Earlier this week Israel closed their borders to foreign nationals in response to the COVID-19 omicron variant. The country was open for just 4 weeks to foreign nationals who had a vaccine in the past 6 months, after being closed since March 2020.
Prime Minister Bennett asked Israelis not to leave the country.
Yesterday the news broke that Prime Minister Bennett’s wife Gilat and their children would be going on vacation abroad this week.
Rules for thee, but not for me is a problem that has plagued politicians and their families across the globe.
Israeli media reports now include the “Gilat Effect” when posting rumors such as the “possibility of abolishing the mandatory 3 day quarantine restrictions tonight for fully vaccinated Israelis returning from abroad.”
— michal raz chaimovitz (@gotomichal) December 2, 2021
And now Israir is joining in the fun, inviting Israelis to “join the Prime Minister’s family in flying abroad” with “flights to various destinations through March from just $149.”
It comes days after Israel forced visitors that were coming to pay a shiva call to a terror victim’s family back onto a plane back home over Shabbos. Dov Lipman said that he reached to the highest levels of the government and couldn’t get an exemption for them to stay in Israel for Shabbos without being arrested. He said that other countries would have found a solution for them to avoid violating the Sabbath. And that was despite the passengers departing from South Africa before Israel closed their borders to South Africans!
The Beth Din of South Africa wrote to Prime Minister Bennett to decry the unconscionable decision to force the visitors to violate Shabbos and fly home, calling it a violation of the values of any state, let alone a Jewish state. Egregious actions like these are causing Israel to lose the hearts and minds of Diaspora Jews.
Israel markets itself as a homeland to the Jewish people, but hasn’t had qualms locking out diaspora Jews for nearly 2 years now.
That has meant countless families that haven’t been able to see each other in years. We were visiting Israel annually, where we have immediate family, before COVID, but it has been impossible to do so for the past 2 years. My in-laws had tickets to visit Israel next week to see their grandkids for the first time in more than 2 years, but were forced to cancel.
I love Israel, but at this point it feels like a slap across the face and politicians there have consistently dropped the ball on this issue.
MK Simcha Rothman drove this point home and asked that Israel allow in anyone eligible under the law of return. There is no scientific reason why people from abroad can’t undergo the same entry process as Israelis.
Yes, Israel needs to keep its citizens safe. But they can also do what most countries are doing, requiring adults to be vaccinated and tested before they visit. Israel can even verify vaccine status by requiring antibody testing before exiting quarantine.
The Jerusalem Post asked last month if Israel harmed its ties with Diaspora Jews by closing their doors. I daresay the answer is yes, and that’s a tragedy in and of itself.
Obviously this is a controversial topic, but Israel gets tough love because it’s so beloved by Diaspora Jewry. What do you think of Israel’s COVID entry rules and does it change your relationship with the country?