Akiva Spiegelman
Akiva Spiegelman
Media Consultant

COVID-19 in its proper historical perspective

The Israeli media tends to compare every misshape, catastrophe, or failure to the 1973 Yom Kippur war. COVID-19 was not exempt from this comparison and the narrative even received an unexpected boost by the Kan national broadcasting channel when it aired an action-packed and historically flawed series reenacting some of the gut-wrenching battles.

To this day, the Yom Kippur war still affects the families of the fallen and the nation as a whole. It presented a failure to read the reality as it was while dealing with a troubled and convoluted White House in the midst of the Watergate scandal and its attempt to tiptoe around the Soviet Union. Israel was blindsided in a manner that could be less disastrous were the government less obsessed with its fixation on the false intelligence conception and its persistence to not involve all branches in its understanding of the events as they unfolded.

During the first lockdown, more and more politicians and media critics pointed to the acting government and accused it of similar wrongdoing as it made decisions in a non-transparent fashion. One particular MK, in particular, made a name for himself while continuously comparing 1973 to 2020. Even if convenient- the comparison is flawed, to say the least.

As the 1973 war could have been avoided or at the very least its damages could have been significantly less traumatizing, the COVID-19 outbreak caught the entire world by surprise. The only modern event to compare it to is the 1918 influenza pandemic. Seeing this took place long before the major leaps in medicine the interface points were rather limited. Those who attempted to embarrass the acting government were not bothered by any of this and they made their political capital without hurdles.

Although history tends to repeat itself and despite my personal discomfort to comparisons reaching outside identical eras, the more appropriate war to compare COVID-19 to in Israel is the Six-Day war of 1967. At the time the U.S. was not considered to be a pillar of steadiness as it was led by a backup president following the Kennedy assassination and a State Department in disarray. During the month leading up to the eventual attack which dismantled the Egyptian air force, a slow and perpetual stalemate was at its peak, with continuous and separate talks held between the U.S. government, Israel and Egypt. To top it off the Israeli military command shifted with Moshe Dayan assuming the position of minister of defense a mere three days before the war began.

The surprise attack is thought to be one of the most impressive strategic attacks in military history. It came out of the blue and was brought forward at a point where it was unclear how the standoff between Israel and Egypt will erupt or end. It set the tone to hold off 3 powerful Arab nations and served as an absolute shock.

If we really must compare, the flash vaccine mission in which millions were vaccinated in Israel while other nations are struggling still to contain the coronavirus is the way to go. The mission has been deemed so successful and groundbreaking that leaders have made their way to Israel and have contacted the Prime Minister in order to receive guidance in order to import the methods used. The mission came to reality as numbers were growing and an end to the pandemic was nowhere in sight. It is still early to say COVID-19 is behind us and yet it is necessary to give due where it has been rightfully earned. The ongoing comparison to 1973 also serves as an insult to the fallen and their loved ones. A correct comparison to 1967 provides respect to those lost during the pandemic and their memory is what has paved the path to serve once again as a light to the nations.

About the Author
Akiva Spiegelman holds a bachelor's degree in advertising and marketing communications from the Ono Academic College. During his degree, he interned with MK Sharren Haskel, founded the Model UN Club at the Ono Academic Campus, and at the same time served as a spokesman for the Model UN Organization in Israel. In recent years, he served as head of the Open University Student Association's Spokesperson's Department, spokesman for the Center for Near East Policy Research, as a researcher in the Likud campaign and worked in the international department in the Galai Communications PR Firm. Currently acting as an independent consultant to non profit organisations and initiatives.
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