July 7, 2020
by Sondra Baras
The world is in crisis. The COVID19 pandemic has not only not gone away but in many places, including in Israel, the situation has become more serious. While draconian measures helped ensure that the spread of the virus would be maintained at relatively manageable levels, the economy suffered immeasurable harm. And today, as the economy has begun to open up, we are witnessing the rise, once again, of the numbers of those infected.
This is the situation currently in Israel but it is reflected in similar ways in many other countries. Health professionals debate various strategies even as economists warn that further shutdowns cannot be sustained. The elderly and high-risk populations remain indoors, often extremely isolated from family and friends. Others are returning to normal, with or without masks and varying levels of illness.
In Israel, the Coronavirus hit just as we emerged from our third round of elections in one year. The health crisis became a reason, or an excuse, for the opposing Blue and White and Likud parties to form a coalition government. Negotiations took far too long but finally, just a few weeks ago, the government took office. Both party leaders promised that their focus would be on creating a unified Corona committee that would undertake to provide clear and effective strategies for handling both the health and economic aspects of the crisis.
Today, as the numbers are rising, the new government seems to be less effective in handling the crisis than the former one. Gantz and Netanyahu remain suspicious of one another, for good reason, and the enormously inflated government does not seem to be effective in producing any sort of change. They are arguing over what sort of budget should be passed for 2020, when the year is more than half-way through. They are arguing over the budget for their respective official households and the extent to which Netanyahu should be paying income tax. But given the lack of trust between both parties, there has been no unified voice in handling the corona crisis.
One of the promises that Netanyahu extracted from Gantz in the coalition agreements was that he would be able to move forward on annexation from July 1st and Gantz would not interfere. But July 1st came and went and Netanyahu did not even make a statement as to what he intended to do. Some lesser ministers continued to assure the public that Israel intended to apply sovereignty to the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in the near future but no maps, plans or time frames were discussed.
All this leaves us, the people of Israel in a sort of mystified confusion. We have no idea what our government leaders are doing, what direction they are taking and whether they are going to be effective on any serious issue. And that does not leave us with a lot of confidence in our political leaders.
Clearly, other countries are facing similar problems, although I am sure that misery does not love company in this instance. In the US, the division between left and right, Democrat and Republican, has become so severe, with accusations of fake news being flung in all directions, even as they are failing in curbing their own COVID19 crisis. In Europe, various countries have taken different paths in tackling the pandemic and some have suffered catastrophic consequences as the elderly have died in huge numbers. The faithful among us turn to God, hoping that He will provide us with relief but it may take some time before we see the results and understand the meaning of divine involvement.
So where does that leave us, the ordinary people who just want to do what’s right and contribute in any way we can to what is ailing society? I have always believed that if we allow ourselves to become bogged down in the problems of the world, we become paralyzed. No one individual can solve such huge problems. And particularly today, when we see world leaders, including some of the most intelligent people on the planet, fumbling for answers, we understand that they cannot solve the problems either. But we dare not become overwhelmed or discouraged. God created human beings in His image and endowed us with intelligence and creativity, but also with modesty. We are not God and there are some problems we cannot solve. But there is no challenge that comes our way that there isn’t something we can do to improve the situation, to contribute in some way to help others.
And that is how I think we need to respond to the issues facing us today. We may not be able to find the cure or the vaccine that will stop the pandemic, but we can each make sure we are not unnecessarily infecting our neighbors and friends. We can wear masks, wash our hands frequently and be extra careful in exposing the elderly to possible infection. We can help those who have lost their jobs and if we can afford it, support those businesses who are struggling to stay open — buy take-out for dinner, order some new clothes from a local shop. These are the little things we can do to help our neighbors.
In Israel, as we face the uncertainty of the sovereignty issue, as we are witness, already, to rising tensions and terrorism coming from the Arabs who surround us, we know that we have to do whatever we can to keep our people safe. We must install surveillance cameras, ensure that our communications systems are ample and working effectively, and that our eyes and ears are open at all times. As ordinary people, we cannot influence the diplomatic discussion directly, although we can each influence our politicians by lobbying and communicating with them on this issue. But we can change the facts on the ground.
From the beginning, the settlement movement moved forward on the strength of ordinary people who left comfortable homes to establish new communities on the windswept hills of Judea and Samaria. Today, ordinary people like you, all over the world, can effect change in ordinary ways. We need your financial support to keep the people of Judea and Samaria safe. The ordinary people of Judea and Samaria can buy the equipment that will keep us safe with the funds provided by you, the ordinary people from the nations. We, the ordinary (but special) people of the world, can make all the difference!