The myriad of reports from the horror show that was this week’s Finance Committee discussion on a tax rebate for Benjamin Netanyahu all shared a tone of astonishment, given the gulf between the economic catastrophe outside versus the committee’s concern for the prime minister’s income.
It was indeed a blatant moment of disconnect, only emphasized by the lament of coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar (Likud) that Netanyahu was a hair’s breadth away from becoming “financially disabled” and the breadline.
And yet, to view the event exclusively from an economic perspective misses the larger and more significant issue – the amateurish management of the coronavirus crisis.
This is a hapless government, frantically preoccupied with annexation plans that do not concern most Israelis beyond a morning talk show on a local channel.
A dispassionate view of the situation presents a clear image of a country in which the public has supposedly elected its leadership, but where communication between the leaders and the people non longer exists. Any residual trust has been spent and there is no more in reserve.
Perhaps this is why Netanyahu’s threats of a return to lockdown have failed to make any impression.
It seems that the people of Israel understand that the government will refuse to risk the economy again, and it’s very doubtful that isolation will work this time.
Not in summer, not while unemployment keeps rampaging across the country, not while European countries are reopening their borders, and especially not when they see that senior officials have refused to learn the lessons of the crisis and are busy shredding the health guidelines into toilet paper.
Even the calls to increase enforcement and the reinstatement of anti-terror measures to track the sick cannot conceal the many failures of the recent past.
Everyone can sees that the problem is not the denial of the coronavirus threat (which certainly exists and not without help from parts of the media), but the fertile ground that has cultivated it.
The radical mood swings come straight from the top, which has displayed an inconsistency that cannot be called a strategy even in jest.
Take for example embarrassing entanglements such as the decision by the Health Ministry No. 2 decision to let a billionaire skip compulsory quarantine so he could go to a party, the prime minister and president’s breaking of isolation rules on Passover, and on and on.
A common denominator for all of these issues is a serious scarcity of one rare resource – humility.
Israel’s leaders lack the basic ability to step out of their spacious government conference rooms (after all, social distancing is important!), take off their masks and admit their errors.
No one has said that there were justified steps that probably saved lives, but that many mistakes were also made.
No one has said that they are committed to fixing those mistakes, that it is acceptable to learn from mistakes and apply lessons learned.
Instead, the public saw Netanyahu and his ministers celebrate a bizarre victory before reaching the finish line.
And only when there was no other choice, they played the Shin Bet card, as if there was no time and space to find slightly a less draconian way of tackling the crisis.
Anyone wondering where all the Israeli energy, brainpower and creativity went should take a look at the Finance Committee.
Original: Einav Schiff – Ynet