Israelis must show some national responsibility

Opinion: If we are not united we have no chance of beating coronavirus, and despite our divisive leaders we must unite and overcome the national mentality of cutting corners and hoping for the best if we are to survive this crisis - not only for ourselves, but for our children too

Sharon Kidon|
There is a clear line connecting the followers of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov who made their annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to his Ukraine gravesite and the group of young party-goers holding "protest" signs on Tel Aviv beach last weekend.
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  • Neither of these groups could care less about the rest of us - nor do they seem they overly concerned about who will have to pick up the pieces when their respective party is over.
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    הפגנה נגד הסגר בחוף פרישמן
    הפגנה נגד הסגר בחוף פרישמן
    'Protesters' on Tel Aviv beach during the lockdown
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    This rampant collective disregard for the rules also covers the packed Rosh Hashanah meal in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence and all the other festivities that took place in private homes with more visitors than the restrictions allow.
    This country is speeding towards the abyss, thanks to the ineptitude of its leaders and the disregard of its people. And those people are cheering and celebrating all the while, smug in their conviction that they have outsmarted the system.
    But these people have only managed to play themselves, using their considerable creativity to reinforce the stereotype of the "ugly Israeli" who cares only for themselves.
    These are the people who are returning to Israel from "red" countries with high infection rates via "green" states with low morbidity, solely to avoid having to enter quarantine. These are the people throwing massive weddings at a moment's notice in order to dodge law enforcement and having parties disguised as protests.
    And of course, these are the innumerable people breaking both isolation requirements and lockdown regulations.
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    מפגינים בארוחת החג מול מעון ראש הממשלה בבלפור
    מפגינים בארוחת החג מול מעון ראש הממשלה בבלפור
    Anti-Netanyahu protesters holding a Rosh Hashanah dinner in front of the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, hours after a nationwide lockdown began
    (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
    This is not a matter of politics, nor is it a matter of left-wing or right-wing, it is simply our responsibility as a society to encourage a hint of solidarity.
    We as a people, no matter our differences, need to come together as one in order to protect the country’s economy and the public’s health.
    If we fail to do so, catastrophe will hit us all, the responsible and irresponsible alike.
    The right to express yourself is a sacred one, as are the right to protest and the right to worship freely - but our duty to prevent the collapse of the economy and the healthcare system is even more sacred, for this an existential matter.
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    חתונה המונית ברחובות
    חתונה המונית ברחובות
    Guests crowding together at an ultra-Orthodox wedding in Rehovot during the pandemic
    (Photo: Nadav Abbas)
    Now is the time to put everything aside. We can pray and protest without large gatherings (as proved by most of the organizers of the demonstrations against Netanyahu, who shunned the recent protests in Jerusalem).
    We need to abide by one law for everyone, at least until we get the pandemic under control and heal our ailing country.
    The second closure, with all its devastating effects, seems like an expression of our eroding values as a society, of the anarchy that could bury us all.
    And there is no lack of guilty parties.
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    גבול בלארוס אוקראינה
    גבול בלארוס אוקראינה
    Hasidic pilgrims stranded on the Ukraine-Belarus border while trying to reach the grave of Rabbi Nachman in Uman
    (Photo: AFP)
    The leadership conducted itself in a chaotic manner, prioritizing politics over public health and failing to set a personal example.
    The protesters demanded the prime minister show a modicum of responsibility, but had parties and gathered in large numbers even as they did so.
    The young people failed to understand the correlation between the increase in infections and economic collapse, and put their older relatives at risk.
    But the most culpable of all is the Israeli mentality, something laudable in other circumstances but has proven to be a liability during this crisis.
    Cutting corners and the assumption that it will all be okay in the end cannot beat the contagion - only abiding by the rules can deliver such a victory.
    The virus has exacerbated the symptoms of tribalism, a chronic disease that has infected our entire society for years. Each tribe, every sector only cares for its own needs.
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    קבינט הקורונה
    קבינט הקורונה
    A meeting of the coronavirus cabinet in Jerusalem
    (Photo: GPO)
    We are facing an amorphous adversary as a nation divided, with a divisive leadership. And while each tribe cares little for the rest, the collective blow of this pandemic contagion is one we are all sharing.
    We have to come to our senses and unite, lest we will wreak harm not only on our older generations, but on our children as well.
    Thousands will die because we failed to protect them and hundreds of thousands - our children - will have to bear with the economic fallout of the crisis, something that will surely crush any kind of bright and promising future.
    While the rest of the world is again thriving, we will remain a sick, impoverished country with a bitter appreciation of the phrase “the sins of the fathers.”
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