Date: Sept 26th/2020
Place : TLV to Corfu
Escaping Israel's Second Lock down
Just a few days before our hope in the possibility of some cultural normalcy got shuttered by the second lockdown, we managed to attend an intriguing Ballet Performance, at Susan Dallal in-door center, choreographed by the acclaimed Ga Ga master - Ohad Naharin.
Furthermore, we also enjoyed an open air Jazz Concert, which the municipality sponsored, at Givon Square (by the TLV Cinematheque).
Several singers including Dafna Armoni were singing variations on Beatles hits and Latino music to the jazz tunes played by a great band, that profusely excited the daring but limited crowd.
The care-free cultural enjoyment lasted for a brief span,
In a matter of a few days with the Holiday season approaching,
once again these "food for the soul" necessities would sadly, all evaporate.
Even the signing of the normalization treaty with the Arab Gulf Emirates could not elevate the deep low and gloom spread, which contaminated, along with the second Corona spike, the already very suppressed national mood.
It had become quite mad here.
Israel congratulated itself on initially coming through this virus pandemic with flying colors . By the end of June, with only 300 plus deaths, it felt like a king of the mountain - a "second Sinai revelation"... which allowed Israelis to go about normal daily lives...partying, getting married, gathering to pray or mobbing the beaches.
And then the stealthy virus hit again, big time.
The death rate rocketed to over 1,400 !
Why the difference? What did Israelis do differently, that they didn't do before?
What the Gov did not do which it should have? and why it failed its citizens?
The answers yet not fully given.
Instead, the Gov decided to appoint a health technocrat, Dr Gamzo, called him the Projector-Opertaor, endowed him with consulting rights, also budget, ministries, laboratories, hospitals, the health clinics, and even the army.
The politicians promised to stay in the background.
Dr Gonzo's alleged roll was to flatten the second curve,
And so, The Projector turned the country into traffic light zones. Those with the highest infection rate were zoned red and required to be quarantined.
Made sense, until it was discovered that the vast majority of the red zones, were either Arab or Orthodox towns.
25% of the contaminated cases were the ultra orthodox (big families, crowded housing and condense praying habits at the synagogues).
Likewise such high rates have been documented in the NYC orthodox neighborhoods.
New York Threatens Orthodox Jewish Areas With Lockdown Over Virus
12% of the contaminated were Arabs and 10% are the secular population.
These contaminated places, The Projector said, must be placed in immediate differential lockdown.
Then all hell let loose. Politics reared its inevitable head. Knesset meetings became riots. Factions on which the Prime Minister depended for his support, and those that opposed him, began banging on his door, and threatening each other.
Bibi did what any politician would do. It became clear that Dr. Gamzo's appointment was mainly to serve as a sacrificial shield in absorbing the blame for Bibi', who made sure to undermine and ignore Gamzo's advice, and plastered the failure of handling the crisis onto him and his citizens.
Bibi threw The Projector’s Traffic light plan out the window and decreed a national lockdown of three weeks coinciding with the Jewish High Holidays encompassing Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
The lockdown went into effect a week ago on Friday afternoon (Sept 18th) with the start of the traditional New Year’s eve to prevent mass family gatherings.
But innovative defiant Israelis moved Rosh Hashanah festivities a day earlier and held their family gatherings on Thursday night instead of Friday.
Others, as to avoid the limited 1000m movement away from home, had decorated their cars with Israeli flags and drove away, maintaining their "patriotic right" to demonstrate in other cities...
Thousands of Israelis rushed to test centers before heading to Ben Gurion Airport and flying from red Israel to green pastures rather than remain in lockdown for weeks.
So did we, booking a one way flight for indefinite time.
But that porous and literary useless plan was not enough.
So the Gov. came up with much more draconian and confusing quarantine decrees which went into effect this Friday (Sept 25) just before Yom Kippur, and will continue throughout the entire Holiday season and most likely beyond.
