Prime Minister Bennett’s COVID policy: ‘I want parents to fight with each other’

“I want parents who have vaccinated their children to pressure those who haven’t,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. 

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he “want[s] parents to fight with each other,” when deciding to reopen Israel’s education system earlier this month, according to a report on Channel 13 on Sunday evening.

The controversial comment was made during a coronavirus cabinet meeting that was held just before the reopening of Israel’s education system on September 1.

The meeting dealt with a proposed policy for only allowing classes with low rates of unvaccinated students to reopen, while forcing classes with high rates to remain closed.

Israel’s Teachers’ Union secretary-general Yaffa Ben-David proposed to impose the policy on whole grades and not just specific classes, to which the Israeli premier replied: “It wouldn’t be right to impose this on entire grades. I want parents to fight with each other.”

He then clarified: “I want parents who have vaccinated their children to pressure those who haven’t.”

Bennett’s comments drew criticism from teachers and parents alike, who questioned the efficiency and morality of the policy.

The Prime Minister’s Office replied, “The prime minister is working to end the need for mass quarantines and to allow Israel’s students and parents alike to return to normal, while protecting their health. As such, he has asked different experts to examine various plans and policies that will allow continued and undisruptive learning.”

Bennett is not the only Israeli official who has received backlash after making insensitive comments about COVID.

Last week, Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern was unknowingly caught on a hot mic referring to unvaccinated people and telling Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked that “It’s annoying that they’re taking up the [hospital] beds.”

Shaked herself apologized last month after appearing to minimize Israeli deaths and suffering from COVID when she said Israel needs “to know how to accept severe cases and also to accept deaths, because this is a pandemic and in a pandemic people die.”

Shaked later clarified her comments and issued the following statement: “Every deceased person is a whole world, and human life is a high and sacred value. What I meant was to explain the costs of the ongoing struggle with the global pandemic. It would have been better to formulate my words in a better way. I again ask everyone to get vaccinated, it saves life.”