Covid and Climate – two sides of a counterfeit coin


Global warming?

A half truth is more calamitous than a total lie. We are the living proof of that. Two half truths and a body of total lies co-exist in a world toppled by the former but merely perverted by the latter.

The half truths, a pandemic and a change in climate, are real phenomena. They also happen to be concoctions of hysteria, of tricks of smoke and mirrors. George Orwell’s Animal Farm alerted us to watch out for elites claiming to help the helpless. And Mark Twain reminded us how much simpler it is to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.

Covid the excuse for lockdowns and climate the excuse for decarbonising, subvert liberty and play with lives on a scale made possible by our global village. We are into the second year of the lockdown experiment. Before anyone knew what the word meant, Americans were basking in the boom of a lifetime. For 60 years poverty hadn’t been so low and the employment rate so high. Blue-collar workers were lapping it up. As for minority groups and women, times had never been so good.

And then. Governments took a wrecking ball to it. From one quarter to the next, America’s economy plummeted by a third, the biggest decline ever. Britain’s contracted the most in 300 years. Unemployment in every Covid-hit country made it a second Great Depression.

The first was tragic enough. The lockdown depression was evil for two horrific aspects. The depression was imposed, and in many cases the motive was pain for political gain, with  enrichment on top. Who bore the pain and who relished the gain was often decided by despicable narrow interests. The all powerful on Covid duty did not pursue health objectives as much as they balanced competing loci of power.

No sooner had Biden beaten Trump than his State governors eased their cruel lockdowns which helped him to win. No sooner had the Biden team got its hands on the dollar printing press than it bailed out blue states as recompense for their job and business killing lockdowns. By the same token red states got punished with smaller payouts for their Trumpian not so lethal lockdowns. 

Had Covid interventions been purely for health and safety they’d surely have targeted the unhealthy and unsafe: infected and vulnerable people. That is largely what happened with SARS, MERS, Nipah, Zika and Mexican swine. Only Covid, the latest of a bad bunch, made governments fall back on taking away liberty. Interventions encroached on schooling and catering, trade and industry, entertainment and travel, for that matter on worship. Covid did not topple the world. Elected and appointed worthies did. They fooled citizens that lockdowns were for their own good.

They weren’t?

The answer to that question is another. Why did the goalposts continually shift? Lockdown to give health services time to gear up; then lockdown to flatten the curve; then lockdown to stop deaths; then lockdown to buy time to vaccinate to get herd immunity. And the goalpost is on the move again. Post vaccination, masking could remain and green passports will make the vaccinated a class of people with prized liberties.

There is but one explanation: goalposts shifted to adjust to political interests. Biden made a campaign promise to reopen schools. He has been months in power, but some 25 million American kids, or 50%, remain in school only part-time or are fully on Zoom. Why? Because the balance of power had moved to players with the clout of school boards and unionised teachers.

The politics of Climate bear the hallmarks of Covid politics. No. Climate steals a march on Covid. Not only the goalposts shift but the name of the cause. What began as ‘Global Warming’ became ‘Climate Change’ – a case of necessity being the mother of invention. Too manifestly to keep a straight face, the globe was blowing hot and cold. The name change permits the crème de la crème of causes to have it both ways.

Just in time. Texas the Lone Star energy colossus has had a record snowfall and the coldest temperature in three decades. People froze to death and millions had no electricity as the grid was deprived of green power from iced up solar and wind generators.

It caught a premier journal betwixt and between. In the same week as it wrote about the great freeze, it wrote about the cheapest way to cut carbon to prevent the world getting hotter.

‘Green maths’ it’s called. “Bill Gates,” blared the subhead, “is the latest to grapple with (it).” Finance & economics.

Gates can stand out for maths other than green. An Oregon school project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation could be the most perverted frolic ever indulged in by a Tech oligarch. “Ethno-mathematics” is the name of the subject. The project is a toolkit for “dismantling racism in mathematics.” By that is meant 2 + 2 = 4 is bad white man’s math, no good for kids of colour who may come up with a different answer according to the way their ‘non-white’ minds work. The “Equitable Math” toolkit funded by Gates trashes the old notion that there have to be right and wrong answers. Now 2 + 2 = 5 will be as good an answer as any.

We began with a body of total lies. Equitable maths is a lie embedded in the whole body, known as ‘Wokeism’, itself based on a lie. Just as Nazism was based on the lie of the Protocols, so Woke ideology is based on the lie of police brutality in Ferguson Missouri.  The ideology is perverting America while Covid and Climate, the half lies, are toppling it. French President Macron has called Wokeism toxic, and is determined not to let it spread to France as it has done to Britain. It is the Woke obsession with skin colour that troubles him. It is deeply racist and divisive: whites are execrated for their inherent racism and blacks are coddled – treated with kid gloves and get demeaning special treatment – because of their inherent fragility.

All ideologies emancipate thought from reality, but that doesn’t make Wokeism a crackpot circus. Far from it. It has upended academia and Democrat media (the likes of CNN and the New York Times) into Soviet-style Pravda propaganda super spreaders.

More frightening, the ideology has permeated the sciences and public health. Woke experts cancelled the Covid protocols to allow BLM and Antifa mobs to take to the streets. “White supremacy is a lethal public health issue,” said Jennifer Nuzzo a John Hopkins epidemiologist. “The danger of systemic racism is greater than the harm (catching) the virus could do.” A letter signed by a thousand public health experts gave the green light to de-masking and crowding. They didn’t want the religious to get the wrong idea. “Non-Woke gatherings for pray,” they wrote, “should not be confused with a permissive stance on riots for a good cause.” Think about that. From the President down, Wokes pin their colours to the mast of “following the science”, then mock Trumpians for their quackery.

Pandemic experts have cleared the fog for us. Covid is half a lie: the virus is scientific, the interventions are political.

All of it is small beer compared to the half lies of Climate. Consider the money. Biden has promised to spend $500 billion each year on abating climate change. Its economic impact, estimates economist Bjorn Lonborg, would reach $5 trillion, which is more than the entire federal budget. Or consider how jobs are cancelled at the stroke of a pen. Climate decrees put job-destroying lockdowns to shame. Among Biden’s first ‘green’ acts he cancelled the Keystone Pipeline with a loss of upwards of 10,000 jobs. An act to squelch fracking would cause a massive job loss. In Texas alone as many as 1 million good-paying jobs would be lost. Overall, according to a Chamber of Commerce report, a full national ban on fracking would cost 14 million jobs, more than the 8 million lost in the Great Recession, with the potential of turning towns into slums.

Green policies to eliminate fossil fuels, in common with lockdowns to eliminate Covid, have consequences for regions and for classes. Industry and blue collar workers are hardest hit. Regulations eliminate low paying jobs more than any other, hitting immigrants and blacks more than any other. And jobs go offshore, undermining the upward mobility of the working and under classes. Consumers also are hit hard by green virtues. There has been a rapid expansion of energy poverty in both America and Europe. As many as one in four Germans, and three out of four Greeks have cut other spending to pay their electricity bills.

Like advocates of the lockdown, Wokes are fiendishly selfish.  They vaunt their green obsession and expect the vast interior of America to feed it. For coastal elites, despoiling the desert with solar and wind farms is not a problem; they don’t have to look out on metallic giants. According to a 2019 report, decarbonising California would take 3 million acres of natural and agricultural land. A study reckons that building enough solar power to reduce U.S. emissions by 80% in 2050 could occupy upwards of 27,500 square miles. 

Covid panicked lockdowns chewed economies, currencies and lives for nothing. Is there a climate problem to justify a devastation that makes the lockdown’s look skinny? Is it a scientific truth that only by keeping the temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees can we prevent doomsday? And will that day come even if we can’t keep the thermometer down?

Certainly ‘end-of-the-world-is-nigh’ criers think so. They are preparing for doomsday by not procreating any more.

A silly projection record means nothing to climate addicts. An AP headline back in 1989 screamed: “Rising seas to obliterate nations by 2000.” The sensational news quotes a  Director of the New York office of the UN Environment Program. Entire nations, he warned, could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if “global warming is not reversed by the year 2000. Governments have a 10-year window before the greenhouse effect goes beyond human control.” The Independent on 20th March 2000 had this headline and content: “Snowfalls are a thing of the past. Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with striking evidence of further environmental change. Snow is starting to disappear from our lives. According to Dr David Viner a climate academic, winter snowfall will be a rare and exciting event.” In 1998 Dr Jim Hansen appeared before Congress to predict the greenhouse effect. “In 20 years the Westside Highway which runs alongside the Hudson River will be under water,” he said categorically. “You’ll have signs in restaurants saying, Water by request only.”

Like Covid predictors, their Climate counterparts vie for a piece of the action by making  fear-stoking predictions. We never get an apology when doomsday comes and goes. The opposite: the charlatans do more bare-faced crystal ball gazing, and keep their expert status intact.    