Car-free roads during lock-down
We, as many many others, became totally dismayed, since the marginal concerns over demonstrations and prayers took the center stage deliberations, while the main issue - the unavoidable economic disaster got totally sidelined.
The pent up civil defiance is now on the verge of explosion.
Once the massive scare-inducing chatter on this second corona contamination spike began, and the Israeli Gov responded with threats of enforcing a second but fiercer lock down on the unruly faulty citizens, in a false hope to curb the out of control spread, David and I decided to escape the politically driven hallucinatory restrictions, and got out of the country.
Only 4 European destination countries which had opened their sky to flights from Israel - (Greece, Croatia , Bulgaria and Slovakia) hadn't required 2 weeks quarantine on the way there and back.
So we purchased one way tickets, and chose a flight to the Island of Corfu (Greece) with no return date in mind.
Within not even a week into the second lock down, marked by most confusing and porous regulations, the inflated dysfunctional Gov initiated
marathon deliberations on how to further tighten the regulation, so the unruly populous stop roaming the streets, gather for demonstrations, congregate at mass worship dovenning in synagogues, or continue dancing in crowded weddings.
Furthermore, in an effort to keep all locked and stationary, a real threat was prompted to immediately, also close-off the airport from Friday (Sept 25 - 2:00pm) and discontinue all existing flights, in accordance with the other new parachuted tighter decrees. It felt as if the guillotine was hovering above our heads.
A whirlpool confusion begone.
Air ticket's holders of flights destined for AFTER the new restrictive dictum was put into effect, were not sure, nor were the officials, if flying out of the country would be possible.
Our very reasonably priced direct flight to Corfu was due to depart on Saturday (Dept 26th afternoon). Since we feared that the flight would be canceled based on the projected new limitations, we decided to depart earlier and bought another set of tickets on Wednesday's night (with BA FF miles) for a flight on Thursday (Sept 24th afternoon),
BA to London and continue from there to our desirable Corfu destination.
We packed up fast, rushed and had arrived at the airport as late as possible, in hope that the suggested absurd ruling to close the airport for all next week and beyond... would get off the table.
Furthermore we hoped that the verdict on the idea would be declared, and broad casted BEFORE we would get checked into the London flight.
The National Emergency Portal - on which the regulatory info has been updated minute by minute, indicated no new info.
Well... we didn't have to wait for the Gov's decision... more than 2/3 of the passengers at the BA check in counters were ultra religious (wearing all black) They made that decision for us.
Many were young married Yeshiva students with droves of kids, on route back to London and Paris and not all wearing face cover.
Being placed at the "high risk" age group, and being very aware that there is a 26% contamination rate among that very religious, totally curbed our enthusiasm to get aboard and succumb to a 5 hours flight on the same enclosed incubating lab plane, with such massive high risk contamination spreaders.
So we turned around , left the airport and taxied back to TLV knowingly that there is a good chance we would remain trapped and locked down in the country for the next 3 or 4 or who knows for how many weeks, further subjected to many more monstrous edicts.
In the meantime, several airlines that had only started flying again last month, and have been selling many travel packages for the Holiday season, began threatening to sue the Gov Transportation ministry, for the illegality of this limitation on movement, and for foreseen incurred damages to their industry.
Thus, further lengthy Governmental deliberations and negotiations were taking place with the "genius" Transportation Minister- Miri Regev- before an approval to keep the sky open (for outgoing flights) was finally attained, but at ridiculously last minute, only on this Friday, 2 hours prior to the tighter enclosure began.
Despite all this mayhem, coupled with annoying compulsory Corona Testing (my third time and Negative resulted) and health declaration bureaucracy, we miraculously managed to fly out this past Saturday.
It is a "safe day" since no ultra orthodox could be encountered on the flight which
was completely full mainly with very young Israelis, couples and families, in thier 20-35 all on the run,as well.
The plane operated by a Bulgarian company, landed✈ on time after 2.5 hours of an uneventful flight, to our sheer relief!
Old Fort in Corfu Town
May we all be subscribed to the book of life📖💊🙏
To be continued.....