Israel needs hope, not fear in pandemic era

Opinion: Israelis have been allowed to wallow in existential dread and have given in to despair, but countries where optimism reigned have beaten their outbreaks; we must be hopeful now a solution is apparently on the way
Sever Plocker|
When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, two types of leadership exist - one based on fear and the other on hope.
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  • The former relies on strict adherence to regulations put in place to stop the spread of the disease, based on a fear of a massive death toll and hospitals collapsing from the surge in patients.
    3 View gallery
    Jerusalem police enforce health directives to fight the spread of coronavirus
    Jerusalem police enforce health directives to fight the spread of coronavirus
    Jerusalem police enforce health directives to fight the spread of coronavirus
    (Photo: Shalev Shalem)
    The latter calls for obedience to regulations in order to limit the pandemic until a vaccine arrives, so that we can all return to normal as soon as possible.
    More than six months after the pandemic arrived in Israel, it seems that using fear and not hope as a motive is the wrong way to go.
    At first, people adhered to public health directives, but as time went on, obedience started to crumble once they realized there was no good news and nor they should expect any.
    "Where there is no vision, the people perish," the biblical saying goes. Selfishness takes over and a willingness to help for the greater good disappears.
    Let us run wild, the visionless people say and do.
    Leadership based on hope on the other hand does work, as nations who have successfully tackled coronavirus show.
    3 View gallery
    נגיף קורונה דרום קוריאה הרכבת התחתית ב סיאול
    נגיף קורונה דרום קוריאה הרכבת התחתית ב סיאול
    South Koreans wear face masks as they use public transport in Seoul
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    The governments of countries like South Korea and New Zealand told their citizenry in a clear manner: please be patient and stick to the rules because a vaccine is not far off. Patience will be rewarded in return.
    The current morbidity rate in Israel is reasonable, yet very fragile. The number of new daily cases continues to hover around at a relatively low 2% but remains so despite the fluctuating number of tests.
    There is not a high likelihood that we will bring the contagion rate down further, although it is not impossible. We must wait to see the impact of the rollback of further restrictions in the economy and the education system.
    If by mid-December the number of daily tests stands at around 60,000 with a positive rate of 1.5%, this means some 1,000 new cases every day. It would be an immense achievement if this rate can be maintained until the vaccine does arrive.
    But Israel is still gripped by fear, which is abundantly clear in the response to the news of a major development in the delivery of a vaccine.
    3 View gallery
    בנימין נתניהו מודיע על השלמת ההסכם לרכישת החיסונים מפייזר
    בנימין נתניהו מודיע על השלמת ההסכם לרכישת החיסונים מפייזר
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces an agreement with Pfizer for the delivery of its vaccine in early 2021
    (Photo: GPO)
    Both official and non-official talking heads have been racing to see who can describe the upcoming winter in the grimmest terms, thereby stamping out any spark of hope like it was the enemy of the people.
    Hope is not an adversary, but the very essence of life.
    Granted, overexaggerated enthusiasm about a possible vaccine must be put into proportion– but leaders would be making a huge public relations mistake if they ignore what could be a complete turnaround in the pandemic.
    This possible development must be used as a way to persuade the public to adhere to public health orders for just a little longer because a vaccine is no longer a far off pipe dream and in fact could be just an injection away.
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