Exposing the propaganda narrative in Israel and the global community
This article first appeared in The Epoch Times, June 12 2023
"Landscape With the Fall of Icarus," c. 1555 (oil on canvas) by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder (c. 1525–69); 73.5 x 112 cm; Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. Icarus is seen with his legs thrashing in the sea; Giraudon; Flemish, out of copyright.
In Pieter Bruegel’s painting “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus,” the canvas is dominated by workers going about their daily routines. A person looking at the painting must strain to find the legs of Icarus as he plunges into the sea—having flown too close to the sun—resulting in the melting of his wings, made of wax and feathers.
The message is clear: Those who succumb to hubris will ultimately become a minor detail in the grand fabric of social reality.
About three years ago, we first learned about the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China. The accumulated information and the perspective that has become evident over time make it possible to tell the true story of the pandemic, which is different from what many still believe.
The following may therefore surprise those who are not up to date on the world’s scientific literature. This story directly connects to the political, social, and economic processes that the world and Israel have been experiencing, including what amounts to a regime overthrow. But first things first.
While misinformation is spreading false information without the intent to deceive, disinformation—the intentional spreading of false information with the intent to mislead or deceive—is divisive, destructive, and can cause irreparable harm.
Consider the impact of the following narratives spread throughout the pandemic.
Narrative 1: The Origin of the Virus
The presence of a unique segment in the viral genome and the fact that no host animal has been found with the virus has raised suspicions that the virus’ origin is not of natural evolution but rather from gain-of-function research done in a laboratory from whence the virus was probably leaked by infecting some laboratory workers.
What is known about the studies done on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, funded by the American government, strengthens this hypothesis and poses a difficult question about the responsibility of the researchers and their funders for the outbreak.
Narrative 2: Risk Assessment
The data about the death rate from the disease became clear at the beginning of the pandemic: It was much lower than what was feared, similar to the flu, and most dangerous to the elderly.
This was the case with the original strain, and the following variants were even milder. This realistic risk assessment should have directed the health authorities to take less stringent measures compared to what actually happened.
Narrative 3: Overdiagnosis
For the first time in the history of medicine, the definition of a “case” for an infectious respiratory disease was established based on a laboratory test without considering the symptoms to verify the disease. Using an extremely sensitive PCR test that can identify remains of viral RNA from dead viruses likely resulted in an overdiagnosis of morbidity and mortality.
Most of those who were counted as having died from COVID-19 were, in fact, adults who died from the aggravation of their chronic preexisting conditions and not from the virus itself.
The inflated numbers did not reflect reality and only contributed to public fear and panic disseminated by the governments.
Narrative 4: Overreaction—Lockdowns, School Closures, Isolation, Epidemiological Investigations, ‘Green Pass,’ and Mask Mandates
When a pandemic breaks out, the need to be cautious and tend toward more severe measures at first is understandable. But the draconian measures implemented by the West, modeled after the Chinese dictatorial approach and enforced by emergency laws and measures, did not prove, according to the data and research, to be effective in preventing morbidity.
The approach of “opening and closing (the public) like an accordion,” in the unfortunate words of a leader in Israel, lacked both compassion and professional understanding.
The thought that humans could influence nature’s forces is unthinkable hubris: Morbidity from a respiratory virus is naturally characterized by waves, regardless of what we humans do. Lockdowns and school closures had no substantial effect on the magnitude of the waves.
The overreaction of the health authorities has harmed us and will continue to harm us for many years to come: harms to health, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and developmental disorders in children; harms to education, such as loss of school years and the development of behavioral disorders; harms to the economy such as unemployment, business closures, disruption to production and supply chains worldwide, loss of GDP and the rise of inflation. All these harms have led to the global economic crisis we currently face.
Narrative 5: The Vaccine
The great hope and promise of the vaccine were never fulfilled. Since it cannot prevent transmission and contagion, the vaccine had little effect on morbidity, and its impact on mortality is still unclear; if it had an effect, it was short-term.
The harmful side effects that have been reported are numerous, and some are severe. In the balance of the benefits versus the risk of harm, it seems there was no justification for using innovative but unknown technology (mRNA)—certainly not in the young and healthy, including children, for whom the risks associated with COVID-19 are negligible.
The rapid deployment of the vaccine under emergency authorization only—when in fact, there was no real emergency—and the administration of booster injections in what came down to an experiment on the entire Israeli population under the coercion of needing a “green pass” to maintain fundamental rights—all without informed consent and the required oversight—raises serious ethical questions about the judgment and values of the decision-makers.
Patient autonomy, patient confidentiality, and other fundamental values in medicine were trampled on.
The Israeli Ministry of Health has acted more as an advocate for the vaccine manufacturers by operating under a confidential agreement with a commercial company rather than as a regulator whose role is to protect the public and ensure no harm is done. When those who define the scope of procurement are partners with the manufacturer in publishing the data in medical literature, this itself appears to be a blatant conflict of interest.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed the public by not reporting the severe side effects found in postmarketing surveillance from doctors and the public.
The balance of power between the regulators and the pharmaceutical corporations was wholly distorted during the COVID-19 pandemic and contrary to public interest and safety while primarily serving the interests of those who made a fortune.
At this point, it should be clear that COVID-19 vaccines should be suspended and mRNA technology—which is, in fact, genetic therapy—carefully reexamined.
Narrative 6: Unprecedented Challenges to Medicine, Science, and Ethics
The decisions to implement draconian restrictions were made in most countries by a small group of “experts” and policymakers whose high salaries are secure, without considering the needs of disadvantaged populations, self-employed persons who lost their ability to provide for themselves and their families, and many others who were irreparably harmed by these measures.
