A Leadership Crisis

I refer to the op-ed “Leadership Saves Lives” (Prime, November 18) wherein Gavriel Meir faults Israeli handling of the corona pandemic by comparing it to Taiwan’s handling of the same, concluding that this has resulted in more deaths than in the Yom Kippur War.

This is a classic case of biased analysis and Israel-bashing. Are there only two countries in the world dealing with the pandemic so that one can conclude Taiwan did it right and Israel did it terribly wrong?

There are over 100 countries out there battling this virus, and an objective analysis would show that Israel is doing quite well compared to its European neighbors. How many deaths has the U.S.A. suffered? Is this fewer than those lost in the Vietnam War? How is the leadership in the U.S.A. and Europe? An objective analysis would check if geographical location has anything to do with the severity of the outbreak; perhaps the Far East, as a whole, is less affected.

We often accuse the press of biased reporting against us, the chareidim; let us ourselves not be guilty of the same.

Rabbi Avrohom Connack, Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem

Gavriel Meir responds:

Thank you for your thoughtful letter. As you point out, Israel is doing a lot of things right when it comes to handling the coronavirus crisis. However, when I was reading up on Taiwan and how its leadership has been a crucial part of its astounding success in containing the problem, I couldn’t help but be struck by the contrast to Israel on this point.

Israel hasn’t had a normal, functioning government in over two years. The country is deeply divided. People don’t believe in the country’s leaders and aren’t willing to follow them into battle against the coronavirus — whether that means wearing masks or closing down their businesses.

Israel has good doctors, an army that can conduct widespread testing, a strong economy (which got good marks last week from the International Monetary Fund for its handling of the corona crisis). But without leadership that has the confidence of the people, it will limp along from lockdown to lockdown.

My intention was not to engage in Israel-bashing but to point out the high price we pay for failed leadership.