Equality in Times of Corona

Corona is so inexpensive that one might think it erases all differences, all gaps. No east or west, no north or south, no up or down. Or is it?

Ordinarily we complain about socio-economic gaps and inequality: Those who live uptown vs those who reside on the wrong side of the tracks. Those who do fine dining versus those who frequent the neighborhood falafel stand.

Those who purchase haute couture versus those who shop at H&M. Not in times of corona, the virus that now threatens what we hold most dear – our lives; the virus that threatens the economy, capitalism, western as well as eastern civilizations. This disease makes all disparities obsolete.

Corona is a cheap illness. It doesn’t require expensive medicine. There isn’t any designated medicine for it, anyway. One does not need to consider going abroad for complex medical procedures. Corona is so inexpensive that one might think it erases all differences, all gaps. No east or west, no north or south, no up or down.

All you need are three simple things: quarantine, 6 feet of social distancing and frequent hand washing. So simple, so mundane, so egalitarian.

Quarantine? Big deal, easy… who can’t self-isolate?

Turns out many people cannot. You need a house to isolate yourself in. Some 150 million persons around the world do not have a home:  2% of the world’s population lack a decent shelter to call a home.

We are not only talking about India. In the Gaza Strip, one-hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, some 13,000 persons have no roof over their heads, thanks to the Hamas and the IDF. They do, however, have a highly effective collective isolation imposed by the IDF. And the Bedouins in “unrecognized villages” in the Negev are prevented from building real houses.

Six feet of social distancing? That’s nothing. Any two people can stay 6 feet apart.

Unfortunately, the fact is that millions of refugees around the world who live in tents or other makeshift homes cannot. We are talking about 71 million people worldwide. And in our neck of the woods: millions of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Refugees trying to enter Europe through the Greek islands many of us used to vacation in. Haredi Jews, many of whom are poor, living in jam-packed quarters.

Hand washing? Funny. Who cannot do that several times a day?

Those who have no access to running water. Some 780 million people around the world have no access to safe drinking water. Some 2.5 billion people have no indoor sanitation system.

An hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, in the Gaza Strip, there is very limited access to drinking water.  In 2014, less than 11% of Gazans were connected to the public system for drinking water, compared with 97% of the population in the West Bank.

A “social” disease? Society needs to be healed first.