I have been an admirer of the Jewish state since before it existed, and a constant admirer of US President Donald Trump since long before he became president. My thoughts on both have appeared regularly on these pages.
As Israel made the desert bloom and became the Start-Up Nation, I only became more in awe of its accomplishments, in the worst neighborhood, against all odds.
As President Trump revealed his policies on the Middle East, I became increasingly infatuated with his wisdom.
But over the past month, since the first Israeli tested positive for the coronavirus, I have been shaking my head at what has been happening in Israel, and deeply concerned that the US is always a step behind the virus.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is absolutely right when he says he has led Israel in crucial, stringent measures against the virus; steps that have been ahead of the curve around the world. President Trump is similarly correct when he notes that his travel
ban on China saved countless lives.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz even said he “thanked God” for a conversation he had with Netanyahu, in which Netanyahu told him to “wake up and do something.” The 33-year-old Kurz, who sees the 70-year-old Netanyahu as a mentor, has used Israel as a model in taking serious action to counter the spread of the virus.
Likewise, many world leaders and vocal Democrats have praised the Trump-Pence task force that is contending with the coronavirus in America for its creativity and for the action it mandated.
So why in Israel have the leaders of Blue and White and other opposition parties like Labor and Yisrael Beytenu not rushed to join Netanyahu's government and to help him guide Israel through these troubled times?
Is there no humility in Blue and White leader Benny Gantz? As a former general,does he not realize the benefits of being steered by an experienced, decisive leader?
Clearly this is a war. Israel must treat it as such.
If there was an attack on Israel by Iran, God forbid, wouldn't Israelis come together? Don't they realize that in some ways, this is worse?
At the time this is being written, five Israelis have died from the virus. The first death, Aryeh Even, was even more a tragedy, because he was a survivor of the Holocaust.
More than 1,000 Israelis have contracted the virus in just a month. Israel's record low unemployment rate has skyrocketed overnight. Many tens of thousands are in quarantine and too many people are suffering.
THE SITUATION in the US is staggering. At the time I’m writing this, more than 55,000 have tested positive for the virus and nearly have died from it. Those numbers will be much higher by the time this is published.
Nevertheless, Israelis keep bickering about petty politics. They are trying to pass frivolous laws that are anti-Bibi, or pro-Bibi, instead of just making sure elderly Israelis will continue to be able to breathe! Unlike the US, the effort to "impeach" Netanyahu
In this regard, Israel has even fallen behind the United States, where hyperpolarization has in many cases been suspended for a higher good. In my state of
New York, our Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo is working elbow-to-elbow with Republican President Donald Trump for the greater good.
Although President Trump has acted under the Defense Production Act, he has refused to maximize its potential. It needs to be used in at least three ways.
First, we need a Manhattan Project similar to the one that created the atomic bomb in World War II. In order to win this war, vaccines, treatments and tests are required.
The American administration should nationalize the effort by ordering all research labs and scientists in government, academia and private industry to join together. The government should pay for this effort.
Lockdown and related rules must be uniformly enforced throughout the country.
Second, the president should nationalize and lead an effort to ensure that all needed hospital beds and equipment, such as ventilators, masks and gowns are available to peak virus levels. In addition, the government should guarantee that all essentials, from sanitizers to toilet paper, are fully available.
Finally, the president should continue to care for those who have been put out of work by providing wage and price guidelines that will guarantee all hard-working people an unemployment wage and that will counter price-gouging.
Similar measures should be happening in Israel as well. But like everything else in both countries, it depends on politics.
At least we in America know who the president of the United States will be until January. Israel could have two more elections by then!
This is the time for Gantz to join a 60-day emergency government under Netanyahu. If that does not end up being enough, he could sign up for another 60 days.
This is the time for President Trump to take complete charge, regardless of the political ramifications.
Disregarding petty politics would allow the US and Israel to continue leading the world, and most importantly, to spread hope instead of fear at this time of a proliferating pandemic.
The writer was mayor of the Village of Lawrence, New York, from 2010 to 2016.
He is co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity, and a committee member of the Jewish Agency. Martinoliner@gmail.com