There have been some disgusting responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. It started with some groups and people blaming Israel/Jews for the virus (just as Jews were blamed and attacked for the Black Death) and rejoicing at the first Israeli to succumb to the virus. No doubt, Asians have also felt the brunt of ignorant racism and none of it is OK.
However, there is far more positive news to come from the pandemic – whether that be local community support groups, open-source mask designs, or neighbours singing from their apartments.
In Israel, almost everyone is self-isolating at home on government advice and we have seen similar rejoicing from flats as well as applause for healthcare workers erupting from balconies. There are also some lovely stories of online solidarity between Israelis and the Arab world.
At a national level, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have stepped up coordination over the past few weeks. This led President Rivlin to tweet “…Our ability to work together in times of crisis is also a testament to our ability to work together in the future for the good of us all.”
Perhaps this global crisis will help pave a path toward even more cooperation and future peace. One can only hope.
Unfortunately, even with Israel working with the PA and coordinating large amounts of essential products for delivery to Gaza in addition to the standard 2,547 truckloads of goods last week; the official PA newspaper compared Israel to coronavirus and there are reports that PA officials are hiding their collaborative work with Israel from the people they are meant to serve.
And, even though Egypt has done nothing to help Gaza, and Hamas warned Gazans not to travel abroad and closed the border with Egypt to prevent virus spread; there are still anti-Israel activists using the global crisis to push their agenda; calling for a complete opening of the border between Israel and Gaza.
I sincerely hope that the cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian leaders continues, strengthens, and that the citizens on both sides can more easily see through the PA news propaganda and other antisemitism.
If there’s one thing that this virus proves; our borders may protect us from threats of man but are little help against mother nature.