Avigdor Liberman’s alternative coronavirus exit strategy

Gamzu’s plan is an exit strategy that lasts around four months and not a long-term plan.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman visits the Jordan Valley. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman visits the Jordan Valley.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
MK Avigdor Liberman released an alternative coronavirus exit strategy on Monday ahead of the coronavirus cabinet meeting.
The plan focuses on how to manage three areas – health, economy and education – alongside the coronavirus and is rooted on “10 commandments.”
The most innovative is the seventh commandment: “All of Israel is responsible for one another.” This one calls on the country to recruit pensioners, students, national service volunteers, police reservists, the unemployed and others to reenter the workforce and support the country during this national crisis.
“I think this is the most radical part of the plan,” explained Col. (ret.) Roni Bart, who helped write the plan. “Instead of telling people to lockdown and stay home, we will take any professional or semi-professional or volunteer to help us keep going during this crisis.”
He said that this would be especially important in schools, as Israeli students have already lost important months in their classrooms. If the Health Ministry deems that 10 children can be in a class, then these volunteers could become the alternate teachers.
While he admitted at first it would be more like “babysitting,” he said over time, the children would learn and also gain the mental and social support they need during coronavirus.
Many aspects of the plan overlap with coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu’s exit strategy, such as ensuring the country has a strong epidemiological tracing system or enough testing. It also calls for a traffic light program that restricts areas with high infection and opens up areas with low infection.
However, Gamzu’s plan is an exit strategy that lasts around four months and not a long-term plan.
Bart said that the Liberman plan does not call into question his professional recommendations, because those have not been the plague of Israel’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Rather, it provides a long-term alternative for how to manage decision-making and distribute authority.
“This expert plan is formulated as an alternative to actions taken by the government on the basis of political considerations that led the citizens of Israel to a second and unnecessary closure,” Liberman said. “Such a plan can be implemented only on the condition that the good of all citizens of the state will be before the eyes of the decision makers and not their personal or sectoral good.”
He added that “the decision-making process must be based on data and expert opinion.”
According to Liberman, the coronavirus revealed the lack of professionalism of the Israeli government and the “small political considerations” that guide its decisions.
The country’s failure to manage the pandemic, he said, has led to a loss of public trust.
The plan calls for professional oversight, as well as for authority to be a manager from the bottom up, including budget allocation and enforcement. This could be by the IDF, Home Front Command, local authorities or others, depending on the challenge.
The 10 commandments also include: Personal responsibility (1), as demonstrated by people wearing masks and social distancing; reverse traffic light methodology (2), whereby any area that drops to 5% infection rate or below would open; advance planning (5) that involves recognizing that the virus will be with the world until at least summer 2021, and (number 6) Israel should learn to live and act according to an emergency outline.
It also requires allocating resources to care for the weak, injured and at-risk populations (9), and establishing a team of experts that range from academicians to scientists to public servants to determine how to emerge from the crisis successfully (10).
“You have to manage with trust and fairness,” said Prof. Israel Gilead, who also worked on the Liberman program. “These are the basics.”