Did World War Z predict Israel's response to coronavirus?

The movie featured a key sequence set in Jerusalem, in which the Israeli authorities quarantine healthy people in the courtyard of the Western Wall compound.

Jews gather at the Western Wall on February 16 under the slogan,  ’The Nation of Israel prays for China,' calling for the eradication of the coronavirus plague (photo credit: YAAKOV LEHMAN)
Jews gather at the Western Wall on February 16 under the slogan, ’The Nation of Israel prays for China,' calling for the eradication of the coronavirus plague
(photo credit: YAAKOV LEHMAN)
As Israel quarantines tens of thousands and, at press time, contemplates isolating all citizens returning to the country, regardless of where they have traveled, film buffs are pointing to similarities between the Israeli response to the novel coronavirus in real life and what Israel does to contain the zombie outbreak in the movie, World War Z.
The 2013 movie, which starred Brad Pitt as the one man in the world who could stop a worldwide zombie outbreak with his grin and great hair, featured a key sequence set in Jerusalem, in which the Israeli authorities quarantine healthy people in the courtyard of the Western Wall compound. Jews and Arabs huddle together, waving their respective flags and singing songs of peace. Jurgen Warmbrunn (Ludi Boeken), an Israeli Mossad agent, describes the scene as to Pitt  as “the Jerusalem salvation gates, two of 10 portals to the security perimeter into fortified Israel.”
Pitt quizzes the agent on how they figured out the need for this mass quarantine before the rest of the world. The answer, which isn’t going to be terribly helpful in the current battle against the COVID-19 virus, is that they intercepted classified communications from India in which the word “zombie” was mentioned and that the Israeli intelligence way is that “the 10th man” must always take a contrarian approach. Jurgen was that 10th man and realized the Indians really meant they were fighting zombies.
In spite of the Israelis’ prescience, they seem to have missed a key fact about the zombies, and that is that they are drawn by sound, so the loud peace songs attract enough of the undead to breach the wall. The compound is overrun while Pitt is hustled off to a waiting plane by a soldier known only as Segen, Hebrew for first lieutenant, played by Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, most recently seen in Incitement. The movie is adapted from the book of the same name, which was written by Max Brooks, Mel Brooks’s son.
If you’re stuck in isolation or just curious as to how Hollywood has portrayed viruses, here is a list of movies, most of which you can stream easily.
    1. Contagion — This 2011 movie by Steven Soderbergh is the one that people are talking about the most these days, because the scenario it portrays is the closest to what we’re experiencing. It shows how a global pandemic travels around the world as a team of doctors and CDC researchers try to cure it and develop a vaccine. It opens with none other than Gwyneth Paltrow, who is pretty quickly revealed to be Patient Zero, coughing as she sits in a bar in a Chicago airport, changing planes to go home after a business trip to Hong Kong (and a tryst with an old boyfriend during her stopover). Paltrow dies in a particularly nasty way in the first 10 minutes, leaving behind her husband Matt Damon to wonder what killed her and us to wonder if Paltrow didn’t start our current crisis in order to sell her Goop products like Psychic Vampire Repellent spray and Wellness Oil Kit. The film features an all-star cast, including Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Bryan Cranston and Elliott Gould. In the end, we learn that the virus was caused by a pretty disgusting interaction between Hong Kong bats and pigs. While this description may make you curious, it’s really best not to see this movie until after they come up with a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re feeling spooked already. Trust me.
      2. Outbreak — This 1995 film is virus lite. Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo play bickering exes who are researchers fighting an outbreak of a deadly disease in a California town that is caused by an escaped monkey brought to the US from Africa. Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey are also on hand to help and hinder them.
    3. The Andromeda Strain— An old-style Hollywood thriller from 1971 by Robert Wise and based on a novel by Michael Crichton, about an object that crash lands in a small town in New Mexico and releases a substance that kills all but two of the town’s residents, a baby and an elderly alcoholic. It’s gripping to watch as the doctors use science to solve the mystery.
    4. 28 Days Later . . . — This 2002 film by Danny Boyle is terrifying but not realistic. A man awakens in London hospital and discovers the city is empty — well, almost empty. A monkey infected by a virus that causes people to become instantly filled with murderous rage was released from a lab by animal rights activists and all those infected killed each other. This movie made stars out of Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris and also stars Brendan Gleeson. It invented the idea of the fast-moving zombie that has become so popular.
    5. Panic in the Streets — Director Elia Kazan was known for more serious films such as On the Waterfront, but he also made this very suspenseful 1950 thriller about a doctor and a policeman who have just 48 hours to stop the spread of a bubonic plague in New Orleans. It has a great cast, with Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Jack Palance and Zero Mostel.
    6. 12 Monkeys — This 1995 film by Terry Gilliam tells an intricate story of a man played by Bruce Willis living underground in a dystopian future after 99 percent of the planet was wiped out by a virus. He is sent back to the past to try to get information on how the virus started so they can create a vaccine and move humanity back aboveground. As he fulfills this task, he meets a crazy, rich animal-rights activist played by Brad Pitt and a beautiful psychiatrist (Madeline Stowe). This plot summary doesn’t begin to do justice to the brilliance and originality of this modern classic. Based on a short film by Chris Marker, La Jetée.
    7. I Am Legend — Will Smith thinks he’s the only guy left on earth after a virus turns the rest of the population into bloodthirsty mutants. This is the third screen version of this Richard Matheson novel, which was also adapted as The Last Man on Earth (1964) with Vincent Price and The Omega Man (1971) with Charlton Heston.
    8. The Cassandra Crossing — One of those big, star-studded Hollywood thrillers, this 1976 film is about passengers on a train in Europe who have been exposed to a deadly virus, and no one will let them off — alive. If you’re going to be trapped, it might as well be with Sophia Loren, Richard Harris, Ava Gardner, Lee Strasberg and a very young Martin Sheen (President Bartlett on West Wing) who all play passengers, while Burt Lancaster is a general trying to figure out how to resolve the situation. Oh yes, there is one more passenger: An Interpol officer disguised as a priest, who is tracking a drug dealer on board, played by none other than O.J. Simpson.
    9. Carriers — One of those movies about how inhumane people become in a crisis, this 2009 film stars Chris Pine, Piper Perabo and Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) in a story of friends who head off in search of safety during a pandemic.
    10. Cargo — If you’d like to see people being inhumane during a pandemic in Australia, see this 2018 movie starring Martin Freeman as a man down under trying to protect his infant daughter.