This approach brought medicine back dozens of years to the days of medical paternalism. The ethical rules that should govern public policy were violated; measures taken did not meet standards of effectiveness, necessity, and proportionality.
Under the label of “state of emergency,” scientific and medical research deviated from the basic principles of open discussion, healthy skepticism, and the casting of doubt, as well as high-quality, unbiased research.
During the COVID-19 years, a significant bias in scientific publication in favor of the establishment narrative took hold, and the approach to other opinions was either ignored or aggressively silenced.
Those who dared to think critically were accused of disinformation, whereas most of the time, it was the publications of the health authorities that were agenda-driven, biased, and rife with error.
Examples include the contrived claims of vaccine effectiveness, the denial of the efficacy of natural immunity resulting from infection and providing more robust protection than the vaccine, and the recommendation—unprecedented in medicine—for individuals who have recovered from the infection to get vaccinated.
The indifference and utter denial of the Israeli Ministry of Health regarding the vaccine’s side effects and suspected excess mortality are inconsistent with the basic imperative of medicine to “first, do no harm,” and they reflect a lack of compassion and recognition of the suffering of many people.
Narrative 7: Fear and Manipulation
Fear—the most potent motivator of human behavior—played the most crucial role in the COVID-19 crisis. As if we have learned nothing from history, our governments have morally failed us by using propaganda to intimidate and terrorize the public rather than relying on established norms and protocols to empower the citizens when facing emergencies.
This propaganda took a heavy toll, spreading anxiety and depression among the public.
And as always in such cases, there were targeted scapegoats: In medieval Europe, it was the Jews who suffered during plagues; in Israel, it began with the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was those who chose not to be vaccinated who were shamed and bullied as “anti-vaxxers,” as well as scientists and doctors who dared to think differently.
The government-sponsored incitement eroded social and interpersonal sentiments in a manner that enabled the delegitimization of large groups within the population.
The government used the media as a tool to spread propaganda. It did not fulfill its role as a government critic to hold it accountable. Instead, it contributed to the intimidation of citizens and the violation of their civil rights and basic human liberties.
It is now being revealed that in Israel, journalists were instructed not to publish anything contradicting the government’s policy, with the incentive of huge media advertising budgets provided by the government.
The Destruction of Democracy
The violation of the rights of citizens and patients during the COVID-19 period is unprecedented. The coronavirus law from 2020—which the Israeli government has now extended—grants the government enormous power and, in practice, has already abolished the supervision of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and the separation of powers.
The High Court did not grant the petition against the discriminatory “green pass,” which practically forced people to receive medical treatment not out of real choice but to maintain their right to work and freedom of movement.
Undoubtedly, the government took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to gain power and control over the public. The unbearable ease with which a “democratic” regime violated fundamental freedoms under the pretext of an emergency that never existed demonstrates that what the Israeli public fears most has already happened.
Facing Reality: Holding the Powerful Accountable
What should have been a fine hour for medicine, science, and democratic governments instead became a march of folly of colossal failure—both from a professional point of view and from the point of view of the violation of fundamental freedoms and the loss of public trust.
This was not the fault of the medical teams that worked hard and with great dedication; this happened because of the blatant failure of health care authorities. These included the World Health Organization (WHO), whose stated mission is to work “worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable,” the FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Israeli Ministry of Health—which all fixated on COVID-19 while neglecting their role to promote overall health and protect the public.
In its broad definition, the WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Looking at a crisis with tunnel vision and seeing only the virus while ignoring all other aspects of health should never happen again.
The fanatical approach and the draconian measures employed against a disease that by any measure was considered mild to moderate—yet was no different than the flu pandemics of the ’60s and ’70s—caused profound harm with ripple effects to be felt for years to come, resulting in a significant social fissure and economic and political instability.
It would be naive to think that it was only tunnel vision and managerial blindness that caused this failure and not interests of power, control, and money.
In January 2020, when COVID-19 was news from a faraway country on the back page of the newspaper, I wrote an article in Israeli TheMarker titled “Before the Next Pandemic, We Should Prepare for Disease as We Prepare for War.” This was written from my perspective as someone who has been promoting emergency preparedness for years.
Shortly after that, in May 2020, I wrote in the same newspaper: “The Mistakes of the COVID Crisis: The Cure Is More Harmful Than the Disease.” Three years were not required to understand the magnitude of the mistakes and to prevent the disaster that the governments brought about by their own actions.
If the health authorities had listened to scientific and medical people from Israel and the world with the voice of reason, the disaster would have been avoided, and the harm caused by the aggressive measures taken in response to a minor pandemic could have been minimized.
Those who are part of the establishment who persist in denying the facts and continue to fuel the narrative that the pandemic was the end of humanity and the vaccination was the “miracle cure” to save mankind do so because the professional, public, ethical, and perhaps even the legal or criminal ramifications are so significant that it is better for them to deny their conscience.
Currently, Israel is the only country to extend emergency laws without medical justification. Facing the truth will be especially hard for the medical community, given that the fundamental medical ethos is “first, do no harm.”
For the sake of learning critical lessons for future pandemics, restoring trust in the health care system, and promoting public resilience, it is essential to return the public’s consciousness to a more natural state.
Facing reality requires an honest and comprehensive investigation into the management of the COVID-19 crisis and its disastrous effects. This crisis may be turned into opportunity if people with courage and compassion will speak up and the true narrative will prevail.
Many thanks to Dr. Gefen Bar-on Santor for her invaluable suggestions and translation.