In any case real data reveals the panic is for nought. Global warming has not been harmful; generations to come will not be obliterated. Instead of imperilling life on earth global warming has saved lives. A 2015study by 22 international scientists concludes that cold kills 17 times more people than heat. Deaths from natural disasters have declined by 80% during the period when the earth’s temperature rose. NASA data show that since 1920, the earth’s temperature went up by 1.25 degrees while world population quadrupled. The death rate from air pollution has fallen by 50% since 1990. University of Oxford economists show that “since 1990 the number of air pollution deaths per 100,000 people have nearly halved.

Alarmist rhetoric, clicks and scares, apocalypse-now projections, have led to panicked policies which deprive billions of a life worth living.

Tyranny, wrote Hannah Arendt, who knew more than anyone about it, causes people to lose the capacity to think. The ideal person for totalitarianism is the one who cannot distinguish fact from fiction or true from false.

If you cannot prove a man wrong, don’t panic. You can always call him names. Had the Victorian era relied on Twitter and Facebook, would Oscar Wilde have been so cool about it?     

How jihadist does God want Israel to be?

So Joshua fought against Amalek just as Moses had instructed him; and Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses would raise his hands, then Israel prevailed, but whenever he would rest his hands, then Amalek prevailed.”

I listen to a Jewish academic remind Israel to remember Torah’s multiple warnings to be kind to strangers because the Israelites had been strangers in Egypt. Religion at a BDS event is not unknown.

The panel had spent the afternoon damning Zionists for having schlepped strangers (displaced Jews from Europe).to Palestine. In that case, you’d think, why not dress down the Palestinian Arabs? Remind them to be kind to strangers in their midst. Jew or Arab: how difficult can it be to give one side or the other stranger status, and the inalienable right to be treated kindly that goes with it.  

Cherry picking the bible to make political capital is good sport. Anti-Zionists, God-fearers and ridiculers alike, love to rub Judaism into the face of Zionist oppressors. Treat the Palestinian Arabs as you’d want to be treated: another cutting of poison ivy. There’s no supply problem in a Torah filled with humane ideals.

But the opposite and unlovely lesson is never cherry picked, that right is might and vice versa. When Israel is not being kind it must be militaristic. It is not just allowed, it is commanded to wage Holy War – in fact to wage different types of war. When push came to shove the stiff-necked people would have to kill before they could inherit the Promised Land. The seven nations living on it had to be annihilated. “You shall utterly destroy them’. (Deuteronomy 20:17). Anyone who chances upon one of the seven and fails to do that violates a negative command. “Do not allow a soul to live.’ (Ibid:16). There is one enemy distinct from and worse than every other. “Eradicate the memory of Amalek from under the Heavens: you shall not forget(Deuteronomy 25:17-19).

The present tense of the commands is significant. The obligation to wipe out nations that pose a threat to Israel is not bound by time or by circumstance. Annihilate. Judaism is far from pacific. For what Israel had to go through, being warlike is hardly to be wondered at. How else could the people claim or defend their inheritance.

The great Maimonides was no zealot. Yet he is clear that the law mandates the tribes to go to war, for two purposes. One is to deal with implacable foes, the other, more discretely, to expand the boundaries of Israel or to plunder wealth.

This flat portrait of cupidity is not pretty. But the law never allows the picture to be flat for long. It fences military action around and around until the holy warriors take an arsenal of ethical and moral codes into battle. Here is not the time or place for them, but to give an example: before any killing starts Israel has to try for peace. If the other side agrees to the terms, commits to keeping the seven laws of Noah, and submits to servitude, the army of Israel must pack up and go home.

Jews ancient and modern, however, will be Jews. Give them a set of ground rules and they’ll top them up. Set a moral bar to clear and they will ratchet it up a few notches – high enough to make the world like them a little more. War offers the chance to parade the mercy and magnanimity of Israel; to go above and beyond the letter of the law. How could the nations not respect a merciful Israel.  

There lies the rub – a vinegary one. “Be not over righteous, nor too clever.” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). And, according to Rabbi Shimon b. Lakish: “Whoever shows mercy to the cruel will ultimately be cruel to those deserving of mercy.”  Israeli wars, ancient and modern, make perfect case studies for the early warnings. Trouble upon trouble comes upon Israel when it bends like a reed to be extra nice, especially to enemies that are predisposed to take mercy as weakness and to bite the hand that feeds. The Rabbis of the Talmud frown upon allowing a weaker opponent to get the upper hand. If Jews die as a result the Rabbis consider it a form of suicide. Cain killing the stronger Abel after the latter felt sorry for his brother set the precedent. Thereafter the law set boundaries for showing mercy. A foe with an intent to kill loses the right to life.

 Jewish compassion, however, seems limitless. Merciful treatment of the enemy goes to unreasonable length. It was such behavior that made Israeli diplomat Abba Eban, complain sardonically after Israel’s lightning victory in the Six-Day War: “I think it would be the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.”

To rub salt in the wound, the world’s looked-for pat on the back never came. On the contrary: displays of mercy fed expectations and demands on Israel to act with ‘restraint.’ What other nations at war are told to hold back, time after time.  The Jews are an obliging people. Up and up goes the self-imposed bar. “Heaven help us if our moral standard is reduced to not committing crimes against humanity. From my country I demand a lot more,” said Jessica Montell, head of an Israeli human rights entity. All progressive Jews expect more than above-board conduct from Israel – a whole lot more.

Montell’s remark came in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the urban war waged by terror-crazies with  every trick in the book. Israel came out on top and morally intact. Still the halo brigade is insatiable. It wants more. It sets the bar so high that it can’t be cleared. The IDF must be cleaner than clean. Hence the trap. The higher the bar, the better to make Israel trip. Israel-haters wait and watch. How high can Israel jump? A shiver of the bar transports the court of public opinion into frenzies of scorn and condemnation. And instead of a light unto the nations, Israel becomes a polecat.

 Even those professedly for Israel have patience only up to a point. They’ll allow it to fight a rearguard action, but no more. Outright victory is intolerable. The result? Like Amalek’s descendant Haman, enemies came close to exterminating the Jews. Hitler himself came from the same line. Modern leaders of Israel have failed to learn the lesson. By treating implacable foes with compassion, Israel has given bloodthirsty Jew-killers a new lease of life. And the international community, instead of loving Israel for its compassion, seems to hate it with added ferocity.

What would the Almighty make of modern Israel at war? Is He an understanding God? It all depends. Are the Jihadists who fire rockets into Israel descended from the Seven Nations in the bible? Would they be among those whom Israel is commanded to annihilate? Or are they descendants of Amalek, the enemy of all enemies for all time?

No one knows. Some do know that the mini wars that Israel had to fight in its backyard (Defensive Shield, Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, Protective Edge) can be traced to the original sin of treating the heritage, the Promised Land, like a hot potato. Land won in miraculous victories became land to surrender, land with which to curry favor.

It made a victorious and magnanimous Israel hated more than a weak Israel. Mayhem and terror and international pariah status were the wages of sin. It took Israelis a long time to learn that land for peace does not appease; it emboldens demands for more. The lesson slowly sunk in that Israelites are a people who dwell alone. “Palestine from the river to the sea” echoes in UN corridors and chambers meant to keep nation from warring on nation.

How angry might it make the God of Israel?

Once upon a time a king bestowed gifts and favors on a preferred son. The son took the king’s benevolence for granted and thought of the gifts and favors, when he thought of them, as his rightful due. To court popularity he was liberal with giving away the gifts, even to those who hated him. Some had gone so far as plotting to kill the son, yet were glad to accept his generosity. By the power of the king the son’s life had been saved many times over, but he was unmindful of this. Was the king angry? Angry is not the word.

Priestly priority: 1 Jew, 2 Muslim, 3 Christian

A Christian Arab turns scripture into ideology

When Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu cried “impossible people” everyone knew he was talking about Jews. They were persecuting Palestinian Muslims. It had to stop. One day God would make them stop. When Frank Chikane, holder of high office in the World Council of Churches (WCC) spoke of “demons” and vowed that “blood will be sought from them” he again harped on the Jews. And so on as many clerics and church bodies do.

At this point article-writers get to the point which they, and we, have waited for. Singling out Israel! Why do clerics not denounce abuse of Palestinian rights in Gaza? If they really cared about Palestinians, what about those in Arab countries denied citizenship? If that conclusion was as valuable to the world as to the commentator, it would surely have had Israel-hating clerics scuttling for cover.      

The ‘what about?’ conclusion is easy to draw. What is obvious takes no thought. Critics of Israel have a double standard; are hypocrites. When article writers get to those words their spirits rise, and though ours may sink we get a lift. Critics of Israel mostly are mostly anti-Semites with double standards. Here is the latest simple commentator at work:

What he says is accurate, but all is useless. It leaves us with understanding but no insight. What is it about Israel, apart from being Jewish, that makes clerics treat this one country like poison?

To begin: Christian clerics are not like Muslims. They have no record of caring for their own endangered people. They’ll remember to pray for persecuted Christians, perhaps. But picket embassies, occupy piazzas, marshal the media into battle, take the UN by storm? Never.

Yet Christendom ought to be on life support in the third world. Reports on the war-torn Middle East confirm genocide in the proper sense of the word. If the PC media covered it, if PC leaders spoke of it, all would know and leaders might step up to the plate.

