COVID: The New Opioid Epidemic

This thread on the truly bizarre genesis of COVID is a must-read.

Folks, remember the opioid epidemic? It’s still happening, so it shouldn’t be that hard to remember even in this 1984 reality where people’s memories seem to be erased daily.

The entire opioid epidemic happened because of one footnote in one obscure article in one medical journal that was erroneously interpreted to say that opioids aren’t addictive. It was a profitable idea, so for the next 20 years, the entire US medical establishment operated under the assumption that opioids aren’t addictive. And people started dying in such numbers that life expectancy trends were reversed.

The medical establishment has now recognized its mistake. Whoop-dee-doo. But this does nothing for those who died and are still dying. It does nothing for Mexico which is ravaged by the cartels that arose to feed the demand created by that one stupid footnote.

What we are doing right now is an opioid epidemic to the power of an exploding sun. We are preparing to put into our own and our children’s bodies something completely untested with unknown side effects on the strength of what amounts to less than that footnote. And when the medical establishment recognizes – like it did with opioids – that it made a mistake, how is that going to help?

Please read the thread. Nobody even tried to explain any of these strange occurrences. We are being pushed into something potentially terrible for reasons that nobody has bothered to explain.

73 thoughts on “COVID: The New Opioid Epidemic”

  1. I do not understand. If you’re against vaccines, do you think covid deaths are not a large enough problem to get a vaccination? I understand being against incessant lockdowns, or being afraid of vaccinating a small child, or saying your area doesn’t have many ill people.

    However, you’ve called covid vaccines ‘poison’ in a previous post on Israel. Are other vaccines ‘poison’ too?

    As for ‘something completely untested with unknown side effects,’ I understand that the main idea / technology is the same as for flu vaccines. The worst I fear is that the vaccine won’t be as effective as promised. It is not an addictive opioid.

    Today’s Israeli news:

    // The research in Israel – two months into one of the world’s fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data – showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic COVID-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much.
    The study of about 1.2 million people also showed a single shot was 57% effective in protecting against symptomatic infections after two weeks, according to the data published and peer-reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
    The results of the study for the Clalit Research Institute were close to those in clinical trials last year which found two doses were found to be 95% effective.

    https://www.ynetnews.com/health_science/article/SJjjETNGd

    // The Clalit health fund, Israel’s largest HMO, issued a report Thursday saying that the UK coronavirus variant is the likely cause of a 70% rise last month in serious cases among unvaccinated Israelis.

    // The 23-year-old passed away at Nazareth’s English Hospital after collapsing at home. The hospital said he did not suffer from any preexisting conditions.
    Earlier on Thursday, a 26-year-old man from Jerusalem who was diagnosed with COVID-19 also died suddenly.

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    1. I’m trying not to get annoyed. Trying, trying, trying very hard. Kind of failing. But I’ll keep trying.

      Which “other m-RNA vaccines” are you referring to? Here I thought that m-RNA vaccines were completely new. The two people I know who are pharmaceutical scientists confirm that they are completely new. So which other m-RNA vaccines are you talking about? What are we all collectively missing? This was done in the past? Where? How long ago? Does Pfizer know? Because they seem convinced this is something completely new.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, the Harvard Medical School seems to have the same information as me:

        “The very first vaccines for COVID-19 to complete phase 3 testing are an entirely new type: mRNA vaccines. Never before have mRNA vaccines — such as the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that have now received emergency use authorization from the FDA — been approved for use in any disease.”

        What are we all missing here?

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        1. Sorry, I got confused between this new tech and other older ways of creating vaccines.

          What I understand from reading Israeli press and TV is that:

          in most cases covid is not dangerous for younger people
          However, it may lead to side effects and serious symptoms in an unpredictable fashion even among younger population
          vaccinations seem to be working in Israel in preventing people from becoming seriously ill

          there have not been unusual side effects to vaccinations (so far)

          So, imo it makes sense for someone like me or my mother to get vaccinated which we have done.

          As for pregnant women or children with serious diseases (who received vaccines in Israel), it is ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.’ If covid is here to stay, they’ll be near someone carrying the virus, so it’s the choice between taking the vaccines or taking the chance of covid w/o any vaccine to build some immunity before that.

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          1. If I start listing what I understand from the US press, we’ll all lose our minds in a moment. The press lies. It lies. It lies a lot. The number of COVID hoaxes that the press has exultantly reported is sky-high. I don’t know how to discuss the issue seriously with somebody who keeps going “but the press said it so it must be true!”

            I don’t care what garbage people put into their bodies, including opioids. But at least nobody was forced to take opioids against their will. Your drug of choice is about to be forced on unwilling people.

            Once again, the entire US medical establishment believed as a dogma that opioids weren’t addictive for decades. The actual medical establishment, not some stupid press. And they were wrong. How do you know they aren’t wrong now?

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  2. And in more news:

    // According to the Military Intelligence coronavirus task force, 77.1% of the new cases were in people under the age of 39 and only 5% were in the over-60s.
    The data corresponds to the vaccination rates among the Israeli population, with 84% of the over-60s having received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine by the start of February.

    // Channel 13 reported that there are currently 50 pregnant women hospitalized, with 19 in serious condition and 8 in critical condition. None of them have been vaccinated.

    The reports noted that only one-third of pregnant women in Israel were vaccinated. However, the Health Ministry has only been recommending since January 20 that they get the vaccine.

    Channel 13 said that a month after the change in protocol there have been no incidents of side effects harming a pregnant mother or fetus.

    The situation was starkly illustrated when a pregnant woman died overnight Saturday of COVID-19, who did not get herself vaccinated against the disease because she feared it might endanger her fetus, which also died.

    Ben Shitrit, 32, a mother of four, died at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. Doctors were unable to save her 30-week fetus in an emergency C-section. The fetus had been not infected with the virus, but was delivered in critical condition and did not survive, Hadassah said.

    Ben Shitrit’s brother-in-law told the Kan public broadcaster that he had set up an anti-vaccination Facebook group that swelled to thousands of members, and that he is still a member of several other groups.

    Ben Shitrit was healthy until she recently contracted the coronavirus, and previously had four smooth pregnancies that ended in straightforward births

    News of her death reverberated across the Israeli healthcare system, with doctors warning that it illustrates the increased danger that the so-called British variant, which now accounts for almost all Israeli COVID cases, holds for pregnant women and fetuses.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/death-of-mother-fetus-highlights-sharp-rise-in-covid-infections-among-pregnant/

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    1. Pregnant women who take this vaccine are completely insane.

      What I say about brainwashing stands. The numbers of miscarriages and late-term stillbirths with this vaccine are very disturbing. This article you posted is doing an unconscionable thing, trying to terrify pregnant women into something that’s just wrong. These vaccines were never tested on pregnant women.

      When these bastards start apologizing, it will be too late for these women.

      70-year-old people are one thing. But anybody of fertile age who takes these is . . . Very very stupid is the mildest thing I can come up with.

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      1. // But anybody of fertile age who takes these is . . . Very very stupid is the mildest thing I can come up with.

        I’ve taken Pfizer and want to have kids in the future. Do you think there is a chance of vaccines affecting one’s fertility in the long-term?

        Your husband is an expert, isn’t he? What does he say about the Pfizer vaccines?

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        1. My husband is a statistician. But I have a friend who is a pharmaceutical scientist. She says she will be the last person on the planet to take this crap. I have another friend who is a pharmacist and he says, “why do you ask? You know my wife and I want to have another kid in the future, so of course not.”

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          1. Regarding a pharmaceutical scientist, has s/he said how long should one wait after taking the 2 doses of vaccine, if one wants to have kids or to freeze eggs? The only person I can ask is a family doctor and I don’t think he is an expert on that.

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            1. I don’t understand the question. This is not a one-time vaccine. You are supposed to be retaking it every few months.

