Where is Bibi?

Many will recall how in the early days of COVID-19, Bibi was everywhere to be seen. He would appear on prime-time television every evening with Ya’akov Litzman and Moshe Bar Siman Tov warning of the dangers of the virus and calling on Israelis to follow the instructions of the Health Ministry.

Later Bibi would appear on our screens boasting Israel’s success in limiting the spread of Corona. As he put it: “So far we’ve done it better than nearly every other country in the world”.

Then the whole thing began to turn sour. Bar Siman Tov resigned and Prof. Ronni Gamzu took on the thankless task of trying to impede the spread of the virus when it looked as though it was going out of control.

Bibi loves to turn to the media when he has a success story to tell, but he hides in the shadows when the outlook is bleak.

Coalition leader Miki Zohar criticized Prof. Gamzu for seeking to stop the pilgrimage of Breslover chassidim to Oman on the grounds that it would lead to a growth in the number of those infected by the virus. Zohar accused Gamzu of increasing the incidence of anti-Semitism in the Ukraine.

As he wrote on Twitter: “The number of cases of anti-Semitism in the Ukraine is on the rise ever since Prof. Gamzu wrote a letter to the Ukrainian president in which he stated in effect that Corona-infected Israelis were endangering Ukrainians.” Bibi remained silent and did not castigate Zohar for attacking the coronavirus project manager whom he had appointed.

And now Gamzu is under fire once again. It is reported that the mayor of Bnei B’rak is refusing to meet with him unless he apologize for his remarks in which he accused Rabbi Kanievsky of endangering the charedi community.

Once again Bibi is nowhere to be seen. Gamzu is out there fighting the battle while his commander-in-chief remains silent.

Prof. Gamzu is like a soldier who has been sent to the frontline to wage the battle and take the flak while his commanding officer sits on the sidelines and does not provide him with the support that he deserves. That is not the way that Israel fights its wars, and this is a war. Our army officers are renowned for leading their soldiers into battle and not hiding in their command posts.

Prof. Gamzu is to be congratulated for taking on such a thankless task, which is not made easier by the fact that he is not getting the backing that he is entitled to expect from our prime minister.

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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