קבינט הקורונה
The 'coronavirus cabinet'
Photo: GPO
The 'coronavirus cabinet'

Who will help Israelis survive virus and economic crises?

Opinion: The people were promised strong coalition to tackle coronavirus outbreak and ensuing financial crisis, but it seems the government and the two premiers at its helm are too busy milking any benefit they can at the public's expense

Ariela Ringel Hoffman |
Published: 06.25.20 , 14:56
Here's a summary of the passing week: In light of the rapid spike in coronavirus infections and the Health Ministry's orders to reopen the coronavirus wards, top physicians and directors announced that hospitals will collapse without additional manpower.
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  • Internal medicine wards will overflow, patients will spill over into the hallways, the quality of treatment for patients will decline. Ans that is while summer is far from over and the flu - yes, the seasonal flu - has yet to descend.
    קבינט הקורונהקבינט הקורונה
    The 'coronavirus cabinet'
    (Photo: GPO)
    A quarter of all businesses in Israel are in danger of immediate collapse. Not a decrease in monthly revenue, not financial hardship, but layoffs and closures. Shalom ve lehitraot.
    The Education Ministry pledged to give students nine more school days for free during the summer vacation? Well, that isn't going to happen.
    Whoever can pay can have their children study and whoever can't will get to have their children sit at home. They're welcome to find alternative arrangements, unless of course one or both parents loses their job, in which case, everything will have worked out for the best.
    Карантин в школе. Иллюстрация: муниципалитет ХолонаКарантин в школе. Иллюстрация: муниципалитет Холона
    An empty classroom in a Holon school during the coronavirus outbreak
    What else? The number of coronavirus patients keeps rising steadily and the question of whether it's a second wave or a continuance of the first one doesn't bother anyone anymore, aside from a few pundits on TV.
    And one more small thing - it has become clear to us that over the past week that both prime ministers - the incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and the alternate one Benny Gantz, are keeping up their shopping spree at the expense of the public.
    It started with a list that includes, among other things, an upgrade to both premiers' "residences" - a nice Newspeak term right there.
    This will actually mean more equipment, operations, maintenance and staff. There will be full financing of all expenses, as the alternate prime minister must receive exactly what the incumbent receives - just as Gantz's Blue & White party demanded.
    The prime minister's residence in Jerusalem The prime minister's residence in Jerusalem
    The prime minister's residence in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Guy Asayag)
    This will include the financing of storage services (which is what exactly?) and tax benefits - including a retroactive refund of Netanyahu's tax payments between the years 2009-2017.
    And we must not forget the financing of gifts at official events for the alternate one, even if he receives them from his own spouse.
    The day after this news broke, the funders – we the public - were informed that due to the backlash, they will try to reduce benefits for the alternate prime minister, but who knows what that even means.
    They promised us a unity government to fight coronavirus, they made it clear that 36 ministers would guarantee a stable government to tackle the economic crisis beget by the epidemic – including stipends and benefits that will allow the economy to keep moving.
     ישיבת ממשלה ישיבת ממשלה
    Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Never mind that coffers for necessary financial aid are running low.
    What do we have left? Wearing masks and observing social distancing – a demand that comes with a promise of a fine for those who do not comply.
    And that fine is no longer just NIS 200, but is now NIS 500. The additional NIS 300 will go to the Treasury, and we all know what they will do with it.
    How the tables have turned: the government and decision-makers who promised us an all-out war on coronavirus and the collapsing economy are no longer in charge, but the onus has fallen on the shoulders of the public.
    And so, the list of benefits reserved for the two prime ministerial residences, including the ones unique only to the incumbent, shows us clearly who is paying and who is benefiting.
    Police officers in face masksPolice officers in face masks
    Police officers enforcing health regulations
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    This no longer a question of right-wing and left-left, or right-wing and center to be more precise.
    The most pressing question is, who will help everyday Israelis shoulder the burden?
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