              It’s really nothing like childhood vaccines in any way or form. With this thing, you become a lifelong patient.

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              1. // This is not a one-time vaccine. You are supposed to be retaking it every few months.

                Even if it’s so, suppose somebody took it one last time and now wants to freeze eggs/become pregnant. How long should one wait?

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              2. El, I do not believe anyone in this world can answer your question regarding the fertility since no one knows. This vaccine (Pfizer) has been tested for two months before releasing it into the population. There is no data on long-term effects. All people taking it now are test subjects and only time will tell what the consequences are. Some reports say that the spike protein your body is trained to recognize with this vaccine is similar to a protein important for proper placenta function. Some say it is incorrect. Who is right? I don’t know. I believe that every person should be free to decide for themselves about whether they want take the vaccine or not after weighing the risk of the virus vs. the risk of the vaccine. Because either choice brings some risk.

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              3. Precisely. This stuff wasn’t tested correctly. It was rushed through approvals. Pfizer and Moderna received clearances so that you can’t sue them if things go bad. It’s a completely new, completely untested technology that people are stuffing into their bodies to protect them from a disease that has fewer symptoms than a common cold in moderately healthy people who are not elderly. This is deeply insane behavior that can only be explained by a massive propaganda campaign that convinced them this is some sort of a mortal risk.

                I agree that people should decide for themselves. But will we be allowed to do it?

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              4. —Some reports say that the spike protein your body is trained to recognize with this vaccine is similar to a protein important for proper placenta function. Some say it is incorrect. Who is right? I don’t know.

                I agree that nobody knows. And please do not take the following as an encouragement to take any vaccines. I am not particularly fond of the insufficiently tested stuff myself.
                But, if the spike protein is similar to some placenta protein in ways that matter, wouldn’t it also be true that COVID, which has that spike protein by definition, would also be dangerous for people of childbearing age, and exactly for the same reasons?
                Also, if we accept that, epidemiologically speaking, COVID is not that different from the flu, then we should accept all the consequences of that. For example, if COVID is indeed “like the flu”, wouldn’t it be true that most of the people will be exposed to it sooner or later, just like they are exposed to the flu?

                By the way, would you take Russian vaccine, which is allegedly based on different technology (adenovirus)? Or the Chinese (allegedly traditional mechanism involving inactivated virus) one?

                With respect to the link in the opening post, I find the style of that text pretty interesting… For example, the author tries pretty hard to question the validity of the PCR test developed in a rush (or as a result of a conspiracy?), but does not say in which way the test is bad and what are the implications of test being bad in that particular way. Too many false positives or too many false negatives? He seems to imply the first, but his screenshots (where he selects the piece saying that COVID symptoms are indistinguishable from those of the flu) say the opposite. Overall I got the impression that the person knows something about epidemiology (his discussion on various predictive models in another post looked meaningful) but selects the facts to support his pre-existing narrative. Just like the fearmongers do, but “with the opposite sign”.

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              5. There’s no need to explain why the PCR test is bad. WHO did that several weeks ago and now is requesting governments to reduce the spin cycle dramatically. Everybody who is interested in the subject knows that. What’s the point of repeating this?

                I wouldn’t take any vaccine for it developed by anybody. Because it’s a freaking common cold. We are dismantling our lives and messing with our RNA over a common cold.

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              6. On the subject of the PCR.

                Here’s the timeline.

                WHO recommends lowering the spin cycle because it gets too ridiculous even for WHO. The PCR test gives a positive even if you had a cold 6 months ago because the spin cycle makes it too sensitive.

                After the WHO mandate, case numbers drop precipitously worldwide. Except for Israel but who knows what happens there. Their descent is very slow. Look on Google and compare the graphs of Israel’s cases and everybody else’s.

                In any case, the US sees a drop of something like 70% in cases within a few weeks. But deaths don’t follow. It’s a completely different graph. Locally, this bears out. The mortality looks identical to May, June, October, etc. Two or three elderly people die per day. But cases have reduced by 90%.

                I’ll let people draw their own conclusions as to what it means. But this is all easily googlable.

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              7. Valter, one can’t say anything for certain, we know so little, but I’d think the main difference, in the “spike protein” situation, between getting the vax and getting the virus, is that they’re saying maybe you should get the vaccine every year, maybe twice a year– so the exposure would be pretty constant. Whereas exposure to the wild virus would not.

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              8. Israel says every six months. Crazy stuff. Really disturbing.

                I get panic attacks when people mention Israel these days as a good example of something COVID related. It’s a nightmare what’s happening there. And it’s coming here soon.

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              9. If anything, the situation in Israel throws gasoline on the population-control-conspiracy fire. They’ve got some heavy-duty propaganda going there to make villains out of the dirty, excessively-fertile religious underclass (that their secular PMC-equivalents clearly despise like cockroaches) for resisting the vaccine.

                Hmm… now why would people who loathe the Arabs and the haredi and their big families be soooo eager to gift these people such a wonderful medical intervention, against their will? They care about them all of a sudden? Please. I’m not saying the theories are true, but I sure don’t blame those folks for not trusting the shots!

                Liked by 1 person

              10. valter07, I am not an expert and do not aim to persuade people here about the vaccines one way or the other or endorse anyone’s views on it. All I can do is to consider all the pros and cons for myself and make the choice that’s right for me.

                “But, if the spike protein is similar to some placenta protein in ways that matter, wouldn’t it also be true that COVID, which has that spike protein by definition, would also be dangerous for people of childbearing age, and exactly for the same reasons?”

                The people who make this claim agree with you and suggest that COVID itself has been linked to pregnancy loss in the 2nd trimester. They make an argument that while disease can lead to an immediate one-time problem with the pregnancy in g to he acute phase, the antibodies created after the vaccination may have a longer-term effect and lead to infertility of unknown duration, especially if you consider you will be subjected to all kinds of vaccine doses and boosters on a regular basis.

                “By the way, would you take Russian vaccine, which is allegedly based on different technology (adenovirus)? Or the Chinese (allegedly traditional mechanism involving inactivated virus) one?”

                Not if I can help it. The virus is not particularly dangerous to people in my age group and therefore I don’t believe that the risk of taking an untested vaccine is worth it. Additionally, I do have an ethical problem with how most of these vaccines are developed, but I will not go into that here. If you point a gun at me and tell me you will shoot me unless I take one of those vaccines, I would choose a more traditional one, ideally, a protein-based vaccine. I believe that this summer, there will be 4 choices in the US, Pfizer and Moderna that are based on mRNA, Johnson and Johnson based on adenovirus, and Novavax which is protein-based. Out of these, Novavax is the one based on the more traditional technology. However, even the more traditional vaccines need more testing at this point, in my opinion. In any case, while I may consider getting vaccinated under a threat, you will have to shoot me and walk over my cold dead body to administer any of those vaccines to my child.

                Liked by 1 person

              11. That’s exactly my position, too. I’m not letting anybody touch my child with this.

                I’m surprised at Israeli Jews. Haven’t Jews been experimented on enough for the future of medical advances? One would think that historical memory would at least make them think twice before becoming Pfizer’s guinea pigs.

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              12. Regarding fertility and vaccines that inform the immune system about spike proteins, at this point in time what we do know is that more antibodies tend to form in people who have a more severe case of the disease, with the number of antibodies being produced after vaccination being much less. Also, antibodies seem to dissolve in a matter of months in most people.

                Based on that, if I had to take a guess about how the vaccine would affect women who are trying to get pregnant, then supposing that the vaccine doesn’t accidentally destroy a large proportion of some type of cell that takes a long time to regrow, I’d say that difficulty with embryo implantation should mirror how many antibodies there are. Half a year or a year later, there’s shouldn’t be much difference, if any, for most women.