In the last century Christians made up 20% of people in the Middle East and North Africa. Today the proportion is around 4%. Christians killed for being what they are went up by 60% in one year alone. Open Doors USA released the 2021 World Watch List, in which countries that are bad news for a Christian are named. The sub-continent and North Africa are right up there with the worst.  

Coptics mourn after Islamists attacked church

What have clerics done about it? Pakistan did erupt in protest; otherwise the hallmark behavior has been passivity. “Everyone is ignoring the growing danger to Christians in Muslim countries,” bewailed Bishop Mano Rumalshah of Peshawar. “European countries don’t give a damn about us.”

Not quite. The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a damn. Though his words would have brought cold comfort to the bereaved and afflicted, they do help to understand the clerical mindset. This is what Archbishop Justin Welby, head of the Anglican Church, had to say after seeing the mass graves of latter day martyrs. “I have no illusions about this. But historically the right response of Christians to persecution and attack is — it’s the hardest thing we can ever say to people, but Jesus tells us to love our enemies. It’s the hardest thing when you’re violently attacked. It’s an indescribable challenge. But God gives grace so often for that – to love our enemies.”

Hold onto Welby the consoler of Christians drowning in blood while we revert to a nation with a bad smell in clerical nostrils. Did a Jew lately kill someone for being Christian? Was one Israeli Christian converted to Judaism under pain of death? Yet churchmen aim their missiles where?

The cleric with a grin

The Rev David Kim, head of the World Evangelical Alliance is another Tutu, who takes aim at the ‘impossible people’. “How to Deal with the Impossible People – A Biblical Perspective,” was the title of Kim’s paper at a Bethlehem conference. Ha – Muslims rooting up two thousand years of Christianity, you’d be given to think. Think again. A banner in the hall explained everything. It had a church and a cross imposed over a menacing-looking part of Israel’s anti-terror barrier. Kim’s paper was about how to deal with the Jews.

That is odd because in one shoelace thin land in a vast Christian graveyard, Christianity has prospered.  In 1949, Israel had 34,000 people of that faith. Today they number some 170,000. In this awkward Christian haven, freedom to practice religion is guaranteed. Access to holy sites has the force of law. And what draws more visitors to Israel than Holy Land tourism? Tiberius and Nazareth and Jerusalem practically live off pilgrimages. Under the ‘impossible people’ Christianity is alive and well. 

Men of the cloth, with all that God-endowed grace for loving your murderous enemy, have you no love leftover for a friend! Only heed your imperiled flock in Palestine and save a little Christian love for them.

Will clerics heed their flock in Palestine? Out of Gaza and Ramallah come leaks and whispers, hole-in-the wall fear-ridden testimonies, tearful stories told behind locked doors. Who knows the totality of fear, cruelty, confiscation, assault, homicide perpetrated on reclusive Christian pockets? Who cares to know? When did the media run a story on the torments of Gaza’s few remaining Christian souls; or on Bethlehem’s decimated long-time majority of Christian Arabs? When will men of the cloth sound the alarm? Tutu may feel love for Muslims, the persecutors of his faith, but not for the impossible Jews. He finds them more than impossible. “The Jews think they have a monopoly of God. Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.”

 Meanwhile the Palestinians of Gaza, on whom the cleric with a grin showers love, have made half his flock flee for their lives. Decorations for Christmas are banned and public crucifixes forbidden. Hamas has made the few remaining Christians in Gaza open season. The owner of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore was murdered and his little store burnt to the ground.

“We pray for all those Palestinians whose homes have been demolished and those who have been driven away. For Palestinians who suffer because of the separation wall and settlements and for those who have lost their jobs and suffer from poverty, hunger and thirst, we pray to you, O God.”Here’s a psalm to bring that loving spirit of Welby’s into the hearts of the flock. The words come from a liturgy composed by the WCC. The authors were Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and Catholic, and they were helped by a committee headed by Kairos. Kairos, if you don’t know, is the body that lobbied church synods to declare the occupying Jews a sinful people.

For anti-Israel clerics all roads lead to Bethlehem. They come not to defend the faith but to promote another Muslim state which would lose no time uprooting it. Defend Christians or attack Jews: for clerics it’s a no-brainer. Can men of the cloth, even pooling their faith, justify the perversity? Can they square the circle of exerting themselves to attack Jews while having no time for Christendom exploding on their doorstep?

Yes they can; by leaning back to a St Augustine doctrine and forward to a modern threesome.

St Augustine. The Jews must remain wanderers

Put together, the modern doctrines do not measure up to St Augustine’s one. Actually they’re more blind faith than doctrine, which is not to say they’re treated less reverently than the Gospels. One doctrine is called Human Rights; a second goes by a trendy catch-all name, ‘Multiculturalism’; while number three, a twisted belief you couldn’t invent if you tried, turns Jesus into a Palestinian.

The human rights doctrine is enshrined in the Kairos Document which borrows the bible to make the political views and world vision of the authors sacred. The effect is to convert Christianity into a human ideology. Bible-thumping clerics borrow their Messiah not to beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks; they bring him on for more mundane acts. They ask Jesus to walk through a military checkpoint in the West Bank. At Bethlehem’s ‘Christ at the Checkpoint Conference’ clerics deliberated what Jesus would do and say if he had to cope daily with Israeli checkpoints. How would the ‘Son of God’ cope with the anger and bitterness that Palestinians experience. Munther Isaac, Dean at Bethlehem Bible College, puts his feet in the Messiah’s big shoes. Jesus would hate Israel.

An Easter sermon painted human rights in biblical colors that are blinding. “It seems that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily”. Naim Ateek a Christian Arab, weaves the Gospel narrative into anti-Israel ideology. On the other hand the United Church of Christ (UCC) takes a modern line, embarrassed by bible references to Jews in a land they were supposed to have thieved off the natives in the 20th Century. Bravely political, it cooks up a hostile omelet of Israeli colonizers and Apartheid addicts.

Apparently, then, selective outrage for Palestinians living under Jews, though far better off than those rotting and dying under Muslims, is one way to get to heaven. Curse Israel and Grace will come to you.

Just how elastic is the figure of Jesus? How far can it be stretched and remain credible? Believe it – a little of Jesus goes a long way, far enough to be a reborn Palestinian. Leaders claim that, in all seriousness. “Jesus was a Palestinian.” Yasser Arafat’s PR woman Hannan Ashrawi disclosed the astounding fact to the Washington Jewish Week on February 22, 2001, and it did not even make headlines. Ashrawi was not the first, or the last, to bring Him into the fold. “Every Christmas, Palestine celebrates the birth of one of its own, Jesus Christ,” proclaimed the PLO’s statement for Christmas 2013. I don’t know if anyone has made Jesus into a Muslim, but the PLO seems to leave that possibility wide open.

Perhaps a third doctrine stands on studier legs. Woke ‘Multiculturalism’ or ‘Diversity’ could stand the test of time. Here the rulebook is short but strict: pay homage to Islamophobia. Bowing to the “I” word comes down to being ultra careful not to offend Muslim sensitivity. Islamists burn, behead and crucify infidels to near extinction yet the Pope utters hardly a peep. Britain’s National Union of Students (NUS), no Christian body, may as well have spoken for one when it refused to condemn Islamic State (IS). It would be Islamophobic, said student leaders.

The rule not to offend different cultures, though strict, is hardly consistent. Towards people of one faith the rule is ultra lax. If Muslims are off limits and sacrosanct, you’re allowed to say what you like about Jews, provided you call them Israelis or better, Zionists. Groups that tiptoe around Muslims have no qualms condemning Jews.  The NUS that wouldn’t condemn ISIS, supports a boycott of Israel. So Judaeophobia does not rank with Islamophobia in the greater scheme of things.

Those were newish doctrines telling Christians to love an enemy and hate a friend. A really  old doctrine calls for serious consideration. Christianity at one time held it as an article of faith. Augustine in the 4th century made the exile of the Jews a principle of theology. Long after him, Pope Pious X at an audience with Theodore Herzl in 1904, said: The Jews, who should have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ, have not done so to this day. And so if you come to Palestine and settle your people there, we will be ready with churches and priests to baptize all of you.”

Pope Pious X warned Theodore Herzl

XA journal at the time asserted that the Jews “must always live dispersed and vagrant among the other nations so that they may render witness to Christ by their very existence.” Hence the Vatican’s refusal to recognize the new Israel in 1948 was not pro-Arab bias, but a matter of dogma.

The WCC, the Presbyterians of America, the Greek Orthodox Church and many clerics,  think in St Augustine’s terms. Get the hell out of Palestine! After you rejected the Son of God your place as the Chosen People was taken by the Church. Return to being the witness wanderers God meant you to be.

Israel’s rise from Holocaust ashes troubles secular anti-Zionists in a similar way. For anti-Zionists the problem is not doctrinal but perceptual. They are unable to come to terms with the military Jew. Jews are not meant to be stronger than their persecutors. The stereotype of the Jew of old – that bearded bookish stateless wanderer – could never have evolved into a mean machine. What vinegary thoughts turn on Israel, what sourball gaze at the juggernaut Jew. Get the hell out! Go back to your natural born fate.

