Yuval Karni
Yuval Karni
Photo: Yaron Brener
At war: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton

Censorship in a time of coronavirus

Opinion: PM opts to fire Likud head of Knesset coronavirus committee for daring to question uninformed decisions and the finance minister reprimands his ministry DG for defending her colleague; this is no way to fight the pandemic

Yuval Karni |
Published: 07.20.20 , 23:51
Israel's fight against the second wave of the coronavirus is thoroughly out of control.
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  • Regulations are pulled out of thin air (shutting restaurants only to open them again too late to save the ditched produce), there is no organized database upon which to make decisions, people are confused due to the clueless leadership, and above all there is dwindling public trust in the government.
    At war: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton At war: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton
    At war: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton
    (Photos: Adina Wellman and Alex Kolomoisky)
    To those who are looking for political motive behind every struggle or argument, this is no longer about left or right, it is about life itself.
    This theater of the absurd reached a crescendo on Saturday night, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to fire his own Likud party's head of the Knesset coronavirus committee, MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, after she made it clear she was not going to automatically agree to every government decision.
    Finance Minister Israel Katz also decided to reprimand his ministry's director-general Karen Turner-Eyal after she defended the head of the budget department Shaul Meridor against social media attacks from Netanyahu and other Likud members.
    Meridor came under fire for daring criticize Netanyahu and Katz's plan to distribute money "to everyone" as part of their financial aid program.
    The prime minister's son Yair Netanyahu even went so far as to brand anyone at the Finance Ministry who thinks before automatically reciting his father's talking points as "terrorists."
    שאול מרידורשאול מרידור
    Under fire: Shaul Meridor
    (Photo: Rafi Kotz)
    It is not for nothing that Turner-Eyal said the comments directed at her colleague Meridor were "extremely violent."
    Shasha-Biton, Turner-Eyal and Meridor are people who decided as part of their job to voice their concerns and expert opinion on the government's decisions – decisions which are often controversial or downright motivated by foreign interests and political schemes.
    They refused to align themselves with the narrative imposed on them from above. Yes, such officials might be a bit more "courteous" and express their thoughts via channels other than social media.
    But to go for their heads? Is that how the Israeli government plans to fight the coronavirus pandemic?
    קרן טרנר-אייל וישראל כץקרן טרנר-אייל וישראל כץ
    Finance Minister Israel Katz and Director-General Karen Turner-Eyal
    (Photo: Orel Cohen)
    The preoccupation with what Meridor says or what Turner-Eyal is is tweeting is characteristic of a leadership that does not know how to handle a crisis such as the coronavirus.
    True, the fight against the contagion is a tough one. It is much easier to blame political rivals, threaten anyone who does not toe party line and pit one against the other.
    The politicians and the financial experts who criticize the government's decisions and warn of ill-advised plans are those certain they are doing their jobs as part of the fight against the contagion.
    You can criticize them or disagree with them, but that is not the issue.
    The problem is that anyone who thinks differently is being figuratively burned at the stake.
    With such an attitude, it will be impossible to defeat the coronavirus.
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