                Note: the only way to know for sure would be empirically. You’d have to study large populations and compare results to a control group. And even that would require a known, unchanging vaccine – not the spaghetti of many different vaccines/batches that people are being injected with at the moment.

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              13. My goal was not to defend PCR tests. I just used the treatment of PCR in the opening link as proof that what author is doing is not necessarily science, but something else. In Russian it is called “publicistics”, but I am not sure it means the same thing in English. Essentially he addresses the audience that already agrees with him. But for somebody who is skeptical of ANY and ALL narratives his writings leave a lot to be desired. Basically, he does not offer solutions, he just claims overreaction.

                To give you another example – he debunks the asymptomatic transmission theory. Maybe he is right. But for some reason he is not using the info referred in your Federalist article, for example (which allegedly has been around as a preprint since summer, so the specialist intent on claiming COVID overreaction should have noticed it), but concentrates on debunking one highly publicized case. On the grounds that the “asymptomatic” person was not truly asymptomatic, but squashed her mild symptoms with some over the counter medicine. On one hand the distinction between “truly asymptomatic” and “appearing asymptomatic with mild symptoms suppressed with paracetamol” is important for understanding how infection truly spreads. On another hand, for practical prevention purposes, it is not like this Chinese woman is unique and doing something like that would never occur to anybody else. I bet there are a lot of people who would do or have done exactly that. For a variety of reasons – the need to go on with their life / work, escape a foreign country without being stuck there, not believing, rightly or wrongly, that COVID poses significant risk for them, even making a political statement. How does one distinguish between the above two options without a) reliable testing confirming the presence of the virus in the first place and b) constant surveillance allowing for distinguishing between “truly asymptomatic” and “appearing asymptomatic”? Basically, any public health policy should include the assumption that a lot of people would lie about their symptoms. I am not sure if making that assumption openly is politically feasible…

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              14. Investigative journalist is the closest concept in English to what you mean.

                Yes, much of the work on this is being done by investigative journalists, either professional ones or people who never did this work before. There have been doctors and scientists who tried to speak out about this. They have all been silenced. Their videos were removed from Youtube and social media. Doctors still prescribe HCQ because it works but they do it quietly because it’s been condemned politically. It’s harder to shut up people like Berenson who was a bestselling author long before this and has a large following. He’s also liked by Elon Musk, which is the only reason his COVID books are still on Amazon. Or Janice Dean who single-handedly brought down NY governor Cuomo. She had a large audience from long before COVID.

                So yes, it’s work that’s being done through investigative reporting because only the people who aren’t part of the medical establishment can afford to talk about this.

                As for the solution, there is one. It’s to go back to our lives and let the terrified do what they need to feel less anxious.

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              15. “What do you mean by “half a year later” if you are supposed to take the vaccine every 6 months?”

                I mean half a year after the last dose.

                By the way I would very much appreciate it if everyone took upon themselves the opinion that vaccines can’t need boosters every 6 months and still be called vaccines. Please call it something else that is accurate, like experimental immunotherapy, or a money making scam, or granny killing arm ouchies. Anything, just not “vaccine”.

                Liked by 1 person

              16. I couldn’t agree more. The word “vaccine” confuses people, making them ask endless questions about how this is different from the hepatitis or whooping cough vaccines. Drives me up a wall.

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  3. “The entire opioid epidemic happened because of one footnote in one obscure article in one medical journal…”

    Respectfully, the opioid epidemic happened because of one thing and one thing only – greed.

    Also, there are so many things wrong in the link that correcting it would require writing something many thousands of words long.

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  4. // If anything, the situation in Israel throws gasoline on the population-control-conspiracy fire. They’ve got some heavy-duty propaganda going there to make villains out of the dirty, excessively-fertile religious underclass (that their secular PMC-equivalents clearly despise like cockroaches) for resisting the vaccine.

    Hmm… now why would people who loathe the Arabs and the haredi and their big families be soooo eager to gift these people such a wonderful medical intervention, against their will? They care about them all of a sudden? Please. I’m not saying the theories are true, but I sure don’t blame those folks for not trusting the shots! //

    My reply is not short, but this comment shows such a complete misrepresentation and misunderstanding of my country that I had to explain.

    methylethyl, since you judged Israeli situation from afar, probably based on your feelings as a religious person with a large family in US, it turned out completely wrong.

    Nobody describes the Haredi as ‘the dirty, excessively-fertile religious underclass’. It would be justly considered anti-Semitic and this person would be out of politics in a second.

    The ‘dirty’ part is 100% false. No one ever said it in Israel.

    The ‘excessively-fertile’ part is 90% false. No Israeli Jew is agaist large Jewish families per se (note that I didn’t say ‘large Arab families’).

    Have read about a fringe ultra-Orthodox religious organization which ” actively encourages and facilitates polygamy, claiming the practice will help reduce the number of single women within their communities and at the same time give Jews an edge in the demographic race against Arabs in Israel.”

    The bit about ‘the demographic race against Arabs in Israel’ is 100% from the general mainstream discourse.

    Israeli Jews are 100% FOR large Jewish families. No one talks about environment or overpopulatition here.

    What they are against is Haredi men not working, getting money from my taxes to study Torah and raise their 10 kids. Had Haredi worked to support their large families, everybody Jewish in Israel would’ve been 100% celebratory.

    As for ‘religious underclass’, the majority of Israeli Jews identifies as religious, even if not Haredi, and observes some religious rules, f.e. kashrut laws. FSU Jews were unusual in their secularism. However, the research shows that already children of FSU Jews become more religious, in tune with the general society. 😦 As an atheist, I am a minority, partly persecuted one because of the lack of separation between religion and state.

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  5. Perhaps the best way to understand how things stand in Israel is to read a list of demands from FSU Russian-speaking Right-wing politician Avigdor Lieberman.

    This list is the height of anti-religious extremism in Israel, a pipe-dream that will never come true, with everyone, including Lieberman, understanding that.

    As you read, think whether those demands are truly ‘anti-religious’ , or ‘anti-theocratic’ would’ve been a better word.

    // DRAMATIC DEVELOPMENT: Liberman Lists Anti-Religious Demands To Join Gov’t, Gantz Hastily Agrees, MK Elkin Calls For Psychiatrist
    March 8, 2020 11:00 am

    Liberman’s conditions are:
    1. Stipends and income support for the elderly would be at least 70% of the minimum wage.
    2. Public transportation and business activity on Shabbos will be controlled by local authorities rather than government ministries.
    3. Legislation for increasing Chareidi enlistment in the IDF which was approved in the 20th Knesset will be passed.
    4. Legislation for civil marriage in Israel will be passed.
    5. Local rabbanim will be allowed to establish their own courts for giyur to ease the conversion process.

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    1. El, I have known a couple of (secular) Israelis personally, and for a long time followed the blog of a lovely traditional religious Jewish woman living in Israel. I was never sure what to make of their various attitudes and comments, regarding haredi in Israel. It was your own comments on this blog that finally cleared it up for me. I can see that you’re uncomfortable with my assessment, but it was your own comments I drew that assessment from. So if that is a wrong way of looking at it, perhaps you should examine your own attitudes toward these people.

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      1. // It was your own comments on this blog that finally cleared it up for me. I can see that you’re uncomfortable with my assessment, but it was your own comments I drew that assessment from. So if that is a wrong way of looking at it, perhaps you should examine your own attitudes toward these people.

        I am sadly extremely not representative among Israeli Jews in my strong desire for (at least, greater) separation between religion and state.

        I was born in Ukraine, raised in the final years of FSU and immediately after its downfall, in a fully atheist environment. Arrived as a teen to Israel. Have always been an atheist and see not-religious public environment as ‘normal.’

        So drawing this assessment from my words is mistaken. Quite a few FSU immigrants may think like me, thus Avigdor Lieberman expresses those demands, but we are a minority in Israel.