With biblical fire clerics seek to punish the un-chosen people. Your destiny was never to make the desert bloom; to build a Tel Aviv of Manhattan skyscrapers; to win Nobel Prizes by the wheelbarrow full; to boast a bustling high-tech economy with a currency stronger than Europe’s. 

The pores of Israel-hating clerics leak not envy but error, the faith-losing error of dogma. Hence the dogmatic angst and bluster towards friendly Israel: the spoilage of the plot, the shattering of the icon.

Covid tsars are problematic

There is a new type of bureaucrat. It seems every country had to have a Covid tsar. If countries had one why can’t the Jews at the tip of Africa, 55 000 strong, have three Covid tsars? There is work enough for three in pandemic-hit countries where no act or routine is too inconsequential or minute to escape a watchful eye, down to the number of guests permitted in the home. ‘Medical advisory team’ is the collective noun the trio go by. And there lies the abrasive rub. Covid tsars are medics to a fault.

Why to a fault? Who better than experts on epidemics, public health, infectious disease and emergency medicine for tackling a contagion? In fact they more than Covid’s direct tolls should be our concern. 

Look at it this way: there are two groups of people. Group A contains those involved with the medical consequences of Corona. They treat, test, produce or issue orders and rules for lockdowns. Group B contains everyone else. Its job is to buy Group A more time to get various ducks in a row: to flatten The Curve, obtain PPE, install ICU capacity, hire health care workers, purchase vaccine and roll out a vaccination program.

So Group B is the sacrificial lamb. Confined to home it must forego income, relationships, schooling and basic freedoms to worship, move about and generally refrain from fun and fulfilment.

All this makes for a game of winners and losers, refereed by Covid tsars. But are medics the right referee material? Do they even grasp a game is being played? Even if they do, there is no reason to expect such healthcare professionals to know the rules and have the skills for arbitrating between the players – assuming there is a rule book, which there is not. Penalties unforeseen, land on Group B as the game progresses. We begin to see that medics are poorly if at all equipped to referee perhaps the biggest game (or gamble) in modern history.

Consider schooling as one casualty of the pandemic. When Covid tsars red flag proper schooling because they believe classrooms and playgrounds are super spreaders, learners are penalized while teachers – when government paid and unionised – get the awards.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky is head of America’s CDC, the Centre for Disease Control, and as such is a Covid tsar in whose hands lies the fate of learners and teachers. Being that rarity, a scientist without a political bone in her body, she gave learners the nod. “I want to be clear,”she said, “that there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen, and that safe reopening does not mean teachers have to be vaccinated. I would say that vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for the reopening of schools.”

America’s Covid Tsar. Science over politics

But Dr Walensky referees at the whim of the powers that appointed her. In the Covid game the teachers’ unions, Democratic party kingmakers, won’t let teachers return to school until all have been vaccinated. Of course they won’t. Teachers have been on full pay for sitting at home doing next to nothing. When Science competes against political clout the game is won before it begins. Asked, “Wasn’t what the director of the CDC said good enough?” Joe Biden’s Press Secretary answered, “Dr Walensky spoke in her personal capacity. Obviously, she’s the head of the Covid Response Team, but we’re going to wait for the final guidance to come out so we can use that as a guide for schools around the country.”

There. Power to the teachers. The Covid game is played by the book with one rule: politics, the art of the possible, outkicks science.

If America’s Covid demigod is acutely conscious of the game, her greenhorn counterparts for South Africa know of no game at all. They know the biblical injunction to save precious life. And that’s it. Covid tsars for saving Jewish life are moved to sacrifice Jewish lives to a God of safety, the God who taught, “To save one life is to save an entire world”. In Jewish codes pikuach nefesh encapsulates the teaching by telling us to protect and preserve human life at any cost. Even medical science has not escaped being a burnt offering oddly considering that the Chief Rabbi specifically picked medics for his Covid tsars. 

Shuls can reopen,” he said, “when the rate of new infections in the country is on the decline. Right now, the models we are relying on…..” So he and his picks invested their faith in flattening a curve, which raises two problems.

One, an authentic curve of the rate of new infections must be drawn from authentic data. Iffy data will produce an iffy curve. The other problem is more fundamental. What has the rate of new infections in a third world country got to do with opening first world shuls? Is there a link between national infection rate and the risk of shul- goers getting infected? Can the first predict the second? I don’t see how. South Africa is a country of two worlds. By far the majority live in third world conditions while shuls and congregants are located in leafy suburbia. A report on Israel seems to put the lid on how wrong it may be to link the rate of infections to the risk posed by attending shul. Arutz Sheva on July 7th 2020 quoted a study revealing where Israelis got infected. Two thirds of cases were caught at home compared to a mere 2.2% in synagogues. 

 Doctors, being Covid tsars, duplicated the Babylonians and the Greeks by rending the cornerstones, foundations and columns of Jewish life. They forbad Jews to pray and learn together; closed down schools; warned Jews to stay put knowing it would deprive many of a livelihood. More troubling, the demigods of safety called a halt to marking the festivals of the bible.

The puzzle stands: why task a ‘Medical Advisory Team’ to recalibrate the heartbeat of Jewish life? It could be analogous to tasking a football referee to umpire a game of cricket. The foregone results are there for anyone to see: unhappiness all round, complaints from every quarter, panicky decisions. Only a week ago a Covid tsar quit in disgust over the community not observing protocols as strictly as he liked. Rabbis of empty synagogues despair of overkill; home shuls outside the system flourish; kosher caterers lie dormant; Jewish run businesses go bust; expedient reopening of schools and synagogues before the first wave had been tamed; community leaders invest faith in the words and judgement calls of a president who is guilty of ongoing crimes against humanity. (One example: healthcare workers died subsequent to cheap masks acquired through a corrupt tender).  

And all the while useless lockdowns go barnstorming our freedoms and security once held dear. The lockdown cure has killed the patient under doctors’ orders. Interference with our lives has been ingrained in politicians and unelected experts. The Milton Friedman I read for Economics warned my generation which took liberty for granted: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

If this is the price of saving a human life, can it be worth paying? It should turn us cold knowing that Andrew Cuomo the Governor of New York, who condemned thousands of the elderly to death by ordering care homes to admit Covid cases, is another who believes that the price of saving one life is worth paying.

Only the insane equate pain with success,” said the Cheshire Cat to Alice. “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” Winston Churchill could have said of a Covid panel composed of medics only.

Then a panel should boast what other experts? The answer to that question is another. Is a panel needed? At the appointment of Covid tsars I had a notion that met a brick wall. Here, I submitted, is a communal problem posing different and conflicting considerations. The value of saving a life is one consideration among many. Common sense, I wrote, acting with personal responsibility, is the correct arbitrator. No one is forced to pray or to learn in a group, eat in a restaurant, attend a simcha or go to school. A standard disclaimer on boards and digital notices would do the trick:

“The committee, etc is not responsible for….Members/customers/parents are advised to consult a doctor.”

If the religious head and his Covid panel can trust a corrupt president, surely there is wiggle room to trust grownup Jews to weigh the odds for themselves. Gather or stay home. Of course there’ll be risk takers. But there are irresponsible drivers on the road. Has there ever been a nanny state! If a technique exists for altering human nature it has yet to be discovered. Until then treat adults like adults.

In the rear mirror of hindsight we’ve seen where the newfangled bureaucrats are taking us. The notion that unelected experts know what is best is taking us down a road that leads to despotism and ruin.        

The Professor Kramer master class

Portrait of a pandemic menace

A poisoned chalice seems wonderful for a time, before it goes on to be a curse for the recipient. Beware especially of tributes in that sense. They can and have spelled disaster, near and wide. In a Jewish weekly there was a poisoned chalice clothed as this tribute. “Professor Efraim Kramer, head of the Division of Emergency medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand, has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of the community during the pandemic.” Here is praise for a wise king to dread and a plain commoner to welcome.

Jews who work to ensure the safety of a community do not have a good record. A terrible record goes way back to the meraglim, the spies who returned from the Promised Land with a report that sent the Israelites in the desert into fits of panic and crying. The national hysteria made God livid. “They indulged in weeping without a cause. I will set this as a time of weeping throughout the generations.” So it proved. Many catastrophes struck the nation on the day of mourning and fasting given the woeful name, Tisha b’av.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks made incisive comments about the fear mongers who, note instructively, made their bad report in what we now call ‘The public square.’

“They completely misunderstood their mission,” writes Rabbi Sacks. “The ten simply did not understand what was going on. The result was that they looked for the wrong things, came to the wrong conclusion, demoralised the people, destroyed the hope of an entire generation, and will eternally be remembered as responsible for one of the worst failures in Jewish history.”

Latter day Jewish leaders have also done communities no favour by working for their safety. In 1917 Jews of great standing spoke against the Balfour Declaration.  One was Claude Montifoire of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; another was Edwin Montique of the Anglo Jewish Association and the Cabinet. The two organisations published a manifesto in the Times of London to oppose a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It was they said “an anachronism”; the Jewish people had no national character. What spooked these leaders with no mandate to represent the community, was that Zionism – aka, Jewish nationalism – would attract anti-Semitic claims of disloyalty to the Crown. Rabbi Isaac Kook, the chief Rabbi of Jaffa called it a “Manifesto on National Treachery”.

