Sever Plocker
Sever Plocker
Photo: Ynet
The coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv

Israel's politicians should let the scientists handle coronavirus

Opinion: Ministers seem to believe they are experts in public health, ignore professional advice and bow to their base, while Netanyahu has abandoned his principles and is following the bad example set by the populist Trump

Sever Plocker |
Published: 12.09.20, 23:31
The ministers sitting on the coronavirus cabinet are consistently sabotaging any effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Israel.
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  • Despite being provided with updated data and operational plans, the cabinet members ignore the advice of professionals, often opting for the exact opposite moves, causing confusion and a rise in the disease's infection rates.
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    מחלקת קורונה
    מחלקת קורונה
    The coronavirus ward at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    The contentious relationship between its members has even led the cabinet to reverse its own decisions. This was demonstrated just this week, when instead of announcing more mitigation regulations for areas with high morbidity, ministers agreed to open all businesses across the country and impose a nighttime curfew that health experts insist will yield little to no results.
    Members of the coronavirus cabinet seem to believe they have become experts in public health simply by virtue of their membership in the deciding body.
    They are also more preoccupied with the possible response of their potential voters rather than in the dire warnings made by health experts and Health Ministry officials.
    Most vexing is the about-turns that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to make as he chairs the coronavirus cabinet.
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the police command center tasked with enforcing coronavirus restrictions
    From a declared determination to focus on real solutions and implement operational plans put forth by professionals at the outset of the pandemic, Netanyahu now twists and turns as his resolve crumbles, aligning himself with the most populist positions presented by his ministers.
    The coronavirus cabinet is a waste of time. The full government, which ultimately holds the authority to implement policies, should take over.
    But even the full government lacks the power to push policy through. All decisions must be approved by the Knesset committee on the coronavirus and are reliant on the legal opinion of the attorney general's office.
    There is no wonder then, that Israel stumbles along its way from one nationwide lockdown to the other, as the decisions made by its leaders become increasingly chaotic and the faith of public increasingly rare.
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    מנטה
    מנטה
    Police officers at a roadblock to enforce a lockdown imposed in communities with high morbidity
    (Photo: Tal Shahar)
    Israel is imitating its closest friend and ally the United States, which under outgoing President Donald Trump has all but lost control of the pandemic. The numbers of sick, dying and dead Americans have broken all known records.
    That cannot be the example this country should follow. Our leaders can best learn from the U.S. how not to manage the crisis that is destroying that nation.
    Vaccines will end the pandemic within months. Until they do, it is incumbent upon our government to remove all politics from their decision-making process and listen to the science.
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