        As for ‘examine your own attitudes toward these people,’ I have been working in national-religious (not Haredi) environments for many years, including with some Haredi people whom I like and respect.

        I am NOT against religious people.

        What I am strongly against and do not see any need to examine is the situation in Israel in which being a Haredi releases one from:

        the need to work (instead gov pays stipends to yeshiva students, adult men with families of 5+ kids)
        IDF service which both men and women must do in Israel, unless they are Orthodox
        providing not only religious education to kids. Children study math only in elementary school, don’t study English at all, don’t receive a high school diploma. A few Haredi former-kids sued the state for not providing a normal education to them, but the country threw that suit out of court.

        In addition to large numbers of Haredi not working, they have the right to:

        restrict abortion access to me
        monopolize marriage and divorce. Even if I marry in a secular ceremony outside Israel, if I want to divorce, the divorce can be granted only in a religious court. If a husband refuses, a woman remains ‘aguna’ (chained) to him. Any children she may have from another man will be declared ‘mamzers’ and rabanic court won’t let them marry a normal, not mamzer Jew in the future. I do not care about myself, but would care about putting this Scarlet Letter on kids.
        other 1001 ways to forcing religion on not religious people like limiting shops that sell not kosher food.

        I am for freedom of religion but also for freedom FROM religion. Don’t think I’ll ever get the latter in my country. 😦

        I hope my position has become clearer to you now, or hasn’t it?

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          1. // Yes, but probably not in the way you intended it.

            May you clarify?

            It’s interesting how it looks to others. To me, my position is the most natural and not anti-religious in the least.

            As an American, you haven’t lived in a state with religious laws. If you’re a believing Christian, imagine living in a state with not your kind of Christianity be the only recognized kind, and having laws reflect that.

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            1. I can certainly see where the political situation (like all political situations) is far from perfect, and there are many things you disapprove of. I can’t see how those things cause any appreciable restriction or suffering in your life. Have the divorce laws prevented you getting married? Have they prevented you getting an abortion? Have they prevented you finding work, or practicing your chosen religion? Have you been jailed, fined, or subject to violence because of your religion? Is your life significantly affected by fear of religious persecution?

              For what it’s worth, I’ve heard that many religious folks in Israel share your view of the Torah-studying subsidies and would like them abolished. It seems like the sort of single-issue thing that could get political traction, if mutual trust could be established between secular and religious people on the subject. But from what you say, that trust may not be possible. Because people like you would never leave it at just that single issue. Once you got rid of the subsidy, you’d then inevitably move on to liberalizing divorce laws, and then abortion laws, and maybe shrilly insisting that everybody has to do military service, even though (from what I’ve heard) the internal culture of the military is antithetical to conservative religious lifestyles and observances. To me, that sounds like the equivalent of American anti-homeschool types who insist that all children have the “right” to be enculturated by our execrable public school system.

              Anyway, it sounds to me as though angry atheists like yourself are at a self-imposed impasse. The religious folks can’t afford to give you an inch, even on issues where you agree, because you’d never be satisfied until you remade the whole country in your own image. To them, that’s an existential threat. I can understand that. Particularly in a small country surrounded by hostile state-sponsored Islam, I can see why Israel would benefit from laws that give preference to Judaism, and do not allow for the sort of religious freedom you’d prefer.

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              1. // (from what I’ve heard) the internal culture of the military is antithetical to conservative religious lifestyles and observances

                See this:

                “The 97th Netzah Yehuda Battalion (Hebrew: Judah’s Eternity Battalion) … is a battalion in the Kfir Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The purpose of the unit is to allow Ultra-Orthodox Jewish (Haredi Jewish) men to serve as combat soldiers in the Israeli military in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, within a framework that is strictly halachically observant. The battalion’s main action area is the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

                As the battalion places great emphasis on accommodating the religious needs of the soldiers, the Netzah Yehuda bases follow the highest standards of Jewish dietary laws, and the only women permitted on these bases are wives of soldiers and officers, so that there would not be any inappropriate interaction between men and women.

                As the battalion runs on a voluntary basis and does not draft soldiers, it is one of the few units in the IDF which depends on a recruitment mechanism for new troops. It actively recruits soldiers from Haredi, Dati Leumi, and Chardal families; there are also many volunteers from overseas who enlist.”

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netzah_Yehuda_Battalion

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              2. // Have the divorce laws prevented you getting married? Have they prevented you getting an abortion?

                Not everything must happen personally to me to make me feel on the issue.

                I know several couples who had to travel outside Israel to get married since one of them wasn’t recognized as a Jew by religious authorities.

                I know a married woman who had to get an abortion in an illegal clinic since she wouldn’t be able to receive a permission from a termination committee (which must include a rabbi by law).

                I am afraid to get officially married in the future since giving anyone a power of holding me ‘aguna’ is among the most horrible things I may imagine, yet not getting officially married and having kids may cost a current job.

                // It seems like the sort of single-issue thing that could get political traction, if mutual trust could be established between secular and religious people on the subject.

                It is not a problem of trust between religious and secular. Rather Orthodox parties wield significant power in Israeli government because of being ‘easy’ coalition partners as long as they get money and monopoly over the definition of Judaism in Israel.

                In Sept. 2019, Likud had 32 seats, while two ultra-Orthodox parties had 16 seats together. Netanyahu had to include them to form a Right-wing government. Avigdor Lieberman’s party had only 8 seats.

                Arab parties have never been in a coalition since the foundation of Israel, while Israeli Left is dead.

                What remains are other, more Right-wing than Likud parties, many of them more religious than Likud.

                Believe me, no matter what some religious people say about stipends, those parties will never vote to take them away.

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              3. This is true of welfare and subsidies in the US as well: people who benefit from them will never vote to abolish them, whether they are farmers receiving crop subsidies, corporate bankers receiving federal bailouts, or impoverished minorities receiving welfare payments. The only way those go away, here, is if budget shortfalls force cuts. It is not because farmers, or impoverished minorities, or wall street bankers are particularly greedy or selfish people (well, maybe bankers…), it is simply that anybody who is accustomed to receiving free money or services, typically won’t be willing to give those up. This is human.

                But the Israeli attitudes toward subsidies that I have run across (which may or may not be representative) strike me as very much parallel to certain nasty right-wing attitudes one finds in the US, about “welfare queens”, presumed drug addicts, and other poor people deemed unworthy of receiving financial support from the public purse… which liberal public commentary worldwide likes to condemn.

                It’s nice the haredi have their own unit, but where does this leave women, or conservative Jews who aren’t haredim (are there such things?)? Personally, I’m opposed to compulsory military service of any kind, but America faces only a negligible threat of invasion, thanks to geography, whereas in Israel the situation is very different. So I hesitate to say they’re doing it wrong, even though I don’t like their system. I have a similar view of their religious and social laws. I may not like them, and would not want similar laws in the US, but not all laws work in all places– which is why American attempts to export democracy to tribal cultures have such a dismal track record. What is the culture-wide function of those laws? What would be the culture-wide consequences of enacting all the changes you, personally want?

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      2. methylethyl, as an admittedly much more extreme example, imagine an Iranian woman describing her anger at being unable to exist her home w/o encountering modesty police.

        Would it have been just to tell her to not be such an Islamophobe and to examine her attitudes towards believing Muslims?

        For personal reasons, I am especially sensitive to religious divorce laws. Being chained to anyone would’ve been a nightmare to me, while having children w/o being officially married (or as a single mother) may cost me both my jobs.

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  6. I’ll criticize two aspects of this tweet-thread, its description of the genesis of Covid in China, and the swiftness with which PCR tests became available.

