All liberal democracies value the lives of their citizens, but in Israel – a country with a shrinking population of Holocaust survivors, founded following the extermination of European Jewry – preserving life has an almost hysterical quality. at all levels of state and society. This translates into a very good healthcare system made up of competing nonprofit insurance organizations called HMOs and institutional psychology that favors quick action over bureaucracy when life is on the line.
Israel’s panache in fighting viruses is also rooted in its problem-solving culture. The country has evolved to depend on ingenious local systems in part because it has to, given its geographic location and arid climate, and in part because Israelis seem to like making things up.
Chronic water scarcity is one example of how Israel takes lemons and makes tangy lemonade. First, Israel invented drip irrigation, now used around the world, for agriculture with a reduced water supply.
Then, faced with its worst drought in 100 years, Israel managed to operate seawater desalination plants efficiently enough to supply 80% of the country’s water supply. The country now has a surplus of water.
The list of resolved issues is long, from plastics to drugs.
Isn’t that obvious? Instead of denigrating Israel, we should learn from it. The more we emulate Israel as vaccine collection resumes, the sooner life will return to normal.
You can read Zoe Strimpel’s column every Sunday from 9am on telegraph.co.uk