“Unetaneh Tokef” is the most moving of the Yom Kippur prayers. The congregation stands, with many members crying in fear and awe. In their mind’s eye they see God on high sitting and deciding, with the wave of a finger, “who shall live and who shall die.” Like the shepherd whose flock passes before him as he marks those destined for slaughter in red, the sheep oblivious to the fact that their fate is being sealed. So we pass before God and also (not to suggest any comparison) Benjamin Netanyahu too.
The prime minister has a four-part plan to evade trial. Now he is implementing part two – imposing a total lockdown – the equivalent of marking in red
He marked the man whose workplace will close, causing him to fall into poverty. He marked a second, whose business will go bankrupt, leaving him penniless. He marked a third, who will suffer a heart attack due to his heavy losses, and a fourth, who will be too ashamed to look his children in the eye when they ask for ice cream and he doesn’t even have the money for that. And the fifth, who will fall into a deep depression. And a sixth, who will die by suicide because the lockdown has wiped him out once and for all. And none of them knows yet that he has been marked.
He is a cruel ruler, beyond anything Machiavelli imagined. He does not hesitate to lie, cheat, deceive and prevaricate, all in the service of one goal: the cancellation of his trial.
His latest spin is especially appalling: “The protests are what unraveled public trust and led to the violations that raised the infection rate.” In other words, the protesters are to blame and not him.
Not he, who zigzagged nonstop with dubious politically motivated decisions lacking all scientific logic. Not he, who didn’t bother appointing a coronavirus czar six months ago. Not he, who refused to increase the number of tests from 400 (!) per day. Not he, who supported not testing in nursing homes. Not he, who refused to delegate responsibility for contact tracing to the army. Not he, who supported the decision not to require Israelis to wear face masks. Not he, who six weeks ago shot down coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu’s “traffic light” program, which would have imposed lockdowns on “red” Haredi communities with high infection rates and halted mass weddings in Arab communities. Not he, who has now permitted worship inside synagogues, coronavirus infection hot spots. He has nothing to do with all of these failures. It’s all the protesters’ fault.
On Sunday night, after the end of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, anyone who was on Bar-Ilan Street in Jerusalem or in the other Haredi neighborhoods saw thousands of Hasidim with suitcases, returning after spending the holiday in the courts of their rebbes, where they prayed in densely packed crowds, ate in densely packed crowds, slept in densely packed quarters and then rode densely packed buses. This was the largest coronavirus incubator anywhere, and the resultant outbreak will be upon us in days. But Netanyahu was totally indifferent to this as well.
- Netanyahu seeks emergency powers to quash protests under coronavirus regulations
- Israel breaks daily coronavirus infections record with 9,200 new cases
- As hospitals fill up with coronavirus patients, Netanyahu casts off responsibility
Because he doesn’t care about the number of sick. Nor about the 800,000 unemployed. He is unfazed by the ruination of tens of thousands of self-employed people, and by the monstrous national budget deficit. The only thing that interests him is getting his trial canceled, and for that he must win the next election. Therefore he must stamp out the Balfour Street protests that are nipping away at Likud’s soft edges and, according to the latest polls, bringing it down to just 29 Knesset seats.
Prof. Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said this week that the politicians (Netanyahu) went against the recommendation of the professionals (Gamzu) who opposed a full lockdown whose harm will outweigh its benefit.
Prof. Jonathan Halevy, the president of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, said: “Yes there is a heavy load [on Israel’s hospital’s] but the system is not on the brink of collapse.” To which Netanyahu just chuckled as he continued touting false inflated numbers in order to justify the lockdown.
Yom Kippur is his last chance to ask the Israeli people to forgive him for his colossal mismanagement of the health and economic crises and for the enormous damage he has caused. If he asks nicely, maybe we will be appeased.