    Genesis of Covid:

    Tweet: “At the end of December 2019, Wenliang, an eye doctor from Wuhan, noticed an allegedly unusual incidence of pneumonia. It remains a mystery what is unusual about 44 patients in a city with over 8 million citizens during winter… On Feb. 7, the 34-year-old eye doctor Wenliang allegedly dies from the consequences of #Covid19 himself. A disease, which in Germany, after one year and over 2 million test positives, has claimed 136 people among the under 40 year old.”

    The following quotes come from Li Wenliang’s wikipedia bio.

    He was not the first person to spot Covid. “Li saw a patient’s report which showed a positive result with a high confidence level for SARS coronavirus tests. The report had originated from Ai Fen, director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central hospital, who became alarmed after receiving laboratory results of a patient whom she had examined who exhibited symptoms akin to influenza resistant to conventional treatment methods.”

    Emphasis at the end is mine. This is part of why the novel pneumonia was unusual.

    He was not the only person to spread the alarm. “Wuhan police summoned eight “rumor mongers” on 1 January”. The original SARS (2003) was highly lethal, people were naturally afraid of it, that’s why it was considered a threat to public order to have people saying there was an outbreak.

    He wasn’t even the only member of the medical staff from that hospital to die of Covid. “By early June 2020, five other doctors had died from COVID-19 in the Wuhan hospital”.

    PCR tests:

    I have less to say about the details of this, but I will say, people who aren’t biologists may not grasp how swiftly some things can be done, once a genetic sequence is known. Covid was not a completely new kind of virus, and the assays probably combine techniques from 2003 SARS, with primers (or whatever they are called, I should know this stuff better) taken from the sequence of the 2019-2020 virus.

    PCR is a very familiar technology. You unzip the double helix, build double helices based on each of the resulting single strands, unzip those, and so on. This lets you take a single DNA fragment and replicate it millions of times, so that it can be analyzed and manipulated using bulk chemical techniques. This is an RNA virus so there may be some extra twist, but the point is that PCR, sequencing, synthesis of small RNA sequences that will bind to a newly sequenced genome, and many other techniques have been used in genetics labs around the world for many years now.

    It is not surprising to me that a customized PCR test would become available very shortly after the Covid sequence became available. It’s just a matter of finetuning existing techniques to the details of the new virus. Recall how the mRNA vaccines were first created within days of the sequence being available. Again, it’s because the basics of mRNA vaccination had already been worked out (and had been the subject of many experiments, though never before had they been approved for public health). Creating a Covid mRNA vaccine was just a matter of copying a gene from the virus, and using that as the payload in the “lipid nanoparticle” (similar to a small soap bubble, I suppose) that is used to carry the mRNA into the patient.

    Further comments:

    For me, there are other issues which are more worthy of discussion. I think it very plausible that this was a bio-Chernobyl, that the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another institution was creating enhanced viruses as models of future pandemics, and this one got loose (see strain RatG13 and the concept of “gain of function” research). And it’s reasonable to be wary of unanticipated side effects from the mass use of a radical new type of vaccine… (Though I also understand why vaccine advocates would think it probably harmless – because what happens is similar to what happens when the virus infects you, except that this way cannot even create the virus, as only some of the virus components (the spike) get manufactured.)

    But in other regards, this tweet thread seems to be creating mystification that can be dispelled.

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    1. What are these “conventional treatment methods” of influenza? From what I know, there aren’t any.

      Google suggests this: “The flu is treated primarily with rest and fluid to let the body fight the infection on its own. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers may help with symptoms.”

      Have you ever had the flu? I have and nobody suggested any treatments because they don’t exist. The doctor tells you to stay in bed and drink a lot of hot liquids. That’s the treatment.

      So your source is already proving to be dishonest.

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      1. Tracing the sources back, the phrase I emphasized is the Guardian’s summary of remarks by Dr Ai Fen, who was head of emergency at the Wuhan Central Hospital. She gave an interview (in China) that was quickly censored. An English translation is here.

        “On December 16, last year, we received a patient at the Nanjing Road emergency department. They had an inexplicably high fever, and they weren’t responding to standard medications, their body temperature wasn’t going down at all.” Perhaps these “standard medications” are the “anti-inflammatory pain relievers” mentioned by Google, perhaps something else.

        “December 27th, another patient arrived… His lungs were in a terrible state, and his blood oxygen saturation was only 90%. He was under hospital care for almost 10 days without any improvement, and was admitted to the respiratory department.”

        A few days later, she receives a report saying SARS, pneumonia bacteria, and many other pathogens detected in the patients, and sends a picture of the report to various places – only to be reprimanded for this action by the chief party official within the hospital – and it seems this was the report that Li Wenliang later shared with his WeChat group.

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  7. // I also don’t understand the obsession with the “breeding lazy Haredim.” They seem very harmless to me.

    I will stop now, I guess, since I don’t want to bore you and tire myself … However, one last time: I have no problem with Haredi Jews having many kids. (Btw, secular Israeli Jews also have around 3 kids on average.)

    I do have a problem with people being encouraged (being paid to) not to work, not to serve in IDF, not to teach their kids anything except religion… all that on my money and while forcing religious laws on me.

    It’s not even whether not teaching their kids anything enabling them to support themselves in adulthood is child abuse, which I think it is.

    Do you truly see religious fundamentalism being forced on everyone as harmless?

    From another side, Israeli economy may go down if more people don’t start working (put it here in case the article is behind a paywall):

    // Israeli Economy Unsustainable if Haredim, Arabs Don’t Join Workforce, Experts Warn
    National Economic Council presents cabinet both internal and external threats that Israel’s economy is expected to face until 2050.

    The most serious problem here, however, is related to working-age populations that are not employed – meaning, the low workforce-participation rate of the country’s Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox population. The problem is the product of a lack of desire to be employed, when it comes to the Haredim, as well as low skill levels. (A large proportion of Haredi men choose to engage in Torah study full-time rather than work. )

    The council presented the cabinet with a slide, showing that between 1997 and 2012, the poverty rate of the non-Haredi, non-Arab population remained unchanged at 12%, while the rate among Arabs and Haredim skyrocketed from 38% to 58%. As a result, Israel’s population consists of three separate countries: Arab Israelis, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and everyone else. And that last segment is actually contracting while the two weaker segments are growing.

    In 2009, 71% of those aged 25 to 29 entering the labor force belonged to the third, more highly skilled, group (i.e., the non-Haredi and non-Arab sector ). The council said, though, that this group will decline to just 59% of the newly employed by 2019, and 53% by 2029. Israel is, therefore, moving in the direction whereby if things are not changed, the non-Arab, non-Haredi working population with relatively high productivity will become just over half of the new members of the workforce – a situation that is not sustainable.

    The council’s message implies that the situation would beset the economy with major problems not only in the long-term but also in the medium-term.

    The council says that as a result of the situation, as early as next year the country will have a 3% structural deficit – an excess of government expenditures, including items such as social welfare payments to the poor – over government income from taxes and economic growth.

    The structural deficit is a reference to a situation in which the government spends more than it is taking in, not as a result of transient factors but rather the entrenched structural characteristics of the economy. Even more alarming, the council says, is the fact that the structural deficit will be 10.5% by 2050, if the current situation is not addressed.

    Israel needs to decide, the council says: It can continue down its current path of greater government outlays for the poor at the expense of increased taxes, and reduced government spending in other areas. This will perpetuate poverty among Haredim and Arabs and impose an impossible burden on the remaining working population.

    Alternatively, Israel can better integrate the Arabs and ultra-Orthodox into the general workforce, increasing their participation and substantially enhancing their skill levels through education.

    The council’s assessment is that if the three population groups are indeed integrated into one productive workforce, by 2030 Israel will once more be competitive in the world economy.

    https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-economy-needs-haredim-arabs-in-workforce-say-experts-1.5243301

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    1. Here’s the problem. We agree that there should be a Jewish state for obvious reasons. But then a question arises: who is a Jew? You can’t take the genetic route because then we get into the one drop of blood territory, and that’s bad. So what’s left? Other than religion, there’s nothing much. So while I personally don’t want to live in a religious state, what is a Jewish state if not a religious one? What’s the definition?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. // Here’s the problem. We agree that there should be a Jewish state for obvious reasons. But then a question arises: who is a Jew?

