The difference in the Coronavirus death rate between Israel and Europe is astonishing.
Out of every million Israelis, about 30 are dead.
Out of every million Europeans in the major Western European nations, on average close to 600 are dead. Twenty times our death rate per capita.
Meaning that Israel has suffered only 5% the death rate per capita of Europe.
This means to date we have basically been spared the horror of Coronavirus. It means we have not really experienced it compared with Europe (and now America). As if in Egypt, this plague has 95% passed over our houses (and it has done so precisely during the month of Pesach).
When I told my wife, Michal, a short while ago that soon Israel would be suffering from Coronavirus like Europe, she replied that God would spare us.
How exactly did she expect that will happen, I asked her. “I don’t know,” she said, “but I believe in miracles.”
And here we are with our dead that should have been twenty times worse.
How did this happen?
While we did move somewhat faster to lock down when the virus arrived, this does not fully answer the question.
The big answer lies in a decision made well before the lock down. Before many people became infected.
You see, the virus was imported. It came from outside. And Israel was the first in the world to ban travel. And Israel was the most strict and far reaching with it’s ban. Even before that when there were hardly any cases in Europe, Israel asked Israelis not to travel (as a result I canceled a ski vacation in Italy with my son, Ezra, for his bar mitzvah at that time).
The travel ban angered other countries and Israel was told it was overreacting. But within a matter of weeks, unfortunately too late for them, they followed us.
Looking back we can now see how wise and prophetic that one decision was.
Whatever one’s opinion of Prime Minister Netanyahu, we owe him our gratitude. It was his decision, and it was unpopular when he made it. But leaders are supposed to lead, not do what is popular.
Netanyahu remembered a course he took in University about how viruses spread and how quickly. He was fascinated with how fast and unpredictably they can move and never forgot it. So when Corona came from China to Europe he understood it was on the move and could move faster than expected or people wanted to believe. And he understood the importance of shutting down travel and not allowing the virus in before any other world leader.
Everything is from God. In this case, He provided us with a leader who caused this plague to almost entirely pass over us. For this we should be grateful.
The writer is the co-founder and former CEO of Sirius XM Radio, America’s largest radio broadcaster. Nominated by Harvard Business School as Entrepreneur of the Year, and inducted into NASA’s Space Technology Hall of Fame, he now lives in Israel with his wife and family.