Opinion: Fixing the economy begins with stopping the spread of the virus, there is no way around it; the real source of national unrest is fake news from politicians that they can magically lift restrictions without worsening the infection rate

From the moment the coronavirus pandemic began, economists across Israel’s political spectrum tried to explain to the public that this was not a financial crisis, it was a health crisis with severe economic repercussions.

Since the plague is the source of the crisis, stopping it is a prerequisite to rehabilitating the economy. There is no way to help the economy if the outbreak is not stopped first.

בנימין נתניהו ובני גנץ
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Photo: Haim Horenstein)


This message went over the heads of a majority of the public and its leaders.

Proof of this lack of understanding can be seen in the use of the word “compensate.” Those adversely affected fiscally by the virus claim the government needs to “compensate” them for loss of income.

Compensate them for what? The restrictions and regulations were solely put in place to stop the virus in its tracks and protect public health, including those who suffered because of it.

The demand for this compensation was given a stage during the mass protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. This protest, incidentally, would never have received a permit in any other democratic state with as severe a morbidity rate as Israel.

הפגנת העצמאיים בתל אביב
Thousands in Tel Aviv protest the government’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic (Photo: Moti Kimchi)


But no government or health official had the courage to warn against the dangers of such a huge gathering. According to experts, it is reasonable to assume that hundreds of coronavirus patients took part in the protest, many of them asymptomatic.

The rage felt in Israel – even if it is a little exaggerated – stems not from the system, but the expectations people had.

They believed the lawmakers who talked of magically ending all restrictions, regardless of the virus’ continued spread.

בנימין נתניהו הצהרה
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted last week that Israel reopened its economy too soon (Photo: GPO)


Sweden tried to do this and paid for it ten-fold, with a severe spike in cases and an economic downturn to boot. This failed Swedish model was adopted by the Netanyahu-Gantz administration and it still haunts us.

Politicians must tell the truth, even if it hurts. Lifting restrictions and printing more money will not help the unemployed. Economic salvation will only come once the virus is stopped.

Until then, the government must work double-time to assist the economically afflicted to keep their heads above water and prepare a practical plan to revitalize the economy, get the business sector working again and incentivize investment once the pandemic is over.

ישראל כץ באולפן Ynet
Finance Minister Israel Katz (Photo: Yaron Brener)


New finance minister Israel Katz is learning fast and has already promised that the new state budget will include a “fantastically massive growth plan.”

Of course, that can only happen if the government does not fall apart due to a stupid row over whether budget is covers the next two years or just three months.

As reported by Ynetnews