        Who is a German? Who is a Russian? Who is a Palestinian (this one is actually harder to answer)?

        Zionism promised to make Jews a normal people like European peoples with their nation states.

        Theodor Herzl has famously said regarding the foundation of Israel: ‘If you will it, it is no dream; if you don’t, a dream it is and a dream it will remain’.

        If my people succeeded to create a prosperous 1st world state from nothing, it is in our power not to copy degraded Arab world around us with its theocracy and general lack of Enlightenment / enlightenment.

        I refuse to believe the only way forward for us is backward.

        Still remember how in IDF one female lecturer explained us that we need Torah to explain Arabs (!) why we have rights to the Land. Don’t think Palestinians or any other Arabs will buy it. The main thing we achieve with this rhetoric is fanning the flames of national-religious extremism and strengthening cynicism re religion in people like me.

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        1. Excuse me, but there’s no Russian state. Putin very specifically, insistently and aggressively bans the word “русский” in favor of “россиянин.” Russia is not an ethno-state. Nobody is an ethno-state. Germany brought in a million Arabs to make completely sure they aren’t an ethno-state. I could also go on about what the word “Spanish” means in Spain but you get my drift. You either want to be a minority again or you need something that can be defined as a “Jew” as opposed to a “not-Jew.” If you want to go with simple citizenship, like Russia did, prepare to be a minority soon enough.

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          1. // You either want to be a minority again or you need something that can be defined as a “Jew” as opposed to a “not-Jew.”

            According to Israeli law, “A Jew” = “a person whose mother was defined as a Jew (*) or a convert to Orthodox Judaism.”

            (*) Including people who don’t practice Judaism (religion), under the condition that they don’t practice any other religion either.

            // Germany brought in a million Arabs to make completely sure they aren’t an ethno-state.

            It was their choice. Israel lets in only Jewish immigration.

            In practice, we have Jews and Palestinian Arabs here.

            How preventing women from having a right to abortion or public transportation during Shabbat ensures Jewish ethnic majority is anyone’s guess.

            If Jews can come from all corners of the earth, including Africa, why cannot Israel recognize f.e. Reform Judaism?

            If our goal is to have a national Jewish majority, why not embrace all major Jewish denominations instead of Orthodox monopoly?

            Ruth said “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” That was sufficient then.

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              1. // Because Reform Judaism leads to people not practicing anything within two generations, and we all know it.

                Why is it a problem in a Jewish and Democratic state with ethnic Jewish majority? Abroad they assimilate; in Israel they would most likely marry other Jews and remain Jewish. The few that marry not Jews and remain in Israel will remain a part of Jewish people in practice, and their children will marry Jews.

                Other peoples continue to exist despite a certain % of mixed marriages. Why would Jews be different?

                Must every people (народ) embrace religious fundamentalism to remain a people and preserve a nation state? Or are only Jews cursed thus in your eyes?

                Herzl and secular Zionist founders of the country haven’t imagined our state in this fashion, yet they succeeded in creating it.

                To preserve our state long-term as a place in which people will want to live, we need a different vision of Israel from the one you propose.

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    2. “The most serious problem here, however, is related to working-age populations that are not employed – meaning, the low workforce-participation rate of the country’s Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox population.”

      Similar arguments are often made in the US regarding African-American populations and employment, welfare, poverty, etc. But those arguments get universally condemned by liberals here in the US and worldwide. Why are the Arabs and Haredi in Israel different?

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      1. // Similar arguments are often made in the US regarding African-American populations and employment, welfare, poverty, etc. But those arguments get universally condemned by liberals here in the US and worldwide. Why are the Arabs and Haredi in Israel different?

        First of all, Israeli political environment is extremely different from US / EU one. Even the words ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ describe one’s stance on ‘two states for two peoples’ rather than on any economic issues. If worldwide liberals exist somewhere, it makes no difference to Israeli public and their words carry no weight in my mind.

        Also, the situation with Haredi in Israel is extremely different from one of African-Americans. One of major differences is that the former REFUSE TO WORK using religion as ‘get out of jail card.’ In contrast, African-Americans don’t refuse to work, and even reparations are presented as a necessary push to move them out of historically-created pit unto higher economic ground. Reparations are supposed to help Black people get an education, start a business, etc.

        Nobody says ‘I have a right not to work ever.’ That’s why I am surprised you and Clarissa are so nonchalant, and my position is not understood. I have been called an ‘angry atheist,’ told not to be obsessed, etc. Is people REFUSING TO WORK while demanding full economic support for their large families a normal thing to you? It wasn’t in FSU and surely neither in US with its barely existent welfare.

        I have been asked whether I had been ‘jailed, fined, or subject to violence because of your religion.’

        What about my human dignity?

        Why should I beg to have an abortion from a rabbi? Why must I listen to a lecture how one must not have sex during and after menstruation before getting married?

        As an old Russian saying goes, ‘happiness is being understood.’

        Clarissa, I understand why religious coersion is not one of your personal concerns since it’s not a problem in US.

        Still, if I can imagine woke hounding of people by state in US, why can no one at least say ‘I get it’ when I complain sometimes about more serious religious coersion in Israel?

        One last thing:

        // you’d then inevitably move on to liberalizing divorce laws, and then abortion laws, and maybe shrilly insisting that everybody has to do military service … To me, that sounds like the equivalent of American anti-homeschool types

        Actually, if a government can prohibit you from having an abortion, it can pass laws against homeschooling using the same logic.

        After all, if your own body doesn’t belong to you and a rabbi knows best, who are you to decide how to educate your kids?

        It seems such an obvious point to make, yet I haven’t seen it anywhere yet, probably since most people who homeschool are religious and are for enforcing their religious views on others.

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        1. People refusing to work is not a normal situation here. But it’s not a normal situation here – or anywhere else I know – to have to provide documentation on your parents’ ethnicity to be able to emigrate into the country. We aren’t talking about a country that’s organizes on the same principle and for the same reason as other countries. The US wasn’t created to preserve Anglo-Saxons in existence. Which is why the idea of asking an immigrant to provide proof of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity on immigration is ludicrous.

          Haredim do the work of perpetuating Jewishness, both ethnically and religiously. I’m a firm believer in that reproductive labor is productive labor. I’m actually writing an article about that but that’s a different topic. To have a Jewish state, you not only need money and businesses. You need actual Jewish people. Reproducing the Jewish people is productive labor that achieves the goal of having a Jewish state.

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        2. Actually, the argument is often made here, that people on welfare (largely minorities) refuse to work even though they are capable of it, and that women on welfare deliberately have more children in order to qualify for more money. Whenever proposals are introduced to provide job training and encourage welfare recipients to get back into the workforce, or limit benefits to able-bodied adults who choose not to work, our liberal contingent has a screeching fit and fights the proposals, accusing proponents of racism. The buzzwords that come up often in these debates are “generational poverty” “culture of dependency” “social safety net” “institutional racism” “tyranny of low expectations” etc. In the US it is not a religious issue like it is in Israel, but still, I’m surprised you cannot see the parallels! Perhaps that sort of internal state-level political debate doesn’t filter into the international news.

          As for human dignity: Not on board there. I have to listen to–and be questioned about– all sorts of bizarre and repugnant sexual practices that don’t apply to me every time I see an ob/gyn. I see no reason the non-religious and sexually amoral should be able to force me to listen to their disgusting sexual mores, and make me pay for STD tests that I don’t need, and make me fight to avoid unnecessary treatments for my infant children (such as hepatitis vaccinations and antibacterial eye drops for chlamydia). But that’s the way it is. I am a small, weird person in a big world, and I understand that the medical system mostly deals with people who are not like me. It’s unfortunate, annoying, and insulting, but I try not to take it personally, because changing the whole system to suit ME wouldn’t work for most Americans.

