Tag Archives: Italy

Reopening society may require us to follow Israel’s example

israelreopens

It’s important that I start this piece by making it very clear that I am an American who loves his country.  The opinion I am about to share should be seen more as a call to arms and encouragement than a criticism or indictment.  Who knows? If properly heeded it might just save some lives.

The other day a friend of mine from my grammar school days in London posted statistics showing how, to date, of all developed countries none had done better in keeping down the Coronavirus death toll than Israel.  The friend I speak of, Alison Fisch-Katz, is a brilliant writer, not swayed by political bias, and honest in her assessments. In her post Alison said the following:

Corona deaths per 100,000 in developed countries from highest: Belgium (7,924 deaths), Spain (25,428 deaths), Italy (29,079 deaths), UK (28,734 deaths), France (25,201 deaths), Holland (5,102 deaths), Sweden (2,321 deaths), US (69,121 deaths – NY 18,000)…. Israel is No. 24 out of 30 on the graph with 230 fatalities out of a population of 9 million (similar populations to New York and Sweden). Israel’s stringent measures have saved thousands of lives.
The economy is now being re-opened with caution. If the curve doesn’t spike, the expectation is that by month’s end we will be allowed to congregate freely with no restrictions. Red lights that will return the country to isolation are: 1. If the rate of infection rises again to 100 cases per day. 2. If rate multiplies by 30 every 10 days. 3. If hard cases rise to 250.
KEEP WEARING YOUR MASK!!😷

The numbers she presented are quite real. When I read her post, coupled with a previous article I had read in Times of Israel by founding editor and part of that same group of friends,  David Horovitz,  it seemed to consolidate some feelings I had felt for some time.  The ultimate management of the current situation ultimately lies more in the hands of the people than their respective governments.

The Times of Israel article entitled “It’s not over, and uncertainty abounds, but Israel’s COVID-19 stats are stunning”  is striking because in its description of everything Israel has done, from mitigation strategies to the timeline, it doesn’t differ much from actions taken here in America.  The population of Israel is approximately 8.6 million.  The population of New York City is approximately 8.4 million.  While at the time that I write this the death toll in Israel is less than 300, by startling contrast the death toll in New York City is over 18,000. I have maintained from the start that public transportation, particularly the New York City subway system has played a significant role in the spread.  I also have witnessed a New York City mayor performing less than adequately.  Yet as easy and popular as it is to point the finger at our elected leaders and politicians, sometimes accurately, often partisan based, I believe that the greatest responsibility of slowing the spread and minimizing the loss of life lies in the hands of us, the people.

For 3 1/2 years between 1980 and 1985 I lived in Jerusalem, Israel.  When I read Alison’s post I shared a thought with her and followed it with a question. My thought was as follows. During my time in Israel, when riding the bus I was often confronted by rude people who had no qualms in pushing and shoving me or anyone else out of their way.  Israeli’s riding a bus back then were not the most patient or polite of people. In fairness, packed buses have never been known to bring out the best in anyone.  But when I looked at the people pushing me I also realized that more than likely, every single one of them would have given their life to protect mine and would have done so without a moment’s hesitation.  In western culture, today’s definition of civilized is far too often based on packaging and presentation, while lacking in action and sacrifice. Of course the healthcare workers are a huge exception as their actions and sacrifices are unmatched and a blessing to us all.  I continued by telling Alison that it was that mentality of caring for another person’s life as though it was their very own that has always been my fondest memory of Israel. I went on to ask her if I would be correct to think the mentality I remember so well has impacted the slow spread of COVID-19 cases and most importantly the significantly lower death toll in the country?  She answered me as follows.

Unlike other countries that have pursued herd immunization (example, Sweden & UK – at the beginning) followed a policy of survival of the fittest and essentially sacrificed the older generation. Israel, on the other hand, cares about its parents and everyone complied with love.

While Alison’s response might be perceived by some as indictment on these nation’s citizens and their love for their elderly friends and relatives, it actually speaks more to Israel’s inherent value system.  While everyone’s intentions were the same, have as few deaths as possible, why are the results so different? As a nation threatened by neighboring enemies since it declared independence some 72 years ago, the mentality has always been one critical to its survival.  That mentality, a value for human life that takes precedent over everything else and a sense of responsibility for the safety and well-being of others, is a basic instinct of the populous, one that makes up the very core of what has helped the country survive. To put it simply, since Israel is far more used to having the lives of its citizens threatened than other developed countries, the people were more prepared.  While the majority of Israel’s adults either still are in, or have spent time in the military training to defend their country, the majority of adults in New York City have never dealt with that level of collective responsibility.  So although the leadership in Israel needed to initially enforce the policy as other nations and localities did, once the people understood the critical nature of that responsibility, the people, as Alison put it, complied with love.

