Rachel M. Roth

Why We Are Frustrated

We are frustrated because we have been here before. Lockdowns are mentally, physically, and financially taxing, but we did it with strength and goodwill the first time because we understood that the moment called for unity. We stood on our porches, each alone, and sang the Mah Nishtana as a nation. We bought time for our leaders to design evidence-based rules, consistent plans, clear communications. But upon emerging, we found our gift and trust squandered.

We are frustrated because we are doing our part. If sick, we request the uncomfortable and compromising corona test; but daily I hear that their doctor would not order them a test because they didn’t have classic symptoms or because it was a Friday and there simply was not capacity until the following week. Those delays cost us dearly. By and large, people here are masking, even in the heat.  Sure there are visible failures but in my view this is an enforcement failure: Put out a few thousand “ticketers” to give 1000 shekel fines for being without a mask and see how quickly people wear their masks.

We are frustrated because it doesn’t have to be this way. As we look at the rest of the world, not one other country has the magnitude of second wave that we do. In other countries, people have returned to business, cafes are open, children are in schools. How did they do it? With contact tracing. They tracked down each case and isolated everyone – in many cases, in a central quarantine – with monitoring and enforcement. Ask anyone here about their experience of isolation and you’ll quickly understand how variable, disorganized, and unreliable our government response has been. For a nation of scientists, tech wizards, and military discipline, the fact that we have fallen so far compared to the rest of the world is embarrassing.

We are frustrated because the rules which are limiting our lives and our livelihoods are inconsistent and not grounded in science. Over Rosh Hashanah, you cannot listen to the shofar outdoors in a mask if there are more than 20 people spaced throughout the park, but today in our main square there is a concert with 200 chairs packed tightly for a concert. If your child shares a room with a sibling in isolation waiting for their corona test to come back after fever or exposure? No problem, that child can still go to their first grade class, unmasked, with 34 other children and a few teachers, per the MOH. Living in a high-density area? Sorry you need to walk around the block with the rest of the city, rather than go hike in a quiet woods, because of a magical 500 meters number without any relationship to risk. Things we are told are safe are actually risky, and things that are outlawed are actually safe.  This creates anxiety, confusion, fear, and mistrust which weighs heavily on our already taxed mental state.

We are frustrated because we are suffering beyond what is unavoidable. We are at the mercy of leaders who are unqualified for their offices, there for political gain, and who spend their hours in the service of egocentric goals and in service of a narrow constituency instead of putting the country at the forefront. We, the very people who elected this government, are watching the dissolution of our businesses, the idleness of our children, the isolation of our elders, and the ever rising death toll. We are better than this. We are frustrated because we know that we can do better, but we are too stuck in a quagmire of incompetent governance to save ourselves.

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About the Author
Dr Roth is a US-trained family physician with specialties in mental and global health. She made aliyah ten years ago, and lives in the north with her husband and four young children. Dr Roth currently practices in mental health both in Israel and to the US via telemedicine.
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