Current wave of Covid 19 transmission less devastating to the Haredi Community

Following the easing of Covid 19 restrictions in Israel last month, there was an increase in transmission rates as public interaction increased, coinciding with the spread of the Delta variant. 

However, last week official analysis in Israel revealed that far fewer Haredi, (these are ultra-orthodox Jewish sects, who adhere to a strict interpretation of scriptures and rabbinic teachings. They do not recognise secular government as authoritative, but view the spiritual authority of the Rabbis to be paramount), are being severely affected by the virus.

This is significant because during previous waves, the Haredi community were disproportionately affected and their morbidity rate was inordinately high compared with the rest of the population. 

Medical experts have explained that improvements are due to the grassroots work done with the heads of Haredi movements, to educate them about Covid 19, as well as the benefits of natural herd immunity which occurs with exposure to and recovery from the virus in the population. 

An additional factor cited by authorities in reducing the impact of the Delta variant, is the Jewish festival, Tisha B’av; preceding which, is a period of three weeks without socially uplifting events within the Haredi community. This worked to limit transmission for that period of time.  

 “Don’t Kill Us”; Israeli farmers plan protests and lobbying against proposed tax reforms 

Other important news from Israel last week concerns planned nationwide protests and political lobbying by the farming community. This is in response to Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Agriculture Minister Oded Forer, who announced their intentions to cancel import tariffs on fruits and vegetables, within five years. 

The ministers state that this will create a more competitive market for Israeli consumers, and thereby reduce the prices of essential and nutritious produce, as prices are cut by farmers for their goods.  

In response, Israeli farming organisations declared that this is both unfair and ineffective. They explained that they sell their fruit and vegetable at very low prices to supermarkets, who then add a disproportionate profit, inflating the cost to the consumer. 

Farmers have stated that Israeli agriculture, is already struggling to survive in a market dominated by conglomerates, and would be destroyed if the ministers carry out their plans. They also pointed out, that any related industries which support and benefit from the farming industry, such as logistical companies and producers of packaging, would also be impacted. 

Some farmers also questioned why ministers were not taking supermarkets to task, whom they compare to cartels, for their pricing. They want Israel to copy France, which has implemented a law which demands that supermarkets display both the price they paid for the produce, as well as the price they are offering to their customers.