NAFTALI BENNETT, Prime Minister of Israel, warned that two plagues challenging society today — the coronavirus and political polarization — were capable of eroding public trust in institutions and paralysing nations. “In a polarized world, where algorithms fuel our anger, people on the right and on the left operate in two separate realities, each in their own social media bubble; they hear only the voices that confirm what they already believe in,” he pointed out. In that context, he underscored that the new Government recently formed in Israel is the most diverse in its history. “It’s okay to disagree, it’s okay — in fact vital — that different people think differently, it’s even okay to argue,” he stated.
Turning to Israel’s COVID-19 response, he reported that the Government recently asked Israeli families to carry out home-testing for children so that schools can remain open. He also outlined his country’s vaccine roll‑out activities, recalling that Israelis were among the quickest in the world to get vaccinated and are gearing up to receive a booster shot. As a result, Israel's economy is growing and unemployment is down.
However, Israel cannot lose sight of what is happening in the region, he continued. It is surrounded by Hizbullah, Shia militias, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. All have in common the desire to destroy Israel, with backing from Iran. Indeed, Iran seeks to dominate the region under a nuclear umbrella. It has tried to spread carnage throughout the region in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Gaza, all of which are falling apart. Moreover, it has recently made operational a new deadly terror unit made up of swarms of killer unmanned aerial vehicles, outfitted with lethal weapons that can attack any place, any time. Iran's nuclear weapon programme is at a critical point, he stressed, warning that all red lines have been crossed and inspections ignored.
Nevertheless, there are reasons for hope, he said. First and foremost are the growing ties Israel is forging with Arab and Muslim countries. Those ties began 42 years ago with Israel’s historic peace agreement with Egypt and continues today with the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Highlighting Israel’s enhanced relations with allies in the region and beyond, he recalled that such efforts manifested themselves last week with the defeat of the racist, anti-Semitic Durban conference, when 38 countries choose to skip the conference. “Fighting the only democracy in the Middle East doesn’t makyou ‘woke’,” he said, adding that adopting clichés about Israel without bothering to learn the basic facts was “plain lazy”.
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