Amichai Atali
Amichai Attali
Photo: Courtesy
A checkpoint in Tel Aviv during the coronavirus lockdown

Israel's last chance to beat coronavirus

Opinion: With Israelis lacking social discipline and obedience of the 24 million citizens of Taiwan, which saw some 500 cases and just a handful of deaths, the only way to combat the outbreak is heavy policing - and we must do it before it is too late

Amichai Attali |
Published: 09.30.20 , 23:43
There are only two ways to overcome the coronavirus pandemic: complete civil cooperation or uncompromising policing. Israel currently has neither, and that is a very dangerous situation.
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  • Israelis are prone to help each other out in any situation without reservations. Every Israeli would take his pickup truck, load it with candy, cigarettes and underwear and drive down to the nearest IDF base to hand them out to the troops (and maybe take a few pictures).
    מחסומים ואכיפה בתל אביבמחסומים ואכיפה בתל אביב
    A checkpoint in Tel Aviv during the coronavirus lockdown
    (Photo: AFP)
    But Israelis also do not understand the meaning of middle ground. Everything is either a scandal or a festival. Either we are all about to die and we have to go to total lockdown or the virus is a bluff and everyone holds massive parties.
    But this battle is a long, tiring and protracted affair. Long months of wearing protective face masks in line at the supermarket would prevent all of us from coming in contact with a virus carrier.
    This pandemic requires the utmost discipline when it comes to public health orders, which unfortunately is very not Israeli.
    Much has been said regarding Sweden's plan to battle the virus, but some attention should be given to what is happening in Taiwan, a country of more than 24 million citizens that since the start of the pandemic has recorded just 513 cases and seven deaths.
    People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they ride the subway in Taipei, Sept. 29, 2020 People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they ride the subway in Taipei, Sept. 29, 2020
    People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they ride the subway in Taipei, Sept. 29, 2020
    (Photo: AP)
    So how did they do this? First of all, the Taiwanese people are a very disciplined bunch.
    Order, discipline and solidarity are the three aspects that guide the country's successful strategy against coronavirus.
    It almost seems like a pipe dream to think Taiwan's model could ever be implemented in Israel.
    There is no order here because everyone has lost patience. There is no discipline because everyone thinks they are smarter than the person who wrote the directives. And there definitely is no social cohesion.
    But we still care for one another. Israelis will go to the ends of the earth to help someone else in need.
    Just like that pickup truck loaded with goods and treats, it can be done - it just needs a little push that is not within the norms.
    Now is not the time to reeducate Israelis on social niceties, but to do what we can to find the breach and close it.
    אכיפה של שוטרי מג"ב את הנחיות הסגר בטירהאכיפה של שוטרי מג"ב את הנחיות הסגר בטירה
    A police checkpoint in the central Arab city of Tira during the coronavirus lockdown
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    Since mass civil cooperation is out of the picture, the only option left is strict policing.
    Without this, it is not far-fetched to believe we are on the edge of a massive catastrophe when it comes to the pandemic.
    A dramatic shift in policing means police officers and inspectors on every corner, spot checks at stores and the homes of people who need to be in quarantine and issuing painful fines for any breach of public health orders.
    שוטרים אוכפים את ההנחיות בירושליםשוטרים אוכפים את ההנחיות בירושלים
    Police officers in Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem issuing a fine for violating health directives
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    An Israeli might get slammed with a penalty for not wearing a face mask once or maybe be twice, but definitely not a third time.
    Not because they want to be a law-abiding citizen or think the directives are justified, but merely due to the fact that he does not want to get screwed over so much.
    There is no other option. If this is not done sooner, there will be no later.
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