While that same love exists in the places suffering significantly higher death tolls, we need to consider the possibility that the preparation and sense of responsibility does not exist on an equal level. While our essential workers keep our lives moving and our healthcare professionals give their hearts and souls to saving lives, the rest of us need to step up to the plate and meet our responsibilities.  The current schism developing within American society of staying at home or reopening, one like so many others becoming a political one, does actually have a middle of the road.  Like so many things it’s a simple concept with a more difficult practical implementation.  Reopen while simultaneously going out of your way to keep those at high risk as safe as possible.  The hard part is to make people understand their individual responsibility.  As much as some people prefer to bloviate on social media rather than saying or doing something constructive, government can’t really make this work by itself. The people need to do their part for it to be even partially successful.

In essence this means finding those people who are high risk, the elderly or those with preexisting medical conditions and doing what we can to help them. Run errands that make it possible for them to stay at home.  Call them to see how they’re doing? Show them that they are not alone.  Sometimes all they need is a friend.  Let them know that if they need anything you will take extra time and get it for them. And most importantly,  do everything in your personal power to not put them at risk.  Keep a safe distance and wear a mask whenever you are in their vicinity. By looking after their best interests as though they were your own, which is indeed the reality, we can make a big difference.  Want your life to get back as much as possible to what you remember as being normal?  It comes with a cost, and that cost is caring about someone other than yourself.  It worked in Israel, theoretically there is no reason it can work everywhere else.  Ultimately the cost of not doing it is a far greater one.

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Stories of Hope & Recovery in the age of COVID-19

Grondona

Italica Grondona

With the global spread of the Coronavirus it is very easy for all of us to follow all the bad things happening all over the world. In this post I want to share a few of the happy stories.  Although I totally understand and agree with the respect we need to give to those who have lost their lives as a result of this Pandemic, I think there are enough positive outcomes that those need to be shared as well. With the majority of the people actually recovering from COVID-19, I dedicate this post to the focus on 3 specific cases. Well 3 ½ actually.  The ½ being a little more personal.

Eli Beer-46

EBEER

Eli Beer

Miami resident Eli Beer is the Director of United Hatzalah, volunteer emergency medical organization.  He was hospitalized with COVID-19 on March 18th.  On Friday, March 20th he was put on a ventilator.  Here is part of the statement issued by his family as of yesterday.

“As you may be aware, Eli was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the end of last week. He was put on a ventilator last Friday evening. Eli is showing signs of improvement. His vital signs continue to get stronger and the level of fluid in his lungs is decreasing. If Eli continues to improve they will start the process of waking him slowly in the coming days.”

Here’s hoping and praying his health continue to progress in the right direction.

 

Lawrence Garbuz-50

LGARBUZ

Lawrence Garbuz

Having the unfortunate distinction as being the first American to contract the COVID-19 virus, Lawrence Garbuz of New Rochelle went into the hospital on March 9th.  On March 11th he was put into a medically-induced coma. On March 18th,  his wife Adina posted that Lawrence was “awake and alert and seems to be on the road to full recovery.”

We wish him a full recovery as well and are happy to hear of his good news.

 

Italica Grondona

 

Leaving out Naples resident Italica Grondona was not an oversight.  Her amazing story has to do with her age.  Grondona is 102 years old. That is not a typo.  Italica Grondona, born in 1917 was alive during the time the Spanish flu as well. In the beginning of March she was admitted to the hospital with mild heart failure.  She subsequently tested positive for the Coronvirus.  Although the average age of those who were diagnosed and later died of COVID-19 in Italy is 78, Grondona has recovered from the virus, and on March 26th this remarkable woman was released from the hospital.

Hoping she keeps going on for quite some time and inspires us all.

 

Susie

About 10 minutes before I started writing this, I found out in a text from my friend Jeremy, that his wife Susie, who was in the hospital with pneumonia caused by the Coronavirus has been released and his resting comfortably at home.  She is doing well and all indications are that she is on the road to a full recovery.  May she continue on a good path and have a complete and speedy recovery.

 

It is so important, if we are going to spend our time following everything that is happening regarding the Coronavirus that we take the time to talk about the good news as well.  Although there is more bad news than any of us wants to hear, there is plenty of good news as well, and I will try my best to share it with all of you over the course of time.  If there are stories you wish me to share, please email me at hollandsheroes80@gmail.com.

Stay healthy and safe.

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And the DOPA goes to….

n-ITALY-largeIt is my great honor to give the Dove of Peace award to Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.   I couldn’t wait with this one. When I read that a European nation took such real and decisive action against anti-Semitism I knew this was something special.  I commend the Italian government as a whole since it may have been one Minister enforcing policy, but he’s the man who took the action so he’s the one I’m giving the credit.  The expulsion was as a result of the following comment by Raoudi Aldelbar in reference to the Jewish people: “Oh Allah, count them one by one and kill them all.”

