Pregnant women ask Shaked to let parents to visit for births amid COVID

In a campaign video, 20 pregnant women noted that dozens of models have been allowed in for the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

 INTERIOR MINISTER Ayelet Shaked (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
INTERIOR MINISTER Ayelet Shaked
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Dozens of pregnant women in Israel took part in a video campaign calling on Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to allow their parents into the country for imminent births, following the introduction of draconian corona restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals.

In a video arranged and produced by the Yad L’Olim organization, which assists immigrants and their families, numerous pregnant women focused on the dozens of models from around the world who have been allowed into Israel for next week’s Miss Universe beauty pageant, while the parents of Israeli citizens seeking to be with their daughters for the birth of a grandchild are banned.

“My mother is also beautiful,” 20 women demand in the video. “Now can she come for the birth?”

Twenty pregnant women with parents living abroad call on Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to allow their parents entry into Israel to provide assistance after they give birth. (Credit: Yad L'Olim)

The Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA) of the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for overseeing entry into Israel, said that the comparison to Miss Universe was “inappropriate,” and that the ban on parents entering was designed to “save lives” despite foreign nationals being allowed to enter the country for other purposes.

Former MK Dov Lipman, founder and director of Yad L’Olim, said that more than 50 pregnant women made contact with the organization last week seeking help getting their parents into the country.

 Former MK Dov Lipman answers messages for help on his ever-present iPhone before appearing at a Knesset hearing.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Former MK Dov Lipman answers messages for help on his ever-present iPhone before appearing at a Knesset hearing. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The organization has been assisting olim throughout the pandemic, especially getting relatives permission to enter the country. Lipman has also raised these issues in the Knesset, and with relevant government ministries and agencies.

He dismissed the PIBA’s position that vaccinated parents of pregnant women pose a health risk as “hypocritical,” noting that non-vaccinated Israelis are allowed to travel around the world and then reenter the country.

Ayala Laub, 28, who lives in Efrat and is due to give birth in around 10 days, was one of the women featured in the campaign video.

She immigrated to Israel nine years ago from the US, leaving her parents and the rest of her family behind in New Jersey, while her husband’s parents live in New York.

Laub says that throughout her latest pregnancy, she never imagined there would be a question as to whether her parents would be able to visit her immediately and provide assistance.

She said having parents around to provide help and emotional support after birth was critical for women and their families, and that it should count as a case of humanitarian necessity both in terms of mental health and due to the frequent need for physical assistance after birth.

“Women are panicking, they’re getting anxiety because they don’t know what they’re going to get in terms of support for physical needs, emotional support, and to manage with the other children,” said Laub.

LAUB ALSO questioned why the Interior Ministry granted permission for first-degree relatives of the parents of a child celebrating a bar or bat mitzvah to enter the country, and not the parents of pregnant women.

“How can it be safe for the uncle of a bar or bat mitzvah boy or girl to come into the country, which I support, but not the parents of an expectant woman?” she demanded.

She noted that her doctor told her at a recent check-up that she had elevated blood pressure, which Laub attributes to her concern that her parents might not be able to enter the country as a result of the new restrictions.

“I’m an anxious mess,” Laub said. “The concept that my parents won’t be here to help, the thought of coming home and being alone with four children, terrifies me.”

She said that her husband has a full-time job, and will thus be unable to provide significant help once he goes back to work after the birth.

“I feel rejected from a country that supposedly wants me to live here and wants women to have children, but is now telling me my physical and emotional needs aren’t important,” said Laub. “Israel encourages immigration – if you do that, you need to act like you care about the immigrants.”

Laub also noted that Shaked’s Yamina Party has a large number of immigrant voters from the Anglo world who are increasingly upset with the minister’s handling of this issue.

The PIBA said that “in accordance with the government resolution, it was decided that in the coming two-week period foreign nationals will not be allowed into Israel, in order to cope with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Entry policies into Israel are examined every week and this issue will also be examined. We clarify that the goal is to save lives, and there is no doubt that the entry of many parents into Israel and their being physically close to other people is likely to endanger life. Nevertheless, the minister has given instructions to examine the requests in conjunction with the Health Ministry.

“The comparison to the Miss Universe competition which has oversight and supervision is inappropriate.”

Lipman was adamant: “Ayelet Shaked can remove all the pain that these olim are feeling in one second,” he said. “She just has to say that vaccinated parents of couples giving birth can enter and the needs of these families will be met.

“You can’t say you allow for humanitarian needs and then not even allow applications from the families of expecting women. I am all for protecting public health, but these vaccinated parents present no health risk, particularly when the country is allowing non-vaccinated Israelis to tour all around the world and return back to Israel. I and my team at Yad L’Olim will continue to expose this hypocrisy and fight for what’s right.”