In the early days of the COVID-19 scare Israel looked as though it was doing well. The airport was virtually closed down. Those arriving from overseas were foolishly allowed to make their own way home using public transport but, by and large, people were disciplined and remained indoors when told to do so.
Not surprisingly our figures looked much better than those in many other countries including Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Many were critical of the Health Ministry’s director general, Moshe Bar Simon Tov, for being overly draconian. Nearly a month ago he stated: “If we’d not been tough, we could have wound up like Belgium”. However, to his credit, he kept Israel in good shape. (Fortunately, we did not have to rely on Yaakov Litzman to do so!)
Those were heady days and we Israelis could pat ourselves on the back. However, we are not there now. The numbers of those infected are increasing day by day. Today’s figures indicate that there are 654 people who have been infected within the educational system and there are 288 new cases. Hardly a success story.
By contrast, New Zealand is down to two people infected while Switzerland reported just 23 new cases yesterday. Even figures in Belgium are lower than in Israel according to Johns Hopkins University, whereas here things are getting worse.
The pressure applied on Bibi by restaurant owners, shopping malls, banqueting suite operators and a host of other people who have suffered immense economic hardship as a result of Israel’s stringent measures have caused him to cave in. Rather than the government providing them and many others like them with serious financial support to enable them to stay afloat during these challenging times, he chose to open the flood gates.
Israel no longer has a coherent policy to fight corona. 250 people can attend a wedding party, but only 50 people can pray together provided they observe social distancing. Trains are about to start running, but elevators must be half empty. Who has a head for all of these details?!!!
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The figures of those infected by the coronavirus are rising. Whereas Israel had intended resuming flights to Greece and Cyprus, her competence in controlling the coronavirus has now been put into question.
The bottom line is that things in Israel are getting worse. Whereas New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Arden, is to be congratulated for her handling of the crisis, Bibi has been less successful.
It should be noted that Arden and New Zealand’s government employees have taken a self-imposed 20% cut in their salaries. As she put it: “If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now”.
I don’t see Bibi, Gantz or any other of our so-called leaders showing a similar level of magnanimity, but then their prime interest is themselves.