שרית רוזנבלום
Sarit Rosenblum
Photo: Dana Kopel
Prof. Roni Gamzu giving his first press conference as the new coronavirus czar

Israel's new coronavirus czar is a light at the end of the tunnel

Opinion: Prof. Gamzu's manner in his presentation of a national plan to combat the virus is not only a refreshing change of oversight for the country's pandemic, but a direct and clear-eyed call for civilian cooperation

Sarit Rosenblum |
Updated: 07.29.20 , 23:30
The presentation of a new national plan to combat the pandemic by Israel's new coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu on Tuesday, signaled the beginning of a new era in the country's handling of the crisis.
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  • Not only did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the other ministers quickly leave the press conference – a rare event – but for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the head of the country's efforts to fight it spoke directly to the public, without hiding behind a podium or reading from a teleprompter.
    פרופ' רוני גמזו מציג את התוכנית שלופרופ' רוני גמזו מציג את התוכנית שלו
    Prof. Roni Gamzu giving his first press conference as the new coronavirus czar
    (Photo: GPO)
    Just like that, as he spoke straight to the public from his heart, Gamzu managed to express himself in a more trustworthy and convincing manner than his predecessors.
    Anyone who has been following the months of coronavirus briefings by Netanyahu and former Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov could clearly see what changed: Gone were the doomsday predictions, the threats, scares and scoldings, replaced by a direct call for the cooperation of the public.
    "Together we can minimize the restrictions, but only if you strictly adhere to guidelines," Gamzu said.
    Just like that, we had a fair and rational contract between the government and the people. This approach will be able to open a new chapter in the relationship between the people and the state, at least when it comes to the handling of the pandemic.
    נפתלי בנט בבני נרקנפתלי בנט בבני נרק
    Then-defense minister Naftali Bennett, right, visiting the coronavirus-stricken city of Bnei Brak in April
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    The change in leadership is also evident in the renewed cooperation with the IDF. For months, despite the scale of the crisis and the urgent need for its help, the Defense Ministry - and its minister during the early stages of the pandemic Naftali Bennett - were sidelined for several reasons.
    Netanyahu did not want to give Bennett any political points for taking part in the country's success during the first wave (while the calamitous second wave would have been gladly handed over).
    Health Ministry officials were reluctant to share their authority, even as they were failing at the task.
    מעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"למעבדות לבדיקת קורונה של צה"ל
    An IDF coronavirus testing facility in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AFP)
    The fact that the new coronavirus czar did not waste a minute deploying the IDF in the battle against the virus - giving it the critical task of contact tracing - is very impressive.
    Also noteworthy is the creation of professional forums on the virus, inviting experts whether they contradict Gamzu's opinions or not.
    At long last someone has decided to put his professional and personal ego aside in an attempt to create a consensus among all those who want to see Israel emerge from this mess.
    Gamzu's opening moves are cause for optimism, and even if success is not guaranteed, we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
    If Israelis pitch in with Gamzu and his plan, there just might be a chance the country can defeat the virus without another lockdown and normal life can slowly resume.
    If not, all that await us are failure and disaster.
    First published: 23:28 , 07.29.20
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