JERUSALEM (AP) – As he seeks reunification, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has turned to a straightforward strategy: rely on the rock-solid support of his ultra-conservative political allies and among the world’s most aggressive vaccinations Seal the coronovirus epidemic with one. Campaign.
But with ultra-Orthodox communities openly flouting security guidelines and violently trying to enforce them in confrontation with police, this marriage of convenience is turning into a burden. Netanyahu has seen his political allies fight the country against the virus and spew a public backlash that threatens them at the ballot box.
“Netanyahu hopes Israel will be the first country in the world to be vaccinated, that it will be able to open up the economy to all, ultra-orthodox and secular, and then the problem will be forgotten,” said Mossan Kluhaf, Campaign strategists who have advised Netanyahu in the past. If the current troubles persist, he said, “Netanyahu will be in great trouble.”
Two months before the March 23 election, Israel finds itself in a contradictory position. In just one month, it has vaccinated more than a quarter Its 9.3 million people and the entire adult population are on pace to vaccinate on election day. At the same time, it has one of the highest rates of infection in the world, with some 8,000 new cases detected every day. It tightened a month-old lockdown by closing its international airport this week For almost all flights.
There are several reasons for the continued outbreak. Before the airport closed, Israel returning from abroad brought back rapidly spreading variants of coronovirus. Other segments of the population have also failed to comply with the lockdown provisions of closed shops, schools and restaurants.
But there is very little question that the ultra-orthodox sector – where schools are open, synagogues filled and mass marriages and funerals continue – has been the driving force in spiking numbers.
Experts estimate that about 12% of the Israeli population accounts for 40% of the new COVID-19 cases. Official data also shows that vaccination rates in ultra-orthodox towns, where science often takes a seat to the faith, are well below the rest of the country.
Ultra-orthodox exercised long-term ineffective influence in Israel, using its kingmaker position in parliament to extract concessions from nation’s leaders. Ultra-Orthodox men are otherwise exempted from compulsory military service. The schools in the community receive generous grants providing education to all who focus almost entirely on religious studies and neglect important subjects such as mathematics, English and science. As adults, many men collect welfare payments while studying at religious seminars.
There has been long resentment among this system Israel’s secular majority, and economists, have repeatedly warned that it is unstable. But political leaders have rarely been willing to challenge the system.
Netanyahu is no exception. By keeping the money flowing, he has found a reliable ally for most of his 12 years in office. Ultra-conservative support is important as Netanyahu tried to form a majority coalition in favor of liberating him from corruption charges.
But skyrocketing infection rates, combined with violent protests have brought unpleasant attention. In recent times, large crowds of ultra-orthodox protesters, many of them unsuspecting, sent police to enforce unrest and stop journalists. In the ultra-conservative city of Beni Brac, a policeman flies his pistol into the air to escape the hostile crowd. That night, protesters set a bus on fire in the city.
Yakov Katz, editor of the Jerusalem Post, wrote using the Hebrew word for ultra-orthodox, “Israel is facing a Haradi insurgency that is making it impossible to fight COVID.”
Ultra-conservative leaders say their communities are being unfairly selected And that a small minority is responsible for the troubles. They state that crowded living conditions and large families are the main cause of high infection rates, and that society does not understand the importance of prayer and learning in a hyper-conservative world.
This week, the mayor of Benny Brac, Avram Rubenstein, was attacked by a mob of protesters, accusing the police of instigating the situation, saying that the authorities should let the community solve their problems.
But a prominent ultra-conservative lawyer and commentator, Doe Habert, said it was time for introspection. He said the violations are widespread, and ultra-conservative politicians, rabbis and a sub-media were all complicit.
“There is no lockdown. This is a big lie. “The synagogues are open, ritual bathing, rabbinic lectures, weddings and Netanyahu collaborate with them,” he said.
Netanyahu relied on the vaccination program to promote him to victory., Appeared unwilling or unable to take on his ultra-orthodox colleagues. When asked about the unrest, Netanyahu told reporters this week that he had attempted to describe Rabbi Chaim Kaniewski as one of the country’s most influential spiritual leaders. The 93-year-old Kanjiwski was “unavailable,” Netanyahu said, leaving a message with the rabbi’s grandson.
This perceived weakness has started playing into the hands of Netanyahu’s rivals. Yair Lapid, leader of the middle-class Yash Atid Party, who appealed to middle-class, secular voters, has expressed his popularity.
“We will end this madness,” Lapid wrote on Twitter. “With us, there will be a law for all.”
This week’s elections were projected to rank second in elections behind Likud of Netanyahu, but were in a better position to form alliances than Netanyahu. In another Channel 12 poll, more than 60% of respondents said that no one wants an ultra-orthodox party in the next government.
The director of the School of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and a government advisor to the coronovirus, Drs. Nadav Davidiewicz said that the ultra-conservative community has presented many challenges for policy makers.
He cited sector autonomy, mistrust of government, fragmented leadership, communal lifestyles and densely populated areas. “All of this together creates very fertile ground for transition,” he said.
Davidovich said sending in police often made the situation worse. Instead, he said experts are working with community leaders on outreach programs to improve compliance with lockdown measures and assure the public that the vaccine is safe. He said there has been improvement on both fronts, a trend he hopes to continue.
But with infections still raging and mass vaccinations requiring weeks to take effect, it is unclear how much the situation will improve on election day.
“I think we have all the equipment to open very slowly in the coming weeks,” Davidovich said. “We already have improvement. But we have to be vigilant about this and the patient. “