Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

Last week, I wrote about the mental anxiety of Covid in Israel. I guess that when an economy drops into deep recession within months, racks up over 20% unemployment and begins to empty out its treasury, something will give.

According to Channel 12 news last night, 54% of the new unemployed were working for SMEs – small medium sized enterprises, which comprise over 90% of most global economies. It is estimated that 25% of these SMEs lost 80% of their sales, as opposed to 5% for large firms.

How does this play out on society?

ERAN is a charity, which provides ’emotional first aid’. They received 40,779 request for help during their first lockdown in the early Spring. 732 were related to suicidal conditions. For the second lockdown, the equivalent numbers are 31,583 and 820!

Many have pointed out that during the first lockdown, while the deaths mounted, there was an atmosphere of hope. ‘We will overcome’. Today, the formula is far more frightening:

Return of lockdown + government’s perceived incompetence + lack f leadership = depression (both the economy and the individual).

Channel 12 also referred to such details. According to their unnamed sources, during the previous 11 days alone, there had been 252 records of attempted suicide. Continuing the theme, there has been an 18% increase in reported domestic violence during the year.

There was no budget for 2020. Planning for 2021 is lost in the vagaries of coalition politics. Seven key civil servants in the Finance and Health Ministries have left their positions since April. And our exalted leaders can be heard, shouting at each other. However, I could find no pictures available of senior politicians visiting city centres or struggling businesses.

You sense that the PM along with the heads of those two ministries have abandoned the people who elected them. Meantime, Israelis are left to suffer – financially and emotionally. That costs the country, big time and long term!

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