The Israeli conversation about the coronavirus has undergone a revolution. During the first wave, the submissive, obedient media fell in line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fearful, tyrannical policy, which locked people in their homes, subjected them to tracking by the Shin Bet security service and destroyed the livelihoods of a million people.
His madness then was part of a global insanity. This happens to people sometimes (for instance, despite all the obvious differences, during World War I). It’s a collective urge for self-destruction, devoid of any logical or rational basis, that leads to worldwide devastation.
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The lockdown’s few opponents were afraid to make their voices heard. A frightened herd immediately trampled over them in its flight from the existential threat, which, according to Netanyahu, is one of the worst in human history.
The difference between then and now is vast. Then, Netanyahu was the savior. Now, just a few months later, he’s seen as crazy, terrified and harmful.
The demonstrations against him are having a real impact on the national mood. The people are no longer blind. Television news show hosts and pundits are openly and vigorously opposing the government’s coronavirus policy. A few months ago, doing so would have been considered treason.
Now, doctors who oppose locking people in their homes are no longer described as idiots and enemies of the public. The television news show “Ulpan Shishi” aired an interview last Friday with Prof. Idit Matot, a very senior physician at Israel’s second-largest hospital, Ichilov. This interview should have prompted a popular revolt.
We must not disregard what she said. “We’re living in two parallel universes,” she asserted, challenging Netanyahu’s view of the coronavirus. “I don’t know how to put it any better. The things we’re living through in the field and the things the government communicates to the public are two different things.”
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Matot argued that the number of seriously ill patients is neither high nor worrying. Moreover, based on her own forecasts, which rely on Ichilov’s models, she expects it to remain significantly lower than the Health Ministry’s gloomy, fearful and unrealistic predictions.
Her bottom line was that the situation doesn’t justify scaring the public, locking them in their homes or shutting down the economy. It doesn’t justify the poverty and depression that would spread as a result of such a policy, nor does it justify most of the restrictions the cabinet has decided to impose.
During this interview, Matot tried to create a dialogue with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. But it was a dialogue of the deaf. Truly, parallel universes.
Israelis, don’t go like sheep to the economic slaughter. Don’t go like sheep to the slaughter of your culture, your personal freedom and your way of life. The captain has gone mad. He’s endangering the ship far more than the ocean waves are. He’s responding to his own paranoia and is disconnected from reality.
In reality, most coronavirus “patients” are absolutely fine, while most of the seriously ill patients will recover. And even among those who die, some won’t die from the coronavirus, but merely with the coronavirus.
It’s hard to cling to sanity, but this is a matter of life and death. The government’s coronavirus policy is endangering the public health and the future of our children, who will have to pay the debts accumulating now. If you don’t oppose it, madness will rule the country.
We must remain in Prof. Matot’s universe rather than getting lost in Netanyahu’s universe. For who knows if we’ll ever be able to come back from it?