American Jewry had its own ugly treachery. Rabbi Stephen Wise stood for, as had the upper crust Anglo Jews, the community’s own safety by letting his friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, persuade him that the way to let the anti-Semite sleeping dog lie was to keep Jewry quiet about the impending Holocaust in Europe and about FDR’s closing America’s doors to refugees fleeing for their lives.

Professor Kramer fell into all three fatal traps: the desert spies, the Anglo Jews and the American rabbi. Kramer: (1) Acted without a mandate. (2) Convinced himself that he was helping to keep the community safe. (3) Got the story completely wrong, and barked up the wrong tree.

The mandate from Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein set Kramer to develop Covid protocols for gatherings, especially for synagogues. But having accomplished the task he set about fanning panic and fear in that equivalent of the public square, a community weekly. Kramer   made statements too wild for the ramparts of politics, never mind for a professor of medicine. Rogue political leaders never had the gumption to fool citizens as he did when declaring, “We should actually be in a Level-5 (total) lockdown at this point. You cannot complain about a measure that’s in place to keep us alive.” I taxed the professor about his fevered words. Give your evidence. What difference would a total lockdown make? How is an easier one helping to “keep us alive”? Evidence if you please.

It took a stroke of irony and a chunk of luck to get it. In the paper the week after, a family doctor, oblivious to damning his guild of fear-stokers, tucked into a dread filled column a graphic allowing all to see the evidence: Covid curves and lockdown levels go their own merry independent way.

Ignoring a lockdown max Level 5, cases failed to react and deaths kept below the normal. Despite a dire Level 4 lockdown, curves rose like ski ramps, then dropped like stone, even after lockdown restrictions were eased to Level 3. The curves took the look of an ironing board when a Level 2 lockdown let people do more or less as they liked. Then came the holiday period, and Covid curves came back to random life.  

The evidence-based conclusion which Kramer the Covid tsar failed to cough up? Lockdowns control transmission and death like traffic fines control car crashes. They mostly don’t. Different countries, many lockdown experiments, one conclusion: the lockdown is a political intervention. A pandemic control lever the lockdown is not.   

A professor that flouts a mandate and pretends to be helping keep Jews safe is irredeemably indicted. When on top he slanders people by abusing statistics, he becomes a disgrace.  “Members of our community are playing a critical game of Russian roulette with their lives and the lives of others,” Kramer said. I asked him to rate what he thought of a wedding – a deadly activity compared to the reality: (a) Accurate (b) Near enough (c) Valid (d) Wild

We can rate without him. Russian roulette he said. The game, many know, involves loading one chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder, holding the gun to the head and pulling the trigger. With a 6-chambered revolver the player has a 1-in-6 chance of dying – a chance of 16,67%. Compare that with the chance of dying from Covid for a healthy person under 65.  It’s a wedding remember. The chance of that happening, (for which I’m indebted to Rabbi Yoram Bogacz) is 0,004%. So, a player of Russian roulette runs a risk of dying which is 4167 times greater than the risk of dying from Covid picked up at a wedding reception.

Kramer comparing Russian roulette to attending the wedding was, can we say, a teeny bit on the wild side?   

The community’s Covid tsar is a man who succumbs to histrionics. That makes him a dangerous tsar. When you add fear-mongering, attachment to lethal and useless lockdowns and contempt for keeping to a mandate given by the Chief Rabbi, then Kramer is a menace. He plays a destructive role in the community, adding to the dislocation of the national lockdown. He went so far as to warn people not to attend shul because of the danger. “The closure of shuls is imperative,” he stated.

If the professor can gloat over one achievement, it would be helping to erode the cornerstones of communal life: the extended family, the economy, small businesses, jobs, schooling, prayer quorums, camaraderie. “The shul is the heartbeat of Jewish life,” said Rabbi Yossy Goldman. “Also psychological, spiritual and emotional wellbeing are as important as economic wellbeing. We need our shuls more than ever before.” Rabbi Yossi Chaikin went further. “We’ve done (too good) a job of telling people to stay home and (pray), but that’s backfiring on us now. It’s getting progressively harder to get people back to shul.”

Like the spies that looked for the wrong things, came to the wrong conclusion, demoralised the Jews and destroyed the hope of an entire generation, Kramer was barking up the wrong tree. Of all the fool notions he put to the community, one ranks right up there.

Kramer believed – told the community – that actually the nation’s Covid tsar, Dr Dlamini-Zuma, was keeping the community alive. She’s the one who orders lockdowns and the rules to go with. It was her that banned cigarettes and alcohol and closed beaches and allowed police to throw stun grenades at surfers and shoot water cannon at old age pensioners when they stood too close together.  And it was the same woman who oversaw the looting of a R20 billion Covid fund.

I rest my case against the pandemic menace.

Memories from going to my roots

Medzhybizh Where Baal Shem Tov lived

‘I have been to my roots,’ he told me. He meant Lithuania – shtetle and house hunting. The great grandparents came from there.

Brodsky synagogue. Odessa

“And Ukraine?” I asked, more to prove a point than to make conversation. It held water. He said what I thought he’d say,.

“One day I’ll get to Uman.” Even the travel-wise connect Ukraine with the New Year binge at the burial site of Rav Nachman.

You don’t have to be a Breslov Hasid to have Uman on your bucket list. You even don’t have to be madly observant. In their tens of thousands young and not so young cram into the town in the belly of Ukraine for a street party of praying and dancing, snacking and singing. For two chaotic days Uman rocks.


Whether Nachman of Bratslav, a great grandson of founder of Hasidism, the Ba’al Shem Tov, would want it this way is a moot point. The charismatic and contentious figure died of TB in 1810. Aged 38; he had come to Uman to die, to be laid to rest where in 1768 twenty thousand Yidden were butchered by Haidamack Cossacks on farmland.

The Bobovs, Satmars and Lubavitcher sects are drawn further afield, to the tombs of rabbinic greats, making a holy arc over the western borderlands of Ukraine – what used to be the province of Galicia. More ohels and killing fields!

Messsianic fervour. Uman

Yet a trip down veneration or memory lane is not the be-all and end- all of ‘doing’ Ukraine. For one thing Ukraine is peopled by a lot of Jews – maybe 250 to 300 thousand – making it far and away the Jewish heartland of Eastern Europe. Whole cities, notably Odessa, Kiev, L’viv and Dnepropetrovsk, are full of heritage, magnificent buildings and modern Jewish flavor.

Belz, mayn shtetele ..mayn heimele” begins a popular Yiddish song from 1932. The old look and feel of the shtetl can be found in the former Pale of Settlement to this day. Market squares, sagging wooden homesteads, public wells, waddling geese by the roadside, relics of mikvehs and synagogues all flatter to deceive.  I visit the old shtetl of Medzhybizh. Here 300 years ago lived and taught and passed away the Ba’al Shem Tov. A massive medieval fortress, worth a visit, overlooks this cradle of Hasidism. Down in the village the old cemetery contains a new ohel, as big as a house, over the tomb of the ‘Besht’. Beyond the cemetery a new synagogue complex is painted white to match the ohel.

Site of Bavi Yar massacre.

It was Sholom Aleichem who put the shtetl on the Western map. His immortal character, Tevye the milkman, daidle-deedle-daidled his way through stage and film productions of Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye sang and suffered in Berdichev, a shtetl of 30,000 Jews on the eve of the Nazi invasion. But you have to go to Aleichem’s home town, Kiev to see a statue of the author in a public square where his dapper figure smiles and doffs his hat to passers-by.

But here, as everywhere lurks the dark shadow of pogroms and the Shoah. So many monuments to so much martyrdom, often hidden deep in verdant forests. What made Nazi killing squads do their work where larks sing and wild berries grow and fragrant foliage breathes?

But Ukraine is not another Poland or Lithuania; it is not an open air heritage museum. To be sure numbers have dived, even from the half million that outlived the Holocaust (out of 2 million in the 1930s). The Soviet clampdown all but wiped out Jewish identity. Then independence in 1991 let Jews go where they would. The popular revolt in 2014 against rotten government, followed by the Russian invasion and civil war led to another ebb tide of Jewry.

Woman of the Motherland. Kiev

I picked boiling hot days to visit the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea.’ Odessa remains a stunning port city filled with architectural wonders and Jewish flavour. The imposing Brodsky synagogue with four domed towers was the first Reform temple in tsarist Russia. Granted, crowds no longer pack the stalls to hear famous cantors and choirs, but Shabbat and Yomtov services are held.

After grisly pogroms near the turn of the 20th century, when Jews abandoned Odessa in droves, Zionism took root. The port became the ‘Gateway to Zion’ from which refugees embarked for Palestine. Many Zionist leaders were natives of Odessa: Leon Pinsker, Meir Dizengoff (first mayor of Tel Aviv), and not least, Zev Jabotinsky. The city was a magnet for Jewish arts, crawling with Yiddish theaters, literary salons and libraries. Yiddish writers, most of all Isaac Babel evoked Odessa. “It seems to me you could say a lot of good things about this important and most remarkable city in the Russian Empire.”

