Monday, December 28, 2020

Born Free, Die Free, L’Hiyot Am Chofshi

“Give me liberty, or give me death!” This emotional outburst by Patrick Henry, from a speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention in 1775, swung the vote, convincing the convention, to pass a resolution to send Virginian troops, for the American Revolutionary War effort.

It seems the early Americans learned something from the ancient Jews, the value of freedom.

So much so, that the bell that has became known as the Liberty Bell, originally placed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall), was inscribed with the verse, “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof,” from the Book of Leviticus (25:10).

A copy of the bell, now graces Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem.

Similarly, modern Israel’s national anthem, HaTikvah, proclaims “L’Hiyot Am Chofshi B’Artzeinu,” to be free people in our land.

Themes of Dror/Liberty and Cherut/Freedom swirl around in my head, as I write this, while the Iron Curtain of Israel’s third “Seger,” CoronaVirus closure/lockdown descends on Israel.

But try what they may, the powers that be in Israel, won’t break us.

Jews have already learned from Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi (Sotah38b), that “Afilu mechitzah shel barzel einah mafseket bein Yisrael L’Avihem shebashamayim, even an iron curtain, can’t separate the people of Israel and their heavenly Father.”

We learned it again, in the late 1980s, when the Berlin Wall fell, and again in 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the massive waves of Aliyah, Jewish immigration to Israel, that came here, yearning to be free.

But, sad to say, Israel’s political class, it seems, has been working overtime to figure out how to better control people.

And, it’s not just happening in Israel. Throughout the democratic west, shades of Chinese-style societal control are emerging, just as I warned of back in June 2020. Politicians have been making power-grabs everywhere in the name of the “crisis.”

Many in Israel, have speculated that Netanyahu has used the CoronaCrisis, to distract from his corruption cases.

Yamina party leader MK Naftali Bennett recently said, “Things didn’t have to be this way. Millions of Israeli citizens are now going into a political lockdown, simply because the Netanyahu government placed political considerations above all else.”

So, we enter another deprivation period, of our basic human rights and civil liberties, in spite of the fact that over 130 doctors complained already back in July, that the government’s policy had no chance of succeeding, and actually caused an increase in morbidity and death rates.

Even the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee pushed back at the time, on some of the government’s restrictions, but recently, committee chairwoman Yifat Shasha-Biton (formerly of Likud), has left the ruling junta, and joined Gideon Sa’ar’s new political party, New Hope.

Who will fight against Lockdowns and other frivolous policies, from within the belly of the beast (Likud-led government) now?

Will “New Hope” take up the call? After checking out their website, there is no sign of hope, no CoronaVirus Policy is discussed.

Back in July, thousands took to the streets to protest the economic and social damage inflicted to the Israeli body politic.

Will Israelis take to the streets this time?

In September, doctors and scientists in Israel protested the High Holiday Lockdown, and questioned the accuracy of Israel’s CoronaVirus death count.

Also in September, Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, expressed his opposition to a second nationwide lockdown in the United Kingdom. He said a lockdown merely “delays the inevitable,” it would push future cases into the winter, when the danger of comorbidities with influenza and/or pneumonia could make the epidemic far more dangerous.

Is that what this third Lockdown will do to Israel?

Or, will they decide to extend the Lockdown, as some officials have already called for, beyond the two to four weeks, further into February, or beyond? While promising a panacea with vaccinations?

Meanwhile, nearly half of Israelis oppose this third Lockdown.

Then again, about 40% of Israelis say, “I don't want them injecting me with anything.”

And, in response to the news of a Health Ministry recommendation, that a mandatory vaccine law, be enacted to deal with vaccine refusers, former MK Moshe Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page, “You'll have to kill me before you stick a syringe in me with this vaccine.”

About two weeks ago, one hundred doctors signed a petition against closures and restrictions. “We, doctors in Israel,” they wrote, “strongly protest against coercive measures to prevent COVID-19 spread, which include lockdown, curfew, shutting down the education system, surveillance, and traffic restrictions. It is our job to warn of the slippery and dangerous slope of violating rights and taking away liberties that the State of Israel is galloping towards.”

