The first batch of Pfizer Corona-virus vaccine landed in Israel yesterday. PM Netanyahu announced that he will be the first to get it, live on television, in order to build public confidence. Although it’s impossible to get Covid from it, there is still a possibility of other side effects, and many people would prefer to let others be the pioneers with the arrows in their backs. Even the Israeli Doctors’ Union has insisted on reviewing the research data (Hebrew link) on the vaccines before medical staffs receive it. “We don’t want to be guinea pigs,” said a spokesperson (literally, “experimental rabbits”). The plan is – assuming the doctors are satisfied – is to immunize them first, followed by older citizens. I suggested that bus and taxi drivers, who are both at risk to catch the disease and to infect others, should be included, but apparently they didn’t listen to me.
This first shipment is small, only about 3,000 – 4,000 doses, intended to test the methods of shipment and distribution. Later this month there will be a larger shipments, up to 4 million doses. By the Spring, there should be enough for all of Israel’s population. The Health Ministry was waiting for the American FDA to approve it before giving the final go-ahead, and that occurred yesterday.
Meanwhile, people are still getting sick, some are dying, and the dysfunctional government is still flailing ineffectually as we approach our third wave. A nighttime lockdown was supposed to go into effect today, but at the last moment the Justice Ministry announced that such a lockdown would have “legal problems” because it would “limit the motion of citizens.”
This encapsulates the absurd situation perfectly: a nighttime lockdown would have minimal effect on the epidemic, because people have nowhere to go at night anyway, with restaurants and bars closed. But it would be an obstacle to the continued anti-Netanyahu demonstrations in front of his residences in Jerusalem and Caesarea, so Bibi’s government wants it. On the other hand, the Minister of Justice, who is the former head of the Histadrut labor federation and a bitter foe of Netanyahu, wants the demonstrations to continue. No lockdown. Such dedication on both sides!
I wasn’t going to write about politics, but I should note that the process of dissolving the Knesset and calling new elections is proceeding apace. A preliminary motion to do so passed last week, and a Knesset Committee set the next vote (there need to be three more) for this coming Monday. At the same time, Netanyahu’s biggest rival in the Likud, Gideon Sa’ar, announced yesterday that he is quitting the Likud and starting a new center-right party, which has already attracted several heavy hitters from the opposition. A snap poll showed that Sa’ar’s party would get the third greatest number of seats if the election were today. Most of his support would come from Netanyahu’s party.
A sidelight: the party may be named “New Hope,” which immediately brought up comparisons to Star Wars and the appropriate campaign music (video) for the new party.
This has completely upended everyone’s calculations, since that kind of performance in the election would mean that Netanyahu and the Haredi parties would not come close to the 61 seats needed to form a government. There will now be a huge amount of maneuvering and dealing both before and after the election, which will make it even less likely that the parasites government ministers will be able to spend time on their actual jobs, for which they are very well paid by the citizens. It’s too early to predict, but I am hoping that this will break the deadlock and we will get a real government, instead of this “unity” government in which the various members are more interested in cutting each other’s throats and not being jailed than governing.
In other news, an Emirati billionaire has bought 50% of the Beitar Jerusalem Football [soccer] Club, which has a fan base that includes a sometimes violent anti-Arab group called “La Familia” which insults Arab players on opposing teams and has made it impossible for Arabs to play on the team (even non-Arab Muslims didn’t last). I’m making no predictions here, either.
Finally, speaking of Star Wars, a well-respected Israeli scientist who was head of Israel’s space security program for many years has published a book in which he says that aliens have a contract with the US government and an underground base on Mars, where they are working with American astronauts. According to Prof. Haim Eshed, they have not revealed themselves to us yet because “humanity is not ready.”
He got that part right.