PANDEMIC AND SOCIETY

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Yuval Nemirovsky

We are going through challenging times during these days in which almost everyone is suffering from the pandemic caused by the coronavirus and the disease COVID-19.

While so many people are fighting for their lives, others sadly have already said goodbye to their loved ones and several millions more are in quarantine. We can already agree that the world won’t be the same as 3 months ago.

Governments and countries are taking extreme measures to fight the virus. Many countries are closing their borders, restricting freedom of movement, and taking precautions to avoid the health systems to collapse.

Other governments are more concerned with the economy, making it clear that the virus is not so terrible for young people and letting the population spreading it in order to create the necessary antibodies in a significant amount of the population so that the virus will not be able to be spread anymore.

Many people today have lost their jobs or have been force to take a nonpaid leave. Countries are struggling to keep their health systems afloat, with few doctors, nurses, general and research staff. There is now a race to obtain the largest number of respiratory machines which are extremely necessary to save the lives of many patients infected with the corona virus.

All this makes me reflect a lot on the values of our society. And how these values must be transformed into policies.

Human beings, population, citizens, should not be sacrificed to save economic models or political systems. It is intolerable to think that the population with the highest risk of dying at the hands of the virus should be exposed so that the system won’t collapse. It means that there is a flaw in our system of values, which is what created these blindly, competitive, and individualistic economies, which do not grant us the minimum human needs, such as a free public health system, with well trained and highly remunerated personnel. Neither the basic unemployment insurance for a huge mass of the population that in times of crisis, stopped working so that the health system won’t collapse.

Where is the government now in order to support these citizens who paid taxes, and are struggling to survive during the crisis?

I hope we understand that after this tragedy that we are experiencing, wanting a state that takes care of its citizens with clear social policies is not a fight between the left and the right. It is a struggle between what is right and what is not right.

We, humans, are able to organize ourselves on different levels. These “fantastic” realities that we create (laws, beliefs, etc.) are our tools to avoid chaos.

However, after realizing that a pandemic limits our health systems, limits our ability to sustain ourselves, to pay our rent, and living costs, then we realize that something is failing to move us away from this chaos.

It is true that we are “convinced that the economic system of Israel must be liberal-social in nature” as the Darkenu says. However, if that means not fighting to have answers to basic needs such as access to a free and good health system, or social security for unemployment, retirement and other social services, then we must make it clear that our responsibility for the Israeli society leads us to fight for answers to what is lacking today.

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