There’s been a Jewish community in the capital, Kiev for a thousand years. A 10th century letter from Kiev Jews was unearthed in a genizah (cache of documents) in a Cairo synagogue. Modern Kiev is a vibrant city of tree-lined boulevards, parks and piazzas, a city that will keep even a Jewish traveler awake for a week. The main shul is a 19th century Brodsky synagogue, a massive fortress – like building taking up an entire city block. The vantage point to get a whole canvas of Kiev is from a boat on the wide Dnieper River. Gold and green onion domes atop white churches dazzle the eye. A startling sight is a 100m tall female warrior on the river bank, the heroic figure wielding in one hand a shield and in the other a sword. Her name is ‘Woman of the Motherland’. She towers over the river, making a bold and massive statement about Soviet hubris after Hitler’s army was decimated.

If Odessa stuns and Kiev startles then L’viv (Lion) charms. The old world pre-war look and feel about the city is partly thanks to the German high command. Grand baroque mansions, cobblestone squares, broad boulevards, decorative facades and trams trundling up cobble roads are perfectly intact owing to the city earmarked for a Third Reich museum to which people would come to learn about the extinct nation of the Jews. The city used to  be home to more than 150,000, or close to a third of inhabitants. They were liquidated in a reign of terror when near every synagogue and cemetery was demolished. One or two left intact, like the Tsori Gilad shul with its rare brilliantly coloured wall paintings from the 1930s, were spared for museum pieces in a commemorative town.

Lviv. City the nazis left for a museum of the Jews

Take an overnight train, if Dnepropetrovsk in central Ukraine is on your itinerary. It should be if Odessa is on it, because the two lie on a straight line from Kiev. It must be on any heritage trip because the city is perfectly Jewish.  It boasts the Diaspora’s largest Jewish centre, containing the 1852 Golden Rose Choral synagogue, a Holocaust museum, a study centre and a fully kosher hotel.

Wife Vita

Trains are a throwback to Soviet days, as are local airports. The romance of a bygone era, of wood paneling and tough KGB-type women in command of coaches thrill the mind. At rough and ready airports passengers are left to retrieve their baggage on tractor trailers. At Lugansk airport I clambered into the belly of a 1950’s twin-prop to stow my bags. Then followed an hour wait for the pilot; on that Sunday morning he had overslept. On the approach to Kiev airport the wheels on a wooden structure dawdled down outside my porthole.

If you thought Lithuania or Poland had roots, you’ll go mad for Ukraine.

How people deny the Holocaust without denying it

For International Holocaust Remembrance Day

After the snake in the Garden of Eden, Man learnt to do evil’s bidding in tempting and beautiful ways. From then on forbidden fruit was no match for a silvery tongue. On the wings of fine sentiments, depraved causes seduce the human mind; tinny mantras draw utopians in droves; wishful thinking flattens facts on the ground; parroted lies pass for truth.

And who does it put out of business? Honest Holocaust deniers, a dying breed outside the Muslim world.

Adel Bin Ahmad is an honest denier. Preacher at the Jeddah mosque, Bin Ahmad is not one to mince words.

The Jews disseminate everywhere the lie of the Holocaust and claim that Hitler killed six million Jews in gas chambers. Although pure falsehood, they have made it part of their history”.Crude and over-the-top for sensitive folks, honest deniers are met with bemusement. Their venom is too sharp for the Western palate.

Iran’s Mullahs and Ayatollahs fill that gap. They know progressives want to believe that moderates govern Iran. They’ll never mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, but there is a certain finesse to their denial. putting a question mark in place of a denial.  

Observe that no one in Europe dares to speak about the Holocaust even though it’s not clear what the reality is about it, whether it even has a reality, or how it may have happened.”

Silvery tongue and all, Khamenei at the end of the day is an honest denier good for a polite chuckle. Western progressives want to be pitched in round about terms – Eve’s serpent would stand a good chance with them. Ruled by the heart, they are bowled over by moral sentiments. Englishman David Ward, MP is a good example of a denier who appeals to sophisticates.

I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians …on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza… The suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.”

Politician Ward is quite unlike your honest denier, and so is Ward’s tweed-jacketed friend, Andrew Wilkie of Nuffield College, Oxford: “I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians.”

Attend to how these gentlemen contrive to deny the Holocaust without denying it, how Ward and Wilkie contrive to kill two birds with one foul shot. (a) They upgrade Israeli acts to “atrocities” and “gross abuses” while (b) they downgrade the Nazi genocide to “persecution” and “treatment.”Surely lots of people in the world are persecuted unbelievably or treated appallingly. Yet many live to tell the tale. Their plight is worlds away from the methodical extermination of six million, not sparing the newborn.

Notice as well how the Ward-Wilkie types shift victimhood: Jews don’t suffer atrocities, they commit them. We are led to think not too badly of the Nazis. The Nazis treated Jews “appallingly”, like third-class citizens; they denied them rights and opportunities, deprived Jews f the basics, imprisoned them without trial, worked them long hours for low pay, subjected Jews to curfews and check points, gave them cramped quarters and fed them bad food, locked up or eliminated the troublemakers. Hardships indeed. But no hint of the elements which made the Holocaust a standalone genocide: working people to death; exterminating people by factory methods, liquidating populations town by town, ghetto by ghetto; butchering Jews in fits of fury.

The play on words by the clever denier is deliberate. I know because I asked Professor Wilkie. He was at a loss to explain his peculiar pairing of Holocaust victims and abused Palestinians – a neat sleight of hand. And how expertly these well the camouflaged deniers drum up support! They deflate the Holocaust to a massive crime while they inflate Palestinian suffering to a massive crime so that the two are level pegging. We are led to think that what the Nazis put the Jews through gave Israel the impetus for making Palestinians go through similar hell. The old cycle of violence again.

Is it possible? Jews turning the tables, Jews becoming Nazis? The novelist Howard Jacobson explains the trick.

“What do we think we are doing when we call the Israelis Nazis and liken Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto? We want to wound Jews in their anguished history and to punish them with their own grief. It is as though…Jewish actions of today prove that Jews had it coming to them yesterday. Berating Jews with their own history, disinheriting them of pity is the latest specie of Holocaust denial, more subtle than the David Irving version with its clunking body counts and quibbles over gas-chamber capability and chimney size.”

Which of the two is more dangerous: the clever denier or the foolish? We are about to see. America and Europe swim in progressives. They are academics and the mob, celebrities and champions of change (Linda Sarsour), groups with a grudge (Me Too, Women against Trump, LGBT, Antifa, BLM). In the US Congress itself ‘Nazi’ is scattered like confetti. Trump and supporters are Nazis for not wanting waves of ‘asylum seekers’ to crash the border, or for insurrection by invading the Capitol.   

Perhaps worst of all is when Israelis sling ‘Nazi’ at Israelis. Of course not for commiting genocide. The Israeli Holocaust down-grader is not such a fool. Haaretz columnist, Adira Haas is a good model. No one, she says, has the right to rank and rate suffering. Whether the death camps or Gaza border clashes, suffering is suffering. Hail Holocaust denial with a twist of moral theory.  

Whatever the method used people who deny the Holocaust without denying it have been effective. The progressive media, CNN and the NYT no less, have bought into Holocaust denial. Notice something that is beyond sly.

Jews are not the direct object of hatred. Israelis treat the Palestinians badly. This back door invites us to enter. We are tempted, because Israelis give Israel-haters good reason. If they hated Israel viscerally they would not be enlightened and only a few suckers would be attracted. But when haters attack Israel in a round-about way, via sympathy for Palestinian victims, sympathy is aroused and people are drawn. When hatred is clothed to look enlightened, disgust for Israel has a glow.

Those who deny the Holocaust without denying it have thought it all out. By claiming that Israelis are the Nazis of our time they polish up Hitler’s record while tarnishing   Israel’s. Comes a point where the two meet, where like is like, and deniers can say that Jew = Nazi. What seemed all light nonsense before seems all dark purpose now.

Lockdown: the cure that killed the patient

Synopsis of book by invitation of a publisher

Lockdown may be the most brazen experiment in human annuls. In unison or in sequence, governments shut down countries, closed borders, installed quasi police states and elevated technocrats who toggle ‘what if?’ scenarios on a keyboard; all to micro-manage people whipped into paranoia, by fair means or foul.

The pretext for lockdown, an opportunistic exercise in social engineering that would do Stalin proud, is the ‘mortal threat’ posed by the latest pandemic. The excuse smacks, if not of manipulation then of convenience for ‘Lords of Lockdown,’ the cute title the author gives to the political and expert class from whence lockdown orders and made up rules come. No such overlords rode into battle against contagions of the past – equal, we may add, to Covid in killing power, or lack thereof. Until the crowned virus burst out of stealth mode from Wuhan in January 2020, public health policies were variants of laissez faire. Governments stood aside to let a virus play itself out, as viruses have the habit of doing.

