This cunning virus is blind to the identities that divide us. It attacks anyone who violates rules of social distancing, whether in a trendy bar in Tel Aviv or an ultra-Orthodox synagogue in Bnei Brak, at a colorful wedding in Nazareth or on a transatlantic flight. On the surface, this means that the battle against the virus should be equally blind to identities, but that is far from the case. Indeed, the war against the virus is based on professional medical knowledge, but the decisions taken, as on every public matter, are political.The most important consideration of all, protecting public health, must be weighed by the government and Knesset against the infringement of other essential values: the blow to the economy whose main victims are marginalized and weaker population groups, the severe limitations on freedom of expression if public demonstrations are banned, and the disappointment of the many observant Jews if they are denied the spiritual experience of public prayer on the High Holy Days. Our political leaders are tasked with finding the right balance among these values, one that will ensure that none of the identity and interest groups feels it is the target of discrimination. The correct balance is not just a matter of equity and non-partisanship; it is also an on-the-ground must, in order to rally the public to be active partners in the battle against the virus. We see, however, that the outcome has been precisely the opposite: There are fears of a popular revolt, by the political protesters, by the business community and by the ultra-Orthodox. Many Israelis do not have confidence in our elected officials. Why is this so?The politicians have been managing the public health crisis glancing sidewise toward the possibility of imminent elections coming up just around the bend. The positive potential of the unity government has been squandered, as the passengers on the coalition Titanic continue their arm-wrestling competition, even with the iceberg looming dead ahead. Their petty politics and irresponsibility have blocked the passage of the state budget, in total disregard of the country’s needs and of the provisions of the coalition agreement. The possibility of elections is also one of the motives behind the arbitrary operation of the money fountain that showers public funds in every direction, without a semblance of economic logic, and the unforgivable delay in the appointment of a pandemic czar and enlistment of the Defense Ministry in the war against the virus.WHAT IS MORE, even if the government’s political horizon was guaranteed for several years, it would still be difficult for us to join forces to fight the virus because we have gotten used to being members of a tribal society with each of its diverse sectors focused on its own narrow interests. Today we see that the various positions bandied about as to the appropriate balance – between safeguarding public health and dealing a blow to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, property rights and human dignity – are determined by narrow interests, and not by an overarching view of the public good. As a result, every decision sparks bitter complaints and stirs up fears of noncompliance.The overall picture is bleak and terrifying. We used to know that when push comes to shove, the fundamental solidarity among Israel’s tribes would overcome all our disagreements. We told ourselves that even if cat-fighting is our daily routine, at the moment of truth, when the collective is threatened, we all rally together as a team. But the coronavirus crisis has revealed that we can no longer take this for granted. The Israeli Kulturkampf that some people systematically try to exacerbate has penetrated deep into the fabric of our lives, to the point of endangering our ability to cooperate in pursuit of vital interests, including public health and saving human lives.The pandemic is a magnifying glass that reveals with clarity the price we are paying for our infighting. This is a wakeup call and a resounding warning: The dispute is not “only” a matter of a political and identity crisis; it has seriously jeopardized our national resilience.Those who believe that a nation’s strength is a function only of its armed forces and international standing are mistaken. Yes, the peace agreements with exotic Arab princedoms flooded with fantastic riches that have just been signed on the front lawn of the strongest nation in the world are indeed a real asset. We must not make light of the hugs with former enemies. But success in the arena of foreign relations cannot be an excuse for a resounding failure in the arena of domestic policy. Peace agreements are no substitute for public health, for jobs and for social solidarity. Nor are they relevant for a resolution of the Israeli Kulturkampf.The importance of both arenas is exemplified in the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, in words that always make us tremble and that echo Israel’s situation with particular force this year: “[On this day] judgment is pronounced on countries: which of them is destined for the sword and which for peace, which for famine and which for plenty. And human beings are held to account for their deeds, and their fate is determined, who will live and who will die.”The writer is a law professor at Bar-Ilan University and a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute.