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Avi Scharf, Haaretz English Editor's Letter on Coronavirus, from the Most Progressive Paper in Israel

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I wish to share with you, this very important overview, coming from a nation that is already severely tested, and this media venue is the most truthful, compassionate, and progressive venue in Israel, the editorial home of my favorite, Gideon Levy.

Dear Haaretz readers around the world,

As you know, Israel, like every other country, is confronting the spread of COVID-19. But unlike most other countries, it is doing this while undergoing one of the most serious crises its fragile democracy has ever experienced.

Just over three weeks ago, we realized we were heading for a state of emergency - we just didn't realize how much of an emergency it was immediately going to be. It was the eve of the Israeli election, the third such election we've covered in less than 12 months, and our first priority was to deliver the same level of reporting and analysis that our readers have come to expect from us, despite everyone's election fatigue.

But after the results were in, it soon became clear that the biggest story we would be covering would be not about yet another interminable round of coalition-building, but a much bigger, global story - one that would impact each and every one of us.

After election week, some members of our staff were already in self-isolation after returning from countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, and all senior managers at the paper began activating contingency plans and moving much of the paper's staff to working from home.

The technical and logistical obstacles have been immense. Those first days were full of glitches, but thanks to our early start with preparations, things are much smoother now.

Obviously, we are all working under a great deal of stress - not only due to the technical difficulties, but also because most of us now share our workplaces with our entire families and children who are at home due to the shuttered schools and kindergartens. Some of us have partners who have lost their jobs, or are about to.

One thing that helps keep us going is the positive feedback from you, our readers, on our coverage both of the coronavirus crisis and the importance of not losing sight for a moment of the escalating constitutional crisis in Israel as well.

Israel is not yet under complete lockdown, although it's getting there. We are prepared, both as an "essential enterprise" and, if necessary, with our entire staff working remotely. We are ready to continue our journalistic mission and uphold Haaretz's values in this unique time of emergency.

My heartfelt thanks go out to all our reporters in the field, our translators and editors at home, and those who continue coming into the newsroom every day, despite the difficulties and concerns. But most of all they go out to you, each and every one of our millions of readers, and especially the tens of thousands of subscribers. You are the reason we are here, and thanks to you we can continue our mission.

We would like to wish you and your families health and calm in the trying times ahead.

Avi Scharf

Editor, Haaretz English Edition

 

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