We are in a huge mess here in Israel. Our “government of change” doesn’t really know how to cope with the renewed spread of the coronavirus, i.e. the Delta variant, even if Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tries to to show that he knows exactly what to do. He’s always very self-confident in front of the camera. Well, what else can he do?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to badmouth our new Prime Minister, and I am sure that he is really trying to do what is best for his people. But as we once again see, it’s always easy to criticize those in positions of leadership when you are in the opposition. But once all the responsibility falls on you, the situation looks very different, and things aren’t so simple.
This is being exploited by the new opposition in an ice-cold manner. The rapid spread of the Delta variant is a political boon for the opposition Likud party. They handed the reins of power over to Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at a time when Israel was experiencing almost no new daily infections. And just weeks into the new government’s tenure, suddenly everything was ruined.
Of course, this perception isn’t entirely fair. Nobody foresaw the Delta variant. But that won’t stop the opposition from using the situation to smear the new government.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked made a somewhat unfortunate remark a few days ago when she said in a television interview that we just need to accept that people get sick and die during a pandemic. She was heavily criticized in the days following. After all, it was her fellow party member Bennett who wanted to blame the Netanyahu government for the many deaths over the past year. At the time, he shouted from the Knesset podium, “People are dying, what are you doing? Have you lost your mind?” Later, Shaked tried to smooth things over by stating: “Every death is a world in itself, and human life is a supreme and sacred value.”
Now that the new government understands there is no silver bullet to end the Corona crisis, old restrictions will be reinstated from next week. For some time now we have had the so-called “happy badge” for weddings, which was supposed to create a little order. Next week, we are back to the “Green Passport,” for everyone, everywhere. In shopping centers, a “purple badge” will be introduced with restrictions on the number of visitors and according to temperature checks at the entrance. Green means that you either have to show a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID test at the entrance. Fortunately, testing is becoming much more rapid, and for vaccinated Israelis is still being covered by the government. Unvaccinated will have to pay for tests out of their own pocket.
This is just a brief overview of the new-old regulations. The police will also act more intensively against those refusing to wear masks or violating quarantine. I’m not sure we all really understand what our daily lives will be like from the coming week. It is easy to lose track of all the colors.
At home we don’t see it all that dramatically. We live our everyday lives as best we can. Despite Corona, there is enough to do in our country. Some feel a strong urge to fly abroad, but many don’t. After all, there are currently hardly any destinations to which Israelis can fly without having to go into quarantine upon return. Almost all countries have now been designated “red.” The few we can still visit freely are Austria, Hungary, Montenegro and Moldova. You are sure to find plenty of Israelis walking the streets of Vienna these days.
So, what now? Perhaps the next few days will tell. In the meantime, the number of new daily infections continues to rise. But I’m off for a week of vacation, and I’m determined to not let COVID ruin it for me or my family.