The Infection We Seem Unable to Get Over
Israeli society has not yet seen the need for applying Israeli ingenuity to serious study of the Please-like-us virus.
At the close of the March 31 episode of Uvda, her weekly news investigation program, Ilana Dayan told the viewing audience that we may soon get news that Tuvia Tzafir has recovered from the Coronavirus. Tzafir is one of Israel’s veteran comedians, and a much loved one. He was interviewed while under quarantine at home.
Seventy-four years old and with other health problems, it is remarkable that Tzafir has overcome the infection in his own home when so many others have to be hospitalized. He and Yael, his wife of almost 50 years, have an easy banter and apparently light-headed approach to life. Perhaps, as they say, ‘laughter is the best medicine’.
Earlier in the program, Dayan explored the new ‘Operations Center’ for the ‘War against the Corona Pandemic’. For the first time, medical professionals were working together with experts from the armed forces, the security industries and the Mossad, one of Israel’s intelligence agencies. Viewers were shown how this new collaboration is enabling Israel to acquire medical supplies that the Health Ministry and hospitals would have been unable to appropriate on their own. Not only that — laboratories that engineer weaponry have now been put to the task of engineering re-usable masks and respirators. Israeli ingenuity at its best.
In an interview with H’, Director of the Mossad’s Technology Department, a highly impressed Dayan suggested that the collaboration may open up opportunities previously unimaginable. She wondered how:
… with respect to Iran, the new enemy may be useful, perhaps, in the war against old enemies. A new world of possibilities may open up for the Mossad. … I am just thinking – this comes from me and not from you — what would an Iranian nuclear scientist be prepared to do today in order that someone would resuscitate his mother?
In this one question, Dayan shows us that there is an infection beyond which many Israelis seem unable, or unwilling, to move. That is the ‘See-what-we-can-do-for-you-so-please-like-us’ Syndrome. And it has afflicted us from our very start as a new modern state.
Much of Israeli hasbara concerns itself with describing new medical and technological inventions each of which improves the lives of so many people around the world. And if we do such good for humanity, the thinking apparently goes, maybe they will stop hating us and maybe the UN will stop passing resolutions attacking Israel’s right to exist.
I doubt that any Iranian nuclear scientist or political leader would change his or her mind about Israel because an Israeli invention was needed to resuscitate his or her mother. After all, Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh’s daughter, granddaughter and mother-in-law were all treated in Israeli hospitals. The sister of another Hamas senior official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, was treated for advanced stage cancer in an Israeli hospital. PLO leader Jibril Rajoub received medical treatment in Israel. None of this changed their attitudes and they continue to promote terrorism against Israel and challenge its legitimacy as a state. But Dayan seemed to think she was being particularly astute, emphasizing that the idea she suggested in her question comes from her and not from H’, as if if it had come from H’ it would involve revealing of some kind of state secret.
Efforts to overcome the Corona disease depended upon first isolating the virus causing it and identifying it by means of genome sequencing and electron microscopy. Then researchers discovered how the virus attacks the human body and they are now looking for drugs that impede Corona’s ability to use our own proteins against ourselves, the essence of how we get sick and die.
Everyone knows that the Coronavirus causes sickness. On the other hand, those who are under the spell of the Please-like-us virus do not think they are ill; in fact, they think their attitude is the cure for what ails Israel.
I do not know what H’ believes, but he did not challenge Ilana Dayan when she waxed prophetic about the hypothetical Iranian nuclear scientist needing Israeli ingenuity to save his mother and becoming pro-Israeli as a result. H’ did not suggest that it is fanciful to think that this would lead any Iranian to desist from working on the nuclear bomb that has Israel’s name on it.
How many Israelis even paid attention to the absurdity of Dayan’s question? Did the Uvda production team even consider deleting it from the final edited version of the program?
In order to fight a malady it must first be recognized as being one. It seems that the destructive impact of the See-what-we-can-do-for-you-so-please-like-us Syndrome is largely invisible to those stricken with it and therefore there is no impetus to study the Please-like-us virus, a virus that uses the host’s own good intentions against itself. Where does it come from? How does it afflict the carrier? What is the difference between those who become infected and those who apparently have a natural immunity? What is the difference between those who recover after some time and those who remain stuck?
Tuvia Tzafir is waiting for the second blood test that will tell him if he has broken free of the Coronavirus or not. More power to him for overcoming the disease against the odds. What are the odds that Israeli society will examine the Please-like-us virus and the See-what-we-can-do-for-you-so-please-like-us Syndrome it causes?
This is a slightly modified version of the op-ed that first appeared in Israel National News.
Feature Image Credit: Screenshot from FB promo video for the Uvda program.