Blue&White co-leader MK Yair Lapid on Tuesday took blind hatred to new heights when he accused the Netanyahu government of taking tyrannical steps in fighting the spread of the coronavirus. He looked into the camera, his back against rows of books he never read: “You can call it by many names, this is not a democracy, and this non-democracy today told you one thing – that you are not allowed to leave the house. Ask yourselves, in what countries does an unelected government inform the citizens that they’re not allowed to leave the house?”
It would have been bad enough at any time over the past few weeks – Lapid’s cynical use of the steps Netanyahu has taken to slow down the spread of the coronavirus to suggest the PM was playing politics was like telling a child receiving an inoculation Mommy was bad for letting the nurse pricking his arm. But on Tuesday night, Lapid’s truly bizarre diatribe followed this:
Health Ministry Director Moshe Bar Siman Tov went on national television Tuesday night and warned against the public’s complacency, saying that if the situation continues as is, thousands in Israel may die from the coronavirus:
“We will probably discover hundreds of new patients in the very next few days,” Bar Siman Tov said in a deadpan delivery, “And we know that in the coming days hundreds or thousands may die from the disease in Israel. We will make sure to disperse the patients, flatten the curve, so that we can reach each one. But many will die.”
At which point rightwing-affiliated reporter Amit Segal wondered aloud why Lapid isn’t calling on people to go out and hug each other as a show of rebellion against the Netanyahu tyranny.
To be fair, some of the sweeping steps taken by the Netanyahu government which Lapid was questioning involved Likud Justice Minister Amir Ohana shutting down the courts just ahead of Netanyahu’s scheduled first court appearance to hear the criminal indictments against him; and the Knesset was shut down just ahead of a move by 61 MKs to replace Likud Speaker Yuli Edelstein with Blue&White MK Meir Cohen. But in light of the grim future entertained by the health ministry director, these and many other bold steps just made sense. The parliamentary institutions which normally review such drastic steps are not yet in place, so government acted swiftly without their approval to quell a plague.
Which is why a resident physician at Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva named Arthur Finkelstein responded to Lapid’s post, along with many hundreds of the politician’s followers: “The fact that you have so much time on your hands for such a long post shows where your priorities are during an unprecedented global crisis. COVID-19 does not discriminate more or less depending on the form of government/rule a country has. Nobody is interested in your petty/costly/mind numbing political infighting. There is a massive crisis that you must try and grasp. Either join an emergency coalition now, or shut up. A rookie government now of all times? That’s what you want for the state?? With a guy who can’t even form a sentence, let alone run a country during smooth times? If you had an iota of sense, you would just be quiet with your nonsense.”
Like I said, there were many, many others who echoed the same or even less polite sentiment.
One of the steps Netanyahu declared on Tuesday, was an effort, using clandestine technology, to monitor patients “without compromise” to make sure they remain in isolation. According to Tuesday’s news reports, as many as 60 Israeli patients have attempted to break out of their isolation conditions, just the kind of Typhoid Mary stunt that would inevitably lead to the death of many fellow citizens.
Mary Mallon was an Irish cook who infected 51 people, three of whom died, with typhoid fever, and the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.
Netanyahu, who has been addressing the nation every night (a move that is not hurting his political fortunes, the polls show him taking the 4th election, should those be forced on Israel, with 39 to 30 Gantz seats) was not necessarily Churchillian, but his sever oratory still came across very leader/father like when he said: “I ask of you discipline and responsibility. All the steps we take will not help if there is no discipline and responsibility on your part. It’s not a child’s game, it’s a question of life or death.”
If the public does not change its behavior, the leader/father warned, the guidelines will be made even more severe.
And so, in the shadow of the new health ministry’s draconian guidelines, Israel is getting ready for the accelerated spread of the virus. As of Wednesday morning, 427 Israelis have tested positive, of whom 401 are in light condition, 10 moderate, 5 severe and… drum roll please … 11 recovered and sent home.
Still, a senior health official told Kan 11 news Tuesday night that there was a shortage of ambulances to transport the patients come next week, a.k.a. week 5, the bad one, the most difficult and fatal week, as per the ministry director’s terrifying message. Hospitals are adding isolation rooms, and the Dan hotels chain is going to provide some 2,000 rooms to meet the need as crisis looms.
Or, as Yair Lapid’s follower David Roth wrote him Tuesday night: All I care about is for Israel not to become another Italy. Stop messing around and join an emergency government.
Or watch yourself being led away on the gurney of history.