Liable

When the dust settles in the aftermath of the current worldwide pandemic we are facing, someone is going to want to exact their pound of flesh for the response fiasco by officials. We already know that the governments of repressive regimes, such as “Ground Zero” China, had the worst response primarily because they view any disaster, large or small, as a rebuke to their brand of leadership, and rightly so. They implement the resources they rely upon to stay in power; namely, the media under their control and the local levels of government who do their bidding. It is the secondary disaster, but it has the most lasting effect on world events.

But happens when we are speaking of a democracy? Who is responsible for an untimely, ill-prepared and subsequently deadly response or lack of vision leading to unfolding events? While it is true that all countries were caught off-guard, that is no justification for the deaths of so many thousands. Not when scientists and medical experts called the alarm with enough time to manage the event and keep it from spiraling out of control. In Israel, the fact that the Health Ministry is headed by a religious individual and not a physician should tell you in advance that Israel was largely unprepared for the pandemic even though the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Certainly, Israel knows how to manage disasters and does so beautifully when the response is by the Israeli Defense Forces, but what about at home? It is not the Home Front Command that must be the guiding force behind the response to a pandemic, nor can health departments worldwide alone do the kind of response and marshal the resources needed to take control of a disaster. One does not address a disaster by creating another, but this is precisely what transpired and continues to occur with alarming regularity.

In the recent past, both Israel and America have had major epidemics and their response was efficient and correct, so what is different today? Look no further than the current leaders of their respective governments. Hubris is one thing. Willful blindness to the suffering of one’s citizenry is quite another. Utilizing deflection from one’s legal troubles with the usual distractions are only a small fraction of how both Netanyahu and Trump managed their crises. Trump has not managed anything, but he does spend the bulk of his airtime blaming the prior administration, which is patently absurd after three years of his own leadership – – if you want to call it that. His insistence that he is not responsible for the pandemic may be factually correct; however, his government’s response has been inadequate, to say the least and deadly, if one wants to be more accurate. To be more precise, for those of us with a legal background, the phrase “criminally negligent homicide” rings true.

Sadly, sitting officials in both countries cannot be charged with criminal dereliction of duty. Once they leave office? Yes, they possibly can. Every elected official has a duty to protect the people that placed them in office. Their primary obligation is to ensure the safety and security of those under their charge. Looking to enrich one’s self instead of doing one’s appointed job is a disaster unto itself. Even in the throes of a pandemic, Donald Trump looks to make money for his family by secretly buying companies that manufacture medical agents used in disease control. But once he leaves office, he will be open to litigation the likes of which no one has ever seen in American history. Second-guessing administrations is the norm when they make mistakes, such as George Bush’s two Iraq wars. Trying to seek justice for the victims of bad leadership is another matter altogether.

Deadly diseases can be stopped. Politicians with bad intentions takes more of an effort to bring under control. It is almost as necessary as fighting a pandemic. Even as many died due to their government’s failings, it is the soul of a nation that must be preserved, not some greedy individual’s continued financial gains from their higher office. A measure of liability must be addressed or this sort of behavior will be repeated in the future.

About the Author
Rachel Grenadier was an olah from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003 who returned to the United States in 2015. She really wanted to stay in Israel, but decided that having family members nearby was better for her health than a bunch of devoted, but crazed, Israeli friends who kept telling her hummous would cure her terminal heart condition. She has her B.A. and M.A. from George Mason University in Virginia and is the author of two books: the autobiographical "Israeli Men and Other Disasters" and "Kishon: The Story of Israel's Naval Commandoes and their Fight for Justice". She is now living in Virginia with her three Israeli psychologically-challenged cats and yet, denies being a "hoarder".
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