Israel’s Covid response has been an abject failure. The government has failed children by closing schools, contributed to a surge in depression and suicides, destroyed the economy by banning tourism and keeping shops and restaurants closed and turned a blind eye to the rise of multiple health issues due to the incessant, hubris-laden focus on killing Covid.
At the helm of Israel’s response team is of course Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with top health officials Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Health, Chezy Levy, the Director General of Health Ministry and Sharon Alroy-Preis, Health Ministry's Head of Public Services, offering their ongoing advice and recommendations on suitable policy options.
On the surface, Israel’s political leadership is doing the right thing by seeking the advice of experts in deciding the best possible policy options to counter the spread of the virus.
However, since all modern democracies, - yes, Israel is still technically a democracy - require checks and balances on those in power, what happens when no one is functioning as a check on the decision-makers or their advisors? What happens when dissenting viewpoints are actively stifled and available scientific evidence dismissed?
The decision-making establishment has decided that draconian, individual liberty-destroying measures are the only way to kill the virus, with the national media - failing in its duty to function as a check on those in a position of power - happily amplifying and reinforcing this carefully manufactured consensus while helping drown out dissenting voices.
As Exhibit A of this, a major Danish study published recently found no evidence that masks protect wearers from Covid. Yet, in Israel masks remain mandatory indoors and outdoors. Regardless of mounting evidence that challenges the current mask mandate, it is highly unlikely that Israeli government would reconsider revising its mask policy.
Moshe Feiglin, Head of Israel’s Zehut party, recently wrote about Israel’s descent into authoritarianism and predicted that the government would introduce a vaccine mandate.
Today, Health minister Yuli Edelstein declared that he is planning a law to make coronavirus vaccination compulsory.
Neither Feiglin or the vast majority of Israelis oppose vaccines, but in a democratic country the government should not be able to force it into the veins of its people.
The planned forced vaccination is only one of the many destructive policies advocated and implemented by Israel’s democratically elected politicians and their unelected health whisperers.
The government, sadly, is unable to deal with complexities, nor does it understand the power of unintended consequences. For example, school closures have implications beyond the government’s imagination.
In a healthy democracy, decision-makers would be kept in check and society-altering policies would be debated and more often than not, rejected.
The government and health officials are ignoring a slew of inconvenient facts. One such fact being Covid-19’s impact on children. Studies show that seasonal flu is more dangerous to children than Covid. Yet, Edelstein recently admitted that the country will not have enough flu vaccines for the early months of winter.
In a different time, Edelstein would hand in his resignation for failing to meet a basic responsibility of a ministry he was appointed to lead.
In addition to medical matters, health officials have decided to become de facto arbiters of what is permissible or acceptable by pushing the idea of an imaginary collective of citizens where all pursuits, professional or recreational, should be put aside to fight the invisible enemy.
When asked why Israelis were not able to fly abroad during the October lockdown, Alroy-Preis said that this was for reasons of equality. Prime Minister Netanyahu later gave tacit support to this statement by saying that “the reason was to avoid gathering and to maintain solidarity.”
Alroy-Preis could have chosen to underline health concerns of flying, which aren’t significant, but instead decided to cancel freedom of movement, one of the fundamental tenets of a free society. Again, in a pre-Covid era, a Knesset committee or other relevant body would have convened to discuss the dismissal of Alroy-Preis for overstepping her authority. Even better, Altory-Preis would have resigned voluntarily and announced a leave of absence for much-needed soul-searching.
In a recent interview, Chezy Levy said that democracy is a good thing, but not very helpful in fighting Covid. Levy’s statement echoes the thinking of Israel’s political and health leadership.
Israelis should be enraged by unelected health officials and their enablers in the government for their nonchalance and dismissive posturing towards the sacredness of personal freedoms.
By denying basic rights, government-supported health officials look at individuals simply as potential Covid-spreaders. By denying recreational activities or freedom of movement, the government is ignoring the many terrible consequences of its own policies, such as domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism, obesity and many other ails that are caused by lockdowns, presenting a real and present threat to the health and happiness of Israelis.
Israel’s political leadership and the country’s health officials, in their quest to kill the virus, have abandoned the “first, do no harm” principle by demanding obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom. This, for lack of a better word, is what authoritarianism looks like.