Coronavirus is an Opportunity for Opportunists

Coronavirus is a disaster. We all know that. So far this outbreak has caused sickness, death, isolation, depression and anxiety (for some), unemployment (for many), closure of small businesses and collapse of the economy.

But for some people, although it sounds sickly insensitive to say, it might be the best thing since sliced bread. Let’s call these people ‘Corona Exploitation Opportunists’ (or CEOs, for short).

Opportunist no. 1 is Our Supreme Leader Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu. Good old Bibi never misses an opportunity to cement his power. For Bibi, this chaos is a gift from God. He has used it to delay his trial for bribery and take it out of the media spotlight, probably bring Benny Gantz into an emergency government ‘under’ his wing and settle a few political scores.

Opportunist no. 2 is defence minister Naftali Bennett. He has been busy showing us all what a ‘great’ guy he is by injecting a tiny drop of his massive military budget into buying more ventilators. “We’re here for you,” he says. Thanks Naftali. Let’s remember that in elections this time last year, he received a big fat zero mandates. Yet he has managed to worm his way back to the top. National hero? He should be a national zero.

Opportunist no. 3 is the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security force) who have now got the green light to tap our phones, digitally ‘track’ citizens and generally invade our privacy in new ways. Of course, keeping quarantine is important, but so is keeping our free speech. Let’s hope the Coronavirus doesn’t tear apart our civil liberties in the long-term.

This pandemic has torn apart tourism. Maybe momentarily, maybe permanently. Airlines, hotels, restaurants, tours, souvenir shops and even guidebook publishers like Lonely Planet have been hit hard. This is sad news for travellers. Indeed, travelling is one of the best ways to experience different cultures, but it can also be a huge environmental disaster. With less flights and pollution, some say the planet is cooling off and taking a well-earned ‘breather’.

Perhaps, Corona is a tough lesson for us all. With so many of us affected by a health crisis, it’s clear that health services should be a priority. In normal times, health is not a priority. Trillions of dollars are spent on arms and defence, much more than health. Coronavirus has exposed the lack of hospital beds, nurses and basic medical resources needed. It’s also exposed how dependant we are on schools, day care and teachers. Generally, doctors, nurses and teachers receive much lower salaries than developers in hi-tech. Our entire economy is geared towards perpetual growth and not sustainability of its main resource – the people.

This is the real opportunity of Corona. If Coronavirus could have its own marketing campaign – what would be its slogans? People over profits. Workers over Wall St. Medicine over the military. Nurses over numbers. Doctors over digits. Invest in care, not in shares.

The same could be said for education: Kids over cash. Teachers over tech. Education over exploitation. These are not extremist slogans of a socialist manifesto, just a wake up call for a more compassionate way of running society.

But when the worst of Coronavirus is over, our governments and corporations won’t be selling these slogans. It’ll be back to business as usual. It’ll be profits over people. So to make a shift for a fairer society that truly values heath and education, the people will need to be proactive. We’ll all need to be optimistic opportunists.

About the Author
Dan Savery Raz is a journalist, poet and editor from England, who lives in Tel Aviv.
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