Coronavirus and the Balance between Calm and Concern (AUDIO INTERVIEW)
A 'boyish' Nachman Shai as chief IDF spokesperson. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Coronavirus and the Balance between Calm and Concern (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

The Media Line speaks with Nachman Shai, once called the ‘Valium of Israel,’ for his take on the way authorities have been mobilizing the public

Almost every evening since the coronavirus pandemic began, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or one of the country’s top health administrators addresses the nation. Their goal, apparently, is to find an even balance between calm and concern – that the government is doing its job although scofflaws could mean a total clampdown.

Close to three decades ago, as a US-led coalition sought to dislodge his forces from Kuwait, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein lobbed Scud missiles at Israel on a nightly basis. The fear was that they might have chemical warheads, so the Israeli government handed out gasmasks, telling everyone to put them on and take shelter in rooms sealed off by scotch tape.

With each air raid siren, Nachman Shai, the military’s boyish chief spokesman, took to TV and radio. He came to be known as the “Valium of Israel.” The Media Line sought him out for his impression of the way authorities are now talking to a nervous nation.

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