The Winter of Our Discontent

The huge demonstrations currently taking place outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem and across the country, which the government is currently seeking to impede through legislation, are child’s play in comparison with what awaits Israel this winter.

While it is difficult to obtain figures as to the actual number of unemployed today, it is generally believed to be around one million and the numbers can only rise.

No country other than Israel has had to face a second lock-down, and the consequences will be disastrous for huge sections of our economy including hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, gyms and a host of other businesses.

The knock-on effects will be enormous. People will be unable to pay their mortgages or rents, and it won’t be too long before people will have no money to buy food. There is nothing like hunger to motivate civil unrest. The French Revolution is a prime example of the consequences of a government failing to meet the basic needs of its citizens.

The indiscriminate hand-outs of 500 shekels here and 3,000 shekels there to rich and poor alike without any serious consideration of the needs of specific segments of our society will ultimately lead to disaster. There is clearly no overall strategy.

People are angry with the government and rightly so. Over the years it repeatedly ignored calls from the medical profession to increase staffing and the number of beds in our hospitals.

Its overall handling of the coronavirus crisis was largely governed by political concerns rather than by a serious consideration of what was in the nation’s best interests. How else explain the plane loads of yeshivah students that arrived daily from corona-infested New York in the early days of the crisis and the opening of Ikea while all other stores were closed?

The lack of personal example set by our leaders only served to increase the sense of distrust of politicians, who imposed restrictions on the population at large to which they themselves were unprepared to adhere.

Many will be cold and hungry this winter and they will take to the streets.

Israel’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis ranks as the worst in the world. We need a government that will concentrate all of its efforts on dealing with the medical and economic ramifications of the epidemic rather than seeking to put together legislation to limit the rights of those who protest against a prime minister facing trial, who has been shown to be totally incapable of meeting the needs of the hour.

Any politician with an ounce of integrity would have handed in his resignation long ago.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.
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