Weekly Commentary: Horse and Buggy Bureaucrats Drowning Startup Nation (Netanyahu confirms closed beaches for Haredi Politician)
Dr. Aaron Lerner 17 July 2020
Its not science, its bureaucracy and sectoral politics.
From day one of the COVID-19 crisis the bureaucrats in the Ministry of
Health have fought tooth and nail to prevent expansion of Israel's testing
capabilities via any body - be it commercial or otherwise - not within their
immediate and absolute control.
So yesterday the Ministry of Health bureaucrats announced that henceforth
people who were in contact with Israelis identified as having COVID-19 won't
be tested unless they themselves have symptoms or if they share their
residence with someone who tested positive. They then announced that
henceforth those identified as having COVID-19 who do not require
hospitalization will end their period of isolation without testing if they
are no longer sick.
These decisions were not driven by the data. They did not cite data to
justify these decisions. Instead, the Ministry of Health bureaucrats
explained that the decisions were driven by the limited testing capacity.
As for sectoral politics, its an open secret that the ONLY reason the
beaches are being closed down is to placate the haredi politicians who
believe that they need to show their constituents suffering from synagogue
restrictions that the secular public is also suffering. "We must close the
beach on the weekend," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Government
meeting tonight,"(AL: Shas Party leader, Minister) Aryeh Deri told me this
morning that the beach is like a can of sardines."
Back to the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Health. Instead of rising to the
challenge to work with food service industry establishments to develop
viable COVID-19 safety rules, they set numerical limits without regard to
either the size or configuration of the seating areas.
Entrepreneurs who invested hundreds of thousand of shekels to meet and
exceed Ministry of Health rules now find themselves shut down because the
bureaucrats recommend closing down entire business sectors rather than make
the effort to differentiate between safe and unsafe establishments.
And what about the data? Are you sitting down? Well, it turns out that the
tiny staff collecting the raw epidemiological data records the information
on pieces of paper. Its taking so long to progress from these slips of paper
to analysis that we simply do not have a lot of Israeli data to work with.
Yes. In startup nation the private sector can put together and implement a
computerized data entry system in hours, but the horse and buggy Ministry
of Health bureaucrats were manually recording epidemiological data before
COVID-19 and declined to change their operation to meet the challenge.
This must not continue.
We are smarter than this.
We have an elected government that's supposed to lead the nation - not bow
to the bureaucrats.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Since 1992 providing news and analysis on the Middle East with a focus on