Netanyahu's Corona problem

Netanyahu must show true leadership for national unity by adopting the key elements of his rivals' plans and letting one of them lead. Op-ed

David Rubin ,

Bennett and Gantz
Bennett and Gantz
Oded Karni / GPO

With rising rates of Covid-19 infections and a sharp increase in serious cases, Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu is preparing the public to once again close down the economy. Is it really necessary?

His argument for doing so is that it worked before. The previous lockdown did manage to flatten the curve and get the numbers down, at the cost of millions of shekels in damage to the economy, serious mental health traumas and crises, and potential threats to our national security.

He then quickly - too quickly, it seems, although many of the people saying that now were the ones who castigated him for not ending the lockdown fast enough - opened the economy and the country came back to life, but we soon saw a steep increase in cases. It all seems so obvious to the prime minister. Just close down the restaurants, close down the schools, the gyms, the pools and the shuls and the rates will go down.

However, the statistics disagree. According to a recent study reported by the Knesset Research and Information Center, by far the most common location of infection, 65%, has been the home, while only single digits have been infected in restaurants, in pools, in gyms, or in synagogues. When there is a lockdown, families are forced into their homes where they infect others.

A prime example of this has been the haredi community, which has been especially hard-hit by the pandemic, and is known for its large families, often living in dense housing blocks. Is it any wonder that closing down neighborhoods, thereby forcing people to stay near home and at home is just making the problem worse?

Quarantines at home are clearly not the solution. When he was defense minister in the previous government, MK Naftali Bennett (Yamina), despite initial resistance from Netanyahu, established the network of some thirty “corona hotels”, removing lightly and moderately infected individuals from their homes and treating them in the hotels, and not releasing them until they were virus-free. The IDF was activated in a major operation of peace and healing in the city of B’nei Brak to help the afflicted residents and to get them into the hotels. This effective strategy at preventing further infection was essentially shut down with the subsequent flattening of the coronavirus curve and now there are only a handful of these hotels, but more are planned.

Netanyahu’s chosen partner in the current government, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) has requested to take charge and to oversee a similar operation, but Netanyahu has been resistant, as he originally was with Bennett. Perhaps due to past and current political rivalries on both the right and the left, Bibi seems insistent on being the sole leader in dealing with the crisis. Netanyahu has also refused Bennett’s recent and repeated requests to sit with the prime minister to discuss common-sense solutions.

At a time of national crisis, political considerations should be placed to the side.
Bennett has also been advocating for opening up the skies, which would bring back to life Israel’s frozen tourism industry. As reported on Arutz 7, the Yamina chairman has consulted in recent weeks with experts in Israel and around the world and formulated with them an outline for the restoration of flights to and from Israel. According to the outline, passengers will take two tests, one 72 hours before their flight and one at the airport. If both tests come back negative, they will be allowed to tour.

At a time of national crisis, political considerations should be placed to the side. As has been the case in the past, Netanyahu seems obsessed with not letting his political opponents get credit for any major operation, be it Bennett on his right or Gantz on his left. Bennett has come out with an excellent fifteen-point plan to combat the current health crisis without shutting down the economy.

Netanyahu should show true leadership and national unity by adopting the key elements of this plan and then putting either Bennett, in the opposition, and/or Gantz, in the coalition, in charge of implementing it, but let’s put someone in charge and get moving. A true leader is not afraid of delegating responsibility.

Shutting down completely again does not seem to be the answer, and no, it is not about right, left, or center, nor is it about party politics. It is about common-sense solutions that are vital for Israel’s economy and for saving lives.

David Rubin, former Mayor of Shiloh Israel, is the author of the book, “Trump and the Jews” and five other books. Rubin is the founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, which supports therapeutic-educational projects in the biblical heartland of Israel. He can be found at or at