Escape from New York: These Israelis fled coronavirus to hunt sanctuary in Israel – U.S. Information

With the USA main the world within the variety of confirmed coronavirus circumstances and New York the hardest-hit state, some Israelis residing within the Large Apple have determined to go dwelling.

“In a time of disaster, we desire to be near our family members,” Gil Avidor, who has lived in New York along with her husband, Tslil Aloni, for the previous three years, tells Haaretz in a cellphone interview. “I believed to myself that irrespective of the place the state of affairs shall be worse, I desire to be in a spot the place I’ve a much bigger help system, the place the individuals I like are and the place I may also help them,” the 29-year-old provides.


In his each day replace on Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned the state’s total death toll now stands at 1,941. As well as, the variety of individuals testing constructive for COVID-19 elevated by 7,965 with 83,760 confirmed circumstances – greater than half of that are in New York Metropolis itself.

Avidor and Aloni booked their flight dwelling on March 10. By March 12, they’d landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport and headed straight to Aloni’s dad and mom’ home north of Tel Aviv for a 14-day quarantine, as ordered by the Israeli Well being Ministry.

“We have been following the statistics carefully,” says Aloni, 30, who’s pursuing his doctoral research at NYU. “We understood that there isn’t any manner [the coronavirus] received’t get to New York.”


Seeing that life in New York was nonetheless operating its ordinary course whereas dramatic strikes have been being made in Israel, it turned clear to the couple that New Yorkers have been in denial they usually needed to get out.

People walking during a sunny day in Central Park, New York City, April 1, 2020.

“We walked within the streets and we noticed individuals gathering in Washington Sq. Park; we understood it was a recipe for catastrophe,” Aloni says.

The couple provides that their being in Israel is not only making them really feel extra comfy however their households too. “They inform us this every day: ‘How fortunate that you just got here!’” Avidor says.


Liz Benatar, 33, additionally made the choice to go away New York and fly to Israel after realizing the state of affairs was about to get very unhealthy.

“New York felt prefer it’s not a query of if you’re going to get contaminated – it’s a query of when,” says the Jewish preschool employee, who has lived in the USA for eight years. “As somebody who follows the information each within the U.S. and Israel, the state of affairs actually scared me.”

Benatar arrived in Israel some 10 days in the past and continues to be in self-quarantine at her dad and mom’ home in Or Akiva, in a separate unit they normally hire out however which is presently free. She nonetheless works remotely by way of video chat with the Three-year-old youngsters she normally sees on a regular basis.


“I haven’t seen my household in a yr they usually got here to get me from the airport. However I couldn’t say good day [properly], I couldn’t hug them,” she remembers. “They got here with two automobiles, and left me one in every of them to drive dwelling individually.”

She continues: “My dad and mom are right here, my sisters are right here. One in every of them, who simply gave beginning, is right here with the brand new child and I see everybody from the window,” she says, counting down the times until her quarantine ends.

The Empire State building is lit in red and white lights to honor emergency medical workers, New York, March 31, 2020.
Frank Franklin II,AP

Contrasting responses 


A 30-year-old Israeli man who has lived in Manhattan for eight years and spoke to Haaretz on situation of anonymity additionally says household was the decisive think about his choice to go away New York Metropolis.

“My worst-case state of affairs was that if one in every of my dad and mom will get sick, God forbid, and I needed to come again dwelling, I must go into quarantine for 2 weeks and I need to assist,” he says. “My dad and mom are of their sixties, they need to not go to the grocery store. I should be their hyperlink to the skin world.”

Feeling this sense of accountability, the person, who works in promoting, wished to succeed in Israel as quickly as attainable and end his self-isolation. “That manner, if one thing occurs, [I] may also help.”


After ending his two-week quarantine at an empty household condominium, he admits that being in Israel is a aid. “I made the best selection, despite the fact that I didn’t need to fly now,” he says. “I actually didn’t need to come again.”

Many Israelis residing in New York say they’re nonetheless linked to the information in Israel – each by way of the media and discussions with household and mates. Evaluating the measures being taken in Israel to what they have been experiencing in New York was, for a lot of, an indication that they need to depart. 

“I noticed the authorities in New York have been not likely doing a lot in comparison with the authorities in Israel,” says Benatar, whose husband is in Australia and has not been in a position to make his manner again. “I noticed [New Yorkers’] indifference and complacency, and I began understanding that in Israel this was being taken very critically – and within the U.S. it’s simply not.


“I began understanding that nobody goes to guard me and I’ve to go away as quickly as attainable,” she provides. 

“When Israel began speaking about social distancing [when there were] a really small variety of circumstances, individuals in New York didn’t even discuss it,” Aloni says. For each him and his spouse, this was a really “rational” choice.

“We’re in one of many greatest tourism hubs on the planet, with a really excessive density,” Avidor provides. “It was clear to us that this factor has a a lot increased disaster potential in Manhattan than in Israel.”


Past noticing that issues weren’t being taken as critically as quick in New York, the nameless man says he additionally doesn’t belief President Donald Trump to deal with the state of affairs.

“Trump is totally irresponsible and is behaving in his ordinary silly manner,” he says. “He’s the worst one who may ever be main on this state of affairs.”

The sane choice


Because the Israeli authorities has tightened its measures to fight the unfold of the illness, there was some criticism about Israelis arriving from New York, suggesting that they need to all be quarantined in native inns moderately than at household houses. 

Final month, a bunch of 114 Israeli Chabad followers who flew from New York on the identical El Al flight have been positioned in quarantine on the Dan Resort in Jerusalem. This was the one case of Israelis arriving from New York being escorted into quarantine. The authorities mentioned the group had been finding out at a yeshiva in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, which the U.S. authorities concern has been the positioning of a significant outbreak. Final week, over half of them examined constructive for the coronavirus. 

On Israel’s Channel 12 Information on Tuesday night time, Prof. Gabi Barabash, who beforehand served because the Well being Ministry’s director basic, mentioned he doesn’t consider returning Israeli expats must be handled like Israelis getting back from quick journeys. 


“These are individuals who stay in New York. They need to go into quarantine in inns – at their expense or on the authorities’s expense, it doesn’t matter. However they’ve to enter a compelled quarantine, as a result of we are able to’t be a satellite tv for pc department of New York when it comes to well being care,” he mentioned. 

Unsurprisingly, that response will not be shared by the expats. “Israel is dwelling to us, it’s all the time going to be dwelling, and on this state of affairs lots of people felt the necessity to come dwelling,” Benatar says. “My dwelling could also be in New York normally, however Israel is all the time going to be part of me. I nonetheless spent most of my life on this nation. I served within the military, I gave every little thing I may to this nation.” 

At this second, she provides, Israel seems like a secure and “sane” place to be.