By Liam Benedict
The country of Israel is currently engaged in what is technically their third nationwide lockdown, the last one going on for three days back in April. But they’re not alone in their struggle. In several nations across the world, such as the United States, Israel, Russia and India, the virus still rages.
The focus lies specifically on two of these countries: The United States and Israel. Although the two nations are quite far from each other geographically and have very different government structures and cultures, the state they find themselves in, due to COVID-19, is rather similar.
Despite receiving their first case over a month apart, both countries are still struggling to deal with COVID-19 to this day, with cases on the rise in most parts of these nations.
As a result, the exhaustive unrest brought on by the virus has sparked outrage across the United States and Israel, causing nationwide political protests.
The protests, however, are not to blame for these outbreaks. Rather, the blame falls upon the leaders in both countries for failing to inspire trust from the public. They also flout the COVID-19 rules, especially in regard to religious services and going out in public, all the while wrongfully blaming the political protesters.
In the U.S., the Black Lives Matter movement has been protesting since the unlawful death of George Floyd on May 25. Meanwhile, in Israel, the alleged corrupt prime minister has caused much public activism to fill the streets, as thousands call for his resignation.
The New York Times reports that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, is “a polarizing conservative, has portrayed the protesters as left-wing anarchists and has accused them, without evidence, of spreading the virus in mass gatherings outside his Jerusalem residence.”
Our President has often used similar rhetoric against B.L.M, but are these statements credible?
According to Modern Healthcare, there has been no significant connection between the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s death and spikes in COVID-19. Major cities like New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., in which the largest BLM protests occurred, did not undergo noticeable surges of the virus.
The city of Phoenix was “only one of 13 cities involved in the earliest wave of protests after Memorial Day had an increase that would fit the pattern,” according to Modern Healthcare.
It is easy to blame the protests in their respective countries for this, as Trump and Netanyahu have. But in reality, there is something far more significant going on.
In fact, around the same time, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had just ended the stay at home order and eased business restrictions, a far more likely explanation for the rise in cases. Another underlying cause in the COVID-19 spikes falls on the hands of both national leaders going soft on religious services, which are proving to be superspreader events.
This can be seen in several churches in Florida, the virus hotspot in the United States, as they also refuse to close.
The same goes for several ultra-orthodox Jewish churches in New York, another hard-hit state. American Progress notes that these rebellious ideas did not come from anywhere, but rather, “were spurred by President Donald Trump, who downplayed the concern for many weeks and is now casting doubt on his own government’s social distancing recommendations.”
Similarly, in Israel, thousands of men gathered shoulder-to-shoulder this week at a funeral for Rabbi Mordechai Leifer, 64, who died of COVID-19 complications. This is made worse when you consider how Israel has one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks on a per capita basis. This clearly follows the U.S. trend of how the most religious parts of the country are the most affected by COVID-19.
The ultra-orthodox community has been having a rough time because several important holidays for the Jewish people have occurred during quarantine, leading to several mass health violations. “The police said that they had closed at least 22 synagogues that were operating illegally over the weekend,” reports the New York Times.
The significance of these Jewish holidays in the spread of COVID-19 is clear, given that the Arab population of Israel has been having a decline in cases. According to Israeli scientist Eran Segal, the ultra-Orthodox community is almost single-handedly keeping the cases high.
There have also been unclear instructions on how to handle COVID-19 contributing to the mess. The government “pressured by interest groups, a largely dysfunctional governing coalition made changes in the dead of night, just before the lockdown took effect in September: A 500-meter limit on movement was extended to 1,000 meters.” As you can imagine, this confused many of the citizens, leading to more contamination incidents.
Just like in the U.S., the country’s leader is to blame for this lack of policy unity.
“The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government is propped up by ultra-Orthodox politicians, has been accused by secular leaders of appeasing the minority to the detriment of the rest of the country,” The Guardian addresses. Again, this is disturbingly close to President Trump’s strategy of appealing to the religious minority.
Finally, it is worth noting that both countries have had infections in their highest levels of government.
Trump and many staffers have come down with COVID-19 recently.
Over in Israel, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel announced that she had tested positive for the coronavirus, having “hid the fact that she violated lockdown restrictions and visited a synagogue on Yom Kippur from Health Ministry officials,” notes Haaretz.
To see infections so high up in these two country’s leadership is evidence of major problems in the establishment.
All of this clearly spells out one thing: The response of America and Israel’s leaders to COVID-19 are disturbingly similar in their incompetence, and if there isn’t a change in direction, both countries will find themselves in ruin.
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