All of it poses different puzzles. The supreme one is, why would anyone whose life is disrupted or ruined or terminated by the lockdown, bow to suppression of a magnitude closer to totalitarianism than to rule by the people for the people? How do even the cleverest meekly submit, or submit because they feel beneficent, moral and pure? One admits, the notion of helping to save life is hard to resist. In that cause huddling at home seems the right and good thing to do.

Admittedly the idea of saving life is more than a strong allure; it is an absolute mandate. But if hard evidence counts? It must do, or we might invent any crackpot cure. And here the author drives the point home: “Round three in the world series. Another lockdown. Who knows, it could work. Third time lucky. No one gives a faulty kettle or a faddish diet three tries. Yet a medical experiment on human guinea pigs, numbering hundreds of millions: it gets three chances. What will it take to learn: The lockdown cure no more stops transmission of Covid than traffic fines stop car crashes.”

Never less than brutally honest, the author gives the fatal diagnosis: lockdown has no science backing, nor as Beatle John Lennon sang, “no religion too.” The ‘sanctity of life’ principle has equally been misapplied to the pandemic, by the religious who misconstrued God’s command, and by the secular who anyway liked the fuzzy feeling from saving life.

Still, the author has not quite done. He goes on to tear the morality argument to shreds. What if saving the one precious life means sacrificing a multiple of equally precious lives? And what if, what if, what if…?

So the knee-jerk copycatting of the command model used by dictatorial China came to be accepted by democracies as the accepted model. Indeed so accepted that dissenters, be they top medical specialists, have their Tweets, You Tube videos and Face Book pages closed down.

Yet no one seems to pose the supreme puzzle. Why would people blessed with democracy and liberty be willing – even to beg – to have their blessings stolen? Why choose to be cloned from the robotic North Koreans? The day the Wuhan virus made landfall every commentator and his aunt predicted that freedom-loving Westerners would never tolerate the way Hubei province was shutdown and quarantined by the Chinese command. Well, Westerners did more than tolerate the idea; they clamoured for the Chinese cure. Not once, not twice, three times over.  

Three lockdowns, three rounds of making havoc, and the elect, who lose nothing, call for more of the same. In the author’s picturesque parallel, their trying out lockdown on a pandemic is no more sane than trying out a bazooka on a cockroach. Rabbis, the author explains, can be more than prone to the madness. As an Israeli rabbi wrote: “Considering the surge of cases in countries around the world, it is not surprising that my family contracted the virus. Yes, we were careful, and we followed all the guidelines, but we got it anyway.” Out of the mouth of babes…

The work excavates how and why the world self-destructed. At the beginning of the lockdown experiment  the author warned to watch out for shenanigans, for long term trouble and strife. He looked up Benjamin Franklin about this. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

“Lockdown: the cure that killed the patient”, is culled from published essays. The chapters give the reader different perspectives and insights into economic, philosophic, religious and political arguments and their consequences.

The writing is exhilarating, the ideas mind-stirring.  Chapter titles – intriguing and lively – foretell the author’s palatable style in handling a grave, if not momentous matter. Completely fresh ideas combine with colourful and stirring prose to create a work which will entertain while pushing the boundaries of understanding.

The treatise is an eye-opening journey into the evils of a remedy built on the notion that liberty is a dangerous luxury. Perhaps ‘insane’ is not a strong enough word? Now that ‘climate’ ideology is boiling up and beckoning the mother of all lockdowns, generations to come may regret the pilot project on a mere pandemic.  

Lockdowns are both unscientific and immoral

Unaccountable Tsar of South Africa’s secretive Covid Command Council

Round three in the world series. Another lockdown. Who knows, it could work. Third time lucky. No one gives a faulty kettle or a faddish diet three tries. Yet a medical experiment on human guinea pigs, numbering hundreds of millions: it gets three chances. What will it take to learn. The lockdown cure no more stops transmission of Covid than traffic fines stop car crashes. 

The lockdown, the way it gets dumped on the obedient mass, cannot be scientific. In consecutive trials conducted in real time it killed the patient. The cure abolished freedoms with the same efficacy as it demolished economies. Mild and scared, few objected when unelected bureaucrats prescribed second and third doses of an unproven remedy. What do our masters see ahead: piles of body bags and bedlam at emergency morgues? The medics of old kept the sick at home. Our Covid era medics improved on that remedy: they keep the healthy huddled at home. In medical annuls the world was never shut down to fight a microscopic enemy.

Those who run the show call the shots. Who else would – God above? Who needs to run a show? Pandemics in the 1950’s and 60’s equalled the killing rate of Covid, yet nobody ran the show back then. Governments stood aside and let a virus play itself out, in the way viruses do.  No experts, narrow in wisdom and speculative by nature, relied on murky data and “what if” models to gain power. The family doctor wrote a prescription and ordered the patient to bed.  

Once upon a time democracies struck by a health crisis respected the basic freedoms: to move about, to work, to play, to learn and to pray. “When hysteria is rife we might try some history”, wrote Simon Jenkins under the title, “Why I’m taking the Corona hype with a pinch of salt”. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “The 1968 pandemic raged over three years, yet is largely forgotten today, a testament to how societies are now approaching a (health) crisis in a much different way”. What this means is that pre-science primitives concocted better ways for confronting a plague.  

Take one of the Covid age primitives, Britain’s Boris Johnson, who confronted the contagion with a punchy slogan: “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.” The first edict worked too well. Town centres and public places became haunts for ghosts. Britain’s economy took the hardest hit in Europe. The second edict was redundant. The health system, as it did almost everywhere, created more capacity than was needed. The third edict evidently fell on deaf ears. Lives were not saved. Britain in fact became the dead centre of Europe. So the wrecking ball, the ‘Stay home’ decree, counted for naught. If Britain’s lockdown saved some from Covid, it definitely consumed more lives by far. And the survivors, the workless: successive lockdowns made them a burden, to themselves and the country.

Then you get the American States of Florida and Texas. Did they pay a price for not abolishing liberty? Were the governors punished for giving tyranny a wider berth than those of New York and California, who put their people through hell, for their own damn good! Ask New Yorkers and Californians. What makes you flee to Florida or Texas?

The pandemic reveals how even the freest societies have a low tolerance for risk to public health. The free and not-so-brave fell to autocratic rule like ninepins. When Corona burst out of stealth mode in Wuhan, the Chinese command shut down parts of Hubei province on January 23rd. Every commentator and his aunt opined that freedom-loving Westerners would not tolerate the unthinkable lockdown. In fact Westerners did more than tolerate lockdown, they clamoured for this Chinese cure.

It should have set off a wailing alarm. A communist dictatorship model is hardly for democracies to replicate. Right now China is stamping out any hint of religion in Xinjiang province. Perhaps a million ethnic-Uyghurs stand accused of radical Islam, and get sent to re-education camps. Mosques are deemed ‘Arabic’ imports. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute reckons that Chinese authorities have demolished 8,000 of them.

But saving life, to the western way of thinking, comes before all else. Let the economy be devastated. Let the masses be suppressed. If lockdown saves one infinitely precious life, so be it.

What however if multiple infinitely precious lives have to be taken to save the one? More, what if the one dies anyway? Was it all for nothing? Closing down society is not a win-win game. To save one life you have to sacrifice many lives. What is the limit to how many may be taken to save the one? The UN reckons that 490 million people in 70 countries will become poverty-stricken. How many lives saved will make it worth ruining 490 million others? Is there an international rate of exchange? And what if those who are saved inhabit mansions, while those who are ruined to save them inhabit hovels? Do we give a lower weight to the dirt poor than to the filthy rich?   

I know one thing. Were I a religious scholar or an ethicist I would give public health the widest berth I could. I would leave it to the class acts. Let the technocrats who toggle ‘what if?’ scenarios on a keyboard idle the time away. Evidently Rabbi Lord Sacks, who was both Judaic scholar and ethicist, thought along similar lines. It seems it came to him that the stricture to save human life is for adoration, not necessarily for adoption. The fact that nations, in the face of the pandemic chose life was a significant victory for the Torah’s ethic of the sanctity of life.”

 Who would not find the sanctity of life revelationary? But from revelation to experimentation on a global pandemic seems a bridge too far – as far as experimenting with a bazooka to zap a cockroach. Nations, in the face of a pandemic, chose life. If that pro-life choice was more than just a token, what the nations really chose was death and ruination.

Two lockdowns, two rounds of destruction, and the privileged who lose nothing call for more of the same. It bring to the fore a last but not least moral poser. Is it right for lords of lockdown to escape the consequences of their own decrees? What makes it right for citizen B to lose his income and job, meanwhile high and mighty A motors off to a vacation pad?

 It is frequently observed that tyrannical movements use and abuse democratic freedoms in order to abolish them. To get a whiff of what the wind could blow in we should heed Hannah Arendt’s definitive 1950 book, ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism.’

“Government by bureaucracy is (rule) by decree. Decrees remain anonymous, and therefore seem to flow from a ruling power that needs no justification. Decrees are used in times of emergency. There are no principles for (commonsense) to grasp, behind the decree, only ever-changing circumstances which only an expert can know in detail. People ruled by decree never know what rules them because of the impossibility of understanding the decrees. There is a carefully organised ignorance of the circumstances in which bureaucrats keep people.”      

