This morning I received a robo-call from the Rehovot city government to tell me that, as a senior citizen, if I had trouble getting an appointment for my Coronavirus vaccination, they would help me, and here is how to contact them. I remembered that some months ago I got a call from a human social worker employed by the city, who wanted to know how I was, how we were getting our food (this was during our first full lockdown), did we have local family to help us out, and so on.
I’ve had my differences with the city from time to time, but I am really impressed by this. They are using our tax money (Israelis pay local taxes based on the size of their homes and other factors) to provide services to the citizens! I realized how little I’ve come to expect from government, so this seemed like a big deal to me. But it’s still remarkable that they have programs in place to help those of us who are no longer “productive citizens” in an economic sense.
And then there is the vaccination program itself. The State of Israel paid a premium price for vaccines, and set up a system to distribute them. The logistics are complicated because the Pfizer vaccine, the first to arrive here, must be kept at -70 degrees C (-94 F) and then used within several hours of being warmed. As of Tuesday, 1,700,000 Israelis had received their first vaccination, including my wife and me.
We went to the designated location, where the four HMOs that all Israelis belong to had set up stations to give vaccinations; waited only a few minutes in an open area, and received our shots (for those who speak British, “jabs”). Information was immediately entered into the nationwide computer networks of the HMOs, and our appointments for the second dose set. This was much more efficient than anything I have ever experienced in any bureaucratic setting either here or in the US, even in the IDF.
Of course Bibi is taking credit for the whole thing, as our next expensive, unnecessary election approaches. But in truth he does deserve credit for making the deals with the pharmaceutical corporations that got us large quantities of vaccine early, even while the HMOs put together the system which is expected to vaccinate the entire population by the end of March.
So this morning I have a feeling that this country cares about me, and about the rest of its citizens. The institutions like the national and local governments and the HMOs are doing their jobs, at least in this connection. The government has not done so well in managing the lockdowns, especially the last, partial one, which seems to have hurt small businesses badly while doing little to slow the spread of the virus. There are plenty of other things to criticize, but still, I am proud of my country.
But the response of the world media to Israel’s relative success in fighting the epidemic has been more hostile than anything I recall since the last time Israel was forced to defend herself against deadly rocket attacks from Gaza. “What about the Palestinians,” they screamed. Why aren’t we vaccinating them, too? “It’s because Israel is an apartheid state!”
The accusation is everywhere, in mainstream and social media, from the human rights organizations, and even from Jewish groups like J Street.
And it’s nonsense. First, Arab and Jewish Israelis, as well as Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are treated precisely the same. Second, the PA and Hamas are responsible under international law for vaccinating their citizens. The PA has said they have ordered vaccines from several manufacturers and are awaiting their arrival. Israel has promised to give surplus vaccine to the PA after our campaign is over. Israel’s public broadcaster KAN reports that Israel already gave the Palestinian Authority some 100 doses of the vaccine for “hardship cases” (probably the big shots in the PA). And the blogger Elder of Ziyon has debunked some of the accusations against Israel made by “human rights” NGOs here and here.
One of Israel’s greatest national concerns is the question of how it can become a better state, one that better performs the basic function of a state, to protect its citizens against man-made and natural dangers, and to provide economic and cultural opportunities for them. This is the purpose of our health care system, the IDF, and our Knesset, judicial system, central bank, and so forth. Although there is a certain amount of corruption it is incidental to the functioning of the overall state.
The vaccination project has been a positive force in our lives, illustrating that we need not always be passive and accept the blows that fall on us. And it shows that our big institutions (the HMOs are independent organizations, but closely controlled by the Health Ministry) can work smoothly when they have to.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are entirely different. Although they have government ministries, a health-care system, and many other services, they do not exist to protect their people and enable them to fulfill their economic and cultural potential. They have two functions alone: to enrich those Palestinians who are “connected,” and to fight the war against Israel with which they are obsessed. Corruption is essential, not incidental. Funds that don’t go into the pockets of the rulers go to prepare for war or to pay the soldiers. Palestinians know this and hate their rulers, but there is little they can do because the dictatorships under which they live don’t hesitate to use force against them. And in many cases, they are also slaves to their obsessive hatred of Israel.
Palestinian governments continue to encourage, pay for, and perpetrate terrorism against Israel, while “ordinary Palestinians” throw rocks at cars containing Jews, a pastime that has caused several deaths and countless serious injuries. A few weeks ago, an “ordinary Palestinian” viciously beat an innocent woman to death. Right now the concern in Ramallah is not how to vaccinate millions of Palestinians, but rather how to ensure that terrorists will continue to get paid despite Israeli restrictions on Palestinian banks.
Israel struggles to be better. Palestinians struggle to be worse. And yet, which side do the media, the Jewish Left, and the human rights industry take?
Sheldon Adelson died on Tuesday. He was one of Israel’s greatest supporters. He loved this country, and contributed massive amounts of his own money to make it better and to help improve its relationship with the diaspora, including hundreds of millions of dollars to Birthright, which has probably done more to counteract the hate campaign against Israel in the universities than all other PR initiatives put together. He also gave large sums to AIPAC, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, Yad Vashem, and the Israeli-American Council. He and his Israeli-born wife, Miri, were the major donors to a new medical school at Ariel University. He donated several Magen David Adom ambulances and mobile ICU vehicles, including some that were armored to protect them against terrorist attacks. He started the free newspaper Israel Hayom (Israel Today), which is today the paper with the largest circulation in the country, shattering the almost total monopoly on news media in Israel held by the Left. His influence on Donald Trump was partly responsible for Trump’s pro-Israel policies.
Miri Adelson will certainly continue his philanthropy, but the Jewish people and the State of Israel have lost a friend who won’t easily be replaced. BDE.