We received the following letter from a Korean Christian concerned about the way Israel is treating visitors from her country as Health Ministry officials try to protect the Jewish state from the fatal coronavirus. Thousands of tourists from Korea and other countries affected by the highly contagious virus arrive daily in Israel, and officials are working day and night to find solutions and even cures that will protect not only Israelis but people across the globe. But sometimes people get pushed aside in the shuffle.
As you read this impassioned plea, be aware that “one bad apple” doesn’t mean we’re all rotten.
I am a Korean living and studying in Israel. I came to Israel because I love this country. However, many Koreans, including myself, have been struggling here recently because of the coronavirus. Recently, the number of patients with coronavirus has surged in Korea. And it is known that tourists who came to Israel from Korea were infected with the deadly virus.
I understand that the people of Israel are nervous about it. And I pray daily that this disease will not spread to the Israeli people. And not only me but many Koreans are praying.
It is not yet known how or when the Korean tourists became ill. The tourists left Korea when there were very few infected patients there. None of the Korean tourists came here knowing they were sick.
I am convinced that these Korean tourists also love Israel. In fact, it is hard to find Koreans who do not love Israel among the many thousands who make a pilgrimage to Israel.
However, I am sorry to say that Koreans who love Israel are being treated like a virus in this country. My heart hurts. Some Koreans have been deported as soon as they arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, while others couldn’t get a return ticket and were forced out of their hotels and left homeless at the airport.
Israeli people, do you understand the feelings of Koreans who have experienced this? I can understand that the Israeli government is trying hard to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But why should Koreans be treated like a virus and looked at disparagingly in this country?
Israel has big scars from other nations and peoples. And even now, there is antisemitism all over the world. What’s happening now is being reported all over the Korean media. I’m worried that this will cause Korean people to take a more negative view of Israel. Please stop looking at the Koreans, Chinese, and other Asians as if we’re a plague.
Please think a little bit about how people are dying and suffering in our country. We are already suffering from it. Do not throw stones at a suffering neighbor.
I ask you as your friend.