Israel’s Coronavirus Stipends Meet With Mixed Reactions
According to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, speaking in the language of the coronavirus age, the goal of his decision to pay stipends to every Israeli adult is to “flatten the curve” representing the rate of infection of the disease. But Netanyahu’s plan to pay each citizen the equivalent of about $220 plus incremental payments for children bringing the payment to about $850 has been met by some with suggestions that the curve in question is polling numbers while many in the financial world question the ability of the government to honor the PM’s pledge altogether. When making the announcement, Netanyahu said the purpose of the payouts is to “get the economy moving … to boost consumer spending and employment.” Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the nation’s unemployment has soared to 21%. The stipend comes two days after thousands of Israelis joined street protests against Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis. In Jerusalem, the demonstrations turned violent and police used water cannons to disperse the crowd. Critics of the prime minister accuse Netanyahu of using the payments as a means of buying calm, a charge the PM’s camp vociferously denies. Meanwhile, the coronavirus infection rate continues to soar, according to most experts heading toward a near-certain national lockdown. Meanwhile, adding to the problem is the announced nurses’ strike set for Monday, July 20.