“Help us, please, we’re your citizens, you’re here for us,” a restaurant owner shouted through a megaphone during a demonstration by the self-employed on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard this week. In a choked, broken voice, he tried to remind the government of what ought to be self-evident. And all around the country, similar anxious cries are arising these days from people who, day after day, wake up to the unknown and no longer trust the leadership to do its job and offer them practical solutions.
Through its negligence, the government has hurt virtually every citizen of the country – from businesspeople, for whom the state makes life difficult even in normal times and whom it’s now throwing under the coronavirus bus without proper compensation; through artists and cultural figures, who have suddenly become worthless to the state; to the hundreds of thousands of employees who have had the carpet of certainty pulled out from under their feet. The list of protesters is endless – an action committee for the performance and culture industry, the restaurateurs association, the nightlife and bars association, the student union, bus drivers, people working in the tourism industry, social workers, the self-employed, the unemployed. Young and old, employees and self-employed, women and men – all are calling for help, but no one is answering.
The government’s failure to deal with the economic victims of the coronavirus is shameful.
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This is the result of a disconnected prime minister who’s busy seeking personal tax breaks and waging miserable campaigns against the justice system instead of doing the Sisyphean work of taking care of his citizens, who are groaning in economic distress.
It’s the result of a government born in sin and inflated to unprecedented proportions under the pretext of the crisis, even as hundreds of thousands of people were losing their jobs.
It’s the result of promises that were largely not kept, unclear orders that changed frequently and empty slogans about the need to demonstrate personal responsibility, even as the leaders themselves were celebrating at private parties and attending launches for public relations purposes. All this has been accompanied by frequent rebukes from “the prime minister’s associates,” who tell the public that it is to blame for the situation.
Netanyahu and his colleagues in our disconnected leadership must wake up and provide solutions for the growing distress. And if they aren’t capable of doing so, they would do better to vacate their positions immediately.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.