Israel will not introduce ‘fascistic’ vaccine mandate, minister says

“We aren’t a fascistic country,” Minister Ze’ev Elkin said, in defense of the government’s latest COVID restrictions. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News. 

Israel’s government will not mandate vaccines because that would be “fascistic”, a minister has said, as he defended the government increasing restrictions on commerce and travel.

Speaking with Radio 103FM Monday morning, Israel’s Housing and Construction Minister, Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope) said “We can’t take the citizen’s place in deciding whether to protect his life or not. We aren’t a fascistic country. We can’t take people off the street and force them to get vaccinated. You can’t force someone to protect himself.”

A number of countries have already introduced mandatory vaccinations. Tajikistan became the first to do so worldwide, mandating that all citizens over the age of 18 must get the jab, with nearby Turkmenistan introducing the same requirement shortly after.

In November, Austria became the first country to European country to mandate the COVID vaccination. From February, all residents aged 14 and over who remain unvaccinated will face quarterly fines of €3,600.

And last week, Ecuador became the first country to make vaccines mandatory for children as young as five, as it introduced a mandate for all eligible residents. “In Ecuador, vaccination against COVID-19 is declared compulsory,” the health ministry said in a statement.

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Other countries, including the United States, Britain, Australia, Italy and Israel have opted for partial mandates, restricting access to work or to bars, restaurants and malls to only those who have been vaccinated.

Last week, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman argued against further restrictions, citing the economic cost of the policy. “That takes us straight into the world of financial compensation,” he said referring to demands for payments from businesses forced to close.

Elkin acknowledged that there was an economic cost to partial mandates, but insisted that they were essential to protect citizens.

“The experts say that the vast majority of the restrictions make only minor contributions to reducing infection, and come at a great economic cost, so what do we get?” he asked rhetorically.

“We are protecting the citizens; that’s why we’re using the Green Pass system, under which we tell people who are vaccinated that they aren’t restricted, he can get in with the pass. People who aren’t vaccinated either need to pay to get tested or live with the restrictions.”

Elkin also defended Israel’s current policy of severely restricting air travel, arguing that it was helping to keep infection rates down within the Jewish State. As he spoke, the policy was being protested by Israeli tour guides who gathered in Tel Aviv to highlight the effect that zero tourism for nearly two years was having on them and others in the industry. Most tour guides have not worked since March 2020.

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“Our situation is much better than other countries. To prevent getting to the infection percentages in foreign countries, we’re going to continue to bar air travel to the relevant countries. Perhaps in two or three weeks it won’t be relevant,” he told Radio 103FM.

“The coronavirus isn’t a religion or ideology, it is a matter of mathematics. Once the infection rate here will be the same as it is in closed countries, there’ll be no reason to close [the skies], because it’ll be the same risk level for infection. So long as the infection level here is lower, it wouldn’t be right to reopen [air travel], because that would increase the infection rate.”