Whilst under lockdown it is difficult to visualise a return to some kind of normality, but like Jews throughout the ages, it is the hope of finding a way out of the current predicament that keeps us going.
Out of the depths of despair of COVID-19, a unity Government of the Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White led by Benjamin Gantz came into being, offering new hope after 17 months of uncertainty and political vacuum.
We need a vaccine and we need it now!
Israel is one of the top five contenders to find a vaccine. When it comes to health care research and innovation, Israel is a superpower and has an impressive list of health and non-health start-ups involved in the search for solutions to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite its own challenges in fighting the spread of the pandemic, which has affected nearly 14 000 Israelis, Israel is also very concerned about its neighbours, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. The prospect of a health disaster, particularly in Gaza due to its failing health infrastructure and its high population density, is very real.
Yet, while Israel supplies protective gear and essential medical supplies to Gaza on an ongoing basis, Yahya Sinvar, the Head of Hamas, said that if breathing machines are not brought into Gaza, his group will “stop the breathing of six million Israelis”. However, Israel’s innovation may provide a new paradigm and an opportunity to break the logjam between perpetual foes and offer a new path to inter-regional cooperation. On 12 March, one of Iran’s highest religious authorities, Naser Shirazi, a Holocaust denying extremist, agreed to use a vaccine made by the ‘Zionists’ if there was no substitute. On 7 April, Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS Movement, approved the principle that it was OK for boycotters to use Israeli medical breakthroughs like a vaccine for Covid-19, if it saves millions of lives.
So, hopefully reason will prevail and people will realise that humanity shares a struggle to survive against a common invisible enemy, and that after COVID-19 there will be other threats that affect everyone, like climate change, which overshadow people’s concerns about religious and ideological differences.
‘View from the chair’ by Esta Levitas, Chairman, SAZF Cape Council
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