The Weekend Politics Thread Happily Sells Out

I am frustrated.

If you’ve been following Israeli politics at all, or have been patiently tolerating my updates in these threads, you’ll know that Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz finally formed a national unity government after over a year of deadlock, and that my own Labor Party is now part of the government.

This was a deeply controversial decision among the Israeli left, but it isn’t why I’m frustrated. I actually supported this decision. If you have even the most basic understanding of how Israeli politics works and the position Labor is in, you can probably sympathize with the idea that becoming more irrelevant would not save the party, that even two Social Democratic voices in the cabinet are a victory at a time when we had no leverage.

No, what frustrates me is that people have taken this as a signal to oppose any and all precautions against the Coronavirus in Israel.

In fairness, Israel has already flattened the curve. It was one of the only countries to get ahead of the crisis (or at least ahead of the public response to the crisis), and active COVID-19 cases have been in decline for the past several days.

Furthermore, the loudest voice for reopening the country has been Naftali Bennett of Yamina, a far-right alliance of religious and economic ultraconservatives with a ton of US support.

But I don’t see any excuses for Nitzan Horowitz of the Socialist Meretz, or Stav Shaffir of the Green Party. It seems that many on Israel’s left have adopted Trumpian talking points purely because Netanyahu’s government hasn’t.

Are there issues with the government’s handling of the crisis? Dear God, yes. The minority cabinet’s earlier decision to track people’s phones was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Netanyahu’s allies have similarly used the crisis to postpone legal proceedings against the Prime Minister. And the government’s stimulus package has made the Trump administration look like a model of generosity.

But I don’t understand why these particular politicians, who eternally position themselves as the few voices in the country who are able to look at events from a global scale, suddenly find themselves pretending that there is no world outside of Tel Aviv– there have been no active cases in the city for two weeks, but in certain communities beyond the virus continues to rage just as it does in the US.

It’s the same problem as the ire surrounding Labor daring to take the opportunity to govern. What have we become?

ETA: I’ve just been informed that, as of 1 May, independent contractors will represented by the national labor union the Histadrut. Holy shit.