An Up-and-Down Week in Israel

It’s been an interesting week in Israel—so much so that the 13 rockets Hamas fired at the nation this morning barely registers as out-of-the-ordinary news. The most encouraging story is that Israel’s normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were officially signed, paving the way toward potentially adding more Arab nations to peace deals with Israel. But news of a second national lockdown loomed over the celebration of the deals. As coronavirus cases mount in Israel, peaking at 5,523 new cases yesterday, a three-week lockdown of stores, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses is set to begin this Friday, the beginning of the Jewish High Holiday season. Schools were planned to close on Friday, too, but their closure has been moved up to begin tomorrow.

Israel sure is in a strange place right now. On one hand it feels like things have never been better thanks to its peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain with perhaps more to follow. But this second coronavirus lockdown must feel crushing to the Israelis who have already endured a shutdown. I know how disappointed I would be if my area had to endure another lockdown, so I can’t help but feel sorry for these people. I can’t imagine how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz must feel about the state of their nation after working so hard to get past this virus. But despite the disappointing rise in coronavirus cases, in the long-term, this feels like a great week for Israel. It has taken huge steps toward achieving peace with more of its region, and that’s a great sign for the ever-persecuted Jewish state.