Minister Alfano said the following:

“Uttering anti-Semitic sermons that explicitly incite violence and sectarian hatred is unacceptable. May my decision in this case be a warning to all those who think you can preach hatred in Italy.”

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FOR BEING A POLITICIAN THAT BACKED UP HIS GOOD WORDS WITH ACTIONS, SOMETHING WE DON’T OFTEN SEE, MINISTER ALFANO GETS A HOLLANDS HEROES THANK YOU AND A DOPA!

dove of peaceIf you have anyone you want to nominate for future DOPAs please feel free to leave a comment on this page.

 

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Europe 1940 to Euro 2012

Whenever possible, Holland’s Heroes attempts to take current events and link it to the story in Jew Face.  Sometimes it is an obvious connection, sometimes it is a stretch requiring imagination, and occasionally it is a connection that in its insignificance is mildly entertaining and sometimes even funny or ironic.  This particular post falls into that last category.

Over the next 5 days the champion for Euro 2012 International Football(soccer) tournament will be crowned.  The semifinal matches are as follows.  Today, Spain against Portugal.  Tomorrow, Germany against Italy.

The book Jew Face is the story of my parents Nardus and Sipora Groen, primarily surrounding the events taking place between 1940-1945.  My mother’s maiden name was Rodrigues-Lopes.  A Dutch Jew from Spanish-Portuguese descent, my mother spent 5 years either hiding or running from the Nazi killing machine with the help of my father Nardus Groen.  This book chronicles the events that took place as they lived through the time when Germany occupied Holland.  One of Germany’s allies during World War II; Italy.

I think the irony is obvious.  The not so obvious question, seeing as these countries are very different countries today is, who would I like to see win this thing.  I will keep that answer to myself.  At least for today.


The Holocaust made simple

Recently I’ve engaged in conversation with numerous people regarding the book Jew Face and in doing so something struck me as somewhat concerning.  I have found that there are many intelligent, moderately educated people who do not have a basic knowledge of what took place in Europe between 1933-1945 and the subsequent Holocaust that resulted in the death of 6 million Jews.  As a result I decided to put together this post as a quick guide for those I come across who wish to know more and for anyone else who wishes to use this as a reference for anyone they encounter with a similar need for basic information.

It starts with World War I.  The first Great War took place between 1914-1918.  Germany was one of the major aggressors in Europe, and by the time they were defeated by the Allied forces that consisted of Britain, France, and the United States, among others, the German army was brought to its knees and the country’s economy was left in shambles.  Recovery was slow and with the great worldwide depression of the 1930s, poverty and discontent was on the rise all over Europe.  Conditions were ideal for revolutions.  Spain and Italy both went the direction of fascist dictatorships, and in Germany, an Austrian born ex-Corporal in the German Army by the name of Adolph Hitler would seize the opportunity and rise to leadership.  He would rise to power as leader of the Nationalist Socialist party, better known as the Nazi party, which would become the ruling party of Germany in 1933.

Hitler would rule his nation as an absolute dictator and would be known as and referred to as “the Fuhrer”.  The German masses would follow him with a degree of commitment and hysteria unlike any seen in history.  Hitler felt that the Germans were a master race, and that any nation or people not of pure German blood would be an obstacle to his goal.  Germany’s Nazi party would invade and occupy much of Europe and would continue fighting on numerous fronts as it attempted to achieve worldwide domination and the formation of this master race.

At the time this was happening, the majority of the worldwide Jewish population was in Europe, primarily Poland, Russia, and Hungary.  Hitler would use the Jews as a rallying point around which he would motivate his people through hate, blaming them for the misfortunes of the German people and accusing International Jewry of being the force behind an imminent World War.  When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, for all intents and purposes, not only did World War II begin, but what was to be known as The Holocaust would begin as well.  By 1941, with the implementation of what was to be known as the “Final Solution”, no Jew in Europe was safe.  Although anti-Semitism had been in full force for some time in Germany, once the Nazis invaded and occupied countries all over Europe, they would set out to capture, deport, and murder as many Jews as possible.  Death camps and Concentration camps were set up in various countries where Jewish people would be killed in Gas Chambers or shot en masse by firing squads.  The most infamous of all these camps was Auschwitz which was located in Poland.  The Nazis would not only kill these people, they would strip them of all their possessions, starve them, torture them, conduct medical experiments on them, rape them, and force them to do hard labor sometimes until they died in the process.  Hitler’s Nazi Germany was responsible for the death of millions of Russians, Poles, gypsies, and anyone else not considered by their standards to be a viable part of the future master race.  Nothing however represented the horrors and evil committed by Nazi Germany more than the fate of the Jewish people.  By the time it would be over in 1945, the Holocaust would result in the death of 6 million Jews.

There are a lot more details to the history, but for those who do not know what happened, it is my hope that this will provide you with a foundation on which to not only learn more but to identify the signs of evil rising up again.