fortunate.

OK, so I am on lockdown with the occasional curfew, and yes, I miss going to the gym, the beach, coffee shops, restaurants, the supermarket, driving my car and so much more which I, and I guess the rest of Israel, as well people across the global, took for granted. Just maybe, we need this time for reflection on what is important?

And of course, overseas travel. We should have traveled to Ecuador/Galapagos Islands in early March; flights canceled by the airline just days before departure. Next month we were due to spend a week snorkeling in Sinai, which we have canceled. June we are scheduled to spend five days cycling in the Basel/Freiburg area and the following month Bratislava/Vienna. No doubt, we’ll cancel these trips as well. I noted this morning a headline from the European Central Bank calling for a travel ban in Europe until September this year.

Logically, however, I know that some time in the not too distant future things will revert to (something) resembling normalcy.

So yes, I am fortunate. I think about those on their own, maybe elderly, forced to spend 14 days due in isolation in a single room. These past few weeks, I have read much about the need to perverse one’s mental health. That although the lockdown/curfew may certainly stem the spread of the coronavirus, the price to people's mental health may, in some cases outweigh the benefits of isolation.

I’ve been told on numerous occasions in the past that there is nothing more depressing than watching/hearing the news. How right.

Over the past weeks we have gone from almost hourly updates – TV/radio – to once only for an hour in the evening. Even this at times is too much. And as much as I try not to, I at least once an hour check various newsfeeds for an update of local news as well as from the UK/Europe and the US.

Big mistake.

The news from Jerusalem is beyond depressing. We live in somber, challenging times and yet those wallies in Jerusalem seem at least to live in a world so remote from everyone else, if it was not so serious, it would be funny.

Israel has no government, as of now, just an interim prime minister. And the wallies in Jerusalem seem OK with that.

Ultra-orthodox men, teenagers, and boys in certain towns/neighborhoods call the police Nazis when the latter arrive to enforce lockdown regulations. Litzman, Deri, Rafi Peretz, Bennett, Erdan, and co., say not a word. And yet mumbling, bumbling Litzman, and holier than thou Deri are the same good-for-nothings that raise almighty hell at the idea of the Hardi areas being closed off to slow/stop the spread of corona. I wanted to write that these ultra-orthodox men, teenagers, and boys are idiots (or worse). I feel sorry for them. After all, they lack education, they lack an understanding of the world around them and they are just downright ignorant. They understand that had WWII ended differently, they, their parents, their grandparents would not be alive to call the police Nazis and the State of Israel would not have been established.

Yes, I feel sorry for them. They have been badly let down by their rabbis and community leaders.

And what of Donald J. Trump?

I recall the angry outburst of John Bolton’s a couple of years ago when confronted by Sky News’ Kay Burley “how dare you to criticize my president” or words to that effect.

And yet – and here I am treading carefully – the president leaves himself open to attack, to criticism, to mockery. You just have to watch his daily 5.00 pm coronavirus briefings. His style is somewhat adolescent, his vocabulary appears limited as if he is unable to string together more than two or three coherent sentences. And his rants and raves against the media or whoever is in his sights on a particular day cheapen the presidency. It’s reported that Fox News host Jedediah Bila urged the president to stop “with the 3rd-grade name-calling”.

I agree that non-US citizens have zero right to offer criticism or rebuke Trump or any other US president. It’s known that I get mad as hell when non-Israelis start to offer advice and guidance on what the government of Israel should or should not be doing. If they feel so strongly about Israel, let them come and live, work, permanently reside in the country. It’s easy to sit in a nice comfortable armchair and debate morality.

What will November bring? Four more years of Donald J. or the first term of what, from long distance, appears to be a dull, boring Joe Biden. Wherever we live in the world, many look to Washington for guidance, advice, security and sometimes even hope for a better future. It seems to me that Americans are caught between a “rock and hard place” in selecting the next US president. The next few months will be all decisive.

This period of lockdown has also got me thinking about my own immortally. What happens when I slip this mortal coil. What legacy am I leaving behind, what, if anything, have I achieved, accomplished? Is the world a better place because of me. Morbid, no, just reality rearing its head. Will anyone shed a tear for me? A precious few maybe, hopefully.

And where do they lay me at day’s end; in consecrated ground amid mumbled prayers or a secular surrounding with Queen’s “We are the champions” or maybe Status Quo “Rocking all over the world”. Will I know, will I care? Is it important to know?

I was thinking about British entertainer Eddie Large who passed away in hospital last week. According to newspaper reports, his wife was sitting holding his hand, he looked at her and said “I have to go”, closed his eyes and simply departed. Read something similar yesterday regarding Stirling Moss. Some years ago I recall reading about the Irish entertainer Val Donahue. His daughter simply said his “batteries ran out”. Nice way to announce his passing.


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