The pandemic has hit all of the world at once. Some countries are dealing with heavy casualties, while others try to find practical solutions for maintaining public health.
Two months ago, I started to document the lockdown in Israel. At that time, you could not go more than 100 meters away from your home, nor outside, without wearing a mask. The schools were closed, so were most of the places of work, making 1 out of 4 Israelis unemployed.
I work as a freelance photographer, but then I was out of business.
I managed to cut my expenses and use my savings – but many can’t.
As I felt the struggle of unemployment myself, I was curious to go out on the streets to document the stories of business-owners and workers who were facing the same situation, each with their own story.
As time went by, the reactions of the people I have met have changed. At first, they ignored the situation, believing that the restrictions would not affect them. Later, they became frustrated and talked about how they would have handled things differently. At last, they just sighed with despair – seeing no hope for themselves.
Extreme situations like this unveil the weaknesses and underlying problems of the country. For years, experts and reporters have warned the public about the lack of government funding for national health care facilities. The pandemic burst and panic swept the nation. Many were unsure if the hospitals would be able to cope with the upcoming influx of patients. Even people suffering from life-threatening diseases were afraid to get medical assistance at the hospitals out of fear of getting infected.
Every conversation I’ve had masks a far deeper problem — none of the people I have talked to trusts the government to do the right thing.
There hasn’t been a functioning parliament in Israel for almost a year.
After three elections, in which none of the winners succeeded in forming a coalition, the two major parties have joined forces to form a heinously expensive government in which there are more than 30 ministers.
In the US, home to more than 300 million people, there are only 15.
This outrageous act by the Israeli politicians is perceived by many as an insult to the public, reflecting how careless politicians are with the public’s money during a time of ramping unemployment.
People seem to give up hope that the government will change and rely only on themselves. In a country where the government is untrustworthy yet restricts the population heavily — democracy gradually falls apart.
Experts estimate that many will not be able to return to work after the restrictions are removed. Some estimate that more than 60,000 businesses will go bankrupt.
Currently, there is a massive civil protest about the lack of governmental assistance.
I do not believe that my project will change any Israeli law. However, I do believe in the power of art. Art doesn’t change reality — it changes people.
The pandemic is going to pass, but some people will get into economical or personal trouble that will last for much longer. Now, more than ever, we must come to the help of our local communities and especially our local businesses.
Only by coming together as a unified society, supporting those who need it and holding on to our trust and compassion, can we emerge out of this crisis intact.