The one thing that has become apparent over the past few days, is that here in Israel, we face a double crisis. Besides the coronavirus epidemic, we face another equally catastrophic calamity and that’s the lack of discourse, selflessness and civility amongst our political leadership. It amazes me, and I’m sure many others, that at such a crucial time, as we face an unprecedented challenge on a national and global scale, our politicians are preoccupied with personal power struggles, trickery and baseless hatred toward each-other.
As the number of infected Israeli’s increases daily and hospitals filling to maximum capacity, including a shortage of medical equipment, coupled by a near economic catastrophe where 1 million Israelis are without work, due to the Virus’s outbreak, the upcoming reality looks bleak. Is it not obvious that now more than ever we need national unity and a collaborated effort to fight and overcome this emergency. We need a fully functioning government who can make quick and fluid decisions to enable solutions and coordination between relevant departments. We also need a strong voice and example from the top, one that informs and warns us of the dangers and obstacles ahead but also one that gives hope and a message of resilience that this situation can be overcome.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have been extremely satisfied and proud of the current leaderships response in the wake of this virus, making immediate decisions to lockdown public life and thus limit infection, but now it seems that both sides are losing perspective and a sense of priority seeking to exploit the crisis for political gain.
This has got me thinking what does true leadership mean? Does true leadership exist? and if yes, who are the leaders amongst us?
As Jews, we are taught that Moses was the greatest leader in our history. What is interesting to note is that Moses neither wanted the position nor did he posses the necessary skills of a natural leader. Moses had a speech impediment and it was his brother Aaron who assumed the position of chief negotiator with Pharoah to free the Jewish people from Egypt. When the bible recalls the story of the two brothers it alternates mentioning each one’s name first. An accepted explanation from our Jewish sages suggest that this informs us that both were equally important in the story, albeit with different responsibilities. However, both embraced the others position and were thus able to succeed in their mission of redeeming the Jews from slavery to freedom.
In these troubled times I, like many others, have been inspired by the stories of everyday Israeli’s, who have in recent days risen to the occasion in the face of this developing struggle. Whether it’s the doctors, medical staff and volunteers on the frontlines treating infected patients in medical institutions countrywide or delivering and initiating tests on sick individuals in their private homes; whether its Israeli pilots who have broken flight records to rescue stranded Israeli backpackers worldwide as international borders close; burial staff and volunteers of the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish burial society) that place themselves at high risk to fulfill one of Judaism’s greatest tenants to bury and respect our deceased; soldiers who have not seen their families or the outside world in over a month, protecting our borders in freezing conditions; thousands of volunteers in Israeli organizations who have ensured that the weaker members of our society are still taken care of and everyday citizens who are reaching out to their friends, neighbors and fellow countrymen offering support and help where needed. Of course there have been incidences of selfish behavior but that can only be expected in such a situation. We are certainly not lacking in true leadership and if we just open our eyes we will see that there is so much to be proud of.
I suggest that our political leaders come down from their ladders and take a look at the people they have been entrusted to lead. They might learn a lesson or two.