Not so Proud Israel
I know that among the recipients of this letter are a great variety of political minds: left, right and uppercut.
The constant overriding reason for my writing this letter was always to get more of the facts out there. I wanted to get behind the headlines, which were often driven by local animosity towards Israel, or just plain apathy. In normal circumstances, who cares? But Israel has been lopsidedly in the news, both in quantity (undeniably so) and, at least in my opinion, unfairly.
So much of my ranting has been defensive. I’ve been trying to avoid the recipient’s ‘Oh, he would say that, wouldn’t he’. Perhaps that’s why I’ve avoided this becoming a blog, read by some who don’t know me. People should know that, as passionate as I can be, I’m not a blind follower. I’m open to self-criticism.
And that’s where this particular letter is coming from. In fact, considering how extremely open this Israeli society is, it’s surprising I haven’t self-criticised more. Maybe it’s because the blind and oft-unfair attitudes towards Israel force me to focus on defence….
As many have noticed, Israel’s handling of Covid-19 is no longer one to be admired. And my pride in Israel’s performance was perhaps blinded. Yes, we have terrible political problems, both internal and external, but at least we’re clever enough to keep Corona at bay.
Well, we’re not.
It now seems that we handled the first wave well, mainly because we’re a small and mostly civilised country. With the exceptions of some of the Arab towns and certainly the overcrowded and backward ultra-orthodox Jewish areas, we locked down quickly and obeyed the authorities. We had few physical borders to defend against virus-carriers. We were OK.
That was the advantage we had over, say, much of the US and Europe. In most states and countries, it was very difficult to isolate geographically. So we were compared to Australia, New Zealand, S. Korea, Japan, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia (less Sweden) etc. – countries to be admired.
But, unfortunately, our leadership is ‘’faulty’, to say the least. I won’t go into detail (such as the indictments hovering over our PM’s head), but Netanyahu can perhaps be compared, most generally, with such leaders as Bolsonaro, Putin, Trump, Erdogan etc. They’re all heading towards some form of autocracy. In all cases, they’re having trouble listening to their qualified advisors.
And the statistics expose this glaringly. Check out the facts. I may lose a couple of friends if I stress too much my respect for Gov. Cuomo’s handling of the Corona crisis. Like him or not, one has to admire his insistence on ’sticking to the facts’. Just look at the charts – the Worldometer. Look at the graphs, check the ‘waves’. It’s incredible how varied they are, and in many cases, reflect clearly how the pandemic has been handled and mishandled.
Remember Spain, Italy and France? Epicentres. But, like New York, they have practically killed the first wave and prevented a second wave starting. Russia and Brazil have not yet learned to control the first wave.
And a few countries, like Israel, just did not learn from the first. And now the second wave is hitting. The economic and social problems, which are basically the same for every country now, are creating havoc in those without good leadership.
I fear the oncoming social unrest in those countries, especially in Israel where I live. And especially USA, whose gun-stores were emptied back in April.
I started this letter yesterday, Saturday. Perhaps no coincidence that there were protists last night in several Israeli cities, but primarily down the road here in Tel Aviv – some ‘violent’. (Happily, that means here just a couple of arrests and headaches. Not more). We have over 1 million out of work right now, and the necessary emergency economic plans have not yet been put into place.
The virus will only get worse before it gets better. Trustworthy leadership is part of the solution. Considering how shattered the current coalition is, the chances of such a leadership appearing in Israel in the near future are very faint.
July 12, 2020