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The ‘Netanyahu lockdown’ is a dangerous sham

Do not try us Mr. Prime Minister, it is not wise of you to do so.

All of us – Jews and Arabs, ultra-Orthodox and secular, left-wing and right-wing and even your most loyal of supporters – have stopped believing you.

Nearly everyone who lives in Israel knows you are a fraud. The problem is not coronavirus – it is you and your lockdown. This “Netanyahu lockdown” is a sham – dangerous to the public and its health.

It is like bringing a chainsaw to a delicate medical procedure. This lockdown threatens our holidays, health, economy and hopes.

It is the result of the tremendous failure that is the state’s effort to tackle the pandemic. It is merely a rehearsal for the third lockdown, expected around December, just as Netanyahu’s corruption trial is set to really get going.

Maybe the prime minister can explain how Israel, the startup nation, the home of advanced technologies and one of the best healthcare systems in the world, managed to climb to the top of the global list of per capita infection rates?

How has the country been brought down by the virus, under your long-established leadership, while the rest of the world recuperated, reopened their economies and moved on?

How can it be that Israel is the only country to reimpose a lockdown, which is set to cost the state some NIS 20 billion [5.85 billion USD], and caused nearly half a million newly unemployed?

These are not my estimates, but of the state. And who is responsible for all of this? You and you alone, Mr. Netanyahu.

Because of all of this, the Israeli public will make a mockery of this lockdown. The results will be grim not only for Israel, but for you and the rest of your term in office.

Dark days are ahead of us and no atonement can help. Public trust in the leadership is a strategic asset for Israel, perhaps the most crucial, and you systemically destroyed it.

Israelis are not irresponsible or stupid – they just stopped believing you.

During the early days of the first lockdown, you used social distancing as an excuse and postponed your corruption trial by six months.

Later, you turned public health into a sparring match with other interests-driven politicians who blackmailed you from all directions.

This is how we arrived at a reality in which we cannot go swimming in the sea, but we can still go to the mikvah (ritual bath).

We thought all of this nonsense was behind us already, yet here we are again.

You, Mr. Prime Minister, know just how absurd all of this is. The risk of becoming infected in the open air or at the beach are nearly non-existent, as opposed to in a small indoor pool that is essentially a petri dish of coronavirus.

You turned our lives into this farce and as a result no one believes you anymore.

Do not try to blame your failures on the rambunctious public, rabbis that do not know anything about diseases or insolent protestors.

Israelis believe their doctors, not you.

More than 150 senior physicians and scientists, including Nobel laureates, signed a letter to you, urging you to not impose a lockdown, suggesting other avenues that would not paralyze the economy and would prove far more effective against the pandemic.

The Israel Association of Public Health Doctors warned this week that not allowing people to move more than 500 meters from their homes would have severe ramifications for the physical, mental and social health of the nation.

They urged the public to stand up for their right to be healthy and resist the restrictions “that hurt and are ineffective in the battle against coronavirus.”

The virus is not spread through travelling about, but through close contact with people in a confined space.

The restrictions will confine every Israeli to their home, with a repeat of the psychological and social fallout of the first lockdown.

You are imprisoning an entire nation to save yourself from jail.

So what can you do to make amends?

Regaining the public trust in the state is the first task. We must also work to save the public health from the psychological damage caused by the lockdown, without hampering the battle against coronavirus.

We must let the IDF become more involved in the fight, since that is the only body Israelis still trust.

[note from one reader: “Agreed with all of this until I saw the line about the IDF. Sending in a bunch of 19 year olds to enforce a series of complex and conflicting laws that don’t really make sense is not exactly a path to success”]

Many in the two communities with the highest morbidity – the Arab and ultra-Orthodox – have voiced support for soldiers assisting in their battle with the pandemic, despite their own complicated histories with the army.

I heard with my own ears Arab and Haredi leaders asking for the military to take charge in handling the disease, not the politicians or Health Ministry.

We must make sure the travel restrictions are canceled. When families are trapped for long days in their homes, bad things can happen.

We already saw a rise in domestic violence during the first lockdown, as well as anxiety, depression, weight gain and reluctance to seek live-saving medical treatment.

Let Israelis go to the beach or nature reserves, while ensuring we safeguard those who need protection the most – the elderly and the ill.

Mr. Prime Minister, we all know you are not listening to us, but you should realize [that] no one believes you anymore.

Original: Yoram Yuval – YNET