Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Feb. 2 declaration that he had “instructed” the Israel Biological Institute to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus and to establish a production line in Israel does not appear to have made much of an impression on the virus. It continues to infect people around the globe — with 50 cases diagnosed in Israel so far — and no end in sight.
The lead stories on the news focus on border closings and airline groundings. Along with worrying reports about the spread of the disease, however, there is some encouraging news. Talk of Israel annexing Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank has made way for discussion about the importance of Israel cooperating with its Palestinian neighbors. One miniscule virus has illustrated to Israelis the limits of their country’s power. The organism hops over walls and fences and mocks the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. It threatens the Palestinians stopped at barriers as they try to enter Israel to work and scares the Israeli soldiers searching them for weapons.