For numerous decades I’ve spent large chunks of my life with you, splitting my time between New Jersey and you, my beloved. I’ve been with you for the Yom Kippur War where my husband and I learned under duress that our four little kids and we were under threat to our very lives as we huddled daily at our small radio to hear Chaim Herzog put his endearing positive spin on the terrors around us. Since then, as you know, many more threats to our lives in our nation have endured and we have embraced you throughout. I’ve prayed for you, and shared with you my most precious gifts, my children and grandchildren. And let it be known that if and when anyone on these American shores dares to insult or hurt you, they have to deal with my fury, which can and often is considerable! I’m not influential by any means but my passions run deep. I don’t ever try for tact and I’d be a lousy diplomat. So, when I write the following you need to know that you have made me more angry than I ever thought you could do. It does not come easy for me to publicly criticize you.
Today, two of my very close family members went to a scheduled appointment with a Jerusalem ophthalmologist. They are both Israeli citizens and went to the clinic with scripts from their kupat cholim, Maccabi.
They arrived at the building which contains stores and offices as well as the clinic. The security guard took their temperature and sent them to the fourth floor. First obstacle! The elevator was very small and they would not go into it. The escalators were not working. They climbed the stairs, an activity that many patients would not be capable of doing. On each level, and every level, employees were sitting on the stairs smoking. Needless to state the obvious, people with masks cannot possibly smoke. And throughout the world smoking in hospitals and clinics is strictly forbidden.
They entered the clinic, which had about 25 patients waiting for their appointments. Some had masks on. Some had masks on improperly. Many had no masks at all, including some of the office staff. My family members were the only people wearing kn95 masks and goggles. There was no liquid handwashing station.
So, let’s reiterate: in a medical clinic in Jerusalem, a city which is now dealing with a scourge of covid19 cases, in a country which is now dealing with a scourge of covid19 cases, handwashing was not available, masks were not required, and patients, some of whom were heard to cough, were squeezed together in a small space.
They asked where they could sit privately, sequestered from everyone else. This protected space, known as social distancing, is what we all have been taught is most protective in order to best avoid contracting covid19. We’ve all heard this over and over: space, masks, handwashing. You would think that every toddler would know this mantra. You certainly would be correct to assume, incorrectly unfortunately, that every medical office would be enforcing these simple measures to reduce the viral burden and save the lives of our precious citizens.
So, of course they asked where they could isolate themselves until their appointment. There was no such place, no such space. They finally sat outside of the lavatory for ten minutes. Numerous articles have been written about the inherent dangers of public toilets during the pandemic. Uncomfortable, and actually fearful, they left. They never saw the doctor or had the examination for which they came.
Hear o Israel……..you are not protecting yourselves nearly enough. More and more people will succumb to this nightmare which surrounds us if great care is not exercised. What my family members witnessed today cannot be emblematic of the entire country. It must be an aberration. That is what I hope but not what I believe. Visiting this clinic today was a horrifying experience of ignoring medical advice and threats to human health and life. Please, for the sake of your aged and your youngsters and all of those in the middle, practice what is preached to you. Cast off your arrogance and lead the world in thwarting the corona virus. You can do it. And you must.