Israel was not ready when the virus struck. But who was?

To defeat an enemy, you need for life to have meaning. And that is the case in Israel and explains its success in the pandemic. Opinion.

Giulio Meotti, Italy ,

IDF coronavirus lab
IDF coronavirus lab
IDF Spokesman

Israel was not ready. But who was?

Shuki Shemer, head of the Assuta medical centers, the largest private hospital network, said Israel was missing intensive care beds, ventilators and protective equipments. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had just called the pandemic “the worst in a hundred years”, was worried. Channel 12 revealed that at the height of Israel's battle to bend the Covid-19 curve, Netanyahu warned Knesset members that in the case of coronavirus re-infection “humanity could be wiped out”, imagining “global anarchy” scenarios.

Director of the Ministry of Health Moshe Bar Siman-Tov warned at the beginning of the crisis that Israel could be in the “same disastrous situation as Italy and Spain”. Meanwhile Amos Yadlin, the former aviation general and former head of military intelligence, wrote an editorial in Yedioth Ahronoth to warn that the campaign against the coronavirus is “the most critical” that Israel has conducted since the 1973 Kippur war. Netanyahu then told his ministers that Israel could have one million patients and ten thousand deaths by the end of April, with hospitals overwhelmed.

Israel’s success lies in his tragic history.

Israeli Defense Ministry announced that the Biological Research Institute has achieved the development of an antibody that would neutralize the coronavirus. This institute is a secret unit that works directly for the premier's office. In 1948, a scientific department was housed in a building in an orange grove outside Ness Ziona, south of Tel Aviv.

Also at the Israel Institute for Biological Research, scientists have tested combined use of an analogue of the FDA-approved Cerdelga drug, and an analogue of a second drug that is currently in advanced stages of the approval process, and found signifcant reduction in the replication capacity of the corona virus and evidence of the destruction of the infected cell when tested on cell cultures..

When Israeli health minister Yaakov Litzman was found positive for coronavirus in early April, anyone who came in contact with him ended up in quarantine. Not only the members of the government, but also Yossi Cohen, the director of Mossad, the secret service. It turned out that the powerful intelligence agency was deeply involved in Israel's efforts against the virus.

The brains of Israeli analysis gathered at the Institute for National Security Studies to simulate various scenarios about the virus. Former chiefs of staff such as Gadi Eisenkot and numerous former brigadier generals attended.
Dani Gold, the father of Iron Dome's anti-missile system, has been also involved, leading the defense research and development direction. To manage the tests, Israel has put the head of Sayeret Matkal, a famous clandestine army unit. And if the Shin Bet, the internal secret service, was charged with tracking infections, the famous Computer Intelligence Unit 8200 has opened a coronavirus information center at Sheba Medical Center to help stop the spread.

Meanwhile, the brains of Israeli analysis gathered at the Institute for National Security Studies to simulate various scenarios about the virus. Former chiefs of staff such as Gadi Eisenkot and numerous former brigadier generals attended.

But these – the Mossad, the army, the intelligence – are just tools. What is Israel’s biggest source for success in emergency crisis? A meaning.

Life in Israel has meaning.

Israel is the only Western nation on earth whose existence has been continually threatened with death. Life in Israel is a miracle against all odds. Only if there is a feeling of collective national identity can a country organize itself effectively against an enemy.

Israel’s mobilization against death in Israel is also reflected in the abundance of life, which Europe has less and less. It is expressed in the high birth rate not only among devout Jews and Muslims, but also among the secular Israelis. There is a spirit of love, sacrifice and duty toward the country deeper than in other Western democracy. Israel is not a highly religious country, but if you compare to Europe and the US, Israelis feel belonging to a major metaphysical project.

Israel’s existence reminds every human being at all times of the inhumanity of the culture of death. Israel must defend its people from terrorist attacks while defending its true right to exist. Israeli Jews know where their rights come from and they will do everything to protect these.

The West should abandon its high moral utopian ground and learn from Israel.

Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books in addition to books in Italian... His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage, Gatestone and Commentary.