In This War, I Feel Far Safer in Israel Than in America

After years – actually, decades – of weathering questions from others and doubts within myself about whether leaving a relatively calm and comfortable United States to opt for life in tumultuous conflict-ridden Israel is a sane thing to do, the coronavirus crisis has finally decided the issue. 

The years of crises spanning the first to the second intifada, two wars in Lebanon, the ’91 Gulf War, when I had to gas-mask my three-year-old, and, later, exposing my children to the dangers of military duty – all made it feel like moving to and then staying put in Israel was a giant sacrifice. 

But Israel’s handling of the pandemic we’re all experiencing, however, is the first case I can think of since living here, where Americans are just so much safer being in this disorderly corner of the world than back in the U.S.A. 

A rare but meaningful moment of sanity has, as unexpectedly as this rare contagion, descended upon the holy land.

All the threats of yesteryear seem to fade into the background, for now, as we power through social distancing and isolation to avoid becoming a pandemic statistic. The new terror we all fear, this tiny strand of RNA, has made the embattled Jewish state one of the safest places on earth.

The U.S. is another story, leading the pack with numbers of infections and third in the world, so far, in coronavirus fatalities, according to April 4 statistics. Israel is beyond 40thplace in that category and the Palestinian territories are thus far doing even better, with one woman succumbing to the virus there.

Members of the Army National Guard by the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a temporary coronavirus treatment center, March 31, 2020 in New York CityAFP

Israel rolled into a social distancing lockdown several weeks ago to rein in the corona outbreak, a policy that evidently flattens the infection curve, not least compared to many other countries, notably the U.S.