As the second wave of Coronavirus raged, the Indian state appeared to run out of everything: hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, even space in crematoriums and burial grounds. The tone of our liberal critics was at once both furious and self-congratulatory. See? This is what happens when a nation talks more about building temples than building hospitals. As we struggle to cremate our dead, you can barely miss the gleam in the eyes of our critics.
We are having a hard time right now, which means we have to swallow all the bitter pills they toss in our way. Perhaps the critics were right after all. Come, let us beat ourselves up on how stupid we were. Why did we have to get busy with Ram Mandir or have those giant gatherings for Kumbh Mela? How could we not have known better?
Hospitals over temples! It certainly sounds like something that enlightened people would say. Let’s just hope that this principle applies not only to temples but to all houses of worship.
Oh well. Important for us not to lose sight of what matters. Among that, the crisis in the Middle East. So take a map of the Arab world and follow along. Now, increase your image resolution until you can see this microscopic country, about one fourth the size of West Bengal, which is occupying the whole of the Middle East and all of North Africa. It’s the state of Israel. Found it? Good.
So why is there a crisis over there? You probably already know. First, the Jewish people just had to insist on having a state of their own. Then, they just had to win a series of wars thrust upon them by like half a dozen countries. And then, they just had to have a democracy, the only one in the Middle East. Enough to trigger most liberals.
Anyway, I was talking about more immediate reasons for this crisis. What did Israel do now? To quote Al Jazeera:
“There have been nightly disturbances in the area since the start of Ramadan on April 13, with Palestinians outraged by police blocking access to the promenade around the walls, a popular gathering place after the end of the daytime Ramadan fast.“
That’s just wrong of Israel. Everyone knows that religious gatherings are the most important thing in the world. By the way, did the Israelis give any reason for this undemocratic ban?
“… worshippers were angered by Israeli restrictions that denied access to West Bank Palestinians without COVID-19 vaccination documents.“
Come on Israel, be reasonable. What kind of sensible country would ask people for Covid vaccination documents before coming to a religious gathering? Have you ever heard what Indian liberals have to say about this? Or listen to the great Ikrima Sabri, religious leader and possibly world-renowned medical doctor, explain:
“Ikrima Sabri, who led Friday prayers, accused Israel of “exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to intervene in the affairs of the blessed Aqsa mosque” “
I agree. Israel can’t interfere with freedom of religion just like that. At least, they could allow people to have small gatherings, of say 20 people or 50 people, or something like that.
“But Israeli officials said they restricted to 10,000 the number of vaccinated Palestinians entering from the West Bank because of “high morbidity rates” from coronavirus in Palestinian Authority areas.“
Sorry, 20 people, 50 people, or 10,000 people. What’s the difference, really? It is still government interference in matters of religion. Any limit is undemocratic. What happened next? As Al Jazeera explains:
“Later on Friday, the Israeli army said at least 10 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel into the early hours of the morning – the most in one night since the beginning of the year.“
So Israel required vaccination certificates and restricted religious gatherings to 10,000 people. At this, people got so angry they fired rockets into Israel and started a whole war. Now tell me how many media reports have highlighted this aspect of how the violence began.
Stop Kumbh Mela.