          Have you considered the effect on everyone else in your country, if things were changed to suit your preferences?

          I am most definitely NOT for enforcing my religious views on others. I’m for raising my own kids with a high degree of religious literacy, knowing that ultimately, their choices about religion are their own. I went to religious schools for most of my youth, I do not belong to either of my parents’ churches, and my kids will have that same freedom. But I deeply appreciate the religious literacy that those schools imparted to me, and I want the same for my kids: the ability to make an informed choice about religion, by being well-versed in it (which they will not get from the schools here). I never tell them “this is what you must believe”– in my experience there is no surer way to drive an intelligent child away from God and the church. I tell them “this is what the Orthodox church teaches” and “this is what some Protestant denominations teach” and “this is what Catholics believe” and “this is what Muslims believe” and “this is what Buddhists believe” etc. This is not, however, the main reason we homeschool. I’d be teaching them religious literacy even if they were going to a public school, because I think it’s important.

          But the main reasons we homeschool are not religious at all– and I find this is true of most homeschoolers we know. We do it because my mother was a teacher in the local school system for 40 years, and my husband was a substitute teacher in the same school system for a while, and their experience was that modern youth culture is extremely toxic and the educational standards of our local school system are abysmal. In addition, it is very important to us that children have a lot of time to play outdoors and pursue their own interests– a thing that schools rob them of, by forcing them to spend an hour or more on the bus each day, seven hours at school, and then another couple of hours doing homework. Ten hours a day is too much to take from them! We can, and do, give them a much better quality education at home, in just a few hours a day.

          I am not sure I understand your abortion/homeschool arguments at all. I do not recall ever arguing for laws restricting abortions. I think abortion is wrong, but in the US, the way the culture has gone, and the way the laws are written, it would be impossible to pass meaningful abortion restrictions, and if you did, it would open the law to all sorts of bizarre and undesirable interpretations allowing legal interference in women’s medical decisions regarding childbirth, pregnancy, lifestyle choices, etc. so generally, I do not support attempts to legislate against abortion, particularly on the basis of the “rights” of the unborn. Such laws have already been abused here to force women to give birth at hospitals and undergo medical procedures against their will, when they wanted to give birth at home with an experienced midwife.

          I do think it would be better if we had never legalized abortion, but that horse is already out of the barn, and it’s no use closing the door now. I’m not familiar enough with the abortion situation in Israel to comment on it, except to say, it’s nice to hear they haven’t gone whole-hog into legalization. It is my understanding that Judaism does not consider the fetus to be properly alive until it has drawn its first breath, and I’d expect that getting permission from a rabbi is a good, practical way to prevent atrocities like sex-selection abortions, which are so common in India and China. The rabbi thing obviously wouldn’t work here, but I do think it would be better if women seeking abortions needed to talk to some kind of counselor beforehand. We have a big problem with pimps, abusers, and child molesters covering their tracks by taking their victims in for repeated no-questions-asked abortions. Wouldn’t it be better to have some kind of intermediary who was tasked with reporting suspected abuse cases and helping women in bad situations access resources that might help? Sorry. I know you see it as an intolerable burden. I see it as a potentially helpful safeguard.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. // Have you considered the effect on everyone else in your country, if things were changed to suit your preferences?

            Yes. The abortion issue is the easiest in this sense since it’s only about a woman’s own body and wouldn’t hurt private rights of any religious people. (I do not think forcing me to submit to their religious morality is their right. Because if it is, why shouldn’t I force my views on them right back? )

            What I am angry about at religious parties in abortion issue is:

            FIRST

            “In 1980, a fifth criterion that allowed abortions for women living in economic hardship was abolished due to pressure from religious political parties.”

            SECOND

            Abortion is allowed in cases of ” a fetus with a serious mental or physical defect.” However, religious parties worked to make proving this defect extremely hard. I read a long newspaper article re a changes to law several years ago. After the new changes, a woman has to prove that the resulting child 100% wouldn’t be able to function independently in adulthood. Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to prove in many cases and may result to birth of an invalid child. Imagine a woman with a wanted pregnancy discovering this tragedy and being forced to fight the state or go to an illegal clinic … all this at late stages of pregnancy. It’s a horror. Must state add to her suffering?

            // I’d expect that getting permission from a rabbi is a good, practical way to prevent atrocities like sex-selection abortions, which are so common in India and China.

            Israel doesn’t have a problem of sex-selection abortions. At all.

            // We have a big problem with pimps, abusers, and child molesters covering their tracks by taking their victims in for repeated no-questions-asked abortions.

            Lets differentiate between 10 year old children and 15+ year old teens. I am talking about the latter. When a child turns out pregnant, Israel surely involves a psychologist and so on.

            Now to teens and adults: There is a fundamental difference between a doctor checking whether a woman / teenager is abused and between this doctor making her jump through hoops to suit the abortion criteria.

            Since one of criteria is ‘Continued pregnancy may put the woman’s life in risk, or damage her physically or mentally,’ members of those committees expect women to lie re mental instability.

            Thus, your hypothetical rape victim won’t stand out … in contast in the states in which laws are written to help rape victims rather than hurt all women.

            Besides, a rapist may take her to the private clinic. So, no ‘a potentially helpful safeguard’ at all.

            // Wouldn’t it be better to have some kind of intermediary who was tasked with reporting suspected abuse cases and helping women in bad situations access resources that might help?

            That’s not the goal of those termination committees.

            Btw, married women are forced to go to illegal clinics:

            “In 2012, 21,104 applications for termination of pregnancy – out of 21,689 (97%)- were approved. 20,063 pregnancies were actually terminated, approximately 10% of all known pregnancies in Israel. In addition, it is likely that more than 10,000 abortions were illegally performed in private doctors’ clinics. The majority of these illegal abortions are performed on married women who are worried their applications may be rejected or take too long to process.”

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            1. El, I find that our respective views on abortion are so alien to each other, that I’m unable to understand your logic in any kind of sympathetic light. It is possible this is a failing on my part, but your views on the subject register as cold and rather horrifying, and I’m afraid we will not be able to come to any agreement on the matter.

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              1. A general and very important point when we discuss Israel:

                Don’t forget that Israel is a much more welfare-providing country than US.

                I am happy to pay very high taxes compared to US to create this safety net, and don’t want any group – Haredi or any other – abuse the system and lead to its destruction. Can easily see a future in which government destroys this safety net for people like me, the ones who paid for it, while continuing to finance the growing non-working Haredi sector.

                It also ties to your worry re supporting pregnant women, I am happy to pay much higher taxes than you do in US to help people who fell on hard times, even if my words sound cold. How many anti-abortion American activists would agree to pay my taxes? I have a guess…

                // your views on the subject register as cold and rather horrifying

                Was it the part about late-term abortions in case of serious fetus deffects?

                To clarify, in addition to the state itself, there are ptivate organizations which help pregnant women in need, including providing “financial support and counseling to women considering abortion.” However, you mentioned the committees helping with counseling and they don’t.

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              2. “Was it the part about late-term abortions in case of serious fetus deffects?”

                No. It is the entire worldview that sees unrestricted abortion as some kind of human right. No. Just no. That is antithetical to everything I believe about the purpose of human beings on this earth, and it is evil.

