Just Another Day in the Age of Pandemics!

Posted by Olivier Melnick on February 26, 2021

Let's start by looking at a simple definition of the word "pandemic". According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, pandemic means:  "occurring over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affecting a significant proportion of the population." The idea is that a pandemic is an epidemic that spreads fast and wide, often out of control for a while and decimating large segments of the population. So yes, Covid-19 definitely qualifies as a pandemic, much like the 1918 Spanish flu was. It has now been one year since we officially started to fight our twenty-first-century pandemic. Who knew that two weeks would turn into 52 weeks, with no real sign of complete eradication at this time. So, we fight, we adjust, we comply and we hope for the best. This seems to be the "current normal", not the "new normal" because if we look at the last twelve months, “new normal” emerged at a pace that has been difficult to follow. We have had to get used to an ever-evolving sense of "new normal".

Interestingly enough, Covid-19 has been linked to the Jewish people in more ways than one, and none of them in a good way. Many will claim that the accusations against Israel and the Jewish people, related to Covid-19, are simply ludicrous and unfounded. I agree with that statement, but nonetheless, the accusations abound and those believing them are not necessarily a minority. The truth is, that Israel is at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 and probably is the country that has vaccinated the largest number of its citizens, but let us not allow the facts to stop Israel's foes from spreading rumors, blood libels and false accusations.

• 20% of all English people believe that Jews created Covid-19:As people were surveyed, according to The Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes, and Narratives Survey (OCEANS), "Presented with the statement “Jews have created the virus to collapse the economy for financial gain,” 5.3% of the interviewees “agreed a little,” 6.8% “agreed moderately,” 4.6% “agreed a lot,” and 2.4% “agreed completely,” while some 80.8% did not agree with it at all."
People accuse the Jews of using the vaccine to control the world population: The CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, is a Greek man of Jewish ancestry. This is enough for crazy conspiracy theorists to claim that the Jews created the vaccine and will use it to streamline the world population and control the world. This is in line with the same theories advanced in 1904 in the hoax "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion".
• Vaccination is compared to Auschwitz policies: Piers Corbyn (brother of antisemitic Labour Party member Jeremy Corbyn) produced and distributed a leaflet equating the use of the vaccine to entry into Auschwitz-Birkenau by changing the entry gate sign "Arbeit Macht Frei" (work makes you free) to "Vaccines are the safe path to freedom". Using what happened to Jews during the Holocaust as fuel to motivate anti-vaxxers is morally despicable.
• Ohio men accuse Jews of being the real plague: During a street protest in Columbus, Ohio against Covid-19 restrictions, two men displayed a sign of a rat looking like a Jew with an Israeli flag. The sign also said: "the real plague". This is strongly reminiscent of the accusations against the Jewish community during the Black Plague of 1348-51 when Jews were accused of poisoning the wells of Europe simply because of the smaller number of Jewish casualties due to kosher laws and liturgical hygiene.
• Social networks abound with antisemitic memes about the Jews either being or controlling the virus: Vicious attacks on Jewish people and on Israel are everywhere on social networks and most of them are not being censored because of the First Amendment. I am all for claiming Freedom of Speech as long as we are consistent and do not allow for double standards.   Unfortunately, this is far from being the case.
• Rashida Tlaib claims that Israel doesn't vaccinate Palestinians: She tweeted"It’s really important to understand that Israel is a racist state, in that they would deny Palestinians like my grandmother access to a vaccine, that they don’t believe she’s an equal human being who deserves to live." The opposite is true. Israel has offered vaccines to Palestinians and many have accepted them. The Palestinian Authority also refused a recent planeload of vaccines from the United Arab Emirates, simply because it was coordinated with Israel for distribution.
• Saturday Night Live comedian claims Israel only vaccinates Jews: On February 20, SNL host Michael Che said: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half.” It really looks like using the blood libel to demonize the Jewish people is still in fashion. Incidentally, Michael Che has repeatedly insulted Jewish people before, but he is very careful not to denigrate other minorities. Entertainers have been fired for less than this. SNL used to be a funny satirical comedy show, but that ship sailed a long time ago.

I could keep going and show more examples of the same nature, but I think that the case is made. While the world is busy fighting a pandemic, it is also ignoring another one. The new antisemitism is a virus of pandemic proportions. Why is it being ignored by so many? Probably because people don't feel that it concerns them since they are not really affected by it. Many people might not be antisemitic per se, and as a result, they don't feel that they are responsible to do anything. At first glance, there seems to be no vaccine against the virus of antisemitism. People simply carry the antibodies, or they don't. People of goodwill–Christian or not– will identify the hatred of antisemitism and will expose it and fight, because to them it is the most natural thing to do. In a sense, they are the ones who naturally carry the antibodies against antisemitism in all its forms.

Then, you have those who might not be antisemitic by commission. They would never accuse the Jews of manufacturing a virus or monetizing a vaccine for ulterior motives. Yet, as they remain unaware or uninterested in the anti-Jewish tropes propagated by antisemites, they softly contribute to the problem. We live in a world where we can no longer sit on the fence and go about our simple lives without getting involved. We ought to speak-up against hatred any chance we have.

However, what if there was a vaccine, or better yet - a real cure against the pandemic of antisemitism? What if there was a way to look at the world that would not allow for hatred, racism, or antisemitism? Well, I believe that there is a way for us to interact with one another with civility and respect. That way is found by those who place their trust in the finished work of Yeshua the Messiah. Now, I know that some people will accuse me of bias or blindness when I say that Christianity is the only safe worldview for treating people equally, fairly and ethically. After all, isn't the New Testament antisemitic? Isn't it where we read about the synagogue of Satan? Sure it is, but in context, it isn't even speaking of Jewish people! But, hey, if we can find a verse associating the Jewish place of worship and the devil, we're in great shape to demonize the Jews and claim full immunity under the guise of the Christian banner.

This certainly does a great disservice to true Bible-believing followers of Yeshua and His teachings. If we believe the word of God to be true, and we should, then, the Jewish people are truly painted in different light throughout all of scripture.  We are described as: The apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8), daughter of Zion (Zephaniah 3:14), God’s chosen people (1 Kings 3:8), a treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6), a holy people (Deuteronomy 7:6), God’s hidden ones (Psalm 83:3), a great nation (Genesis 12:2) and beloved (Romans 11:28).

When asked about the greatest of all commandments by his Jewish audience (and there are 613 in the Mosaic Law), Yeshua responded with those powerful words, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

The fact that many people have hijacked, and corrupted Christianity doesn't disqualify the claims of Yeshua and the validity of the faith. We are indeed together in our unprecedented fight against the current pandemic of Covid-19, but sadly there is plenty of room for improvement for a concerted fight against the oldest, long-lasting pandemic of antisemitism.

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