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Amihai Attali
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu during a cabinet meeting

Israel’s class system in a coronavirus world

Opinion: When one child in school tests positive for COVID-19 hundreds of students and teachers are told to quarantine but a confirmed case in the Knesset has no such impact as politicians jump the line to get tested

Amihai Attali |
Published: 06.16.20 , 23:57
As far as the coronavirus is concerned, we live in a reality where there is a clear class system.
 ישיבת ממשלה ישיבת ממשלה
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu during a cabinet meeting
(Photo: Mark Israel Salem)
Our leaders can do whatever they want: have their kids over for a holiday meal when the rest of us are forbidden from leaving the house, celebrating with the rich and beautiful at parties while we must avoid gatherings, walk around without masks while we swelter inside the fabric and get tested for coronavirus within mere hours.
יולי אדלשטיין בסיור בבית חולים סורוקהיולי אדלשטיין בסיור בבית חולים סורוקה
Health Minster Yuli Edelstein during a tour of Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva
(Photo: Herzl Yosef)
My children's high school was closed down last week after one girl tested positive for COVID-19; that was all it took to send five grades, hundreds of children, and dozens of teachers home to quarantine.
There was no discussion and no consultation with parents. The school was closed for everyone including a myriad of children who had no contact with the sick child whatsoever.
Hundreds of children were told to come to the local HMO branch in our small community, in a two-hour period, in order to be tested for the virus. It is a wonder that that congregation of kids alone was not a cause of mass contagion.
In the Knesset, however, at least two confirmed COVID-19 carriers walked the halls a couple of weeks ago. But unlike the girl who contracted the virus in our school, they came into contact with many people as part of their job.
The Knesset, in case you were wondering, was not closed down, not for a moment.
Only six people were told to quarantine while everyone else carried on as usual.
Politicians don't even wear their face masks in the Knesset and can be seen at any given time, in the halls, or in committee rooms without them.
On Monday, while addressing the Knesset plenum, newly appointed Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said he was called a nag by his colleagues when he told them to put on their masks.
However, he said, when these elected politicians learned that an MK had tested positive for the coronavirus, they "rushed with great speed to get tested, bypassing queues, pulling out all the stops, calling high ranking medical officials and using their leverage in any way they could find."
תורי ענק של תלמידים מחוץ לדרייב אין בדיקות הקורונה בירושלים בעקבות התפרצות הנגיף בגימנסיהתורי ענק של תלמידים מחוץ לדרייב אין בדיקות הקורונה בירושלים בעקבות התפרצות הנגיף בגימנסיה
Jerusalem highschool kids line up to get tested for COVID-19 as school closes down
(Photo: Shalev Shalom)
By the end of the day, Edelstein said, all the MKs had been tested, faster than the Ministry of Health labs could analyze.
We the public must not ignore health guidelines, because they certainly protect us against infection.
But according to what we understand from the health minister - we all, yet again, appear to be a bunch of suckers
We were all suckers during the first wave of the pandemic when we learned our leaders, from the president and the prime minister, had violated the curfew and allowed family members to join their holiday celebrations.
We will be suckers again now as the second wave appears to be cresting, and the discrepancy between the leadership and we the people continues.
We are all suckers when our kids are sent home and their schools are closed over one confirmed case of COVID when MKs call those who ask them to wear a mask a nag - while we are liable to receive a (very justified) fine for not wearing.
They really have no reason to wear a mask though - after all, we can be left high and dry for a few days until we get a coronavirus test, while they make a couple of calls and get tested in just a few hours.

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