Why is Ya'acov Litzman still the Health Minister?

The world over, politicians in prominent positions, connected to or leading the health system, are falling on their swords due to their own behavior and the decisions made by governments they sit in.

Yaacov Litzman (photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)
Yaacov Litzman
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)
When it was discovered that New Zealand Health Minister David Clark had driven his family to the beach during their first weekend of national lockdown, Clark offered his resignation.
Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine Calderwood resigned after making two trips to her second home during the Scottish coronavirus lockdown.
Romania's Health Minister Victor Costache (a doctor) resigned due to what he perceived as his country's mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, Brazil's Health Secretary Wanderson de Oliveira resigned over how President Jair Bolsonaro has handled the coronavirus crisis, in the biggest country in South America.
The world over, politicians in prominent positions, connected or leading the health system, are falling on their swords due to their own behavior and the decisions made by governments they sit in.
Alas, such a situation seems beyond our own health minister Ya'acov Litzman, who has bungled the handling of the coronavirus crisis in Israel to such a degree that he has virtually been sidelined.
In the interests of fairness, it should be pointed out that Litzman and all the other leaders in Israel and beyond have faced a situation none of them could have foreseen.
These are uncertain times, to put it mildly, and leadership in this time can be compared to the greatest events in modern history.
But, should Israelis be comforted that Litzman's many and crucial failures have been replicated elsewhere?
Litzman has let the country down, and perhaps even worse from his own perspective, the Ger Hassidic sect as well, whom he represents.
Litzman, of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, came into this crisis mired in the most serious of controversies. One that shames the entire State of Israel.
The controversy stems from allegedly ensuring Health Ministry employees issued false psychiatric reports to block Malka Leifer’s extradition to Australia.
Leifer is wanted in Australia over alleged sex crimes. Litzman's handling of this has been nothing short of abhorrent and it is to this country's detriment that he remained in charge to deal with one of its most critical periods of existence.
The Israel Police recommended Litzman be charged with fraud and breach of trust over his protection of Leifer. Israel is now paying for the fact this recommendation was not implemented.
Whilst Israel has been praised for early lockdown measures and being one of the first countries to block flights from China, cabinet discussions in the lead up to Purim will be criticized (and analyzed) for years to come.
According to widespread reports, it was Litzman that refused to implement stringent restrictions that would have prevented public gatherings over the Purim holiday.
We now know full well that this most recent Purim holiday was a disaster for the Jewish people, both in Israel and abroad, specifically in London and New York.
So much so that prior to Passover, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed to his constituents we would not see a repeat of Purim at the next major Jewish holiday.
This decision, and Litzman's subsequent actions, suggest the health minister did not have a sufficient understanding of the global pandemic that has overtaken all our lives.
Litzman was slow to educate the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community about the coronavirus and that has caused a rise of cases amongst the ultra religious.
Then came the personal controversy, when it was alleged Litzman continued to attend prayer services indoors when that had been outlawed by his own ministry.
This was revealed once Litzman and his wife were confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus.
Not only did that leave Litzman at home working, but also ensured many of our most important leaders were also moved into isolation because the health minister could not follow his own rules.
This all begs the question of why Litzman did not resign?
After all, Litzman did resign as health minister in 2017 in protest of railway maintenance works that took place on Shabbat.
A failure to recognize the coming danger of the coronavirus pandemic, nor his own flouting of the rules, have elicited nothing from one of this country's most shameful politicians.
To add insult to injury, Eli Beer, the president of United Hatzalah, from his hospital bed – as he himself suffered from coronavirus – asked why his 6,000-man organization was prevented from helping to test for coronavirus alongside the Health Ministry.
“He is a spiteful, evil person,” Beer said. “I really hope he isn't the health minister in the next government. The man has been fighting United Hatzalah for several years. A bad man without a good heart, who only looks out for his own interests.”
There are plenty who claim with good reason that the Health Ministry had been run down for many years and that removing Litzman would just be “cosmetic surgery.”
It is a sad indictment on Netanyahu that Litzman remains the health minister for reasons that can only be to protect his own interest and survival.
As we enter this most crucial of periods, with a whole host of exit strategies on the table, now is the time to get an expert into the Health Ministry who can lead the nation from what has become the most important job in the country.
The writer runs soccer websites.