Hebrew U. Professor: ‘Chareidi Mezuzah-Kissers Spreading Coronavirus in Israel’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Magen David Adom workers seen at special emergency Call Center in Ramat Gan after nine South Koreans tested positive for coronavirus after their return from a trip in Israel, Sunday. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

An outspoken and often outrageous Hebrew University professor was back in the news Tuesday, after he said that in order to keep Israelis safe from coronavirus, it was necessary to shut off chareidi cities, and isolate their residents. In a social media post, Goldblum said that the government and media “are hiding from Israelis the truth about this disease. It is spreading quickly in Israel ever since a group of South Korean tourists came here.”

It was contact between that group and chareidim at Me’aras Hamachpelah that was causing the spread of coronavirus. “We have to close off Elad, Bnei Brak, Modiin Ilit, Beitar Illit, Netivot, Beit Shemesh, and large parts of Ashdod and Yerushalayim” in order to keep coronavirus in check. “The list of places where the Korean tourists visited was published in the media,” Goldblum wrote, “and among them was Me’aras Hamachpelah. From there, it spread via the mezuzah-kissing Jews via many synagogues in religious and chareidi neighborhoods.”

Estimates are that there are currently some 1,400 Israelis in self-isolation, most of them returned visitors from countries in the Far East. Some 200 Israelis who came into contact with a South Korean group of tourists who were here earlier in February, and among whom a large number were diagnosed as having contracted coronavirus, are currently in isolation.

Most of them are students at three schools who were at sites the Korean group visited, while others include Border Guard officers who accompanied the group, as well as Parks Authority workers who were in contact with them. The Health Ministry has tracked down a number of people who came into contact with the group at Me’aras Hamachpelah and instructed them to enter isolation as well.

Goldblum is a Professor of Molecular Modeling and Drug Design at Hebrew University’s Institute for Drug Research. Hebrew University condemned the comments, calling them “embarrassing and racist. These comments do not represent the views of the Hebrew University community, which works day and night for a united and diverse community.”

Goldblum has been in hot water before for controversial comments. In 2014, he characterized Jewish students who marched at a Yerushalayim Day event as “Judeo-Nazis,” and in 2015 he called then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked a “neo-Nazi” for her efforts to restrain the power of the High Court.