The coronavirus is a new type of contagion, and every day a new article is published regarding the insidious damage it causes.
But one side effect of the virus that is already evident yet far less-discussed is mendacity. The coronavirus breeds lies.
There are plenty of examples. According to the Health Ministry’s newest regulations, someone can get tested for the virus only if they are showing symptoms of the disease.
Even if you come into close contact with a verified carrier and are not a close family member or showing symptoms, you don’t get a test.
This new regulation also breeds lies. An acquaintance’s son was at an event with a verified carrier – before he was verified, of course. It was clear to the son that he had been infected even though he had no symptoms.
So, he lied and said he had a cough and a fever, and his subsequent test revealed that he was an asymptomatic carrier.
In the time it took until he received his test results, his girlfriend also became infected. Now he is trying to inform others and stop the chain of infection he unknowingly created.
Another example is the result of another government decision, this time the Finance Ministry plan to offer assistance to businesses owners who saw a 40% or more decline. What about those whose businesses declined by 30% or 38%? Do they not need the same aid?
A friend of mine is a small business owner, he told me a few days ago how some people are already planning to fool the state in order to reach the 40% threshold.
What does that mean? That the country’s income from taxes, which have already dwindled considerably, will shrink even more. Not to mention that many self-employed, small business owners and service providers are only willing to accept dirty money. Cash only.
Protest in Tel Aviv / photo Moti Kimchi, Ynet news
Yet another example involves schemes, the cousin of lies. There are regulations we don’t like, so let us see how we can scheme our way around them in order.
Gyms are banned but studios aren’t? Let’s put all the gym equipment in the studio.
Only 250 guests allowed at an event? Let’s have three “sites” each containing 250 people. Are guests moving from “site” to “site”? Well, that’s their problem.
Private gathering of more than 20 people are about to be prohibited? Let’s throw a quick party before the regulations go into effect.
The last scheme, by the way, was the action of none other than Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, who had a little bash of his own shortly after announcing a state of emergency throughout the country.
The coronavirus did not give birth to the concept of lying in Israel. Scheming and lying were here long before the pandemic.
Unfortunately, Israel as a culture has grown to forgive plotting, cutting corners and outright lying.
It is not for nothing that we are among the worst in the world for downloading pirated content.
But now, with the public facing terrible tribulations, the government’s own conduct during the crisis has only encouraged more bad behavior than ever.
Despite the months since the first wave of the virus arrived, there is still no effective and organized system of testing. This is why someone who fears he may have contracted the virus has to lie just to get tested.
The government’s financial aid program was too little, too late. The government has failed to understand what other countries did to combat the pandemic – they threw money at the problem. In Israel, they only threw money at themselves in the form of frivolous and redundant ministries.
The country’s leaders are the epitome of entitlement and disconnect; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Health Minister Edelstein have all broken social distancing and isolation regulations.
That same sense of entitlement only grew when politicians and celebrities received a VIP pass for fast-track testing when they came into close contact with a verified patient, while the average citizen can expect nothing more than a text message from the Shin Bet telling them to stay indoors.
There is also the matter of the confusing and often senseless regulations, which only highlights the lack of a responsible guiding hand on the tiller.
The people share some of the blame for the increase in infections. Social distancing, wearing a mask, and adhering to health regulations are first and foremost a personal responsibility.
But the government’s conduct serves to shatter public trust in the state, its institutions, and regulations, even as it breeds a society based on lies and schemes.
These are ills we will have a problem finding a vaccination for, and it is they that will stay with us long after the coronavirus is gone.