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Why Bennett and Biden are comrades in arms against COVID-19 – analysis

CM 25/08/2021 3


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The first meeting of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US President Joe Biden is meant to center on mapping out a strategy for dealing with Iran, but it is likely that the two leaders will spend an equal amount of time dealing with another battle: the war against COVID-19.
“I talk to, I’d say, three or four leaders around the world about stuff every week,” Bennett said in an interview with The New York Times that was published Wednesday. “The moment COVID comes up, a 20-minute call turns into an hour-and-a-half call, because COVID is the biggest issue on every leader’s plate.”
This is certainly the case for the leaders of both Israel and the US, both of whom won their campaigns in part by convincing the public they could manage the pandemic.

During his campaign, Biden laid out a comprehensive plan with five basic elements that he said on his website he would carry out as president to address the crisis: 1) test-and-trace, 2) sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for all, 3) science-based treatments and vaccines, 4) steps to reopen safely and effectively, and 5) protecting those at high-risk, including older Americans.
The president accused former president Donald Trump of “catastrophic failures of governance” that led to tens of thousands of “needless deaths” of American citizens. And he said that America, under Trump, was “headed in the wrong direction.”
Bennett wrote a book titled How to Beat COVID-19: The Way to Overcome the Crisis and Lead Israel to Economic Prosperity, yet on Tuesday and Wednesday, Israel registered close to 10,000 new cases – nearly the highest daily number since the start of the crisis.
 Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen getting his third COVID-19 vaccine, on August 20, 2021. (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO) Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen getting his third COVID-19 vaccine, on August 20, 2021. (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
“You are killing them! You are killing them!” Bennett bellowed in August 2020 during one of his most powerful speeches at the Knesset, targeted at how then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was managing the crisis. “You are ruining the lives of millions of citizens of the State of Israel.”
However, despite his high profile COVID task force, the book and the several position papers that Bennett put out during the first year of the crisis, what the last few months have shown him is that talking about the coronavirus is much different than fighting it.
Earlier this month, the prime minister admitted that “the pandemic has given us all a lesson in modesty.”
“Biden and Bennett are in a similar situation,” said Prof. Eytan Gilboa, an expert on US policy in the Middle East at Bar-Ilan University. “They criticized their predecessors, and now they are facing a fourth wave. I can only imagine they will exchange views on how to manage this.”
But beyond commiseration over their sad reality that the pandemic is bigger than them, the two leaders will likely also discuss what they can learn from one another and possible opportunities for collaboration.
For starters, they could share ideas about how to increase vaccination among disadvantaged and minority groups in their respective countries.
Earlier this week, the US Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 16. And while vaccination rates are steady and even high in the US and Israel, both countries are struggling to get their poorest citizens inoculated.
A study published in the journal Vaccine in July showed that there was a 32% lower vaccination rate in the most disadvantaged areas of the United States. There are also large gaps between the vaccination levels of white people compared to black and Hispanic people.
In Israel, this would be analogous to the country’s struggle to convince Arab Israelis, especially Bedouin, to get the jab – a situation that becomes acute when looking at the youngest eligible members of the population.
Around 43% of the total Israeli population between the ages of 12 and 15 has received at least their first shot of the vaccine, according to the Health Ministry website. However, less than 20% of Arab 12-15-year-olds are vaccinated.
Next, they could discuss research and development of new COVID-19 treatments.
Already, according to the US Chamber of Commerce, Israel’s life sciences sector attracted $1.5 billion in US investment in 2018. But with the onset of the COVID crisis, doctors and scientists from almost every hospital and university turned their focus to finding treatments for the virus, meaning there are even more opportunities for investment.
Israel has discovered or developed several breakthrough treatments. However, for those drugs to be used, they need to complete Phase III clinical trials, which require a lot of funding and people.
“The US has an incredible amount of financial means, and they can support and expedite research,” said former Israeli ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon.
Moreover, the US is nearly 3,500% larger than Israel and has had over 3,600% more COVID-19 cases.
Helping Israel to test more of its treatments in America could be a win for both countries.
Finally, Gilboa suggested appointing a coordinating committee or finding some other kind of mechanism to build, explore and then implement ideas for close COVID collaboration.
“This is a war, no less important than the war on terror,” Gilboa said. “Israel and the US have collaborated very closely on the war on terror, so in this war against the pandemic, you would expect a similar type of collaboration.”

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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