The greatest blasphemy in the world

Update on COVID-19 and religion

Two weeks ago, we wrote that we thought that public and media engagement in Israel regarding the connection between the corona plague and the ultra-Orthodox sector had reached a peak, but as it turned out, the two weeks since then have proven us wrong.

The criticism has only intensified, and the excuses made by the sector’s religious and political leaders do not impress anyone else. Furthermore, it turns out that even within the ultra-Orthodox sector these excuses are starting to crack, and a painful and severe accounting is spreading. In recent days this has been expressed by several well-known figures from this sector, mainly following tragic personal encounters with the COVID-19 pandemic, after their own family members died from the disease.

If we had not read and heard their words directly from them, we would have a hard time believing that such things could be heard from inside the ultra-Orthodox camp, which, for months, has claimed that any such criticisms are antisemitic, racist, and are an expression of hatred towards ultra-Orthodox Jews. A number of examples will illustrate the growing wave of internal criticism, although it is not known what the long-term consequences will be. With the passing of the pandemic, will everything will be as it was, or will a revolt develop to some degree against and among the political and rabbinical leadership for their failures at this critical time? It's hard to believe we'll see a broad revolt, but on the other hand, we are convinced that, just as in many other areas of our lives, the ultra-Orthodox sector will not return to the way it once was before the pandemic:

Avi Mimran, Senior presenter on the Spanish ultra-Orthodox radio "Kol Chai" In a long and sharp monologue 19.1.21: “Enough blaming the whole world. There is no religious persecution here. It's not the media that infects the unfortunate women, it's you who cared [more] about boys’ religious schools... yes, you who walk around without a mask, who goes where you want, who enters and leaves the shtiblach for the afternoon prayer... You cause hundreds to die who will no longer be able to pray the afternoon prayer. They're in the grave, but your afternoon prayer is important!! ... Is there a Torah commandment to have a wedding with 800 participants? A wedding??? Will none of the wedding participants, God forbid, infect someone, and kill him? Or her? Or a pregnant woman … You have caused hundreds of people to fight with their respirators! To plead for air... You cause funerals, dead people, widows, orphans, tears... And the greatest desecration of God in the world are the same videos from weddings and mass prayers that make their ways all over the world and push people a little further away from Judaism! To hate Torah a little more, God forbid...”

"Every kid who goes to religious school is stepping on the bodies of people who died from corona

Nati Tucker, the Marker, Jan. 19, 2021: “Over the years I have been proud to be ultra-Orthodox. The black cap on my head is a symbol not only of social affiliation, but also constitutes a value statement. Ultra-Orthodox society, I believed, is the one which sets the most correct and moral set of values. The corona pandemic has completely changed the way ultra-Orthodox society will be perceived from now on. The disgraceful contempt for human life, non-compliance with the religious commandment to follow the laws of the state, and bringing more and more disasters upon young families - This is conduct for which no value justification can be found. And you very much protected yourselves - Human life precedes almost all... The spread of the pandemic in ultra-Orthodox society also stems from the specific living conditions, sometimes forced - overcrowding and poverty. But alongside that, it is impossible to ignore the clear, systematic and widespread violation of the social distancing guidelines, which is backed by large sections of the ultra-Orthodox leadership. Open educational institutions, huge weddings taking place quite secretly, and some of the synagogues and yeshivas returning to normal activity... The ultra-Orthodox society counts its dead, and the entire State of Israel is sinking into an acute crisis, due to, among other things, the lawlessness of the ultra-Orthodox sector. On days like this, I am ashamed to be an ultra-Orthodox.”

Dudi Schwenfeld, “Kol BaRama” Radio 19.1.21: "Every kid who goes to religious school is stepping on the bodies of people who died from corona, 4,000 people murdered. What spiritual vaccination will a child have in ten years when he knows he murdered his grandfather? What spiritual vaccination will my brother have who accidentally infected my father with Corona if the worst happens? Our public is a symbol of saving lives; suddenly we have become the killers and that's awful. '

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, Chairman of ZAKA, January 18, 2021: “What happened to these leaders? … How can they say, 'Our hands have not shed this blood?' After all, there are people around here who are suspected of shedding blood, even if they are called 'rabbis' ... It is an eclipse of our brightest of leaders," he shouts in the interview, "I say this with heartache: in my opinion, they are worse than Holocaust deniers. After all, Holocaust deniers deny history - And here they deny the present…”

TV screen shot showing that in the distribution of Corona reports, between Arab and Jewish cities- the police force's strainer is more perforated than a kitchen bean strainer. The data show the selective behavior of the police, an irrelevant and unfair distinction, which is purely police discrimination- Inappropriate discrimination on the grounds of race and nationality. Why are there almost no reports of COVID in ultra-Orthodox cities in Israel? Why are so many reports coming out of Arab cities?

Such things have never been heard in or from ultra-Orthodox society, and they are accompanied by harsh public criticism against the government for refraining (for political considerations) from enforcing COVID-19 lock-down restrictions in the ultra-Orthodox sector, thus causing severe harm to the entire public, not just the ultra-Orthodox sector. This week, official data were published illustrating this, and there is no escape from saying that this is lawlessness! We have no doubt that the public's patience is running out. This phenomenon of the spread of the corona epidemic in Israel also illustrates that one cannot understand Israel without the background of the battles over religion and state. There will certainly be far-reaching political implications. The unholy covenant between religion and politics has to be removed from the world.

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