Lockdown is a bureaucrat’s delight. Bureaucrats are advised by experts who happen to agree with what the they have a mind to do, which is something no one else quite knows. They run lockdowns by decree, constantly changing the rules, so making them difficult to keep up with. A decree may close off beaches, prohibit liquor, close houses of prayer but allow casinos and cinemas to stay open. We are kept ignorant of what our rulers are up to. Where the decree reigns, know that its soul mate, a contempt for the rule of law, stalks it like a shadow.

Different tyrannies, one lockdown, same evils

California’s Lord of Lockdown
LA’s lawless lawman 

The Covid pandemic will shape the outlook for years to come. In good ways and bad. At the beginning of the lockdowns people confuse with Covid, I often warned that shenanigans would follow.   Now that many countries have entered a third round, the entirety of the experiment is open to the naked eye. The sight is not pretty.

 Freedom House, a think-tank in Washington, counts 80 countries with lockdowns where democracy and human rights took a turn for the worse. The list covers dictatorships grown nastier and democracies sunk into quasi police states. Governments to the right and left have taken advantage of a general state of alarm. A journalist named H.L. Mencken wrote, long before the pandemic, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

When people have a pandemic to alarm them they will clamour to be led to safety. Some put their faith in rocky health experts, others in office holders, arrogant as satraps. Both, with big media on their side, find it easy to spread panic and dread. Freedom House counted 91 countries using Covid as an excuse to harass critical commentary. Governments, not to mention media platforms, criminalize ‘fake news’ or ‘misinformation’ about the health crisis, meaning commentary displeasing to the powerful.  

And elections: ruling parties suspend them, on the grounds of spreading Corona. In Hong Kong pro-democracy candidates were expected to do well in the September election. Citing the risk of Covid, pro-China candidates delayed it for a year. Russian President Putin used Covid panic cleverly. He shifted responsibility for strict lockdowns to regional governors; he then took the credit for easing them. A pseudo-referendum to allow Putin to stay in office until 2036 was another good idea. Citing public health, he extended voting to a week, and – note this well, Democrats – he allowed voting at home, in courtyards, in playgrounds and on tree stumps. The ballot was impossible to verify and Putin declared a resounding victory – so impossible that Parliament voted in the new electoral system as a permanent one.

Will all this panic and string-pulling recede with the pandemic? Not if it lasts long enough to get rulers hooked on it. Here we should identify two sorts of tyranny. One is well-meant, the other is not. C S Lewis the classics scholar, author and theologian, wrote in ‘God in the Dock’ about tyranny well-meant. 

“A tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Clerics were among those ‘moral busybodies’. Once upon a time they used unspeakable cruelty to protect the monopoly of Catholicism and the Pope in Rome. Protestants bore the brunt: burnt, hanged, beheaded, to teach by example, to spare Catholics the torments of purgatory. Evil means were employed to prevent evil.

CS Lewis was a theologian, not a social scientist, and had nothing to say about the other tyranny: evil for evil sake. The masses do not suffer for their own good, or for the approval of the persecutor’s conscience. They suffer in the cause of some cruel and callous scheme. The murderous maniacs of the 1900s fall in this bracket: Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot offered neither penance nor reward, earthly or eternal. Their subjects lived through hell and died, often willingly, for some crackpot utopia.     

Our lords of lockdown are kith and kin of those terrible twins. Some order lockdown for our own good, to save us from Covid. Others order lockdown to exercise power, for the sheer thrill of it. Different motives same outcome. Liberty gets trampled, lives and livelihoods crushed, and far more die from the lockdown’s collateral damage than from Covid.

The tyrants who mean well come in different guises and degrees of selflessness. The front lines are manned by the political class and attendant health advisors. Britain’s Boris Johnson could be at one extreme. The Prime Minster, at the instance of appointed experts, groups his countrymen in tiers of lockdown, with liberties ranging from basic to hardly any. At the other end, the Governor of Florida stops at advising mask wear in public and limiting the size of gatherings. 

Religious authorities are a sub-group of tormentors who mean well. Some chief rabbis appoint a panel of health professionals given the job to impose or to urge dos and don’ts on communities. Their Covid protocols are over and above those imposed by government bodies. Such well-meaning tyrants, such “moral busybodies” who “torment us for our own good,” do so “with the approval of their own conscience.” They sleep better for doing all they can to keep communities safe. Nobody can blame them for mortalities.

Can they not? A spike in suicides is not related to the torments of lockdown? Alcohol and domestic abuse are not cries of lockdown despair? Neglect of health issues leading to preventable death has nothing to do with lockdown? The spate of small businesses gone to the wall, of livelihoods robbed and jobs lost are not aftermaths of lockdown?  A clear conscience after the World Health Organisation warned against lockdown, because the cure kills the patient, and brings poverty and misery? Religious heads and their panels are not to blame for urging stay-at-home as an act of piety?

To spit on lockdowns, curves refuse to flatten, infection rates head where they like, and one in a few hundred infected people die with Covid. None of it stops lords of lockdown egging on their countrymen to greater vigilance, even as lockdown tallies spike taller than Covid tallies. How we hug a faulty lifejacket while we sink! The authors of The Price of Panic present graphs of infection rates from which it cannot be seen when lockdowns began and when they ended. The infection rate, we never learn, is as dependent on lockdown as crime is dependent on jail time.  

It seems too easy for adherents of the lockdown to put their consciences to bed by going for broke. ‘Don’t let your guard down until it’s all over. The goal (which began with preventing hospitals being overrun) has turned into stopping Covid deaths. Until the goal is reached, forget that selfish yearning for liberty. Co-operate!

Is it the correct goal? Certainly scholars of Jewish law are adamant that human life comes before all else. Yes, the economy suffers, but if it saves infinitely precious life, so be it. God is so callous? So rigid? Lockdowns are plunging millions back into extreme poverty, the World Bank warns. The UN reckons that 490 million people in 70 countries will become poverty-stricken, reversing a decade of gains.

Could it be that bible punching bullies misread the Creator’s mind? That would be an error hard to excuse. The questions they had to ask the Almighty were easy enough: what should I (singly) do? Or, what must we (plural) do? You don’t have to be a great scholar to know which of the two questions is right. Failing that, Rabbi Lord Sacks, lately gathered unto his forefathers, spelled out the principle in terms no one could mistake. The ‘I’ question is a moral one; the ‘We’ question is political. The answer to the one is an absolute: Do what you have been commanded. The answer to the other, plural question is: it all depends. Cost-Benefit analysis will guide you to the best course of action.

But how many Rabbis and their medical teams are familiar with the ins and outs of Cost-Benefit? And, if the best course of action evolves from some guesswork, then what? They want clear consciences at the end of the day, as we all do. Why risk making a wrong call and have death on your hands? Better to ask God the wrong question, and get an answer that will indemnify you. What should I do? Save Life. In that case go for broke. Max out the Covid protocols. At all cost prevent death.   

‘The sanctity of life,’ Rabbi Sacks wrote about lockdown, “is a high value but not the only one. What matters are consequences. A ruler or government must act in the long-term interests of the people. That is why, though some will die as a result, governments are gradually easing the lockdown (as) the rate of infection falls, to ease distress and restore suspended liberty.”

Suspended? Would-be tyrants and desperados presiding over collapsed economies would disagree. Obstinate Covid is a gift heaven-sent, giving strongmen an excuse to prolong lockdowns under the pretext of fighting it. Did they look up Benjamin Franklin, I wonder? “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

There is a whole political class that do evil because it can. The quest for safety, it grasps, is all-consuming, and surrenders power into the laps of those who crave it. Also the patronage at their disposal is a money-spinner. Fortunes are made from milking the market for items and services that hapless subjects have to have to feel safe. Panic is obscenely profitable. Tumble people into a contagion and they’ll pay through the teeth to get their hands on test kits or face shields, or even more on the long awaited vaccine. Forget that a dirt cheap, long tested prophylactic mix could have done the protecting job from the beginning.    

A society that divides off a privileged from a dispensable class is a paradise for control freaks. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, is one. Angela Marsden’s tearful video would send a thrill down Newsom the tyrant as he watches a ‘deplorable’ subject pouring out her pain. A brutal lockdown can destroy a whole class of business owners beyond hope for recovery, something which no financial crisis has done before. Persecutors in the Newsom mould create unemployment of fabulous proportions, not restricted to the working class, but seizing swathes of enterprising people like restaurateurs.       

Los Angeles, indeed, is in the grip of office bearers who could have stepped out of Sodom and Gomorrah. District Attorney George Gascon devised a method to get people to comply with Mayor Garcetti’s malignant stay-home order. The DA will make city streets too dangerous for those who dare go out. Mr Gascon belongs to a breed of radical prosecutors who are  eviscerating law and order so that not too many felons of colour get arrested. His office will not prosecute a range of offenses. They include driving without a licence, trespassing and resisting arrest. His double whammy is well thought out. On the one hand, the law-abiding  will lock themselves in; on the other hand law-breakers get a free pass to make trouble on virtually police-free streets.

Some good may rise out of the plague year. If it does, a new social contract must carry the anti-lockdown motto: ‘Never again.’