They continued, “As far as CoronaVirus is concerned, coercive measures, especially enforcing movement restrictions of any kind, are destructive and dangerous, and have nothing to do with the medical profession. The basis for taking them is not medical.”

And, just about a week ago, members of the Public Emergency Council for the Coronavirus Crisis, which includes senior Israeli doctors and researchers, warned that a third Lockdown would be a “national disaster.”

During their press conference, they stated, “The Public Emergency Council for the Coronavirus Crisis was established, with no economic or political interests, in order to say no to further lockdowns, and that an immediate change in the manner in dealing with the outbreak is required. It is time for the public to know the scientific truth.”

This all follows an international effort by more than 50,000 medical & public health scientists, and medical practitioners, who have joined a movement called, “the Great Barrington Declaration,” warning that the lockdown approach, is having a devastating impact on physical and mental health as well as on societies, as a whole.

Yet, one Israeli newspaper recently wrote in their editorial, regarding the third Lockdown, “While it is legitimate to take the handling of the CoronaVirus crisis into account when deciding how to vote on election day, it is not legitimate to violate the CoronaVirus regulations because of a particular religious or political belief.”

Say bye bye, to freedom of religion, speech and assembly in Israel. Media supported. Seems eerily similar to the mainstream and social media in America, that worked hard to suppress contrarian views and brought Biden (seemingly) to power.

Then we heard about “GreenPassports,” that vaccinated Israelis will get, waiving lockdown restrictions, allowing them access to cultural events, malls, restaurants,and the like. Creating two classes of citizens in Israel, some with less rights than others.

But in America, there’s been a massive pushback against local and state politicians, over gym, restaurant, small business, and religious services closures. Many breaking the law and remaining open. That’s why the Republicans blasted the Democrats down ballot in the recent elections.

Will Israelis, this time learn from the Americans?

So far, I only see Sheeple, not the proud, free Jews of yesteryear, who declared Israeli independence, fought major wars, and ingathered the exiles.

Will a political party arise, that declares “Diyenu – Enough!”

Enough of these politicians, and their PoliTrix!

Enough of unelected petty bureaucrats wielding so much control over our lives!

Enough of forced closures!

Enough of destroying jobs, businesses, and livelihoods!

Enough of threatening permanent restrictions, if not vaccinated!

Live Free or Die,” is the official state motto of New Hampshire, in America.

Israelis could use learning that phrase and internalizing it, before they see what civil rights they still have, eroded.

In spite of the dire warnings by politicians, about the CoronaCrisis, Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri just said that political parties will be able to prepare for the elections under the nationwide CoronaVirus lockdown. “Employees, including volunteers, service providers and candidates on behalf of a party, can leave their homes, under the current legal situation, for the purpose of reaching a party headquarters for their activities,’ Nizri wrote. “Party employees are also allowed to leave their homes in order to work in the public space or anywhere else they are required to work in.”

How serious can the CoronaCrisis be, if the PoliTrix people are still allowed to wander outside, and gather indoors?

New elections are set for March 23, 2021, just days before Pesach (Passover). What an irony, just before the Festival of Freedom.

Back in September, a health communication lecturer at IDC Herzliya International School, Dr. Yaffa Shir Raz, in her Facebook post, predicted that a “commission of inquiry” would eventually be established to investigate the “peddling” of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Will justice ever be meted out to these criminal politicians?

Whether the government’s policies, the vaccines, or just a natural decline of the CoronaVirus through herd immunity will improve the situation, or not, we all should pray, that we be liberated from the political power grabs taking place these days. Elections are coming.

Maybe then we’ll be an “Am Chofshi B’Artzeinu,” free people in our land, as HaTikvah proclaims, just in time for Pesach, the Festival of Freedom.

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.

(c) 2020/5781 Pasko