                I readily acknowledge that infanticide is a default setting in human history. But so are human sacrifice, war, slavery, sexual exploitation of the weak, etc.: that doesn’t make them good. That is also one of the (several) reasons that Christianity spread so readily through the ancient world: Christians were different because they did not kill their children. Believe it or not, this had tremendous appeal to women of the time. We accept the new lives God entrusts us with, and it is not for us to judge whether they are fit to be born or not– from the Christian POV, doing so is unconscionably arrogant. It is with dismay and grief that I observe the number of abortions in my country, and the normalization of it. It follows inevitably on the heels of sexual liberation (also antithetical to a Christan concept of humanity) and the generally execrable “me first” attitude of modern materialist culture, which dictates that nothing should ever get in the way of the lifestyle I feel that I am entitled to.

                You, and a lot of other people, seem to love spreading that vicious libel that somehow, people who are against abortion are also callous about the plight of children “after they’re born” and the plight of women who get pregnant unintentionally. And yet, somehow, the only people I know who’ve gone out and deliberately adopted disabled children are devoutly Christian. The only people I know who volunteer in and financially support crisis pregnancy centers are devout Christians. The only people I’ve met who have taken destitute pregnant women into their homes and financially supported them are devout Christians. That stereotype is a nasty, ignorant, and extremely tiresome lie.

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              1. // Thanks! I was nervous that I was droning into the void there.

                I see no one else reacts here except the three of us.

                Is it partly because most other readers are men (in addition to not caring about another country except US)?

                Like

              2. Perhaps some readers are reading the conversation with interest but may not have much to add…

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              3. “Perhaps some readers are reading the conversation with interest but may not have much to add…”

                I too found this discussion a particularly interesting one and sincerely thank the participants for sharing their views.

                “I do have a problem with people being encouraged (being paid to) not to work, not to serve in IDF, not to teach their kids anything except religion… all that on my money and while forcing religious laws on me… The most serious problem here, however, is related to working-age populations that are not employed – meaning, the low workforce-participation rate of the country’s Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox population. The problem is the product of a lack of desire to be employed, when it comes to the Haredim, as well as low skill levels. (A large proportion of Haredi men choose to engage in Torah study full-time rather than work.)

                Overly facile generalizations like this aren’t a helpful way to understand complex social situations in general and Israeli society’s deep complexity in particular. Not a good look…

                The debate about productive vs unproductive labour in capitalism is a longstanding one dating from Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The values of the beholder most often determine who gets lionized as productive and who gets castigated as unproductive. In truth, is the life of someone who chooses relative poverty to live a life of prayer and study dedicated to God really more “unproductive” than the life of a highly paid state-subsidized Professor of pious, always politically-correct, Sociology (or whatever)?

                One of the absolutely best humourous send-ups of the whole productive-unproductive labour debate can be found in a popular Italian poster of the 1960s “Qui lavora in Italia” which after a lot of subtraction of various social categories narrows down the productive labour force in Italy to just one person – the author! Here is a link:

                http://spazioinwind.libero.it/skazzz/seghe%20mentali/le%20grandi%20inchieste/chi%20lavora%20in%20italia.htm

                “I find that our respective views on abortion are so alien to each other, that I’m unable to understand your logic in any kind of sympathetic light. It is possible this is a failing on my part, but your views on the subject register as cold and rather horrifying, and I’m afraid we will not be able to come to any agreement on the matter.”

                Yes. Sometimes that’s the only response that can be given to someone who denies that their life is a precious gift from God and therefore rejects all the lessons in humility that flow from that understanding.

                Liked by 1 person

              4. –On “workforce participation”: what GSW said 🙂

                In theory, I’m against living on the public dime, and would like to avoid it whenever possible, but we have used public assistance to cover childbirth expenses, and been part of the WIC program when our eldest was little. And that was (mostly) by choice: I could have “stayed in the workforce” and (on paper at least) doubled our family’s income and labor-force participation, and possibly gotten insurance through an employer. But we had other priorities (children and family life), and I chose to leave my job and not go back.

                It was a crappy job that sucked the life out of me, and the money was not a good enough to compensate for barely seeing my husband due to scheduling, and leaving my infant son with professional caregivers most of the week. We opted out. A case could be made that we are economically-irresponsible leeches relying on others’ hard-earned tax $$ to pay our hospital bills while we irresponsibly have babies we can’t afford. I’d argue that since those same subsidies are available to broke women giving birth to alcohol-damaged and drug-addicted babies… well, there are worse things than asking the state to bail us out of medical debt, and subsidizing our kids is, on the whole, not a bad deal 😉

                I’m wary of arguments that use labor-force participation as a proxy for responsibility and good citizenship. Regular employment, like most things, is a tradeoff. There are serious downsides. There is a tremendous amount of value in life that can’t be accounted for in dollars and cents. A net worth is not the value of a family. Often the best choice for a family is not what contributes most to the GDP.

                From an economic standpoint, my life choices are a disaster: not only am I not contributing to the national balance-sheet, you could say that the labor I do at home, without pay, is a drain on it. Think of all the money that is not going to the restaurant industry because I cook everything at home! Our money is completely lost to the convenience-foods industry! Our local school system is missing out on thousands of dollars in per-child funding because I teach them at home. Because my kids are not exposed to every passing microbe at school, while eating crap food and breathing stale air and sitting in desks all day, we contribute almost nothing to the medical industry on their behalf. On paper, having a lot of people do what I do is an economic catastrophe.

                You could say we are maniacal economic terrorists. Or you could prudently conclude that labor-force participation, and many similar metrics, are inadequate measures of what is good for people, culture, society, etc.

                Like

    1. // The courts are now starting to overrule guardians of incapacitated elderly people to administer vaccines.

      I think the Spanish court made the right decision.

      The woman is unable to ‘provide valid consent’ because of a cognitive loss.

      Her family sent their elderly relative to a high-risk environment of a nursing home.

      Thus, the state is now responsible for her welfare.

      Like

  8. // It’s nice the haredi have their own unit, but where does this leave women, or conservative Jews who aren’t haredim (are there such things?)?

    Conservative Jews who aren’t haredim are national religious Jews. Those are the Jews I work with, so they do exist. 🙂

    Politically, they are more Right-wing than secular population and vote for the parties to the Right of Likud like Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home).

    If you talk about Haredi women, they are left out. Just seen this article:

    // Israel’s Haredi women deserve a seat at the table
    Opinion: Despite being better educated and more qualified than many of their American sisters, female ultra-Orthodox Israelis remain marginalized and ignored by the men in their sector who hold political power and deny them a voice

    https://www.ynetnews.com/article/HyTXyxrf00

    Like

  9. // Haredim do the work of perpetuating Jewishness, both ethnically and religiously. I’m a firm believer in that reproductive labor is productive labor. I’m actually writing an article about that but that’s a different topic.

    Now I am curious about the article. The topic is fascinating. 🙂

    Would love to read a post on this topic. Once you state ‘reproductive labor is productive labor’, are their any policy implications? You’ve been against housewifery in the past, has your position on this question also changed?

    However, re reproductive labor, the women are the ones undergoing pregnancies, yet it’s the Haredi Israeli men who are paid not to work. It’s not like the men are paid to look after their 5+ kids while wives are at work. They study the Torah all the day.

    The article I just read surprised me re Haredi in USA. I knew men worked, but I didn’t know many women didn’t, following American gender norms of the 50ies:

    “In the United States, Haredi men work to provide for their families while their wives remain home to raise their families.

    In Israel, men often spend their productive adult years studying the Torah and women are tasked with providing for the family.”

    That’s why I am against stipends:

    // Though between 2003 and 2015 there was a marked increase in employment among men, it leveled off over the past five years. In 2019 it was 52.5%, compared to 52% in 2015. However, among ultra-Orthodox women, employment rose between 2015 and 2019 from 71% to 77%.

    “A major reason for this trend may be the cutback of incentives for ultra-Orthodox men to join the workforce and, at the same time, the increase in financial support and subsidies to kollel students,” the IDI said, referring to married men who receive scholarships to study in Talmudic seminaries.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/haredi-population-growing-twice-as-fast-as-total-israeli-population-report/

    Like

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